The useof wood biomassfor energy purposesandfor the production ofsolid biofuelswith high added valueisone of the mainactivities carried outby RECORD. This activityis a great opportunityforagricultural and forestry enterprises, creatingnew opportunities forincomesand actingas a driverfor the creationof newproduction supply chains.
Particularly RE-CORDhas extensive experienceon technologies relatedboth to wood for solid biofuels and wood for energy generationand it is recognized asastrong partnerforthemanagement and identificationof themost suitabletechnological solutions.
The specificareasofcompetencerange from technologies for biomassdensification (pellets and briquettes) to those for producingadvancedsolidbiofuels (torrefaction and carbonization) to technologies for energy generation, thermal and electric, throughthermochemicalprocesses, suchaspyrolysis and gasification.
Continuous carbonization unit
CARBON is a the results of R&D efforts of RE-CORD for a more eco-friendly and efficient production of charcoal; unlike traditional systems, like Missouri kiln, CARBO collects and burn-off all the gaseous products, avoiding emission of undesired compounds in the atmosphere with the possibility to recover the excess heat to the benefit of adjacent installations.
A test platform to elucidate the intricate mechanisms of biomass carbonization, CARBO can be operated up to a capacity of around 50 kg/h of feed with large wood chips, through a process known as “oxidative carbonization”, in which the heat required for the conversion is supplied by the combustion of part of the BIOMASS, in analogy to what happens during auto-thermal gasification.
CARBON is a continuous process, in which the biomass is heated and maintained at the desired process conditions to produce a solid carbonaceous material that almost retain the shape and size of the original biomass, but acquire improved chemical and physical properties, which can be exploited for its use as high quality charcoal for barbecue, biochar, or as feedstock for the production of activated carbon.
Intermediate pyrolysis unit
Pyrolysis is the process of chemically decomposing organic materials by heating them in the absence of oxygen; the process is carried out at near atmospheric pressure and in the temperature range between 300 and 600 °C. Products of pyrolysis are a solid, also called char, a mixture of condensable vapours, and permanent gases (mainly CO2, CO, CH4). The pyrolysis process is significantly flexible, as distribution of products, their relative abundance and properties can be influenced (steered) by properly tuning the process parameters or conditioning the feedstock, according to the desired final goal.
PYRO is an intermediate pyrolysis reactor, consisting of independent feeding sections for liquids (e.g. used cooking oil) and solid biomass (wood), an electrically heated reactor, internally stirred, a condensation train, and discharge ports for solid and gases. Volatiles produced during pyrolysis are extracted by a fan placed in the cold section, downstream of the condensation system, where they separate into a pyrolysis liquid, that is collected, and an off-gas stream composed of permanent gases, which is vented outside. Unlike liquid and gases, collection of the solid residue is performed batch-wise at the end of each test.
PYRO can be operated up to around 1.5 kg/h of finely ground biomass, 1 l/h of liquid feed, and the maximum operating temperature is 600°C and the average vapour residence time is in the range of 3-5s.
RE-CORD operates a medium pressure gas test bench used to (1) investigate the production of synthetic natural gas from CO/CO2, H2, CH4/CO2, and (2) for processing catalytic materials in a H2-rich environment under a broad range of operating conditions (pressure, temperature and space velocity).
The bench was designed in house in a joint project with CREAR/University of Florence, has a nominal max operating pressure of around 30 bar, a nominal output of approximately 0.5 m3 of CH4-equivalent, and can operate with four different gaseous streams, individually regulated, mixed and pressurized ant process condition by 2 independent gas boosters, for inert and combustible gases.
A programmable logic controller from National Instruments actively supervises the system and provides data acquisition functionality.
Micro-reactors test bench
The Micro-reactors test bench (MRTB) allow to perform batch experiments of feedstock conversion under sub- and critical conditions in hydrothermal environment, in particular hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) and hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) of biomass; the system is used to rapidly screen distinct process conditions and is particularly valuable in the systematic investigation of their effect on products, among others their relative distribution, quality or properties.
The reactor, consisting of high-pressure stainless steel tubing and valves, is preloaded with the feedstock, a known amount of water or water/solvent mixture, and in case a catalyst, and sealed. The reaction vessel is then pre-set to a defined pressure, in order to reach the desired test conditions once dipped in the fluidized sand bath, where it is rapidly heated up to the test temperature; under normal circumstance, the pre-set gas is nitrogen, but reducing agents can be used as well (CO, H2). Cooling of the reactor is obtained by rapidly plunging in a water. Internal pressure and temperature are constantly monitored with an automatic data acquisition system.
Leveraging its flexibility, moderate operating cost and high availability, the bench is the ideal companion of most research, from preliminary screening to process optimization.