Previously, on 31.01.2023 we revised technical solutions related to Fluidized bed reactor in Biomass gasification. Now, we will have a look at another aspect of this technology to find out, what are the trends in feedstock preparation for biomass gasification. For this purpose we have collected and analyzed using the Advanced Energy Technologies methodology more than 6300 inventions in this field, published by 1785 applicants from 44 countries in 63 patent offices around the world.
The peak in the number of registered patent applications in this field was achieved in 2013, which resulted in a peak of granted patents in 2016. But, in average, the number of patents and patent applications was on a high level in recent years. The number of start patent applications, that didn’t belong to previously formed patent families was varying recently, with a peak of 54% achieved in 2019.
Biomass gasification. Pre-treatment of feedstock. Cumulative number of patents and applications*, relationship of number of applications to total number of documents by year
*Areas representing patents and applications are overlapping
In recent years, there was a peak of new IPC subgroups in the pool of documents related to the subject under consideration, while the number of applicants was moderate and the number of patent offices declined. This may indicate the continued interest of the authors in the development of this field of technology, and, particularly, the involvement of new technologies in it.
The largest number of patents were granted during the twenty-year period in the USPTO (US) patent office – about 25% of the entire collection of patents. It was followed by CNIPA (CN) with almost 16% and EPO with 11%. CNIPA (CN) (around 26%), USPTO (US) (around 16%), and WIPO (13%) were leading by the number of recent patent applications registered in the 5-year period. JPO (JP), IP Australia (AU), and CIPO (CA) should also be mentioned as the patent offices that granted more than 5% of patents each on the subject of interest in the collection under revision.
Biomass gasification. Pre-treatment of feedstock. Breakdown of inventions by patent offices. Patents, 20 years (left); Applications, 5 years (right)
By the number of patents granted during the 20-year period, residents of the United States were leading with a share of almost 30% of all cases, followed by the residents of China (around 16%) and Germany (almost 11%). For recently published patent applications, the leaders were the residents of China (about 23%), the United States (more than 21%), and Japan (around 9%).
Following is a list of top 10 applicants having the highest Market involvement ratio for patents published in the 20-year period (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):
Biomass gasification. Pre-treatment of feedstock. Top applicants by Market involvement ratio. Patents
|Organization||CN||Wuhan Kaidi Engineering Technology Research General Institute Co., Ltd.||5.15||97.53||5.02|
|Company||NL||Shell Internationale Research Maatschappij B.V.||2.22||98.84||2.19|
|Company||US||Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.||1.96||88.1||1.73|
|Organization||FR||Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives||1.8||64.06||1.15|
|Organization||CN||Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group Co. Ltd||1.65||100||1.65|
|Company||NL||Stichting Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland||1.34||91.99||1.23|
|Company||US||ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company||1.29||67.11||0.87|
Of all applicants participating in the reviewed collection of patents, Wuhan Kaidi Engineering Technology Research General Institute Co., Ltd. (CN) had the largest number of documents – 100. It was followed by General Electric (US) – 48, and Shell Internationale Research Maatschappij B.V. (NL) – 43. The following applicants were the leaders by the number of documents in the collection of recently published patent applications: Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (FR) – 40; Wuhan Kaidi Engineering Technology Research General Institute Co., Ltd. (CN) – 34, ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions AG (DE) – 30, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (FI) – 30.
Biomass gasification. Pre-treatment of feedstock. Top applicants by Market involvement ratio. Applications
|Organization||FR||Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives||2.6||65.98||1.72|
|Organization||CN||Wuhan Kaidi Engineering Technology Research General Institute Co., Ltd.||2.21||100||2.21|
|Organization||FI||VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland||1.95||100||1.95|
|Company||DE||ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions AG||1.95||40.83||0.8|
|Company||DK||Haldor Topsoe A/S||1.69||100||1.69|
|Company||GB||Johnson Matthey Plc||1.69||100||1.69|
|Company||JP||Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd||1.62||100||1.62|
|Company||CN||China Petroleum & Chemical Company||1.49||50||0.75|
In the majority of cases, the authors of patents and patent applications disclosed their technical solutions in the forms of methods and devices. Compositions, although described in a substantial number of documents, are encountered less often. In the pool 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); C10J3/72 (Other features); C10J3/84 (with means for removing dust or tar from the gas); C10J3/46 (Gasification of granular or pulverulent fuels in suspension); and C10J3/48 (Apparatus; Plants).
