Among the types of reactors used in biomass gasification, fluidized bed reactors form the largest group of technical solutions described in patents and applications over the past 20 years. Below we provide for your consideration a brief analysis of inventions related to this technology.
More than 1300 patent documents related to biomass gasification in fluidized bed reactors and published in the twenty-year period from 2001 to 2020 were selected for the analysis by using Advanced Energy Technologies methodology.
The collected documents were published in 52 patent offices of the world by 443 applicants from 21 countries.
Biomass gasification. Fluidized bed reactor. Relationship of number of applications to total number of documents by year
From the chart above, we can see that after the peak in the number of filed applications in 2012-2013, the number of both granted patents and registered patent applications in recent years was moderately high. In 2015-2020 the share of technical solutions represented by start patent applications, that didn’t belong to previously formed patent families, was varying greatly, in a range of 28%-65%. Although in recently-published documents new patent offices are appearing at a low rate, there is still a considerable number of new applicants and new IPC subgroups. This may indicate the existence of established markets for this technology and the emergence of new participants contributing to its development through innovative technical solutions.
More than 23% of all collected patents published between 2001 and 2020 were granted by the USPTO (US) patent office. It is followed by CNIPA (CN) with almost 17% and JPO (JP) with around 10% of the collected patents. In terms of the number of recent patent applications, CNIPA (CN), USPTO (US), INPI (BR), and WIPO became the leaders by publishing about 70% of all applications together.
Biomass gasification. Fluidized bed reactor. Breakdown of inventions by patent offices. Patents, 2001-2020 (left); Applications, 2016-2020 (right)
Residents of the USA were in the lead by the number of patents granted during the 20-year period with a share of more than 31% of all cases. High patenting activity was also demonstrated by residents of Germany, Japan, China, and Canada. For patent applications published in the past five years, the leaders were the residents of China, the United States, and Japan, with the shares of nearly 29%, 21%, and 13%, respectively.
Following is a list of top 10 applicants for patents published in the 20-year period:
Biomass gasification. Fluidized bed reactor. Top applicants. Patents, 2001-2020
|Status||Country||Name||Average rating||Total 2001-2020|
|Company||US||RES USA LLC||17.7||23|
|Company||DE||Herhof Umwelttechnik GmbH||18||19|
|Company||US||Greatpoint Energy Inc||17.1||18|
|Company||US||Sundrop Fuels Inc||16.2||10|
|Company||JP||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.||14.9||9|
|Company||US||Taylor Biomass Energy LLC||16.4||9|
In the collection of recent patents, IHI Corporation (JP) and Rentech Inc. (US) are sharing the first place in terms of Market involvement ratio (Market involvement ratio = volume ratio multiplied by ownership ratio, where Volume ratio - share of applicant documents in total number of documents, Ownership ratio - applicant's participation share in total number of documents) each having a value of almost 6%. They are followed by Herhof Umwelttechnik GmbH (DE) and Enerkem Inc. (CA) with around 4% each. In recent applications, the leader is Stichting Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland (NL) with almost 5%, followed by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd (JP), Reliance Industries Limited (IN), Rentech Inc. (US), and ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions AG (DE) each having more than 3%.
Biomass gasification. Fluidized bed reactor. Top applicants. Applications, 2016-2020
|Status||Country||Name||Average rating||Total 2016-2020|
|Company||DE||ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions AG||9.2||13|
|Company||NL||Stichting Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland||11.6||12|
|Company||JP||Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd||8.6||9|
|Company||IN||Reliance Industries Limited||12.5||8|
|Company||CN||China Petroleum & Chemical Company||10.6||7|
|Company||US||Sundrop Fuels Inc||11.6||7|
|Company||US||Thermochem Recovery International Inc||9.1||7|
In the collection of patent documents describing technologies of biomass gasification employing fluidized bed reactors, Low efficiency of main processes problem was mentioned in the vast majority of documents, while other common problems, such as High OPEX / Poor performance, Low efficiency / Variety of feedstock, and Environmental and social impact are encountered in a much smaller number of patent documents. Generally, both in patents and patent applications the authors presented their ideas in the form of methods and devices. The number of inventions disclosing new compositions is much smaller. In the collection of patents and patent applications collected for the present analysis, the most popular IPC subgroups were C10J3/00 (Production of gases containing carbon monoxide and hydrogen, e.g. synthesis gas or town gas, from solid carbonaceous materials by partial oxidation processes involving oxygen or steam), C10J3/54 (Gasification of granular or pulverulent fuels by the Winkler technique, i.e. by fluidisation), C10J3/56 (Apparatus; Plants), C10J3/46 (Gasification of granular or pulverulent fuels in suspension), and C10J3/48 (Apparatus; Plants).
