UNIQUE gasifier for hydrogen Production

Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Hydrogen production & Distribution


The project aims to develop a biomass steam gasification process coupled to syngas purification to produce pure hydrogen from biomass, increase well-to-tank efficiency and contribute to a sustainable energy portfolio. The results obtained in past R&D EU projects on hot gas catalytic conditioning will be exploited, utilizing plant components of proven performance and reliability and well established processes as UNIQUE coupled gasification and hot gas cleaning and conditioning system, Water-Gas Shift system and Pressure Swing Adsorption system.
Achievements to date

Website has been created for the dissemination of the project results and for providing a common platform to the partners. The olivine behavior has been evaluated and the different biomass feedstock have been characterized. Reference results have been achieved testing at bench scale the non catalytic filter candles. The tests on the catalytic filter candles are going on.

The UNIQUE compact gasifier technology, together with the advanced filters, the new catalytic materials for WGS implementation and the PSA system, will have a noticeable impact to the production of high purity syngas, suitable for PEM fuel cells, thus impacting in all FCH programs. The high subsystems integration will demonstrate the feasibility of low cost systems, also below 5€/kg of H2. The project also contributes to creating a critical mass of resources and integrating the research efforts at European scale.

Through development and scale up activities on materials and reactors for the integration of advanced biomass steam gasification and syngas purification processes, UNIfHY aims to obtain continuous pure hydrogen production from biomass, increase well-to-tank efficiency and contribute to a sustainable energy portfolio, exploiting results achieved in past R&D EU projects on hot gas catalytic conditioning. The project is based on the utilization of plant components of proven performance and reliability and well established processes (UNIQUE coupled gasification and gas conditioning technology, Water-Gas Shift, WGS, system and Pressure Swing Adsorption, PSA, system), thus targeting up to 20 years plant durability with availability>95%. The project benefits from the already existing laboratories and UNIQUE gasifiers in order to maximize results (technology development at process-, system- and industrial-scale) with minimum risk and budget requirement (laboratories, pilot and industrial gasifier already available). New materials for atmospheric pressure WGS are realized and utilized to develop reactors, integrated with a tailored PSA in a portable purification unit, connected downstream small-to-medium scale (up to 1 MWth) UNIQUE gasifiers in order to yield pure hydrogen. The result will be two UNIfHY prototype units for continuous production of hydrogen (up to 500 kg/day). Thanks to the high level of thermal integration and to the reuse of purge gas in the process, conversion efficiency in hydrogen higher than 70% is expected. Finally, the gas conditioning system cost becomes 30% as that of a standard free-standing conditioning system, due to remarkable plant integration: reforming of both tar and methane and particulates abatement is carried out directly in the freeboard of the biomass gasifier, providing investment cost savings greater than 50%, a
simplified plant layout with reduction of space and components up to 50% and a hydrogen production cost not exceeding 5€/kg.

Project reference: 
2.3: Biomass-to-hydrogen (BTH) thermal conversion process
Project type: 
Research and technological development
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Saturday, September 1, 2012
End date: 
Thursday, March 31, 2016
36 months (originally), extended to 43 months
Project cost: 
€ 3,438,061.36
Project funding: 
€ 2,203,599


Enrico Bocci
Other participating organisations: 
HYGEAR B.V. “Engineering for sustainable growth” NETHERLANDS
Université De Strasbourg FRANCE
Engineering, Procurement & Construction GERMANY
Air Liquide FRANCE


