Cortus Energy has developed a fully integrated process for biomass gasification. Various feedstocks can be used, and the technology can replace fossil fuels in many applications. A new facility will provide Höganäs with energy for their metal powder production.

The Swedish company Cortus Energy has developed a ground-breaking approach of how to gasify biomass in a fully integrated process. The WoodRoll® technology provides an attractive replacement for fossil fuels in power, industrial and transport applications.

”Our technology is cost efficient, since several process steps are eliminated compared to traditional gasification methods. We have struggled for years, but now we have gained momentum; we are securing capital to finance our renewable energy gas production for Höganäs’ metal powder production. This is a breakthrough for WoodRoll®”, says Rolf Ljunggren, CEO and founder of Cortus Energy AB.

Cleaner energy with WoodRoll®

The WoodRoll® technology gasifies biomass, generating green energy for transports, industry and power production. Illustration: Cortus Energy.

”WoodRoll® is a thermal biomass gasification process that generates an energy rich syngas (energy gas). Because of its purity and high energy content, it can replace fossil fuels in various applications. We are focusing on the substitution of fossil fuels in industrial high temperature applications, renewable energy production by feeding the syngas to a gas engine, and refinement of the syngas into renewable natural gas (SNG) or renewable hydrogen”, Rolf Ljunggren says.

”We hold five patent families for the WoodRoll® technology. The company’s business model is based on selling energy gas, supplying turnkey solutions and licensing technology. According to the agreement with Höganäs AB, Cortus Energy will own and operate the 6 megawatt facility at Höganäs Industrial Area, then sell the gas to the customer. We have tested the technology at our 0,5 megawatt pilot facility in Köping for several years. In 2016, we passed a milestone in Köping with the project “Green gas from WoodRoll® for future fossil-free vehicle fleet”, where parts of the syngas was refined into catalytic quality. Fuels for the Höganäs project has been tested in Köping as well, and three feedstocks suitable for the application have been identified”.

Rolf Ljunggren underlines the following advantages of the WoodRoll® technology compared to traditional gasification methods:

  • Feedstock flexibility: the process can utilize various low-grade and mixed renewable feeedstocks without compromising the process performance. There is no need for pre-processing such as drying or pelletizing, so locally available biomass can be fed to the process, and the composition of the feedstock can be adjusted depending on cost and availability.
  • Fully integrated processes: the biomass is handled automatically throughout the integrated process, from the arrival of the feedstock to delivery of the generated energy gas. The process can be remotely monitored for cost-efficient operation.
  • Clean, energy-dense gas – the biomass is separated before gasification, in a clean part and a part with impurities. Only the clean part is gasified, which eliminates costly purification of the generated gas.
  • Energy efficiency – heat from the different processes is recovered in lower-temperature processes. Approximately 80 percent of the biofuel’s energy is converted to useful energy in the gas.
  • Composition: the gas has a favorable composition (hydrogen/carbon monoxide) to be further processed and utilized in a number of applications.

Process industry, power production, SNG and renewable hydrogen

A 6 MW WoodRoll® facility will provide metal powder producer Höganäs AB with renewable process energy. Illustration: Cortus Energy.

”Process industries demand reliable and cost-efficient energy to secure continous, stable operations. Today, large amounts of fossil fuels are used, but the interest in renewable energy solutions is on the rise. WoodRoll® offers the process industry an interesting alternative, and we are now launching a project together with Höganäs AB. The collaboration between Höganäs and Cortus Energy is the final stage of the Probiostål project, run by the Swedish steel industry, which aims to identify and verify technical solutions that reduce the industry’s carbon emissions. In Höganäs, the purpose is to substitute natural gas and coke with renewable energy gas and bio-coke in the iron powder production. This project will give us valuable experience to draw from when we construct larger facilites to supply the steel, mineral, paper and pulp industries with energy”, Rolf Ljunggren says.

”The world is getting increasingly electrified, and there will be a growing demand for electricity to power consumer electronics, data storage, electric vehicles and so on. Renewable electricity will be more and more essential. In a thermal power plant, the WoodRoll® syngas can be fed to a gas engine, generating power. Heat from both the gas engine and WoodRoll® can be recovered to provide district heating. This solution has attracted interest from Japan and California in particular, and Cortus Energy is developing several small-scale bio-power projects there”.

”Natural gas is an important energy source for heating, power production and transports. With an additional process step, WoodRoll® can generate synthetic natural gas (SNG). This is an application where our biobased gasification technology really can contribute to a reduced climate impact. Cortus Energy is negotiating SNG projects with leading European natural gas distributors”, Rolf Ljunggren says.

”The gas we produce has a unique hydrogen content (60 percent), and we can separate it in a secondary process. With water, the remaining gas can be transformed to even more hydrogen gas. Fuel cells can convert hydrogen to electricity efficiently, and are expected to break through for local and regional power production, heavy vehicles and cars. This is another area where cost-efficient biomass gasification provides a promising business opportunity”, Rolf Ljunggren says.

The article was published in June 2017.