|Block flow diagram of the Chemrec BLG Motor Fuel (BLGMF) process at its development plant (DP-3) site. The pulp mill line is to the left of the dotted red line; the BLGMF flow is to the right. Click to enlarge.|
Sweden-based Chemrec AB and Ohio-based NewPage Corporation have formed a partnership to explore possible development of a plant that would produce renewable biomass-based fuels at the NewPage paper mill in Escanaba, Michigan.
The plant would employ Chemrec’s black liquor gasification (BLG) technology, which converts the black liquor waste stream from the paper pulping process into synthesis gas. The synthesis gas can then be processed into a variety of fuels—likely dimethyl ether (DME) and methanol (MeOH), although fuels such as Fischer-Tropsch diesel (FTD), Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG), or hydrogen (H2) are also possible.
The partners estimate that the Escanaba mill could produce up to 13 million gallons of liquid biofuel per year.
The BLG plant would be closely integrated with the paper mill to optimize energy efficiency and enhance the pulp production capacity of the mill. Several European and US studies have shown the BLG technology to provide a highly efficient and environmentally sound route for converting biomass to liquid biofuels. The technology does not require high-grade wood or woodchips.
The basic Chemrec approach is to replace (or supplement, in smaller installations) a pulp mill recovery boiler with a high-temperature gasifier. The syngas can be used for power generation, or, with additional processing units, converted to fuels.
|Volvo well-to-wheels study. Click to enlarge.|
Earlier this year, Volvo Technology Transfer AB invested in Chemrec AB as part of the Volvo Group’s drive to help speed up the development of renewable fuels for the heavy vehicle industry. (Earlier post.) A well-to-wheels study by Volvo found that BLG is among the most energy-efficient production routes to renewable fuels, with concomitant high reduction in CO2 emissions. (See chart at right.)
We continuously search for ways to improve operations while at the same time improving our efficient use of renewable resources such as wood and wood waste. Liquid biofuel production using the BLG technology holds promise to improve efficiencies at our mills as well as becoming a source of valuable fuels and chemicals extracted from renewable sources.—Mark A. Suwyn, NewPage Corporation Chairman and CEO
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm made the announcement in Sweden following a reception with company and government leaders to celebrate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two companies. The governor and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) President and CEO James C. Epolito are on the third day of an investment mission to Sweden and Germany.
Earlier this year, the MEDC and NextEnergy, Michigan’s alternative energy accelerator located in Detroit, established a cellulosic biofuels working group to help craft strategy for the promotion of this industry in Michigan.
(A hat-tip to Anders!)