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Green Synthetic Fuels

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Green Synthetic Fuels ( green-synthetic-fuels )

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Energies 2020, 13, 420 3 of 96 electric power that ranges between 250 and 300 TWh could be converted to hydrogen, and 200 TWh of electricity could be generated from hydrogen. A comprehensive review of hydrogen production pathways from fossil, biomass, and water feedstocks are described in [17–19]. Several authors have reviewed hydrogen and syngas generation through catalytic roots such as steam reforming and partial oxidation, with or without carbon capture, for the conversion of fossil feedstocks in a low-carbon emissions fuel [20–24]. The biological conversion of biomass through fermentative processes and the dissociation of water by microalgae (direct biophotolysis) or cyanobacteria (indirect biophotolysis) are widely discussed by [25–32]. Fermentative processes exploit food waste, industrial and forest residuals as useful resources for biofuel production [25], while biophotolysis consists of water-splitting reactions [33]. However, technologies are at the earlier research stage. The conversion efficiency of biophotolysis is below 1%, while a critical issue of fermentative processes is the low amount of hydrogen produced per mole of the substrate [27]. An overview of hydrogen generation from renewable energy sources including electrochemical, photochemical and thermochemical processes is reported in [34–38]. Orhan and Babu [39] analyzed the hydrogen production through water splitting by combining nuclear and solar energy sources. They also described the hydrogen storage alternatives and fuel cell technologies for hydrogen conversion to electricity, water and heat. The hydrogen supply chain is also investigated in [40], which describes hydrogen production, storage and end-use appliances also with a focus on safety and detection issues but does not mention the transport through gas networks. Instead, the hydrogen production, transportation and storage are wholly analyzed by [41–43]. Syngas production through biomass gasification and pyrolysis and post-treatment for gas cleaning and upgrading are well-known processes broadly disclosed in [44–50]. Similarly, the anaerobic digestion for biogas production is a well-known and commercialized route [51–58]. Indeed, thermochemical and electrochemical processes for syngas generation are at the earlier research stage and are reviewed in [59–62]. Moreover, catalytic and biological CO and CO2 methanation reactions, described in [63–66], are employed to improve the quality of gases such as syngas, biogas or hydrogen and generate synthetic methane. 1.2. Motivation of This Work In this review, we analyze the hydrogen and synthetic natural gas supply chains. Our focus is both on gas production and possible pathways for gas end uses (see Figure 1). This approach allows an overview of the potential of green synthetic fuels to enter the market, analyzing not only the economic and technological feasibility of renewable fuels generation but also their application in end-use facilities. Particular attention is also paid to safety problems related to the quality of gases for transport, storage and conversion in energy power. Indeed, in the literature, there are many studies about synthetic fuels technologies, sources and storage separately. However, only a few works give a comprehensive overview of the synthetic gaseous fuels supply chain. The focus is on catalytic processes based on non-fossil feedstock (biomass, water and carbon dioxide) and enhanced by electricity or heat provided by renewable energy sources. Therefore, steam reforming and partial oxidation of fossil feedstocks and biological conversion of biomass and water are not considered in our analysis. Indeed, biological reactions occur under solar irradiation but are not enhanced by electric or thermal power generated by renewable energy sources. Green synthetic gas generation routes analyzed are based on thermochemical and electrochemical routes. Hydrogen is generated by splitting water molecules via thermochemical cycles or electrochemical processes such as photoelectrochemical and electrolytic cells. Whereas, syngas is derived by the thermochemical conversion of biomass (pyrolysis and gasification processes) and via electrolysis and thermolysis of water and carbon dioxide. Syngas quality is not suitable for end-use application; therefore, it is enhanced by catalytic methanation processes.

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