Jensen, Claus Uhrenholt

Industrial PhD Steeper Energy ApS 

PROJECT TITLE: PIUS - Hydrofaction Technology Platform with Integrated Upgrading Step to Produce Refinery Bio-Feed for Crude Oil Substitution 

PhD period: 2015.01.01 - 2017.12.31. (has been prolonged till 2018.01.15)
Section: Fluid Mechanics and Combustion
Research Programme: Biomass
Supervisor: Lasse Rosendahl
Co-Supervisors: Steen B. Iversen & Göran Olofsson (both from Steeper Energy ApS) and Dr. William C. McCaffery, University of Alberta
Contact information

Collaborator: Steeper Energy Aps.
Funding: Steeper Energy ApS & Innovationsfonden.


As fossil reserves run out, and global as well as local climate issues become very real, it is necessary to identify technologies and technology platforms that can aid in making the transition to sustainability as smooth as possible. Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) represents a technology targeting a crude oil substitute, which at the same time is feedstock insensitive, energy-, cost- and feedstockeffective. It has a high potential for sustainability and product flexibility with significant drop-in fuel capabilities making it a strong contender in the field of cost-effective bio-fuel production technologies.

An advanced hydrothermal research facility, the Continuous Bench Scale 1 (CBS1), was installed at Aalborg University in 2013. This unit, designed and constructed by Steeper Energy, now forms the platform for a public-private partnership between Aalborg University and Steeper Energy. Very recently, with wood as the main feedstock supplemented by stabilizers and hydrogen donors, and at conditions higher than normally perceived for liquefaction, very promising and state-of-the-art leading results have been obtained in terms of oil quality and yield.

Significant attention has been given to the upgrading of “traditional” bio-oils, typically pyrolysis oils. However, it has been shown recently that coprocessing vegetable oils (canola and others) with fossil crude in a refinery carries with it synergetic benefits in terms of energy requirement and product quality. It is quite likely that HTL oils will behave as vegetable oils, making a refinery side drop-in an attractive market proposition compared to producing transport grade finished fuels. However, besides in-house research and the MSc work by the Industrial PhD candidate, the required upgrading path for HTL biocrude to be refinery co-processing compatible remains unexplored, in particular in the context of an integration of this step into the overall conversion process. Thus, the project focus will be on process design of a CBS1 integrated upgrading unit that may bring the HTL crude oil to a fully compatible drop-in biofuel.


Publications in journals and conference papers may be found at VBN.