Portuguese create system for energy cogeneration from biomass

A team of researchers has developed, in partnership with industry, an “innovative technological system for energy cogeneration from biomass”, announced today the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra (FCTUC).

The new system is intended for “customers with large thermal and electrical energy consumption in the service sector, small and medium industry, and agriculture and livestock”, says the FCTUC, in a note sent today to the Lusa agency.


The energy cogeneration consists in the simultaneous production of two forms of energy – in this case, thermal and electrical – burning a single fuel, fossil or not, and is characterized by being a more economical, efficient and sustainable way than traditional methods of independent generation.


Created under projects developed in recent years by FCTUC scientists with SCIVEN, the technology “materializes in a modular equipment coupled to a boiler for hot water production, preferably, but not necessarily powered by biomass.


The new system, explains the FCTUC, thus becomes a mini-plant for local electricity production, “more efficient and sustainable compared to large plants”, whenever its user needs thermal energy.


“From a biomass boiler, we developed a set of technology capable of producing electricity for self-consumption while heating water or spaces,” explain the project coordinators, José Baranda Ribeiro, Jorge André and Ricardo Mendes, from FCTUC’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Eduardo Costa, from the company SCIVEN.


“We chose to integrate in the pilot system a biomass boiler, in this case pellets [pellets from wood waste, produced in a sustainable way], because they are a renewable, clean, reliable and certified quality energy source, besides being economically very competitive,” they add.


Currently, stresses the FCTUC, the boilers most commonly used, for example, in hotels, hospitals, universities or airports are gas (natural or propane) or diesel, fuels that are much more expensive than pellets delivered on site.


Their replacement by this integrated system “will be highly advantageous for industries and services that need both heat and electricity, both from an economic and environmental point of view,” argue, quoted by the FCTUC, the project coordinators.


Besides “significantly reducing energy costs,” this solution “is also aligned with the goals of decarbonization of processes and the economy, with a potential reduction of CO2 emissions in the order of hundreds of tons per year,” they say.


The large-scale implementation of this type of system in Portugal “not only allows reducing the import of fossil fuels, contributing to a sustainable energy policy, but also contributes to creating new value chains,” sustain the project’s promoters, who, for example, stress, “encourages better forest management.


For the FCTUC scientists, the great innovation of this project “is to prove the viability of minicogeneration of energy, that is, the cogeneration of energy on a small scale, given that cogeneration for large powers has already been practiced for many years.


The goal is to “create economic value through an integrated heat and power cogeneration systemincorporating a biomass boiler.


This system, whose technology the consortium will continue to develop in order to expand its market, was created under a project funded by the PT2020 program and the National Innovation Agency.

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