The largest patent family in the collection of documents used in the present review includes 31 patent documents and is represented by core document US20130164798A1 (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 US10130732B2 (22 patent documents) and US20190120487A1 (20 documents):
Processes for producing hydrocarbon products / A: US20130164798A1 / IPC: C07C1/207, C07C29/147, C07C67/00, C10L1/04, C10L5/44, C12P5/02, C12P7/04, C12P7/06, C12P7/16, C12P7/64 / Vanhercke Thomas, Petrie James Robertson, et al. / Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Vanhercke Thomas, Petrie James Robertson, El Tahchy Anna, Singh Surinder Pal, Liu Qing / Appl. date: 21.12.2012; Publ. date: 27.06.2013 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US20130164798A1 / Technology categories: AL, GF / Technology elements: AES, PTF / Problems: UP / Technical solution types: M / Claims: 19 / Rating: 10
Apparatus and method for treating waste / P: US10130732B2 / IPC: A01G25/16, A61L11/00, B01J8/00, B09B3/00, C07C29/74, C10J3/00, C10L1/00, C10L1/02, C12P7/08 / Hall Philip / Vwp Waste Processing Limited, Km Dastur Holdings Limited, Regional Property Group Limited, Reclaim Resources Limited, Hall Philip / Appl. date: 02.02.2009; Publ. date: 20.11.2018 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US10130732B2 / Technology categories: CE, GF, OU / Technology elements: PTF / Problems: ESI, HCE, HOU, LEMP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 11 / Rating: 16
Process for the conversion of biomass of plant origin, and a combustion process / A: US20190120487A1 / IPC: F23G5/04, C10L5/44, C12P19/04, D21C5/00, F23G5/02, F23G7/10 / Vos Dirk Jan, Rustenburg Simon / Newfoss Holding BV / Appl. date: 13.12.2018; Publ. date: 25.04.2019 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US20190120487A1 / Technology categories: GF / Technology elements: PTF / Problems: ESI, HOU, LEMP / Technical solution types: M / Claims: 20 / Rating: 12
The following abbreviations are used in the documents hereinbefore and hereinafter: C - Composition; D - Device; M - Method; AL - Algae; CE - Cellulosic ethanol; GF - Biomass gasification; HCD - High CAPEX / Development; HCE - High CAPEX / Equipment; HCG - High costs in general; HOP - High OPEX / Poor performance; HOU - High OPEX / Utilization; LEMP - Low efficiency of main processes; ESI - Environmental and social impact; UP - Unclear problem; AES - Additional equipment, substances; CD - Methods of control and diagnostics; OU - Other and unspecified technologies; PTF - Pre-treatment of feedstock.
