Report IEA Task 33 - Gasification of waste for energy carriers (English)


Executive summary (abstract)

  • The primary scope and focus of IEA Bioenergy Task 33, “Thermal Gasification of Biomass”, is to follow the developments in the area of biomass gasification with the purpose of providing a comprehensive source of information on activities in this field in the participating countries. A dedicated web site is publicly available.  
  • Although the main focus of the task is material of biomass origin, also waste feedstocks are of interest as materials normally considered as “wastes” are to a large extent composed of biomass materials and the fuel characteristics (high volatile matter content, low fixed carbon content etc.) and product gas characteristics (e.g. tar contamination) are similar, and therefore similar gas cleaning techniques is used. For this reason, waste gasification is always to some extent included in the Task activities and from time to time, have been more in focus, e.g. as topic for a special project in the period 2016-2018, which this report represents. The methodology used in this study has mainly been to collect information from public sources. In addition, in some cases direct contacts were also taken to obtain more information. The work has also involved some contacts with mainly IEA Bioenergy Task 36, “Integrating Energy Recovery into Solid Waste Management”. 
  • The report initially describes wastes in a broad sense, but excluding hazardous wastes, as a fuel for thermal treatment process. The report continues by giving a brief overview of the waste and waste treatment situation in the EU, Japan and the USA and also summarises the policy and regulatory framework for waste treatment in the above jurisdictions. This is done from a perspective of the impact of the policies and regulations on the thermal treatment of waste in general, and in particular on the impact on waste gasification technologies. 
  • On the technical side, the report describes the gasification and gas cleaning technologies used for waste. The focus of the report is on waste gasification in combination with pre-combustion gas cleaning, i.e. advanced waste gasification technologies, as this combination is key to the main advantage of waste gasification technologies that motivates many of the developments in this field. Furthermore, the state-of-the-art in waste gasification is presented by descriptions of a number of projects for different applications and the associated developers. The technical scope of these applications ranges from direct use of the raw fuel gas in furnaces and boilers to advanced technologies where cleaned gas is used in more efficient steam cycle boilers, engines and gas turbines, as well as for the production of chemicals and liquid energy carriers.  
  • Finally, the competitive position of advanced waste gasification technologies relative to the conventional technology (thermal treatment by one or two-stage incineration with heat recovery), the barriers for introducing the technology on the market, R&D needs and the results of a simplistic economic evaluation are discussed. 
  • The information collected from public sources has also been used to compile a list, included as Appendix 3 and 4 of this report, of technology developers/suppliers and waste gasification projects in various stages ranging from historical projects, operational projects and projects in planning. However, this listing does not pretend to be complete and the data will change over time.

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