Published October 8, 2020 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Triple-mode grid-balancing plants via biomass gasification and reversible solid-oxide cell stack: Concept and thermodynamic performance

  • 1. Innovation Research Institute of Energy and Power, North China Electric Power University, China
  • 2. Group of Energy Materials, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 3. Institute of Biomedical Engineering, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, Republic of China
  • 4. Industrial Process and Energy Systems Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland


Biomass-to-electricity or -chemical via power-to-x can be potential flexibility means for future electrical grid with high penetration of  variable renewable power. However, biomass-to-electricity will not be dispatched frequently and becomes less economically- beneficial due to low annual operating hours. This issue can be addressed by integrating biomass-to-electricity and -chemical via ‘‘reversible’’ solid-oxide cell stacks to form a triple-mode grid-balancing plant, which could flexibly switch among power generation, power storage and power neutral (with chemical production) modes. This paper investigates the optimal designs of such a plant concept with a multi-time heat and mass integration platform considering different technology combinations and multiple objective functions to obtain a variety of design alternatives. The results show that increasing plant efficiencies will increase the total cell area needed for a given biomass feed. The efficiency difference among different technology combinations with the same gasifier type is less than 5% points. The efficiency reaches up to 50%–60% for power generation mode, 72%–76% for power storage mode and 47%–55% for power neutral mode. When penalizing the syngas not converted in the stacks, the optimal plant designs interact with the electrical and gas grids in a limited range. Steam turbine network can recover 0.21–0.24 kW electricity per kW dry biomass energy (lower heating value), corresponding to an efficiency enhancement of up to 20% points. The difference in the amounts of heat transferred in different modes challenges the design of a common heat exchange network.


L. Wang, M. Pérez-Fortes and J. Van herle have received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 under grant agreement No 826161 (Waste2GridS), 826234 (Waste2Watts), 815284 (BLAZE) and 735692 (CH2P), and support from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research. T.- E. Lin thanks the Young Scholar Fellowship Program by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Republic of China, under Grant MOST 108-2636-E-009-012. Y. Zhang, C. Li and Y. Yang thank the financial support by the Science Fund for Creative Research Groups of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51821004). L. Wang especially thanks J. Van herle (Group of Energy Materials) and F. Marçchal (Group of Industrial Process and Energy Systems Engineering) for hosting his five-year stay at EPFL (08.2015–07.2020), which firmly enhanced his academic ability. L. Wang also greatly thanks M. Pérez-Fortes for fighting alongside in all EU projects participated during 2016–2020.



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BLAZE – Biomass Low cost Advanced Zero Emission small-to-medium scale integrated gasifier-fuel cell combined heat and power plant 815284
European Commission
WASTE2WATTS – Unlocking unused bio-WASTE resources with loW cost cleAning and Thermal inTegration with Solid oxide fuel cells 826234
European Commission
WASTE2GRIDS – Converting WASTE to offer flexible GRID balancing Services with highly-integrated, efficient solid-oxide plants 826161
European Commission
CH2P – Cogeneration of Hydrogen and Power using solid oxide based system fed by methane rich gas 735692
European Commission