Selected pathways for a more efficient conversion of biomass in cogeneration or fuel production
Among renewable energy sources biomass plays a major role. Several paths for improving the conversion of biomass with minimum burden on the environment are being pursued worldwide. This paper reviews some of the most recent results from research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne. On the theoretical and experimental sides it covers the improvement of biogas combustion engines using combustion prechambers both with spark ignition or autoignition in order to reduce the emissions while keeping a high efficiency level, the integration of ORC heat recovery cycles on biogas cogeneration engines and tests with real biogas in Solid Oxide planar Fuel Cells. On the process modelling side the paper reviews the environomic (environment, economic and energetic) optimisation of the design of biofuel production by means of gasification and fuel reforming. Thermo-economic process modelling and integration techniques are coupled with a multi-objective optimisation algorithm to target the best process technology and operating conditions for the trigeneration of fuels, heat and power.