Biomass gasification. Pre-treatment of feedstock. Breakdown of documents by family size. Patents and applications
Below are several examples of patent documents having the highest rating calculated using Advanced Energy Technologies methodology, from the pool of documents describing feedstock pre-treatment for biomass gasification:
Biomass gasification. Pre-treatment of feedstock. Prominent patent documents by rating:
Processing biomass / P: AU2018201447B2 / IPC: B32B21/10, C08B1/00, D04H1/00 / Medoff Marshall, Medoff Harrison / Xyleco Inc / Appl. date: 28.02.2018; Publ. date: 10.10.2019 / IP Australia / Core document: AU2018201447B2 / Technology categories: CE, GF / Technology elements: PTF / Problems: HOU, LEMP / Technical solution types: M / Claims: 7 / Rating: 21
Processing biomass / P: AU2015261591B2 / IPC: B32B21/10, C08B1/00, D04H1/00 / Medoff Marshall, Medoff Harrison / Xyleco Inc / Appl. date: 25.11.2015; Publ. date: 07.12.2017 / IP Australia / Core document: AU2018201447B2 / Technology categories: CE, GF / Technology elements: PTF / Problems: HOU, LEMP / Technical solution types: M / Claims: 7 / Rating: 21
Processing biomass / P: AU2016201656B2 / IPC: C12M1/02, C12P7/08, C12P7/10, C12P19/02, C12P19/14, C13K1/02 / Medoff Marshall, Masterman Thomas / Xyleco Inc / Appl. date: 16.03.2016; Publ. date: 09.11.2017 / IP Australia / Core document: AU2019232814A1 / Technology categories: AL, CE, GF / Technology elements: CD, PTF / Problems: HCG, LEMP / Technical solution types: D, M / Claims: 20 / Rating: 20
Processing biomass / P: AU2017213553B2 / IPC: C12P7/10, B01J19/08, C08B1/00, C08H8/00, C12P7/40, C12P7/62, D21B1/02 / Medoff Marshall, Masterman Thomas / Xyleco Inc / Appl. date: 11.08.2017; Publ. date: 22.08.2019 / IP Australia / Core document: AU2017213553B2 / Technology categories: AL, CE, GF / Technology elements: PTF / Problems: HCG / Technical solution types: M / Claims: 10 / Rating: 19
Sorbent containing engineered fuel feed stocks / P: US10563144B2 / IPC: C10L5/44, C10J3/72, C10L5/46, F23G5/027, F23K1/00 / Bohlig James W, Bai Dingrong, Calabrese Paula A / Accordant Energy LLC / Appl. date: 04.08.2017; Publ. date: 18.02.2020 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US20180086995A1 / Technology categories: GF / Technology elements: PTF / Problems: ESI, HCD, HOP, LEMP / Technical solution types: C, M / Claims: 81 / Rating: 19
Sorbent containing engineered fuel feed stock / P: US9752086B2 / IPC: C10L5/40, B03B5/48, C10J3/72, C10L1/12, C10L1/23, C10L5/36, C10L5/44, C10L5/46, C10L9/08, F23G5/027, F23K1/00 / Bohlig James W, Bai Dingrong, Calabrese Paula A / Accordant Energy LLC / Appl. date: 22.09.2015; Publ. date: 05.09.2017 / United States Patent and Trademark Office / Core document: US20180086995A1 / Technology categories: GF / Technology elements: PTF / Problems: ESI, HCD, HOP, LEMP / Technical solution types: C, M / Claims: 22 / Rating: 19
Processing biomass / P: AU2015203496B2 / IPC: C12P7/10, B01J19/08, C08B1/00, C08H8/00, C12P7/40, C12P7/62, D21B1/02 / Medoff Marshall, Masterman Thomas / Xyleco Inc / Appl. date: 24.06.2015; Publ. date: 11.05.2017 / IP Australia / Core document: AU2017213553B2 / Technology categories: AL, CE, GF / Technology elements: PTF / Problems: HCG / Technical solution types: M / Claims: 18 / Rating: 19
In the recent patents and patent applications related to feedstock preparation for biomass gasification technology, the most commonly mentioned problems were Low efficiency of main processes, Low efficiency / Variety of feedstock, Environmental and social impact, and High OPEX / Utilization. Below we provide several examples of inventions that concern these groups of technical solutions.
- US10316465B2 - biomass feedstock cleaning process involving the use of a vibrating separator, a kinetic separator, and a hydrocyclone separator is proposed for alleviating such problems as low production efficiency in such technologies as biomass gasification, and others;
- US10669495B2 - a solid gasification fuel composition is disclosed to eliminate the drawbacks of similar compositions produced from mixed solid wastes. The composition includes carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, mixed plastics, etc., and is characterized by specific content and burning parameters;
- WO2018096056A1 - improvements in lignocellulosic biomass gasification process are achieved by a step of feedstock preparation comprising, inter alia, a wet granulation step performed by a rotating plate granulator or a high shear granulator-mixer and including adding a binder.