The largest patent family in the pool of documents collected for the present analysis includes 43 patent documents and is represented by core document DE19930071C2 (Core document is a base document for which a complete description of the invention is available in generally-accessible patent databases). It is followed by patent families with core documents DE19930071C2 and US20130028801A1 (41 documents in each family):
Verfahren und Vorrichtung zur Pyrolyse und Vergasung von organischen Stoffen und Stoffgemischen / P: DE19930071C2 / IPC: C10B49/22, C10B53/02, C10J3/58, F23G5/027, F23J1/02 / Funk Günter, Hamel Stefan, Krumm Wolfgang / Funk Günter, Hamel Stefan, Krumm Wolfgang / Appl. date: 30.06.1999; Publ. date: 27.09.2001 / German Patent and Trade Mark Office / Core document: DE19930071C2 / Technology categories: GF / Technology elements: Exr, Hdi, Mps, O2n, O2y, Rfl, Rmb, Rpr, Rrt / Problems: HCG, HOP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 15 / Rating: 13
GASIFICATION SYSTEM AND METHOD / A: US20130028801A1 / IPC: B01J19/00, F02C1/00 / JIANG Weibin, McComish Bruce E, BORUM Bryan C, CARRYER Benjamin H, IBSEN Mark D, ROBERTSON Mark K, ELROD Eric R, WEEKS Sim, WRIGHT Harold A / RENTECH INC, JIANG Weibin, McComish Bruce E, BORUM Bryan C, CARRYER Benjamin H, IBSEN Mark D, ROBERTSON Mark K, ELROD Eric R, WEEKS Sim, WRIGHT Harold A / Appl. date: 23.07.2012; Publ. date: 31.01.2013 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US20130028801A1 / Technology categories: BFT, GF / Technology elements: Cty, Exr, Gcl, Hdi, Mps, O2y, Ref, Rfl, Wrm / Problems: LEVF / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 30 / Rating: 13
Systems and methods for solar-thermal gasification of biomass / P: US8771387B2 / IPC: B01J7/00 / Simmons Wayne, Perkins Christopher, Jovanovic Zoran / Sundrop Fuels Inc, Simmons Wayne, Perkins Christopher, Jovanovic Zoran / Appl. date: 08.06.2010; Publ. date: 08.07.2014 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US8771387B2 / Technology categories: GF / Technology elements: Hsl, O2n, O2y, Prf, Ref, Rfb, Rfl, Wrm / Problems: UP / Technical solution types: D / Claims: 15 / Rating: 17
The following abbreviations are used in the documents hereinbefore and hereinafter: D - Device; M - Method; C - Composition; BFT - Biomass-to-liquids (Fischer-Tropsch); GF - Biomass gasification; PT - Pyrolysis & torrefaction; HCD - High CAPEX / Development; HCG - High costs in general; HOP - High OPEX / Poor performance; LEMP - Low efficiency of main processes; LEVF - Low efficiency / Variety of feedstock; UP - Unclear problem; COS - Chemistry and other substances; PTG - Processing technologies in general; Cty - With catalyst; Exr - Exhaust reuse; Gcl - Gas cleaning; Hdi - Autothermal (direct) heating; Hsl - Solar-heated; Mps - Multiple stages; O2n - Without oxygen; O2y - With oxygen; Prf - Treatment of ready products; Ref - Entrained flow reactor; Rfb - Fixed bed reactor; Rfl - Fluidized bed reactor; Rmb - Moving bed reactor; Rpr - Pyrolysis reactor; Rrt - Rotary tube reactor; Wrm - Waste removal
Biomass gasification. Fluidized bed reactor. Breakdown of documents by family size. Patents and applications, 2001-2020
Below are several examples of patent documents with the highest rating calculated using Advanced Energy Technologies methodology, from the collection of documents describing biomass gasification in fluidized bed reactors:
Biomass gasification. Fluidized bed reactor. Prominent patent documents by rating, 2001-2020:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DUAL FLUIDIZED BED GASIFICATION / P: CA2750257C / IPC: C01B3/44, B01J8/26, C10K1/34 / APANEL GEORGE, WRIGHT HAROLD A / RES USA LLC, RENTECH INC / Appl. date: 21.01.2010; Publ. date: 16.05.2017 / Canadian Intellectual Property Office / Core document: US8241523B2 / Technology categories: BFT, GF / Technology elements: Cty, Gcl, Hdi, Mps, O2n, O2y, PTG, Rfl / Problems: HCD, LEMP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 128 / Rating: 21
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DUAL FLUIDIZED BED GASIFICATION / P: US8814963B2 / IPC: B01J7/00, C01B6/24, C01B3/02 / Apanel George, Wright Harold A / Rentech Inc / Appl. date: 08.08.2013; Publ. date: 26.08.2014 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US8241523B2 / Technology categories: BFT, GF / Technology elements: Cty, Gcl, Hdi, Mps, O2n, O2y, PTG, Rfl / Problems: HCD, LEMP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 35 / Rating: 21
