CONVERGE: entering a new era for biodiesel production

The H2020 project overseen by the Politecnico will make use of biomass to make green fuel competitive

The Politecnico di Milano is overseeing the project CONVERGE (CarbON Valorisation in Energy-efficient Green fuels), which aims to reduce the cost of biodiesel and make its production more sustainable. The project is funded with 5 million euros under the European Union’s innovation and research programme Horizon 2020.

The objective is to ensure that the production of this fuel becomes competitive compared to that of fossil fuels, increasing the use of biomass and its current 0.1% ratio. In order for this to be possible, a new process will be developed which integrates innovative technology aimed at increasing the biomass conversion efficiency by 12% and decreasing costs by over 10%.

CONVERGE proposes the use of five innovative technologies with the ambition to integrate the latest secondary biomass gasification processes, the conversion and separation of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and the purification and compression of hydrogen, all in view of a more efficient process for methanol production, a precursor to biodiesel.

Along with biodiesel production, the CONVERGE process will see the capture of excess carbon dioxide from during the procedure. Since the fuel used in the process is secondary biomass, capturing carbon dioxide allows for the CO2 emissions to be confined, the same emissions that were initially absorbed by plants from the atmosphere. In English this concept is known as Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). BECCS is acknowledged by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations) as a key technology for keeping the increase in average planet temperature, caused by the increase in carbon dioxide concentration levels in the atmosphere, under 1.5°C.

In order to face this challenge, the consortium has brought together two universities, three research centres and five companies from throughout Europe. The partners carry the banner for the entire value chain from supplying secondary biomass to producing biodiesel.

The CONVERGE consortium, overseen by the Politecnico di Milano, is composed of: TNO (Holland), Kemijski Institut (Slovenia), Universitatea Babes Bolyai (Romania), Hyet Hydrogen (Netherlands), Institutt for energiteknikk (Norway), Campa Iberia (Spain), Biorecro (Sweden), Ca.Re. For Engineering (Italy) e Enviral (Slovakia). The project began in November 2018 and will end in 2022.

The CONVERGE project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 818135.

Photo credit: property of Enviral