Substitute natural gas impact

How to tackle the challenges related to large-scale production and introduction of substitute natural gas by using gasification of solid biomass?

Bram van der Drift (Photo: EDGaR/Jan Buwalda)


In this project, we study the impact of large-scale production and introduction of substitute natural gas (SNG), also known as green gas. We use the technology of gasification of solid biomass. Indeed, ECN has developed an indirect gasification technology, MILENA, and tar removal technology, OLGA. Both of these key-processes for large-scale production of SNG have been technically proven at atmospheric pressure. For large-scale installations, however, these processes should be operated at elevated pressure to reduce capital and operational cost. This project addresses, therefore, the issues related to pressurized operation of MILENA and OLGA. We will do a conceptual design of a pressurized MILENA and OLGA, which will be supported by experiments and modeling.

Besides these technical challenges, there are also economic challenges, social implications and sustainability considerations that play a role in large-scale SNG plants. Because of the high capital costs of an SNG plant, production costs are relatively low when a plant runs continuously. On the other hand, there could be added value in flexible production that follows the gas demand pattern, both on short time scales (such as hours and days) and long-time scales (in this case, seasonal variations). Moreover, storing SNG could be an attractive option. From this combination of technical and economic aspects, we want come up with a future outlook for large-scale SNG plants in terms of output flexibility, gas storage, down-turn ratios, etc.

Large-scale production of SNG from biomass will require centralised SNG production abroad followed by SNG transport to the Netherlands, or biomass import followed by centralised SNG production in the Netherlands. In this project, we will assess the possible production and transport chains and compare them with each other based on economics, energy use and polluting emissions. Finally, we will include the social dimensions of SNG, such as the locations for production, storage issues, biomass sustainability and potential carbon dioxide emissions.

Theme: From monogas to multigas
Leader: Bram van der Drift (ECN)
Partners: ECN, University of Groningen, GasTerra
Budget: 1,2 million euro
Duration: January 2011 / December 2014


Bram van der Drift (ECN)
Gerard Martinus (GasTerra)
Jan Hessels Miedema (University of Groningen)
Christiaan van der Meijden (ECN) 
Luc Rabou (ECN)
Berend Vreugdenhil (ECN)


Miedema, J.H., Dijkema, G.P.J. “Gasification technology in the waste treatment cascade as part of a sustainable energy transition,” in Oral presentation at ISIE Conference, Surrey, July 2015.

Rabou, Luc, Bram van der Drift. 'Benzene and ethylene in bio-SNG production: nuisance, fuel or valuable products?'. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Polygeneration Stategies, edited by H. Hofbauer and M. Fuchs, Vienna: Vienna University of Technology, 2011, 157–162.

Other publication

Drift, Bram van der. “Vergassing, waar energie en chemie elkaar ontmoeten.” NPT Processtechnologie no 4 (2013): 10–11. 

Conference paper

Drift, Bram van der. "Production of bio-methane by gasification: cost reduction options." World Gas Conference, Paris, 2-5 June 2015.

Drift, Bram van der. "Role of Gasification in a Bio-Based Future, 23rd European Biomass Conference and Exhibition." Vienna, 1-5 June 2015.

Drift, Bram van der. "Green gas by gasification: a unique opportunity for the gas industry." Enabling Sustainability with Gas: Closing Conference of the Energy Delta Gas Research, Amsterdam, March 2015.

Drift, Bram van der. "Impact of Large-Scale SNG-Production." Presented at: 22nd European Biomass Conference & Exhibition, Hamburg, Germany, 23-26 June 2014, ECN-E-14-060.

Drift, Bram van der. "Bio-aromatics from gasification." The future of aromatics, Amsterdam, 14-15 May 2014.

Drift, Bram van der. "Chemicals from Biomass." Presented during IEA Task 33 workshop, Göteborg, Sweden, 19 November 2013.

Drift, Bram van der. "Green Gas on the Road." Gasification Seminar by Swedish Gasification Centre, Malmö, Sweden, 6-7 October 2011.

Meijden, Christiaan van der. "The MILENA gasification technology for the production of bio-methane." Methanation and Second Generation Fuels, Nurnberg, Germany, 12-13 June 2014.

Miedema, J.H., H.C. Moll and R.M.J. Benders. "Environmental and energetic performance of the biomass to synthetic natural gas supply chain." Proceedings of the 9th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, SDEWES2014.0043, 2014.

Rabou, Luc. ‘Biomass gasification and upgrading to bio-methane.’ Gas without Frontiers: DVGW-EDGaR First Joint Conference, Apeldoorn, February 2013.

Rabou, Luc, Bram van der Drift. 'Benzene and ethylene in bio-SNG production: nuisance, fuel or valuable products? '. International Conference on Polygeneration Strategies, Vienna, September 2011.

Vreugdenhil, Berend. "Closing the aromatic cycle." The future of aromatics, Amsterdam, 14-15 January 2015.



Drift, Bram van der. “Large scale bioSNG.” Fifth Research Day of the Energy Delta Gas Research, Nunspeet, April 2013.

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