Increased social value at Centrale Rotterdam. Hydrogen, fertilizer and pulp production

CE Delft is supporting Engie in its search for ways to transform the Centrale Rotterdam (CR) power plant into a utilities hub integrated into a bio-economic cluster projected at the Port of Rotterdam. In this supporting role CE Delft has already carried out an initial, exploratory study on three issues:

  • biomass availability
  • available conversion technologies
  • markets for conversion products.

The present study, for Engie, delves deeper into the issues, considering the following aspects of four technologies:

  • approximate mass and energy balances, incl. consumption of steam and other auxiliaries
  • rough estimate of greenhouse gas balance and waste production
  • rough business case for large-scale processing
  • sustainability of available biomass feedstocks.

A rough assessment was also made of the physical scope for installing large-scale processing plant on the site of the CR power plant.

The following technologies were assessed:

  1. Hydrogen production for external users based on RDF gasification and co-firing of CO-rich flue gas in the CR power plant.
  2. Hydrothermal carbonisation of sewage plant sludge with nutrient recovery and co-firing of ‘hydrocoal’ in the CR power plant.
  3. Organosolv pulping of straw for paper-pulp production and co-firing of the lignin-rich waste fraction in the CR power plant.
  4. Steam explosion pre-treatment of low-grade woody biomass for firing the CR power plant with recovery of chemicals from residual process water.

Prompted partly by this study, work has begun on a steam explosion pre-treatment plant.

The results of the study have been discussed with several environmental organisations. They had no objections to our recommendations or potential implementation, nor criticism thereof.