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Converting Trash Into Biofuel

DEM (Descrete Element Method)

Converting Trash Into Biofuel

Accurate analysis of the gasification process, using Ansys Rocky - DEM particle software.

Owner: Enerkem | Publication date: 05.04.2022.

Field of expertise:


Application area:

Waste Management



Enerkem has developed an innovative process to use nonrecyclable waste for production of biofuels and renewable chemicals. The company is offering a solution for waste management and energy diversification, where waste is a resource for producing various products. A thermochemical process, namely gasification, is a core of the process. During this process, waste’s organic fraction is separated from the inorganic part and converted into syngas. This is done in a series of closed units. The units involve solid handling, notably feeding system, fluidized bed reactor and inorganic extraction system. The syngas which are produced are converted into biofuel in a catalysation process.


As converting trash into biofuels is an emerging process, it still has many technical challenges that need to be overcome. Analyses of granular flow and fluid flow in gasification reactor needed to be simplified and they were yet computationally expensive simulations. Such analyses were not possible to do within a reasonable time frame. Enerkem used scaled-down CFD simulation models, as well as bench testing to analyse the process. They needed to introduce more accurate and faster tools to be able to thrive in this fast-paced innovation area.

Technology used
Engineering solution

By using Ansys Rocky-DEM particle software, Enerkem was able to analyse the gasification process more accurately for full industrial scale. This is all now possible to do in a realistic time frame. Due to various features such as the solver API, Enerkem has the possibility to further adjust the software to specific applications of such gasifiers.


By performing CFD-DEM simulations in full scale with good fidelity, one can analyse different operation scenarios and design options.This further leads to design optimization of the reactor and a better process understanding. Also, it makes it possible to diagnose the problems and find solutions for them more easily. Besides gasification process, Enerkem uses Ansys Rocky-DEM to analyse a variety of solid handling equipment and further optimizes the whole gasification plant.

Trash to biofuel - hopper flow

Hopper flow

Trash to fluid - rotating drum

Rotating drum

Trash to biofuel - angle of repose

Angle of repose

trash to biofuel - Cold fluidized bed

Cold, fluidised bed