Bio-oil and biocrude for biofuel production (via pyrolysis / thermochemical conversion)
A number of research projects and companies are developing innovative processes (pyrolysis and thermochemical conversion) to turn a wide range of biomass (forestry residues, crop residues, waste paper and organic waste) into stable, concentrated bio-oil (biocrude) that is compatible with existing refinery technology and can be converted into advanced biofuels.
For example, in the HTU® (hydrothermal upgrading) process, originally developed by Shell, biomass is treated with water at high temperature and pressure (300-350°C & 120-180 bar) to produce bio-crude. This can be separated by flashing or extraction to heavy crude (suitable for co-combustion in coal power stations) and light crude, which can be upgraded by hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) to advanced biofuels (Source: Biofuel BV presentation).
Tall oil, a residual product of the pulp and paper industry, is also being used to produce biodiesel.
Industrial scale demonstration of pyrolysis technology
In March 2012, Fortum, Finland announced an investment of ~ EUR 20 million to build a bio-oil plant, based on fast pyrolysis technology, connected to the Joensuu CHP plant, which will be the " first of its kind in the world on an industrial scale."
The integrated plant will produce electricity and district heat and in the future also 50,000 tonnes of bio-oil per year. The bio-oil raw materials will include forest residues and other wood based biomass. Construction of the bio-oil plant will commence during 2012, and the plant is expected to be in production in the autumn of 2013. Bio-oil production will increase the energy wood consumption at Joensuu power plant almost doubling the use from the existing 300,000 m3 per year. [Source: Fortum]
From concept to demonstration: developing an advanced biofuel project - Presentation from EBTP SPM5 february 2013
Jukka Heiskanen, Head of R&D, Fortum
In the Netherlands, BTG - Biomass Technology Group BV has optimised its fast pyrolysis technology originally based on the rotating cone reactor (RCR). Biomass particles at room temperature and hot sand particles are introduced near the bottom of the cone, where the solids are mixed and transported upwards by the rotating action of the cone. In the current process 70 wt.% bio-oil and 30 wt.% char and gas are produced as primary products [Source: BTG].
BTG is also involved in the Empyro project, supported under FP7, to build and demonstrate a 25 MWth polygeneration pyrolysis plant to "produce electricity, process steam and fuel oil from woody biomass."
In Canada, Ensyn is using Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP)™ technology to generate high yields of pyrolysis oil (typically 65-75wt% pyrolysis oil from dried lignocellulosic biomass). Ensyn's commercial process is currently used for production of chemicals and food flavourings (100 tonnes of wood per day). In September 2008, Ensyn announced it would form a joint venture with UOP - Envergent Technologies - to use the technology to produce heating oil, marine fuels and drop-in transport fuels from straw, corn stover, forestry residues, etc. In October 2012, Ensyn received a €15.6 m investment from Fibria Calulose, Brazil.
On 18 December 2012 it was announced that Pyrogrot project, Sweden, has been selected to receive counterpart funding of €31.4m under the first call for proposals of the NER300 funding programme for innovative low-carbon technologies. The Project concerns the construction and operation of a plant for the production of pyrolysis oil using forest residues as feedstock. The design capacity is 160000 t/year of pyrolysis oil with the energy content estimated at about 750 GWh. The technical solution for the proposed facility comprises the following main components: biomass pre-treatment (both before and after drying), biomass drying, flash pyrolysis process including condenser, and storage of pyrolysis oil. The input processing capacity of the Project plant will be designed at 720 ton/day of dry biomass. The Project foresees the use of various biomass fractions while maintaining a uniform feed to the pyrolysis plant throughout the year. The Project is located at the site of a pulp and paper mill of the Project Sponsor near the town of Skärblacka in central Sweden.
PyNe - updates on the latest Pyrolysis R&D
Recent developments in fuels and chemicals from pyrolysis are regularly published by PyNe - IEA Bioenergy Task 34 for Pyrolysis (which evolved from the Pyrolysis Network).
EU-funded Research relevant to Biocrude/Bio-oil
BIOCOUP - Co-processing of upgraded bio-liquids in standard refinery units (FP6 - 518312)
Catalyst Development For Catalytic Biomass Flash Pyrolysis Producing Promissing
(FP5 – ENK6 - 00510)
EMPYRO - Polygeneration through pyrolysis: Simultaneous production of oil, process steam, electricity and organic acids (FP7 - 239357)
Further links and reports on combustion, pyrolysis and gasification of biomass are provided by the ThermalNet project (funded under Altener, IEE). The final report of ThermalNet - Thermal Biomass Conversion - was published in November 2009.
Research and Demonstration developments in bio-oil / biocrude
In Sienna, Italy, Coll'Energia has announced it will use Envergent's RTP™ technology for a power plant converting wood residues to power via pyrolysis, enabling the plant to generate 10% more power from the same amount of biomass. The 12.8 MW power plant will generate 100m kWh from 85000 tonnes of biomass per annum, potentially saving 35000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
In the United States, KiOR has developed a proprietary (catalytic pyrolsis) technology platform to convert biomass feedstocks into renewable crude oil, which can be converted, using standard refinery equipment, into gasoline, diesel and fuel oil blendstocks. KiOR is developing its first commercial facility in Columbus, Mississippi.
Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation has demonstrated a neutral fast pyrolysis technology that uses medium temperatures and oxygen-free conditions to turn dry waste biomass into BioOil® for power and heat generation (and conversion into transport fuels).
The Bionic Group has developed microwave liquefaction and catalytic depolymerisation technologies for converting biogenic wastes to light oils, which can then be converted to biofuels.
In April 2012, US DoE announced up to $15m funding for demonstration of biomass-based oil precursors (biocrude) for renewable transportation fuels.
CENUSA Bioenergy, led by Iowa State University and supported by a $25m funding from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is developing fast pyrolysis technology to convert energy grasses into bio-oil for production of advanced biofuels.
Green EnviroTech Holdings Corp. (GETH) processes recovered plastic and tyres and produces light sweet crude oil as one end product.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst has granted exclusive global rights to Anellotech for its catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) technology for producing biogasoline and other biohydrocarbon fuels from waste biomass.
See also Ensyn (Canada).