UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, has signed a letter of intent with Ensyn Corp to form a joint venture to offer technology and equipment to convert biomass into bio-oil for power generation, heating fuel and eventually for conversion into transportation fuels. UOP and Ensyn expect to finalize terms for the venture in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The joint venture company will offer Ensyn’s Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP) technology, which converts non-food biomass such as forest and agricultural wastes to bio-oil (pyrolysis oil), for use in power and heating applications. The joint venture will also accelerate research and development efforts to commercialize next-generation technology to refine the bio-oil into transport fuels such as renewable gasoline, renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel.
RTP is a fast pyrolysis process whereby biomass is introduced into a vessel and rapidly heated to 500ºC by a tornado of hot sand and then rapidly cooled within seconds. The process generates a relatively high yield (i.e., approx 75 wt%) of liquid bio-oil from residual forestry or agricultural biomass.
The process also produces by-product char and non-condensable gas, both of which can be efficiently used to provide process energy, which can then be used in the reheater to maintain the RTP process and/or in the dryer to condition the biomass.
UOP launched a Renewable Energy & Chemicals business in late 2006. (Earlier post.)Since then, UOP has commercialized the UOP/Eni Ecofining process to produce renewable diesel fuel from biological feedstocks (earlier post) and has also developed process technology to produce renewable jet fuel (earlier post). UOP has ongoing research efforts in biofuels, with specific focus on second generation feedstocks working with organizations like the US Department of Energy (DOE) and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Lab and Pacific Northwest National Lab.
Ensyn commercialized its RTP pyrolysis technology in the 1980s and has more than 18 years of commercial experience producing bio-oil for various natural chemical and fuel products. Ensyn currently operates seven commercial biomass processing plants in the US and Canada, producing numerous natural chemicals and energy products.