Report back from tcbiomass2017


Gas Technology Institute (GTI) hosted tcbiomass2017 on September 19–21 in Chicago, Illinois. Roughly 200 thermochemical biomass conversion experts attended the event to discuss the latest technology advancements and scientific achievements in the field.

Research and development (R&D) funding was a primary interest for a majority of conference attendees. Funding in the EU seems relatively stable, but the U.S. federal funding situation remains very uncertain.

My presentation, “Advanced Biofuels and Bio-Products from Catalytic Biomass Pyrolysis,” focused on our advanced biofuels technology that integrates a catalytic biomass pyrolysis step and a hydroprocessing step to produce infrastructure-compatible biofuels and a separation technology to recover high-value bio-products from the bio-crude intermediate prior to upgrading. The presentation was well received; the presentation was also unique because it offered a practical discussion of bio-products’ recovery outside of fundamental laboratory studies. My presentation and others have been posted on the conference website.

There was not much new in terms of biomass gasification and pyrolysis technology development, but scale-up is slowly continuing in these areas. Teams from GTI, CRI, and Shell described the current state of their IH2 process, including the construction of a 5-tonne/day system in India. Several large-scale biomass gasification projects are continuing in the European Union (EU) for bio-synthetic natural gas (BioSNG) (Gothenburg Biomass Gasification Project [GoBiGas]) and FT products (bioliq®). Additionally, Enerkem announced the commercial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol from municipal solid waste in Canada.

Low oil prices and the evolving debate on climate change certainly add pressure to an already uncertain situation but technology advances are being made and there are successes being had to stoke optimism for the future.

Research and development (R&D) funding was a primary interest for a majority of conference attendees. Funding in the EU seems relatively stable, but the U.S. federal funding situation remains very uncertain. Dr. Jonathan Male, Director of the U.S, Department of Energy Bioenergy Technology Office provided his office’s vision for biomass R&D moving forward with scenarios for potential budget cuts and an apparent switch to lower technical readiness level activities. This level of fiscal uncertainty has not been seen for the past decade and many in the community are wondering what will happen soon. Low oil prices and the evolving debate on climate change certainly add pressure to an already uncertain situation but technology advances are being made and there are successes being had to stoke optimism for the future.