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DUAL FLUIDIZED BED GASIFICATION / P: US8715380B2 / IPC: C01B3/36, C10J3/46, C01B6/24, B01D53/52 / Apanel George, Wright Harold A / Rentech Inc / Appl. date: 08.08.2013; Publ. date: 06.05.2014 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US8241523B2 / Technology categories: BFT, GF / Technology elements: Cty, Gcl, Hdi, Mps, O2n, O2y, PTG, Rfl / Problems: HCD, LEMP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 19 / Rating: 21
System and method for dual fluidized bed gasification / P: US8241523B2 / IPC: C01B3/38, C01B3/24 / Apanel George, Wright Harold A / Rentech Inc / Appl. date: 21.01.2010; Publ. date: 14.08.2012 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US8241523B2 / Technology categories: BFT, GF / Technology elements: Cty, Gcl, Hdi, Mps, O2n, O2y, PTG, Rfl / Problems: HCD, LEMP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 35 / Rating: 21
Catalyst for thermocatalytic conversion of biomass to liquid fuels and chemicals / P: US9649624B2 / IPC: B01J29/40, B01J37/00, B01J37/28, C10G3/00, C10L1/00, C10L1/04 / Adkins Bruce, Stamires Dennis, Bartek Robert, Brady Michael, Hacskaylo John / Kior Inc, Inaeris Tech LLC / Appl. date: 06.05.2015; Publ. date: 16.05.2017 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US9649624B2 / Technology categories: GF, PT / Technology elements: COS, Cty, Rfl / Problems: LEMP / Technical solution types: C, M / Claims: 20 / Rating: 20
System and method for dual fluidized bed gasification / P: US9528057B2 / IPC: C10J3/56, C10K3/02, C10G2/00, B01J8/18, B01J8/00, C10K1/00, C10K1/34, C10K3/04, B01J8/26, C10K3/00, C01B3/44, B01J23/755, B01J38/30 / Apanel George, Wright Harold A / RES USA LLC / Appl. date: 02.07.2014; Publ. date: 27.12.2016 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US8241523B2 / Technology categories: BFT, GF / Technology elements: Cty, Gcl, Hdi, Mps, O2n, O2y, PTG, Rfl / Problems: HCD, LEMP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 26 / Rating: 20
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DUAL FLUIDIZED BED GASIFICATION / P: US8801815B2 / IPC: C01B6/24, C10J3/00 / Apanel George, Wright Harold A / Rentech Inc / Appl. date: 08.08.2013; Publ. date: 12.08.2014 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US8241523B2 / Technology categories: BFT, GF / Technology elements: Cty, Gcl, Hdi, Mps, O2n, O2y, PTG, Rfl / Problems: HCD, LEMP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 19 / Rating: 20
Among the patents and patent applications published over the 20 years and collected for this analysis, one of the largest groups of documents included inventions that to some extent aim at solving the Low efficiency of main processes problem. Other largely widely represented groups include such technical solutions as those involving multiple-stage reactors, employing catalysts, and requiring air or oxygen supply to the process. Following are several examples of inventions that concern biomass gasification in fluidized bed reactors that relate to the abovementioned groups of technical solutions.
- US9649624B2 - improved conversion efficiency in fluidized bed reactor is achieved by the use of a novel catalyst made of ZSM-5 zeolite, a phosphorous-containing compound, and a silica-containing binder;
- US10208262B2 - catalytic gasification in a reactor with a gasification zone and a combustion zone each comprising two fluidized beds is aimed to raise efficiency, reduce slag formation, improve catalyst recyclability, and achieve other objects;
- US20170175016A1 - operational problems related to the presence of incombustibles in the fuel are solved by an indirect gasification system comprising a pre-processor for sorting the fuel, separate gasifier and combustor, a transfer unit and a separator to transfer unreacted materials to the combustor;
- US20170362520A1 - improved efficiency of the process is achieved by a system performing pyrolysis, gasification and combustion processes in two different chambers with a control system measuring velocity and oxygen contents of the process fluids and parameters of a product gas or a flue gas;
- US10315176B2 - equipment costs are decreased by a fluidized bed reactor having a fluidized bed zone, a freeboard zone, inlets creating a swirling flow of material, a planar plate forming an underflow opening and preventing short-circuiting of flow, and a particulate dryer.
