Carbon footprint reduction via fossil fuels substitution

The expected outcome is the validation of an innovative, environmentally-friendly energy supply system for energy-intensive industries, including the glass, brick and tile sectors.

We can calculate the following savings in terms of the reduction of CO2 emissions per gasifier per year and the tons of oil equivalent (toe):

Per OXY4000: targeted energy production of 25.2 GWh, equivalent to 2170 Toe, equivalent to savings of 4991 TCO2 (1Toe = 11.63MWh = 2.30TCO2*).

The industry-wide savings potential can be estimated as follows:

    European packaging glass industry: The manufacturing of bottles and jars totals 170 kilns in Europe and produces 22.4 million tons of glass annually (figures are from 2007, according to EU ETS GHG emission allowance). The annual consumption of natural gas and other fossil fuels represents 58.6TWh (5.04 Mtoe).

A 50% substitution of fossil fuel within Europe’s glass industry thus represents a potential saving of 5.8 million tons of CO2/year.

  European ceramic products industry: According to the Ceramics BREF 2007, the industry is composed of more than 1000 sites and produces 90 million tons of C02 annually. The consumption of natural gas or propane to dry and cook the products reaches 94.4TWh/year (8.12Mtoe).

A 70% substitution of fossil fuel within Europe’s ceramic products industry thus represents a potential savings of 13.1 million tons of CO2/year.

Carbon footprints will also decrease since the extraction and transport of fossil fuel will no longer be needed, as the gasifiers will use “on-site” or local biomasses. This aspect is difficult to quantify, however, and thus is not considered in the calculations above.

This data shows that this technique of oxy-gasification will have a positive environmental impact by limiting the impact of multiple industries on climate change.

Recovery of difficult biomass and waste

Another key goal of the project is the production of energy from difficult biomass and waste, which today is mainly disposed of or incinerated with low-efficiency rates.

The quantity of biomass and waste that can be utilized is estimated as:

    Agricultural by-products (dry basis: fuel Lower Heating Value (LHV): 16GJ/T, 75% efficiency)

Per OXY4000: 25.2GW * 3600GJ/GWh ÷ 16 GJ/T ÷ 0.75 = 7560 T

    Sewage sludge (dry basis: fuel LHV 14GJ/kg, 70% efficiency)

Per NOTAR2000 : 12.6 GW * 3600GJ/GWh ÷ 14 GJ/T ÷ 0.70 = 4630 T

(Oxy-gasification may not be adapted to the treatment of sewage sludge. The OXY4000 equivalent in air-gasification is the NOTAR2000, with a 2 MW output capacity. 1 GWh = 3600 GJ (source: IEA))

No comparison with the baseline is possible since the OxyUp project system will tackle only “difficult” biomasses that are not easily recovered. As such, the figure calculated above corresponds to the “net added value” with regards to the current situation.

Agro-residues represent a considerable potential. Although this potential is difficult to quantify on a global level, a significant amount of agro-industrial residues cannot be recovered through “traditional” routes such as animal feed, raw material for construction materials or soil amendments. These residues also cannot be recovered with classical energy recovery solutions as their mineral content is too high, or they contain pollutants which would be released into the atmosphere. The gasification route is therefore interesting for these agro-fuels as it can handle high mineral contents and pollutants while providing on-site renewable energy and positive environmental impact by replacing fossil fuels at the same time.

From a more global point of view, positive environmental impacts from sludge treatment through gasification would apply to various areas:

    Reduction of the carbon footprint: sludge energy recovery through gasification has much better results than conventional sludge incineration. The total potential of sludge treatment through gasification in EU 27 is evaluated at 4.5Mtons/year (total sludge disposed of in landfills or incinerated today, on a dry basis). With an energy content of 14900kJ/kg (LHV, dry basis) and a biomass-to-syngas conversion ratio of 70%, the energy generated would reach 13.1TWh/year (1.13Mtoe). Converting the targeted share of sewage sludge (50,000 to 600,000 person-equivalent wastewater treatment plants = 38% of current production) would save 2.60 million tons of CO2/year.

    Water access: the implementation of gasification in an adapted sewage treatment capacity should ensure appropriate self-sufficiency of the site in terms of heat and much electricity, leading to a “zero energy” station concept. The local treatment route would reduce the treatment cost, which impacts the heavy water cost.

    Sludge sanitation: gasification eliminates the health risks associated with agricultural use. Moreover, the contaminants will be minimized through the establishment of intelligent management of the gas condensates and ashes produced by the gasification process.

Contribution to European environmental policy

The LIFE OxyUp project strongly contributes to the EU’s environmental objectives, addressing issues such as the substitution of fossil sources of energy, decreased GHG emissions, increased biomass use, and waste recovery. Thus, the project is directly in line with the European Strategy for 2020.

In addition, the proposed solution targets the environmental problems addressed by:

Contribution to the struggle against climate change:

The 2020 climate and energy package (20-20-20 targets): via the 2009/28/EC directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources

COM (2006) 136 final: reduced levels of pollution and a more rational use of natural resources

Directive 2006/32/CE: energy end-use efficiency and energy services

Treaty of Lisbon (COM(2005) 474 Final)

Participation in the implementation of the EU policy in the glass and ceramics industries

Contribution to the waste recovery:

Directive 1999/31/CE of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste

Directive 2008/98/CE on waste

* Source: IEA