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Air Liquide Moves to Second Stage of Bioliq BTL Pilot Plant in Germany

Overview of the Bioliq process. Click to enlarge.

Lurgi, a 100% subsidiary of the Air Liquide Group, is beginning work on the second stage of a pilot plant at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (FZK), Germany to demonstrate the viability of the Bioliq biomass-to-liquids process.

The Bioliq process, being co-developed by Lurgi and FZK with support from Fachagentur für Nachwachsende Rohstoffe (FNR), is a three-stage process. Biomass is pyrolized to a pyrolysis oil. The pyrolysis oil is mixed with pyrolysis coke from the process to create a biocrude slurry for subsequent gasification to syngas and conversion to chemicals and/or fuels.

The partners envision the pyrolysis stage as being decentralized, in locations close to the source of biomass. The gasification and synthesis stages will be in large centralized locations, preferably existing refineries.

Energy and mass balance for the Bioliq process. Click to enlarge.

Lurgi calculates that 7.5 tonnes of biomass with 15 wt% H2O will produce 1 tonne of synthetic fuel.

Since the first stage of the pilot plant—the pyrolysis operation—completed in 2007 was successful, the project is now entering the second stage

In this second stage, the biocrude generated from straw in the first step is processed to become synthesis gas. The project covers the engineering, construction, supply, installation and commissioning by Lurgi.  Commissioning of the entrained flow gasifier is planned for autumn 2011.

As part of its policy targeting the reduction of greenhouse gases, the European Union requires that the proportion of biogenic motor fuels should be increased to 5.75% by the year 2010. In Germany, the Federal Government is aiming for a higher quota of fuels generated from renewable resources by year 2020.




7.5 tonnes biomass at 15% H2O content is 6.375 bone-dry tons; at 17.4 GJ/tonne, it's got about 111 GJ of energy.

If the 1 tonne of product is diesel fuel at 7.17 lbm and 140,000 BTU/gallon, it yields about 4.5 GJ.  That's about 41% efficiency, which doesn't include losses in the engine (50% at best, probably more).  The EU's limited resources should be concentrated on improving efficiency (moving freight from diesel trucks to electric rail) instead of BTL.


I think after several years of experimentation the pyrolysis oil approach is not going anywhere. It might be time to try something else.

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