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Dynamotive Introduces Higher Energy Content BioOil

Dynamotive’s fast pyrolysis system.

Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, which develops and markets biomass-based biofuel technology and products based on its advanced fast-pyrolysis process, is introducing a higher energy grade of BioOil it is calling “Intermediate BioOil.” Intermediate BioOil is designed as an alternative fuel for the intermediate and heavy fuel oil markets and as a higher energy source intermediate for the production of synfuels from biomass.

Intermediate BioOil’s heat output averages 14% higher than the company’s standard BioOil, which has up to 55% of the heating value of diesel on a volume basis. Developed to compete functionally and on price-performance with commonly used industrial fuels such as No. 2 and No. 6 heating oil, Intermediate BioOil is a blend of 80% BioOil and 20% char ground to less than 8 microns.

Char, a granular solid with very low ash content and a high heating value at 23–32 gigajoules (GJ) per tonne, is a by-product of the pyrolysis process.

Dynamotive’s fast pyrolysis process rapidly heats prepared biomass feedstock to 450-500°C in an oxygen-free environment.

The feedstock flashes and vaporizes like throwing droplets of water onto a hot frying pan. The gases resulting from the feedstock flashing and vaporizing in the bubbling fluid bed reactor pass into a cyclone where char is 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 uncondensed, flammable gases are re-circulated to fuel approximately 75% of the energy needed by the pyrolysis process. The entire reaction from injection to quenching takes only two seconds.

The process produces three products: BioOil (60-75% by weight), char (15-20% wt.) and the non-condensable gases (10-20% wt.). Yields vary depending on the feedstock composition.

Intermediate BioOil produced at West Lorne recently received EcoLogo certification, having met the environmental criteria for industrial fuels as measured by Environment Canada’s Environmental Choice Program. EcoLogo signifies that the manufacturing process of the product and its production facility has been audited by a third party sanctioned by Environment Canada, and supported by empirical data on combustion tests conducted by both the company and authorized third parties.

This new product and the EcoLogo certification are important developments in Dynamotive’s drive to offer competitively priced, environmentally friendly, renewable fuel alternatives for conventional fuel and heating oils, as well as an economical feedstock for conversion into synthetic fuels, including syn-diesel.

—Andrew Kingston, Dynamotive President and CEO

Although BioOil is not miscible in diesel, it can be emulsified with diesel. Two programs, one in Canada (CANMET) and the other in Italy, are focused on commercializing BioOil/diesel emulsions using surfactants. Emulsions of 10% to 30% BioOil in diesel would improve fuel stability and viscosity, reduce corrosiveness, and provide a cetane value similar to neat diesel, according to Dynamotive.

BioOil can also be gasified to syngas, which in turn can be further processed to produce synthetic fuels or bio-methanol, or applied directly to SO or PEM fuel cells. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is also developing a steam gasification process to generate hydrogen from BioOil.

Dynamotive developed this new fuel grade at its West Lorne facility. The fuel underwent combustion, emission and certification tests throughout 2006. Dynamotive can also produce this fuel grade at its new Guelph, Ontario, plant and will seek certification for fuel from this plant once it is in operation. Construction is forecast to be completed in the spring. The new 200-tonne-per-day plant, located about 40 miles west of Toronto, Canada, is the company’s second BioOil plant in the province.



Rafael Seidl

Pyrolysis oil mixed with char (i.e. carbon), is not a high-grade fuel but it sounds like a relatively simple aka cheap way to turn solid waste biomass into a liquid energy carrier that is far easier to transport.

There should be significant applications in space heating (esp. on the US East Coast) and industrial heating processes and certain niches of the shipping industry (the product is low in sulphur).

Using the product in diesel blends sounds intriguing and may make a lot of sense in non-road situations such as farming. For general on-road use it probably does not have sufficient energy density - truckers don't want to waste any more time filling up than necessary, unless the cost/BTU is lower than petrodiesel, which is unlikely.

Also, merely matching the low cetane number of North American #2 diesel (~40) is not enough for modern LDV diesels with high-pressure injection systems that work best with cetane numbers >50.


You could add this to oil, and coal fired plants, and feed them high carbon garbage. Add combined cycle (for steam) to power absorption cooling, and provide heat and it might cut down on natural gas usage (for heating/electricity).


I have never been a fan of pyrolysis, but if this can reduce the use of imported oil, then great. As far as GreenCars go, they would have to show a B5/B10 kind of blend instead of biodiesel for cars and I don't see that mentioned. As far as biomethanol and fuel cells, pyrolysis may not be the best way to go. It is using less oxygen than gasification and would require yet another step to get from here to biomethanol. Going from sygas to methanol seems like it would be more efficient.

Paul Dietz

Bio-oil is a complicated mixture of oxygenated organic compounds. Perhaps the best approach would be to catalytically hydrogenate it to eliminate the oxygen?

An Engineer

Points of interest:
1. A 14% improvement over 55% (i.e. 62.7%) means an energy content of ~ 80,000 BTU/gal, slightly better than ethanol (~ 76,000 BTU/gal).
2. Much easier to produce than cellulosic ethanol.
3. Sounds like they can almost add all the char to the bio-oil, which means a pretty impressive yield of ~ 80%, by weight. Corn ethanol yields about 110 gal/tonne of corn (if that high), or ~ 72% by weight.
4. This process uses 100% of the biomass, and can treat all sorts of feedstocks. Existing ethanol plants are limited to sugar (as in cane) or starch (as in corn). Even the much ballyhooed cellulosic ethanol process cannot use the lignin part of the feedstock. And many types of biomass would not make sense for any type of ethanol plant.
5. I wonder how the 25% of the pyrolysis energy that cannot be provided by the gas compares to the 30 - 39,000 BTU/gal required by ethanol (and that's just for distillation).
6. Of course, the limited blending will limit the use of this fuel for transportation.

Bottom line: A step forward but no silver bullet.



Good analysis and link. Readers on here know I favor gasification, while others on here do not. Fair enough to have differing opinions, but I have read quite a few artcles on the subject and it looks good to me. I would recommend others look at the links about gasification on this site, so that they can make up their own minds on the subject.

An Engineer

Related to point 3: BioOil uses the entire plant. Corn ethanol uses only the seeds. Cellulosic ethanol use ~75% of the plant mass.


does anyone know if it is possible to use the bio-oil (with or without the char)as a feedstock for ethanol production?

Cheryl Ho

There are developments in DME in China today:
DME is an LPG-like synthetic fuel can be produced through gasification of Biomass. The synthetic gas is then catalyzed to produce DME. A gas under normal pressure and temperature, DME can be compressed into a liquid and used as an alternative to diesel. Its low emissions make it relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and will be sharing their experience at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:

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