Steffen Heidenreich , Pier Ugo Foscolo Progress in Energy and Combustion Science Vol. 46 New concepts in biomass gasification
Stefano Stendardo , Pier Ugo Foscolo , Mirko Nobili , Silvera Scaccia Energy Vol. 103 High quality syngas production via steam-oxygen blown bubbling fluidised bed gasifier
D. Barisano , G. Canneto , F. Nanna , E. Alvino , G. Pinto , A. Villone , M. Carnevale , V. Valerio , A. Battafarano , G. Braccio Fuel Processing Technology Vol. 141 Steam/oxygen biomass gasification at pilot scale in an internally circulating bubbling fluidized bed reactor
E. Bocci , A. Di Carlo , S.J. McPhail , K. Gallucci , P.U. Foscolo , M. Moneti , M. Villarini , M. Carlini International Journal of Hydrogen Energy Vol. 39/Issue 36 Biomass to fuel cells state of the art: A review of the most innovative technology solutions
E. Savuto , A. Di Carlo , E. Bocci , A. D'Orazio , M. Villarini , M. Carlini , P.U. Foscolo International Journal of Hydrogen Energy Vol. 40/Issue 25 Development of a CFD model for the simulation of tar and methane steam reforming through a ceramic catalytic filter
M. Moneti , A. Di Carlo , E. Bocci , P.U. Foscolo , M. Villarini , M. Carlini International Journal of Hydrogen Energy Vol. 41/Issue 28 Influence of the main gasifier parameters on a real system for hydrogen production from biomass
Ingrid Zamboni , Yvan Zimmermann , Alain Kiennemann , Claire Courson International Journal of Hydrogen Energy Vol. 40/Issue 15 Improvement of steam reforming of toluene by CO2 capture using Fe/CaO–Ca12Al14O33 bi-functional materials
A. D'Orazio , S. Rapagnà , P.U. Foscolo , K. Gallucci , M. Nacken , S. Heidenreich , A. Di Carlo , A. Dell'Era International Journal of Hydrogen Energy Vol. 40/Issue 23 Gas conditioning in H2 rich syngas production by biomass steam gasification: Experimental comparison between three innovative ceramic filter candles
Andrea Di Carlo , Domenico Borello , Mario Sisinni , Elisa Savuto , Paolo Venturini , Enrico Bocci , Koji Kuramoto International Journal of Hydrogen Energy Vol. 40/Issue 30 Reforming of tar contained in a raw fuel gas from biomass gasification using nickel-mayenite catalyst
A. Dufour , A. Celzard , V. Fierro , F. Broust , C. Courson , A. Zoulalian , J.N. Rouzaud Applied Catalysis A: General Vol. 490 Catalytic conversion of methane over a biomass char for hydrogen production: deactivation and regeneration by steam gasification
I. Zamboni , C. Courson , D. Niznansky , A. Kiennemann Applied Catalysis B: Environmental Vol. 145 Simultaneous catalytic H2 production and CO2 capture in steam reforming of toluene as tar model compound from biomass gasification
Mario Sisinni , Andrea Di Carlo , Enrico Bocci , Andrea Micangeli , Vincenzo Naso Energies Vol. 6/Issue 7 Hydrogen-Rich Gas Production by Sorption Enhanced Steam Reforming of Woodgas Containing TAR over a Commercial Ni Catalyst and Calcined Dolomite as CO2 Sorbent
E. Bocci , M. Sisinni , M. Moneti , L. Vecchione , A. Di Carlo , M. Villarini Energy Procedia Vol. 45 State of Art of Small Scale Biomass Gasification Power Systems: A Review of the Different Typologies
Sergio Rapagnà, Giacomo Spinelli Chemical Engineering Transactions 43 Air-Steam Biomass Gasification in a Fluidised Bed Reactor in Presence of Ceramic Filters
Charlotte Lang , Xavier Secordel , Yvan Zimmermann , Alain Kiennemann , Claire Courson Comptes Rendus Chimie Vol. 18/Issue 3 High-temperature Water–Gas Shift catalysts for hydrogen enrichment of a gas produced by biomass steam gasification
S. Rapagnà, A. D’Orazio, K. Gallucci, P. U. Foscolo, M. Nacken, S. Heidenreich Chemical Engineering Transactions 37 Hydrogen rich gas from catalytic steam gasification of biomass in a fluidized bed containing catalytic filters
D. Barisano , G. Canneto , F. Nanna , A. Villone , E. Alvino , M. Carnevale , G. Pinto Energy Procedia Vol. 45 Production of Gaseous Carriers Via Biomass Gasification for Energy Purposes
I. Zamboni , M. Debal , M. Matt , P. Girods , A. Kiennemann , Y. Rogaume , C. Courson Environmental Science and Pollution Research 0 Catalytic gasification of biomass (Miscanthus) enhanced by CO2 sorption
Manfred Nacken , Gino V. Baron , Steffen Heidenreich , Sergio Rapagnà , Annalisa D'Orazio , Katia Gallucci , Joeri F.M. Denayer , Pier Ugo Foscolo Fuel Processing Technology Vol. 134 New DeTar catalytic filter with integrated catalytic ceramic foam: Catalytic activity under model and real bio syngas conditions
Milena Stefanova , Concetta Tripepi , Alessandra Zamagni , Paolo Masoni Sustainability Vol. 6/Issue 8 Goal and Scope in Life Cycle Sustainability Analysis: The Case of Hydrogen Production from Biomass
T Antonini , P U Foscolo , K Gallucci , S Stendardo Journal of Physics: Conference Series Vol. 655 Influence of temperature on oxygen permeation through ion transport membrane to feed a biomass gasifier
Tania Antonini , Katia Gallucci , Valentina Anzoletti , Stefano Stendardo , Pier Ugo Foscolo Chemical Engineering and Processing Vol. 94 Oxygen transport by ionic membranes: Correlation of permeation data and prediction of char burning in a membrane-assisted biomass gasification process
Mauro Villarini , Enrico Bocci , Andrea Di Carlo , Elisa Savuto , Vanessa Pallozzi Energy Procedia Vol. 82 The Case Study of an Innovative Small Scale Biomass Waste Gasification Heat and Power Plant Contextualized in a Farm
L. Vecchione, M. Moneti, S. Cocchi, M. Villarini, M. Sisinni, A. Micangeli Journal of Agricultural Engineering 44 Simulations of a plant with a fluidized bed gasifier WGS and PSA
L. Vecchione , M. Moneti , S. Cocchi , M. Villarini , M. Sisinni , A. Micangeli Journal of Agricultural Engineering Vol. 44/Issue 2s Parametric experimental tests of steam gasification of pine wood in a fluidized bed reactor