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198

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

P R O F I L E

S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N E R G Y

T

he transition from a fossil-based energy and product

supply to a sustainable, renewable supply relies on

intelligent use of the limited resources available. One of

these is biomass, particularly lignocellulosic biomass, which will

become a major source of fuel and intermediates for carbon-

based products in the decades to come. The thermochemical

conversion of biomass could become key in this transition due to

feedstock flexibility, high throughput, unrivalled efficiency in

conversion, and range of products. Hydrothermal liquefaction

(HTL), especially, is able to process wet organic material into a

high quality biocrude, which can be mildly processed into a

sustainable marine distillate equivalent, or further refined into

advanced diesel and aviation biofuels.

The North Denmark region is uniquely positioned to support the

development and implementation of this technology, hosting not

only a research platform through the C3BO Center for BioOil at

Aalborg University, but also innovative technology developers,

logistic and transport hubs already keyed into sustainability and

carbon footprint reduction through industrial symbiosis, smart

cities and regions, and the circular economy. As a region, North

Denmark is characterised by significant agriculture, a long

coastline with several mid-sized ports, and a regional emphasis

on sustainability and being smart – smart clusters and smart

cities in a smart region.

Due to its unique geography, the region hosts wave and power test

centres, both of which are the largest such installations in Europe.

Aalborg University has one of the largest research capacities

within energy in Denmark and has several world class research

environments within the field. Research activities are

supplemented by a large energy graduate programme, with

several high tech spin-outs following from the combined research

and education activities.

Aalborg University works with HTL in a sustainable bio-refining

context and dedicates significant efforts to this strategic research

priority in collaborating with local, regional and international

partners within the triple helix structure. Facilities include an

advanced pilot scale, continuous HTL research platform as well as

mechanical, thermal and chemical pre-treatment facilities, and

downstream processing and upgrading platforms.

Through HTL, a gradual transition towards sustainability can be

achieved efficiently and cost effectively. HTL fuels and refinery

intermediates are able to reuse existing hydrocarbon refineries

and infrastructure, as well as today’s engines and turbines, due to

their drop-in nature. This eliminates the need for costly and time-

consuming investments in new infrastructure. Traditionally seen as

a waste management technology, recent research has shown that

HTL efficiently converts a wide range of organic materials into

biocrude, including lignocellulosic material such as forestry and

agricultural residue, and new sources of aquatic biomass.

In the North Denmark Region, the market for Bio-Oil is well

defined, encompassing marine, aviation and land transport;

situated at the top of the Jutland peninsula, centrally within a

SECA region, all shipping to and from the Baltic region passes

close by. The distance to Copenhagen has catalysed significant

domestic air travel, so that domestically, Aalborg Airport is now

second only to Copenhagen. In recent years, international

destinations have increased, connecting the region directly with

most of Europe. For land transportation, the North Denmark

region lies on the route connecting northern Scandinavia with the

rest of Europe.

These factors together make an almost perfect platform upon

which to build a sustainable transport hub combining innovative

research institutions, enterprises and municipal organisations in a

triple helix structure to make use of regional strengths to

demonstrate greening of the transport sector.

Lasse Rosendahl

Professor

Head of Biomass Research Programme

Department of EnergyTechnology

Aalborg University, Denmark

te l :

+45 9940 9263

lar@et.aau.dk www.biomass.et.aau.dk

Hydrothermal liquefaction as a vehicle to significantly reduce the carbon

footprint of transportation in a smart region context

Sustainable transport hub,

North Denmark