Exclusive technology for converting waste into clean energy in Brazil

Press Release /

Refined and increasingly innovative technologies are crucial to finding solutions for reducing the use of fossil resources. The partnership between ISI Biomass (Senai Biomass Innovation Institute), located in Três Lagoas, and the Fraunhofer UMSICHT Institute in Germany will expand the potential for research to transform waste into clean energy.

© Fraunhofer UMSICHT
TCR2 laboratory system, which will be supplied to ISI as part of the co-operation with Fraunhofer UMSICHT.
© Fraunhofer UMSICHT
TCR 30 pilot plant with a capacity of 30 kg biomass per hour, which will be supplied to ISI as part of the co-operation with Fraunhofer UMSICHT.
© Fraunhofer UMSICHT
TCR large scale demonstration system with 500 kg capacity per hour and integrated hydrogen separation, biooil upgrading and CHP. This plant is operated by Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Germany.

João Gabriel Marini, Business and Management Manager at ISI Biomass, recalls that the Senai Innovation Institutes network was inspired and implemented with the consultancy of the Fraunhofer Institutes network in Germany, headed by Fraunhofer IPK. »Today, with this partnership, we have the opportunity to transfer the technologies developed by them, which can thus be applied by our team using local feedstocks.«

Dr Robert Daschner, head of Advanced Carbon Conversion Technologies department at Fraunhofer UMSICHT, says: »In an industry that can do without fossil carbon, biomass will be one of the carbon sources of the future. Brazil has one of the largest biomass potentials in the world, especially for previously unutilised biogenic residues. This potential can be realised with the help of our technology.«

ISI will receive two plants for the conversion of waste biomass from Fraunhofer, one in lab scale with a feedstock capacity of 2 kilograms per hour, one in pilot stage with a capacity of 30 kilograms per hour. Both plants incorporate the patented Thermo-Catalytic Reforming (TCR) technology invented by Fraunhofer UMSICHT. The revolutionary technology has the capacity to generate hydrogen, synthetic fuels, and biofertilizers from various types of waste biomass, e.g. sewage sludge, residues from biogas plants, wood residues, industrial biomass residues such as spent grains or sludge from paper recycling, straw and other agricultural residues up to horse or cattle manure.

Several industrial projects being planned in Brazil

»We already have several projects being planned to use this technology, which makes us even more of a reference in applied research in biomass transformation in Brazil,« emphasizes Marini.

According to industrial researcher Paulo Renato dos Santos, the innovation will allow the simultaneous development of different projects focused on the production of new biofuels and also green chemicals, using various biomass and waste existing in the country. »Thus, we will assist Brazilian industries in achieving their sustainability goals and objectives,« he highlighted.

The TCR is a system that efficiently converts biomass and waste into oils and combustible gases, including renewable hydrogen, with a high degree of energy utilization. It transforms biomass into three products: biochar, oil and syngas, from which synthetic fuels or base materials for the chemical industry can be derived.

Developed and patented by the Fraunhofer UMSICHT Institute, the technology is unique in the world, particularly due to the high product qualities that can be achieved.

TCR pilot plants of various sizes are currently in operation in Chile, Switzerland, Italy and Canada as part of research projects or academic collaborations. The largest TCR demonstration plant with a feedstock capacity of 12 tons per day is operated by Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Germany / Bavaria. It was built as part of the EU To-Syn-Fuel project.  

The worldwide interest and the advanced state of development show the transformation potential of TCR technology, especially if local feedstocks are used and the systems are adapted to them. 

Hydrogen from local biomass and the possibility of scaling up production

Given the urgent need for decarbonization and the use of renewable raw materials to combat global warming and its associated negative impacts, including a substantial reduction in the use of fossil sources and greenhouse gas emissions, the main objective of the partnership between ISI Biomass and Fraunhofer UMSICHT is the generation of renewable hydrogen (in this case, derived from biomass, hence »green moss«) from various regional biomasses and residual biomasses using TCR technologies and gasification (for which already a plant is installed at ISI Biomass).

This aims to enable the appropriate use of different biomass sources for energy production, biofuels, and inputs in Brazil, with a focus on the diversity of national raw materials. With the support of Fraunhofer, the goal is to develop and disseminate technologies suitable for the Brazilian context. The TCR plants being brought to Brazil allows for the evaluation of numerous raw materials, both at the bench and pilot scale.

Hydrogen is considered a great alternative to replace fossil fuels. Although green hydrogen, generated from water electrolysis with renewable energy, is favored, the high cost and technological challenges for production scalability are a challenge. Therefore in Brazil, moss appears as a promising option, especially considering the agricultural nature of the region.

According to ISI researcher Paulo Santos, the overall goal is to contribute to expanding knowledge and developing technologies for the production of renewable hydrogen from the valorization of agro-industrial biomass and waste, minimizing environmental impacts caused by improper disposal.

Biomass has the potential to generate biogas and biomethane, which could then be converted into hydrogen. The technology implemented at ISI also allows for the development of different projects with high potential for industrial scaling and strong integration with other processes to be installed in the State.

Fraunhofer Society

The Fraunhofer Society, based in Germany, is the world’s leading applied research organization. It’s main objective is to bridge the gap between academic production and industry and is the inspiration for the creation of the Senai Innovation Institutes. Founded in 1949, the organization conducts applied research that drives economic development and serves a broader benefit to society. It has 76 institutes throughout Germany, and its services are requested by clients and contractual partners in industry, the service sector, and public administration. In Brazil, with the intensification of German government actions in research, the Fraunhofer Society identified various ways to start new projects in partnership with local companies and organizations. Due to the growing Brazilian demand for innovative and cutting-edge technologies, Fraunhofer Society saw great potential in the market for the introduction of technological solutions and research activities.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology is pioneering the way to a sustainable world. With research on circular economy, carbon management, green hydrogen and local energy systems it makes concrete contributions to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Fraunhofer UMSICHT develops innovative, industrially feasible technologies, products and services for the circular economy and bring them to application. The focus is on the balance of economically successful, socially equitable and sustainable developments. The institute has three sites in Germany. In 2021, Fraunhofer UMSICHT generated a turnover of more than 57.8 million euros with a workforce of 608 employees


Fraunhofer Liaison Office Brazil

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