Dedicated biomass gasification technologies are presently being developed in many countries for the production of second-generation liquid biofuels. Both fluidised-bed gasification and special entrained flow systems are under intensive development. These technologies can also be used for hydrogen production, which may become an interesting alternative in replacing part of fossil fuel input in oil refineries and chemical industries. In addition, fuel cell technology is being developed for hydrogen-rich gases.
New and revolutionary production methods, capable of replacing the classical process routes, can not however be foreseen to emerge in the medium-term. Also the new hydrogen separation technologies, presently under development, seem to have only limited potential to reduce the production cost of hydrogen compared to commercially available technology.
However, with rising prices of fossil fuels and locally depleting natural gas reserves, gasification route is likely to gain more ground as a credible production technology for hydrogen. The global needs to cut down the CO2 emissions can also make gasification of biomass an interesting possibility. Several biomass gasification processes are presently at demonstration phase, mostly aimed for the production of liquid transportation fuels. If and when this technology will be commercialized, it could easily be adopted to the production of hydrogen.
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