Energy: New process to produce renewable fuels from waste


Producing gaseous fuels such as hydrogen and methane from municipal solid waste, non-recyclable plastics and biomass, without polluting emissions and by using renewable energy, is the objective of a new process developed and patented at the ENEA Departments of Energy Technologies and Renewable Sources and Fusion and Technologies for Nuclear Safety.

"We aim at generating clean fuels such as hydrogen or hydrogen / methane mixtures starting from low-value, carbon-based materials, through a process that uses renewable energy and does not release pollutants into the environment. It is therefore a purely thermochemical method for hydrogen production and at the same time the energy valorisation of waste”, explained ENEA researcher Alberto Giaconia, inventor of the patent together with Silvano Tosti, Giampaolo Caputo and Alfonso Pozio.

Unlike the conventional gasification and combustion processes, this treatment is based on "hydrogasification" which consists in treating raw waste, even wet, with hydrogen.

"Actually, hydrogasification allows to convert waste into methane using hydrogen. Methane is then treated by a process which uses heat from renewable sources ”, Giaconia said.

The products obtained are CO2 in concentrated form which, unlike that from conventional combustion processes, is easily separable to be potentially transported and reused, and hydrogen, part of which will feed (as a reagent) the hydrogasification process.

The excess hydrogen produced is the "clean" fuel generated by the process, which could be placed in an emerging market strongly promoted by the resilience plan, such as sustainable mobility and industry.

“We can expect the process to be cost-effective as well because we use waste to make a commercial fuel. Just think of how much a municipality like Rome pays today to export waste that could instead be valorised. The transformation also provides for the storage of renewable energy with a relatively simple and highly efficient system ",  Giaconia said.

For more information please contact:

Alberto Giaconia, ENEA – Laboratory of Solar Technology Engineering,


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