X2Fuels & Energy is an early-stage start-up that endeavors to develop and deploy thermochemical technologies for the conversion of any solid feedstock such as lignocellulosic agri-residues, plastics, bio-organic wastes and municipal solid wastes into storable liquid and solid fuels, which can potentially be integrated within a refinery infrastructure. We are based out of National Center for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) at IIT Madras and incubated at the IIT Madras Incubation Cell. The major goal of X2Fuels & Energy is to employ thermochemical technologies including hydrothermal liquefaction and pyrolysis to convert wastes to fuels and energy in a distributed fashion to solve the solid waste problem in India.
We are in the early stage of developing disruptive technology set to transform the approach a zero-waste economy and conversion to sustainable renewable fuels and chemicals. Currently, with the available platform, we are developing commercial-ready technology as we work with our partners to build the India’s first commercial-scale distributed hydrothermal plant. Our technology will be compact, adaptable for different feedstocks, energy efficient and reliable. It is being designed to cater the waste disposal problems of different sectors, viz., agricultural, municipalities, industrial plants, to make energy-rich fuels towards a Circular Economy.
Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) is a feedstock-agnostic thermochemical processing technique to convert all kinds of biomass, bio-organic wastes, municipal solid wastes and plastics to energy-rich oil, a.k.a. XCrude. The process mimics the Mother earth's natural geothermal activity, wherein organic materials are converted into fossil fuel under conditions of extreme heat and pressure over millions of years. The HTL process reduces the time taken by the natural process to a few hours through the use of controlled pressure and temperature in a pressure vessel / continuous flow tubular reactors. Heavy, complex molecules in the feedstock are converted to liquid Xcrude, bio-char and gases. HTL Xcrude is very similar to fossil crude oil up to a point that a simple thermo-catalytic upgrade and existing refinery technology can be employed to subsequently obtain all the liquid fuels we know and use today. We are developing both large batch HTL process units and continuous reactors to deploy the HTL technology in a decentralized manner to address the growing solid waste management problem in India.
MICROWAVE ASSISTED PYROLYSIS
We have developed a microwave pyrolysis reactor to produce high quality bio-oil from mixtures of biomass agri-residues and waste plastics that is similar in characteristics to petroleum-derived light fuel oil (LFO). Compared to conventional heating, microwave-based heating accelerates the heating rate of the feedstock, and reduce the overall processing time with reasonable energy efficiency (60-70%). Microwave-assisted pyrolysis of a variety of complex feedstocks like coal, lignocellulosic biomass, plastics, waste tires, sewage sludge and lignin to produce fuel molecules, energy and chemicals have been carried out. Presently, our focus is to develop a scalable, continuous microwave heating system to produce high quality oil via pyrolysis, and bio-char via torrefaction of agro-residue pellets.
In order to improve the quality of HTL Xcrude and pyrolysis oil, and produce fungible refinery blend-stocks and commercial fuels, we also focus on integrating these processes with catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) using conventional and novel catalysts. Catalytic HDO is a promising strategy to upgrade the liquid products by enriching the content of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. Our expertise range from proper selection of catalyst based on the type of feedstock to reaction optimization and process development to produce the desired quality of drop-in fuels. We perform extensive characterization of fuel using markers like H/C & O/C ratios, detailed hydrocarbon analysis (PIONA, SARA), density, viscosity, flash point, calorific value, octane/cetane number and distillation profiles.
National Center for Combustion Research & Development
Engineers India Limited
IIT Madras Incubation Cell
Dr Vinu R
Dr S R Chakravarthy
Mr Nallasivam Jeganathan
(Chief Technology Officer)