Patent US9649624B2 by KiOR Inc (US) and Inaeris Technologies LlC (US) discloses a catalyst for use in gasification or pyrolysis of solid biomass, and a method of the catalyst production. The method comprises treating a ZSM-5 zeolite with a phosphorous-containing compound (such as phosphoric acid), then calcining the resulting phosphorous-promoted ZSM-5 component having a pH value of about 3.5, making a slurry of the component and a silica-containing binder (for instance, kaolin, silicic acid, polysilicic acid, silica gel, their combination or derivatives), and shaping the slurry. Washing the resulting shaped bodies to adjust the pH value to around 8, and calcining them. The catalyst of the invention is substantially free of amorphous alumina. According to the claims of the invention, catalyst is applicable for biomass conversion into fuel in a fluidized bed reactor.
The invention is aimed at improving the efficiency of biomass conversion process and increasing the yield of products.
The patent belongs to a family comprising 14 patent documents published in US, AU, CA, CN, EP, JP, MX, RU, WO, and BR between 2012-2020.
Image from: US9649624B2
Patent US10208262B2 granted to Reliance Industries Limited (IN) describes a process for catalytic gasification in a dual fluidized bed, comprising gasifying a first portion of feedstock in a fluidized gasification zone at a temperature of 600-800°C with steam and a catalyst "…consisting of an alkali metal compound impregnated on a solid particulate carrier selected from γ-alumina, silica, ZSM-5, fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) spent catalyst, and mixtures thereof", where the alkali metal (such as K2CO3, KOH, or KNO3) to the carrier ratio is 1:1 to 1:5, a molar ratio of the feedstock to the steam is 1:1.5 to 1:3, and catalyst to feedstock ratio is 2:1 to 50:1. Heat for gasification is supplied by the heated catalyst. A cyclone separator is used to separate the catalyst and the unreacted carbon from the syngas. The heat-extracted catalyst is then discharged to a fluidized combustion zone, where a second portion of feedstock is combusted with unreacted carbon from gasification at a temperature of 800-840°C with air, and the resulting heat is used to heat the catalyst for re-use in the gasification zone. The gasification process involves oxygen or enriched air, and carbon dioxide as a gasifying agent. A portion of the produced syngas is supplied to the gasification zone to alter the resulting syngas composition. Heat from synthesis gas and flue gas is extracted to generate steam. The claims of the invention also provide various specific parameters of the process in the gasification and combustion zones, such as pressure, ratios, time, temperature, etc.
Among the objects of the invention, the authors mention improved efficiency of the gasification process, prevention of molten slag formation, and others.
The patent is a part of a family including 19 patent documents published between 2014 and 2020 in US, AR, AU, CA, CN, EP, RU, TW, WO, and ZA.
Image from: US10208262B2
100 - dual fluidized bed catalytic gasification process; 102 - gasification zone; 104,144 - cyclone; 106,150 - heat exchanger; 108,152 - boiler feed water; 110 - low pressure steam; 112,146 - discharge line; 114 - catalyst; 116 - secondary gas inlet; 118 - pure oxygen; 120 - synthesis gas; 122 - steam and/or CO2; 124 - primary gas inlet; 125 - feedstock; 126 - first feedstock inlet; 128,132 - supply line; 129 - cooled solid catalyst particles; 130 - product synthesis gas; 134 - air; 136 - air inlet; 137 - heated catalyst; 138 - second feedstock inlet; 139 - carbonaceous coke feedstock; 140 - combustion zone; 142 - solid fines; 148 - high pressure steam; 154 – stack
Low efficiency of main processes
Patent application US20170175016A1 filed by Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KR) describes a fluidized bed indirect gasification system for biomass and other low-quality feedstock. The system comprises a pre-processor for sorting a first fuel supplied to a gasifier, and a second fuel supplied to a combustor. The gasifier is connected to the combustor by a riser that heats and transfers a bed material. The system further comprises two hollow passages that connect a lower part of the riser with the higher part of the gasifier, and vice versa, the two passages being crisscrossed with each other. The system also comprises a transfer unit connecting a lower part of the gasifier and a lower part of the combustor to transfer incombustibles and unreacted char from the gasifier to the combustor. A separator is positioned between the combustor and the gasifier to separate unburned portion and tar from the produced syngas and to supply it to the combustor. A dispersion section is located between the riser and the combustor.