- US10563144B2 - a method for producing an engineered fuel feedstock, comprising selecting a plurality of components including fiber components and plastic components, combining them with a sorbent, adding additional fuel components, comminuting and densifying. The method is used to control heavy metal emissions, prevent corrosion and improve operation performance in gasification;
- US11248185B2 - improved gasification feedstock preparation energy efficiency is achieved by a three-step process comprising drying and torrefying biomass feedstock and co-grinding it with fossil feedstock.
Low efficiency of main processes
Patent US10316465B2 granted to API Intellectual Property Holdings LLC (US) describes a process for cleaning biomass. The process comprises introducing biomass feedstock to a vibrating separator to generate an overflow stream (biomass and large grit) and an underflow stream (fines and small grit). The process further comprises introducing the overflow stream to "…a kinetic separator, to generate an intermediate biomass stream and a large-grit stream", and introducing the "…underflow stream and elutriation water to a hydrocyclone separator, to generate a wet biomass-fines stream and a small-grit stream". Water contained in the wet biomass-fines stream is separated and recycled as the elutriation water, to generate a biomass fines stream. This biomass fines stream is combined with the previously mentioned intermediate biomass stream to produce clean biomass. The claims of the invention specify the content and composition of biomass, as well as grit removal and water consumption parameters. The process is intended for use as feedstock preparation step in various technologies, such as gasification and others.
The authors mention that unprocessed feedstock can cause reduced yields of desired products and other related problems.
The invention belongs to a patent family comprising 3 documents published in US and WO in 2016 and 2019.
Image from: US10316465B2
101 - vibrating separator; 102 - kinetic separator; 103 - large grits; 104 - biomass; 105 - hydrocyclone separator; 106 - grits; 107 - biomass fines; 108 - dewatering unit; 109 - clean biomass stream.
Low efficiency / Variety of feedstock
Patent US10669495B2 by EcoGensus LLC (US) discloses a solid fuel composition, comprising "…an amount of carbon; from about 5 wt. % to about 20 wt. % hydrogen; and oxygen, wherein the solid composition comprises: between about 5 wt. % and about 35 wt. % mixed plastics; and a melted plastic matrix comprising at least a portion of the mixed plastics in a melted state, and the amount of carbon is selected from the group consisting of from about 54 wt. % to about 58 wt. %, from about 56 wt. % to about 62 wt. %, from about 60 wt. to about 64 wt. %, from about 62 wt. % to about 66 wt. %, and from about 64 wt. % to about 68 wt. %.". The proposed composition has an energy content of at least about 8,000 BTU/lb and comprises at most 0.5 wt. % chlorine, and has a density of at least about 30 lbs./ft3. When burned, the composition produces "…less than about 0.5 lb. alkali oxide; less than about 3 lb. ash; less than about 0.1 lb. SO2; and less than about 1.5 lb. of chlorine." The claims of the invention further provide additional specifications of the composition. The disclosed composition is especially suitable for such processes as gasification, pyrolysis, etc., and can be used for bio-derived feedstock.
The authors point out the need for a process of producing a solid fuel composition from mixed solid wastes.
The patent is a part of a family comprising 19 patent documents published in US, AR, CA, CN, EP, KR, PH, JP, TW, UY, WO, and BR between 2016 and 2020.
Image from: US10669495B2
100 - solid fuel production method; 101 - blending; 102 - shredding; 104 - introducing solid waste mixture; 106 - heating; 108 - removing vaporized compounds; 109 - heating and mixing; 110 - extruding; 112 - cooling.
