Burning bio-oil to heat homes more sustainably – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

An EU-funded task has perfected the production of bio-oil and altered boilers to heat properties – recycling farm and forestry squander even though cutting greenhouse gas emissions.


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The broad vast majority of properties in Europe are heated by organic gas or oil. Switching to choice, sustainable fuels – this kind of as bio-oil created from farm and forestry squander – would noticeably decrease greenhouse gas emissions and assist to battle world warming.

In Germany by itself, it has been calculated that altering just 10 % of the country’s old-fashioned boilers to operate on bio-oil could cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around five.five million tonnes per yr.

The aim of the EU-funded RESIDUE2HEAT task was to deliver a practical liquid fuel from a extensive array of squander biomass, which could be used in small-scale boilers to deliver cost-effective, a lot more sustainable residential heating.

The researchers took a two-phase technique. First, they searched for techniques to make improvements to liquid biofuel made via a system recognized as rapid pyrolysis. The obstacle with this form of fuel – recognized as rapid pyrolysis bio-oil (FPBO) – is that even the most superior residential heating systems are not able to deal with its inconsistent homes. Consequently, the task staff labored to deliver a standardised solution, irrespective of the raw materials used to make it.

RESIDUE2HEAT then appeared into adapting residential boilers to render them able of burning this fuel.

‘Our novel FPBO-fuelled boiler meets most operational and environmental calls for in the true intended atmosphere,’ clarifies task coordinator Herbert Pfeifer of RWTH Aachen College in Germany and scientific head of the OWI Oel-Waerme-Institut gGmbH, affiliated to the university. ‘And an environmental effects evaluation has confirmed the favourable impacts of FPBO heating when compared to fossil solutions, specially when it will come to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (80-94 %).’

Redesigning heating for properties

Working with the rapid pyrolysis system, squander biomass – this kind of as wheat straw, forest resides, bark, elephant grass and thoroughly clean wooden – can be transformed into bio-oil. Starting up by modelling how FPBO breaks down and burns, the RESIDUE2HEAT staff then used the ensuing details to tailor the fuel to accommodate residential heating.

By making certain consistency in the fuel’s chemical homes, this kind of as water information, they succeeded in improving upon its balance and excellent.

Subsequent, they appeared at adapting and optimising existing residential heating systems to empower the use of FPBO. A elaborate system, this necessary the redesign and manufacture of acceptable burner components to optimise the burning of this fuel.

Standard components used in heating systems, this kind of as pumps and fuel nozzles, were being examined for their FPBO compatibility. Considering that so small was recognized about FPBO combustion, RESIDUE2HEAT researchers analyzed the fuel’s conduct in laboratory-scale burners before scaling up the system.

Swap to biomass

The staff has also finished a action-by-action roll-out prepare for the use of FBPO in residential heating, interviewing gas, oil, and pellet heating system proprietors to be certain a favourable general public acceptance. Importantly, they have demonstrated that the thought is price-aggressive with present-day fossil fuels devoid of the have to have for incentives, producing it economically feasible.

‘Ashes recovered from the FPBO production system have terrific possible for furnishing soil nutrients and could as a result be recycled for agricultural applications,’ provides Pfeifer.

The staff be expecting that their methods for developing higher-excellent FPBO will supply a head start out to other analysis programmes, this kind of as the EU-funded SmartCHP task, which aims to establish small-scale units for generating heat and electricity from biomass.