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UK Carbon Trust Seeks Partners for Pyrolysis Oil Upgrading Process

The UK’s Carbon Trust has solicited Expressions of Interest from potential partners within the scientific community to collaborate in the development of a world-class commercially viable pyrolysis oil upgrading process. The Carbon Trust will potentially invest £5 million (US$10 million) in one or more commercially-focussed research projects in this area of advanced biofuels over next 3-5 years.

As part of its mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, the Carbon Trust has identified pyrolysis oil from sustainable sources of biomass as having the potential to produce low-cost fuels with low system greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions&mash;if it can be integrated into a conventional refinery.

However, the properties of the oil produced from current fast pyrolysis processes are far from suitable for direct integration. The Pyrolysis Challenge aims to produce oil with the properties required for integration either by modifying the pyrolysis process to produce better quality oil directly; or upgrading the oil before or at the refinery.

The Carbon Trust is therefore seeking a potentially wide range of partners to work with, who will commit an element of matching support to deliver a breakthrough in this area. Partners may include refinery technology developers, catalyst developers and research organizations involved in the study of pyrolysis processes, bioenergy and relevant related disciplines.

Through applied research and development, the expected outcomes of the Pyrolysis Challenge include:

  • Proof of scientific and engineering principle for a novel process for low-cost and low GHG intensity upgrading of biomass pyrolysis oil.

  • Complete characterization of the upgraded oil, including details of characterization processes and the impact of different feedstocks.

  • An assessment of the likely commercial and environmental value of any associated co-products and processes for their exploitation.

  • Development of a large lab-scale or small industrial demonstration unit.

  • Modelling of the full scale process economics, whole system GHG intensity and key technical parameters.

The Pyrolysis Challenge is the first of several potential strands of the Carbon Trust Bioenergy Accelerator; other areas of focus may include algae biomass systems and novel biofuels.

The Carbon Trust is holding a workshop in Central London on the 11 March 2008 to further explain the pyrolysis challenge and opportunity and give researchers a chance to network. Full details of the process for submission of an Expression of Interest are available on The Carbon Trust website at: www.carbontrust.co.uk/directedresearch.

The Carbon Trust is an independent company set up by the government in response to the threat of climate change, to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy by helping organizations reduce their carbon emissions and by developing commercial low carbon technologies.

The Carbon Trust is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and Invest Northern Ireland.



If you're going to use pyrolysis on biomass, why would you want to create oil? Other than as a feedstock for plastics wouldn't it be much more efficient use of the biomass to create NG, run that through electricity/heat co-generation units that heat houses and run the car off of the electricity? To keep it simple you can just run the cars on ANG.



That sounds good to me, but that makes too much sense :) Refineries are not the most environment friendly creations. You do not have to refine NG, a real big plus.

Sure, NG coming out of the ground has to have things removed and things added, but no big deal. Biomass to methane ends up pretty much with methane, so no problem.

Biomass to NG to SOFCs at home creating heating and cooling and providing electricity to charge BEVs sounds about right. Now add a few solar thermal PV panels to the roof and we are all set.

Stephen Boulet

For ground transportation in the medium to long term, getting rid of organic fuels is a worthwhile goal. Some kind of liquid fuel will be needed for aviation though. The process of converting biomass to biocrude that can use existing refining infrastructure is intriguing, but I suppose that the devil is in the details.



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