Patent application WO2018096056A1 filed by Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (FR) describes a method of biomass gasification comprising feedstock preparation steps. According to the method, a biomass is dried and grinded to obtain a dry powder. The powder is subjected to a wet granulation to obtain granules in the form of a semolina, which are then dried (and, optionally, sieved) and supplied to a gasification reactor. Wet granulation is performed by a rotating plate granulator or a high shear granulator-mixer and includes adding a binder, such as starch or starch-containing wastes, agricultural wastes (such as sugar cane, oil palm waste, etc.), algae, seaweed, whey, or their combinations. A liquid is added by spraying to the binder and the powder, which is then mixed and heated to obtain gel.
The authors point out the need to improve the process of lignocellulosic biomass gasification by optimization of the feedstock processing step.
The application belongs to a patent family comprising 4 patent documents published in FR, EP, and WO in 2018 and 2019.
Image from: WO2018096056A1
Environmental and social impact
Patent US10563144B2 published by Accordant Energy, LLC (US) discloses a method of producing an engineered fuel feedstock, comprising selecting a plurality of components having a carbon content of 30-80 wt. %, a hydrogen content of 3-10 wt. %, a volatile matter content of 40-80 wt. %, and an ash content of <10 wt. %; and including fiber components and plastic components. The method further comprises combining the selected components with a sorbent, adding additional fuel components including biomass, comminuting and densifying the engineered fuel feedstock. The claims of the invention specify the amount of the sorbent and substances that can be used for this purpose. The claims further specify such aspects of the engineered fuel feedstock as ash content, volatile matter content, HHV, moisture content, sulfur content, chlorine content, H/C ratio, O/C ratio, carbon content, and others.
The invention is aimed at controlling heavy metal emissions, improving operation performance and preventing corrosion in gasification process.
The patent is a part of a family consisting of 18 patent documents published in 2011-2020 in US, CA, CN, EP, HR, JP, MX, PL, US, and WO.
Image from: US10563144B2
High OPEX / Utilization
Patent US11248185B2 is published on 15.02.2022 and granted to the group of companies comprising IFP Energies nouvelles (FR), Axens (FR), Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (FR), Total Raffinage Chimie (FR), ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions AG (DE), Avril Group (FR), and BIONEXT (FR). The patent describes a process for treating a lignocellulosic biomass feedstock comprising drying it at a temperature of 20-180°C for 5-180 minutes, torrefying the dried feedstock at 200-350°C. for 5-180 minutes at a pressure of 0.1-15 bar producing torrefied solid effluent, and co-grinding of the torrefied solid effluent in the presence of solid fossil feedstock (1-100 mm in size with a moisture content of 3.1-30%), to obtain powder. In the drying step the residual water is 0.0%-5.0% by weight of the feedstock. The co-grinding step is performed at 0-150°C with a percentage of the solid effluent in the total solid feedstock of 40-99%, and includes final drying or the resulting powder at a temperature of 100-300°C performed during or at the end of the step. The gases produced in the torrefaction step are combusted to provide energy. The claims of the invention further provide preferred and more specific parameters of the process, as well as other optional and additional steps. The process of the invention relates to the treatment of biomass for its preparation for gasification or other processes.
As the advantage of the invention the authors mention reduced energy costs of the process.
The patent belongs to a patent family comprising 13 patent documents published between 2019-2022 in US, AU, BR, CA, CN, EP, FR, JP, MX, WO, and ZA.
Image from: US11248185B2
(1) - feedstock; (2) - pretreated feedstock; (3) - dried feedstock; (4) - solid effluent; (5) - powder; (6),(7),(8) - effluent; (9) - solid fossil feedstock; (10) - pre-dried fossil feedstock; i) - pretreatment; a) - drying; b) - torrefaction; c) - co-grinding; d) - final drying; e) - storage; f) - transport; g) - drying; iii) - preliminary drying.
These and other inventions revised for the present analysis show that the authors are working to develop engineered feedstocks optimally suited to the gasification process and to provide procedures for processing variable feedstocks to make them suitable for gasification, in order to minimize detrimental effects on process efficiency, the environment or equipment involved. Processing of raw materials may include various approaches, including separation, granulation, grinding, compaction, and others.
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.