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Systems analysis of biomass gasification I

Systems analysis of biomass gasification I
Project team:

Leible, Ludwig (Project leader); Beate Fürniß; Stefan Kälber; Gunnar Kappler; Stephan Lange; Eberhard Nieke; Peter Proplesch; Detlev Wintzer


Ministry of Nutrition and Rural Affairs (MLR), Stuttgart

Start date:


End date:


Project partners:

Several Institutes of the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (IKET, ITC-CPV and ITAS)

Research group:

Sustainability and environment

Project description

Several studies indicate that gasification processes are suitable for making the available biomass potential efficiently accessible for energetic and chemical use. However, the successful demonstration of these biomass (in particular cereal straw and logging residues from forestry) gasification technologies and gas utilisation processes is still pending. To this end, the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe has initiated a longer-term project on "Biomass gasification for energetic and chemical use". The aim of this project is to open up the energy potential of dry residue and waste biomass from agriculture and forestry and allow for a use of higher value. For this purpose ITAS and the other participating institutes ITC-CPV and IKET carried out some scientific preparatory work on fast pyrolysis and gasification of straw and wood residues in the framework of the project "Biomass gasification I" (short title). This is also reflected in the complete title of the project: "Scientific preparatory work for the construction of a 1-2 MW test plant at the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe for pyrolysis and gasification of residues and wastes from agriculture and forestry".

In April 2006 the Ministry of Nutrition and Rural Affairs Baden-Württemberg (MLR) approved the second project phase for the "Production of synfuels from residue biomass from agriculture and forestry via the Karlsruhe Bioliq process" (short title: "Biomass gasification II"). Further information on this follow-up project can be found at Systems analysis of biomass gasification II/III.

The aim of the accompanying systems analyses, which have to date been accomplished by ITAS in the framework of the project "Biomass gasification I", was to integrate the BtL (Biomass-to-Liquid) concept pursued by the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe into its technical, economic and environmentally relevant context. Here the emphasis was put on the comparative evaluation of FZK's own approach with competing processes and methods for the energetic use of straw, but also wood residues for the production of heat, power and fuels. This also included a regional analysis of sources and of the provision of these residues in Baden-Württemberg.

Economic estimations show that Fischer-Tropsch (FT) fuels from straw and wood residues can be provided carriage-free for less than one Euro/litre. If both straw and wood residues are used, this competitive disadvantage can be counterbalanced by a crude oil price of more than 65$ per barrel without taking mineral oil tax into account. Depending on the size of the plant and the type of biomass, the supply of biomass accounts for 50 to 65% of the costs of FT fuels, so the easiest way to reduce costs would be the use of cheap biomass.

If this is compared with heat and power production from straw and wood residues, it becomes apparent that these alternatives are much closer to competitiveness or have already reached it. So the results show that already today the production of heat is generally possible without subsidies.

Estimates on the CO2 mitigation costs demonstrate that the CO2 mitigation strategy can only be a very weak aspect for promoting the activities for the provision of FT fuels from biomass. However, since the BtL concept of the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe opens up new ways for further chemical processing of biomass (as carbon carrier) via pyrolysis and gasification, this development path should be pursued. This also includes a combined chemical/energetic use in terms of the "biorefinery" concept.

The first phase of this third party-funded research project was completed in 2005. A press conference was held at the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe on Tuesday, 24 January 2006 on the occasion of the presentation of the joint final report. It was - among others - attended by the Minister for Nutrition and Rural Affairs of Baden-Württemberg and the Bavarian State Minister for Agriculture and Forestry.

  • (German) press releaseof the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe here
  • (German) press releaseof the Ministry of Nutrition and Rural Affairs Baden-Württemberg here
  • (German) press releaseof the Bavarian State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry here
  • (German) speech of Peter Hauk, Minister for Nutrition and Rural Affairs Baden-Württemberg here
  • (German) speech of Josef Miller, Bavarian State Minister for Agriculture and Forestry here
  • (German) summary of the final report here

Meanwhile, the systems analyses conducted by ITAS in the framework of this project were published in an updated and supplemented form under the title„Kraftstoff, Strom und Wärme aus Stroh und Waldrestholz - Eine systemanalytische Untersuchung“.
full text(German)/pdf, 3.062 kb Abstract (German) Abstract (English) Table of contents (German) Summary (German)

  • ITAS-News on the publication 10.07.2007 here
  • No Competitor of Bread and Milk, Press Release 05/2007 here

Bibliographic data:
L. Leible; S. Kälber; G. Kappler; S. Lange; E. Nieke; P. Proplesch; D. Wintzer und B. Fürniß
Kraftstoff, Strom und Wärme aus Stroh und Waldrestholz – Eine systemanalytische Untersuchung – Karlsruhe: Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe 2007 (Wissenschaftliche Berichte, FZKA 7170), 117 pages

Completed dissertations with direct reference to the project:

  • ITAS news on dissertations, 02.12.2008 here

Bibliographic data:
Gunnar Kappler
Systemanalytische Untersuchung zum Aufkommen und zur Bereitstellung von energetisch nutzbarem Reststroh und Waldrestholz in Baden-Württemberg.
Eine auf das Karlsruher bioliq®-Konzept ausgerichtete Standortanalyse
Karlsruhe: Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe 2008 (Wissenschaftliche Berichte, FZKA 7416), 169 pages
full text(German)/pdf / 26.926 kb Abstract (German) Abstract (English) Table of contents (German) Summary (German) Summary (English) Introduction (German)

Stephan Lange
Systemanalytische Untersuchung zur Schnellpyrolyse als Prozessschritt bei der Produktion von Synthesekraftstoffen aus Stroh und Waldrestholz
Karlsruhe: Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe 2008, ISBN 978-3-86644-262-7, 159 pages, 28.90 Euro
full text (German)/pdf / 2.340 kb Table of contents (German) Introduction (German) Summary (German)



Dr. Ludwig Leible
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24869