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Rapid Solar-Thermal Conversion of Biomass to Syngas

Production of synthesis gas or hydrogen by gasification or pyrolysis of biological feedstocks using solar-thermal energy.

University of Colorado

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Technology Marketing Summary

The invention provides processes that perform biomass gasification or pyrolysis for production of hydrogen, synthesis gas, liquid fuels, or other hydrocarbon based chemicals. The methods of the invention use solar thermal energy as the energy source for the biomass pyrolysis or gasification. This allows operation at temperatures above 950 degrees C, speeding up reaction kinetics and shifting thermodynamics to various reaction end products, thus, bypassing the formation of tars and other liquids that have a tendency to cause plugging or increased pressure drop in gas/solid filtration devices downstream of the reactor and which are undesired side products.


The increase in reaction rate, the use of a renewable energy resource, the avoidance of tars, and the wider range of available thermodynamic regimes give great advantage to one who would utilize solar thermal energy. Usage of solar thermal energy can reduce the overall amount of biomass required to produce the product chemicals, allows for a greater range of product control, does not rely on fossil fuel usage, and takes advantage of a freely available resource (solar energy).

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,287,610
Rapid solar-thermal conversion of biomass to syngas
Methods for carrying out high temperature reactions such as biomass pyrolysis or gasification using solar energy. The biomass particles are rapidly heated in a solar thermal entrainment reactor. The residence time of the particles in the reactor can be 5 seconds or less. The biomass particles may be directly or indirectly heated depending on the reactor design. Metal oxide particles can be fed into the reactor concurrently with the biomass particles, allowing carbothermic reduction of the metal oxide particles by biomass pyrolysis products. The reduced metal oxide particles can be reacted with steam to produce hydrogen in a subsequent process step.
Technology Status
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To: Lola Underwood<>