Biomass gasification method for decarbonating transport and district heating

The CO2 emissions of the transport sector must be decreased by 40% by 2030. Electric cars powered by renewable electricity can be the main solution for light-duty vehicles, while heavy-duty road-transport and air traffic require renewable fuels. VTT’s gasification development is targeting this market.

Biobased jet fuel

If 5% of the European transport fuel market would be satisfied by the diesel and jet fuels produced with our technology, that would mean an annual production of 14 million tons of oil equivalent corresponding to 200–300 production plants and equipment sales of some 40 billion €.

In all gasification-based fuel production concepts part of the biomass energy is converted to by-product heat and synthesis off-gases. The energy efficiency from biomass to FT-wax may at best be of the order of 50–55%, while an additional 20–30% energy is available for generating heat and power. VTT’s gasification-BTL process is designed for medium-scale production units, which will utilize 100–150 MW of biomass input and produce typically 30–50 ktoe of FT products and 15–40 MW heat for district heating or industrial use.

Innovative & simplified

VTT’s gasification-BTL process is based on several innovative process simplifications. Gasification is carried out without a need for an expensive oxygen plant. Another key unit operation developed by VTT is the catalytic reforming of tars and hydrocarbon gases, which improves the syngas efficiency and makes it possible to operate the gasifier at low temperature, which is beneficial for the conversion efficiency. Simplified final gas clean-up followed by once-through synthesis can also be applied without decreasing the conversion efficiency.

Down-scalable for district heating

As a conclusion of these processes, modification the BTL plant can be economically down-scaled from 300–500 MW to below 150 MW. This makes it possible to integrate the production into the heat requirements of district heating systems of medium-size towns and many types of industries.

Testing at the VTT Bioruukki pilot plant

A pilot plant for the new BTL gasification route has been built and is operated at Bioruukki. Tests are carried out with various wood residues, straw and waste-derived feedstocks in the BTL2030 project (

The roadmap for industrial plants is created in co-operation with participating companies in the on-going project.

Further information: Esa Kurkela,, +358405026231