The invention is aimed at eliminating the problems related to the presence of incombustibles in the fuel, thus extending the service life of the equipment and improving its operation range.
The invention is a part of a family consisting of 4 patent documents published between 2015 and 2020 in US, WO, and KR.
Image from: US20170175016A1
100 - Combustor; 101 - Dispersion section; 103 - Chamber; 210 - Riser; 300 - Gasifier; 320 - Separator; 430 - First transport pathway; 440 - Second transport pathway; 500 - Sorter; 600 - Supply unit
Patent application US20170362520A1 filed by Stichting Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland (NL) discloses a process including the steps of pyrolysis, gasification and combustion, where a part of the fuel from the pyrolysis chamber is supplied to a combustion chamber for gasification in a fluidized bed using a primary process fluid and combustion in an area above the fluidized bed using a secondary process fluid. The primary and secondary process fluids provide air to the combustion chamber for respective processes. The pyrolysis and combustion chambers comprise riser channels in the reactor, and are connected by a feedback channel comprising downcomer channels in the reactor. The primary process fluid is used to control the temperature of the fluidized bed. Control units are located in the primary and secondary process fluid inputs to control the velocity and oxygen contents. In the gasification process, the equivalence ratio (ER, oxygen supplied divided by oxygen needed for combustion) is 0.9-0.99. Based on a product gas or flue gas temperature or oxygen content in the flue gas, the ER can be controlled by adjusting the supply of the primary process fluid or oxygen, or by adding an inert gas or flue gas to the primary process fluid.
The authors mention that the process of the invention demonstrates improved efficiency.
The application belongs to a patent family comprising 17 documents published from 2016 to 2019 in US, AU, BR, CA, CN, CR, EP, JP, KR, PH, SG, WO, ZA, and NL.
Image from: US20170362520A1
2 - wall; 3 - riser; 4 - fuel input; 5 - first process fluid input; 6 - pyrolysis chamber; 9 - flue output; 10 - product gas output; 11,12,12a - feedback channel; 20 - gasification zone; 21 - a primary process fluid input; 22 - secondary process fluid input; 23 - combustion zone; 24 - control unit; 25 - distribution device
Requiring air or oxygen
A plug flow fluidized bed reactor suitable for gasification is provided in patent US10315176B2 by Hatch Ltd. (CA). The reactor comprises a cylindrical hollow chamber for circulation of a fluidized bed formed by an outer sidewall and a bottom wall and having a fluidized bed zone and a freeboard zone with first and second product outlets, respectively. Fluidizing medium is injected into the bed through a number of inlets in the bottom and/or the outer side wall of the reactor. The inlets comprise gas and/or liquid injectors capable of creating a circumferential, swirling flow of material in the fluidized bed zone. A planar plate (further wall of the hollow chamber) extends radially from the outer sidewall toward the center and is partly located in the fluidized bed zone where it faces in a direction of the swirling flow. A bottom edge of the planar plate is spaced above the bottom wall, thus forming an underflow opening, while the top edge is located above the fluidized bed zone. A feed inlet and the first product outlet are located in the outer sidewall, with the planar plate located in between to prevent short-circuiting of flow. The reactor further comprises a particulate dryer including the second product outlet communicating with the freeboard zone.
The authors state that there is a need for a simpler reactor to lower equipment costs or operating costs.
The patent is a part of a family comprising 11 patent documents published in US, AU, CA, CN, EP, and WO in 2015-2020.
Image from: US10315176B2
1B - Fig. 1B; 10 - reactor; 12 - outer side wall; 14 - bottom wall; 16 - top; 18 - chamber; 20 - fluidized bed zone; 22 - freeboard zone; 24 - fluidizing medium inlets; 26 - inlet chamber; 27 - inlet; 28 - feed inlet; 30 - feed zone; 32A,32B - product outlet; 33 - product zone; 34 - barriers; 36 - underflow openings; 38 - bottom edge; 40 - inner side wall; 42 - top edge
In the course of the analysis and revision of technical solutions from patent documents related to the technology of gasification in fluidized bed reactors, it was noted that in recent years much attention has been paid to the aspect of incomplete conversion of biomass feedstock with the formation of deposits in equipment or contamination of the produced synthesis gas, which can lead to such problems as lowered efficiency of the gasification process and damage or malfunctioning of the gasification system.
More detailed information about inventions in the field of biomass gasification, and patent research methodology can be found on aenert.com and in BIOENERGY. Biomass Gasification. Extended patent report. September 2021.