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ATT of Biomass for Hydrogen Production

Here’s an article posted in Azo Clean Tech.

According to the article,

  • Green hydrogen production, particularly via biomass utilizing novel alkaline thermal treatment (ATT) technology, holds promise for significantly reducing carbon emissions and aiding in the transition to a carbon-free society.
  • Understanding the fundamental roles of alkali and catalysts in the ATT reaction, as well as the biomass conversion mechanism, is crucial for developing more effective strategies and potentially achieving breakthroughs in larger-scale applications.
  • Key areas for further research and optimization include identifying optimal catalyst systems, analyzing deactivation mechanisms, improving reactor design, addressing issues like coking and limited mass transfer, and conducting economic and energy consumption assessments to advance the industrialization of biomass ATT processes for hydrogen production.

More about ATT of Biomass for Hydrogen Production:


Alkaline thermal treatment of biomass for hydrogen production is an innovative process that involves the decomposition of organic materials under high temperatures and alkaline conditions to yield hydrogen gas. This method is promising due to its potential for high hydrogen yields and the utilization of renewable biomass feedstock. Let’s delve into the process elaborately:

  1. Biomass Selection: The process begins with the selection of suitable biomass feedstock. This can include various organic materials such as agricultural residues (like straw, corn stover), forestry residues (like wood chips, sawdust), energy crops (like switchgrass, miscanthus), or organic waste.
  2. Preparation and Pre-Treatment: Before undergoing thermal treatment, the biomass feedstock may undergo pre-treatment steps such as size reduction (chipping, grinding) and moisture adjustment to optimize the process efficiency.
  3. Alkaline Activation: The biomass is then mixed with an alkaline catalyst, commonly hydroxides or carbonates of alkali metals (e.g., potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide), which serve as promoters for hydrogen production. The alkaline catalysts help in enhancing the gasification reactions and promoting hydrogen yield.
  4. Thermal Treatment: The prepared biomass-catalyst mixture is subjected to high temperatures typically ranging from 500°C to 800°C in a controlled environment, such as a fixed-bed reactor or a fluidized bed reactor. This process is carried out under an inert atmosphere (usually nitrogen) to prevent unwanted combustion reactions.
  5. Gasification Reaction: At elevated temperatures, the biomass undergoes a series of complex thermochemical reactions, including pyrolysis, gasification, and reforming. The alkaline catalyst facilitates the gasification reactions, leading to the decomposition of complex organic compounds present in biomass into simpler gases, primarily hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4).
  6. Hydrogen Separation and Purification: The produced gas mixture is then cooled to condense water vapor and separate it from the gaseous products. Hydrogen purification techniques such as pressure swing adsorption (PSA) or membrane separation may be employed to obtain high-purity hydrogen gas.
  7. Product Utilization: The purified hydrogen gas can be utilized in various applications, including fuel cells for electricity generation, industrial processes (such as ammonia production), or as a clean energy carrier for transportation.

Specific data points and informative facts:

  • Hydrogen Yield: Alkaline thermal treatment has shown promising hydrogen yields, typically ranging from 60% to 80% of the theoretical maximum.
  • Operating Conditions: Optimal operating conditions vary depending on the biomass feedstock and catalyst used but generally include temperatures between 500°C to 800°C and residence times ranging from minutes to hours.
  • Catalyst Loading: The amount of alkaline catalyst added to the biomass feedstock typically ranges from 5% to 20% by weight.
  • Feedstock Flexibility: Alkaline thermal treatment is versatile and can utilize a wide range of biomass feedstocks, making it suitable for regions with diverse biomass resources.
  • Carbon Sequestration: The process offers potential benefits for carbon sequestration as it converts biomass into hydrogen while capturing and storing carbon in the form of biochar, a stable carbon-rich residue.

Overall, alkaline thermal treatment of biomass holds significant promise for sustainable hydrogen production, offering a pathway towards renewable energy generation and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Interestingly, we have some other posts related to this content:

  1. Green Hydrogen Production Boosts by Solar Device: Hits 20% Efficiency
    • A new solar-radiation-concentrating device has surpassed 20% efficiency in hydrogen production, generating green hydrogen at over 2 kilowatts and usable heat at 70°C, potentially applicable in hospitals, electric vehicles, and residential heating.
  2. Hydrogen-Producing Rooftop Solar Panels: The Future of Clean Energy
    • Researchers at KU Leuven have developed hydrogen-producing rooftop solar panels nearing commercialization. These panels are compatible with common PV structures and utilize non-precious materials to keep costs low, indicating readiness for industrial production.
  3. AI Solar Tech For Green Hydrogen – Lancaster and Heliogen
    • Lancaster has partnered with Heliogen to employ AI solar technology for green hydrogen production, aiming to power the city’s fleet with AI-enabled solar energy technology.
  4. Southeast Asia’s First Solar-Hydrogen 5G Tower by Solarvest-Huawei-CENTEXS
    • Southeast Asia’s first 5G tower, powered by a solar-hydrogen microgrid testbed system, has been built by Solarvest, Huawei, and CENTEXS in Sarawak, aiming to advance the clean energy industry in Borneo.
  5. Solar-Powered Hydrogen Generation from Seawater: by IIT Madras
    • IIT Madras researchers have developed a solar-powered system to generate hydrogen from seawater, producing 100 liters per day, enough to power a small car for 100 km, using solar energy, seawater, and a catalyst.


About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.

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