Production of Hydrogen Out of Woodchip

- Demonstration of Continued Bench Scale Production with Carbon Dioxide Absorbed by Calcium -

Key Points

  • Hydrogen successfully produced out of woodchip on a bench-scale continuous production system at a 10 kg/day throughput based on steam gasification or CO2 absorption gasification using calcium as carbon dioxide absorber, to provide clean fuel gas without CO2 included.
  • While hydrogen was produced previously out of biomass woodchip in batch mode bench production on laboratory scale, continuous production has not been available. The new technology will open the way to the clean fuel production on a commercial scale.


The Biomass Technology Research Laboratory (BTRL) of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), an independent administrative institution, succeeded in a demonstration experiment of CO2 absorption gasification from biomass in collaboration with the Center for Coal Utilization, Japan (CCUJ), a juridical foundation. Using a 10 kg/day throughput continuous production plant, clean fuel gas without including CO2 was produced: hydrogen 83 %, methane 15 % and output 0.5 Nm3/h. The successful production in continuous mode will open the way to the biomass utilization at a commercial level.

  • While there have been successful cases of clean fuel gas production in batch mode on a laboratory scale, step-up to continuous production has not been readily implemented.
  • Continuous production of clean gas without CO2 is the first feat in the world, and upgrading of gas quality to hydrogen concentration 80 % or higher is also leading the world.

The future efforts will be focused on stable operation, long-term operation and optimization, to establish the prospect for commercial production.

Photo 1
Photo 1. A picture of bench scale gas production plant


In view of global warming and to meet future demands for recycling and hydrogen economy, the development of hydrogen production technology from renewable biomass resources is of great significance. The CO2 absorption gasification is a variety of hydrogen gasification using calcium for absorbing carbon dioxide, and one of promising technologies to provide clean gas with hydrogen as main ingredient. In contrast to biological process, the present technology is applicable to various types of biomass, and characterized by fast reaction rate. The similar method has been developed in Germany and other overseas countries, but the attainable hydrogen concentration has been 70~80 % or lower, because of failure in adequate absorption of carbon dioxide.

Details of R&D Work

The Project has two objectives: (1) To build up and operate on trial basis a bench scale continuous operation plant for establishing technological prospect for commercial production, and (2) In addition to process design and economical assessment, the significance in the social system is to be examined to ascertain the economical feasibility of the commercial production. The BTRL-AIST and the CCUJ are dedicated to R&D work related to the objective (1), while the HU and the Energia will take charge of the objective (2).  For further detail, refer to http://unit.aist.go.jp/biomatech/e/baio.files/frame.htm.

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