|The BioOil process. Click to enlarge.|
DynaMotive Energy Systems Corporation and Future Energy GmbH of Freiberg, Germany, have entered into a comprehensive Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) as a first step in the implementation of a strategic alliance based on the gasification of DynaMotive’s BioOil and BioOil-char for the development of Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) fuels and chemicals.
DynaMotive produces bio-oil via fast pyrolysis; bio-oil is not biodiesel, and it is not used directly in vehicle engines (it has about half the energy content of diesel). Rather, it is used in the power sector, but it can be reformed to produce hydrogen or gasified to provide input to a Fischer-Tropsch process to produce synthetic fuels.
Future Energy is an entrained flow gasification company. The two believe that their combination will provide a highly competitive platform for synthetic fuels and chemicals from biomass.
One of the main economic barriers in the production of biomass-to-liquids (BTL) synthetic fuels and chemicals is the cost of transportation of solid biomass to production facilities. The use of BioOil and char slurries reduces handling, storage and transportation costs because the energy density of the BioOil is higher than that of raw biomass.
DynaMotive’s technology supports the conversion of biomass in remote locations and the efficient transportation of biomass energy in the form of BioOil and slurries to large-scale synthetic fuel and chemical facilities.
Future Energy’s entrained flow gasification technology has been proven in various applications over a 30-year period. These applications include many different types of coal, petroleum coke, several sewage and industrial sludges, oils, slurries, liquid production wastes and biomass at commercial levels. The technology provides an existing platform for rapid implementation on a large scale.
The MOU follows the introduction of a wide-ranging action plan by the European Union Energy Commissioner that outlines the approach to accelerate the use of biomass energy in transport applications (earlier post). That Biomass Action Plan puts special emphasis on second-generation biofuels, especially BtL (earlier post).
Fast pyrolysis refers to the rapid heating of biomass (including forest residue such as bark, sawdust and shavings; and agricultural waste such as wheat straw and bagasse) in the absence of oxygen. DynaMotive’s patented process uses a bubbling fluidized bed reactor, which is generally believed to be a simpler and more robust process than other pyrolysis technologies under development.
DynaMotive acquired the exclusive worldwide patent rights for its technology from Resources Transforms International (RTI), the original developers.
Prepared feedstock (<10% moisture and 1-2 mm particle size) is fed into the bubbling fluid-bed reactor, which is heated to 450–500° C in the absence of oxygen. This is lower than conventional pyrolysis systems and, therefore, has the benefit of higher overall energy conversion efficiency. The feedstock flashes and vaporizes, and the resulting gases pass into a cyclone where solid particles—char—are extracted. The gases enter a quench tower where they are quickly cooled using BioOil already made in the process.
The BioOil condenses and falls into the product tank, while non-condensable gases are returned to the reactor to maintain process heating. The entire reaction from injection to quenching takes only two seconds.
|Sample BioOil Characteristics|
|Water Content wt%||23.4||20.8|
|Methanol Insolvable Solids (Lignin Content wt%)||24.9||23.5|
|Solids Content wt%||<0.10||<0.10|
|Ash Content wt%||<0.02||<0.02|
|Low Heating MJ/kg||16.4||15.4|
|Kinematic Viscosity cSt @20ºC||40||50|
|Kinematic Viscosity cSt @80ºC||6||7|
Three products are produced: BioOil (60-75% by weight), char (15-25% wt.) and non-condensable gases (10-20% wt.) Yields vary depending on the feedstock composition. The non-condensed gases are re-circulated to fuel approximately 75% of the energy needed by the pyrolysis process.
The density of BioOil is high, approximately 1.2 kg/liter. On a volumetric basis BioOil has 55% of the energy content of diesel oil and 40% on a weight basis. It has superior fuel properties to heavy fuel oil in terms of viscosity, ash, sulfur, nitrogen content, NOx emissions and cold weather properties (pour point).
The Dynamotive/Future Energy MOU establishes timelines for the development of agreements in the following areas:
Research on gasification of BioOil and BioOil-char slurries for the development of synthetic fuels and chemicals;
Development and execution of industrial projects;
Establishment of a strategic alliance for joint implementation and marketing of both companies’ technologies.