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Vattenfall and Aalborg University Partner with SCF Technologies on Near Supercritical Bio-oil Process

Overview of the CatLiq process. Source: SCF Technologies. Click to enlarge.

Vattenfall and Aalborg University are partnering with Danish startup SCF Technologies in a two-year project to design a demonstration plant based on SCF’s CatLiq process—an application of the firm’s supercritical fluid technology in the catalytic production of bio-oil from organic waste.

CatLiq converts biomass and organic wastes in water at near or supercritical conditions (280-350 °C and 180-250 bar). Under these conditions water is very reactive, and converts, in the presence of homogeneous (KOH) and heterogeneous (ZrO2) catalysts, the organic fraction of the feed into smaller and more saturated molecules in the form of a bio-oil product, a water-soluble organics product and a high calorific value gas product. In addition to the bio-oil/methane products, the process can be tuned to produce hydrogen and water soluble fuels such as methanol, ethanol or acetaldehyde.

The high reactivity of water results in high conversion rates of organic matter and a high throughput. In 2008, SCF ran a series of tests of CatLiq using aqueous feed streams at the pilot plant in Herlev, Denmark. Test results showed CatLiq converted 70-90% of the energy in the feedstream into energy in the bio-oil product. It was based on those results that SCF began discussions with Danish and international companies on further commercialization of CatLiq.

The metal organics and/or halogenated organics, and the normal pollutants such as sulfur and nitrogen are converted into harmless inorganic salts dissolved and/or suspended in the water phase.

The product has a heat value of 33-38 MJ/kg, making it suitable for substitution for fossil fuels in connection with production of electricity and heat in existing plants, or for further upgrading into a transportation fuel. The demonstration plant is likely to be annexed to Vattenfall’s Nordjyllandsværket power station in Aalborg. The oxygen content of the CatLiq bio-oil is 2-12%.

CatLiq is especially well-suited for treating organic waste with high water content such as sewage slurry, waste from food production and waste products from the production of bioethanol, according to SCF Technologies.

Preliminary lifecycle analysis calculations show a 50-80% reduction in CO2 compared to fossil fuel, depending on the feed stream and application of the biofuel.

SCF Technologies is applying its supercritical technology into other areas as well, such as the production of nanostructured materials with entirely new properties (in collaboration with i-Nano at Århus University).




I put more hope in that type of process than in cellulosic ethanol and all the hype associated to it. This supercitical water process is closer to the type of processes they like in the energy industry and that can be scaled up than these "bio" or "enzymatiques" reactors which nobody has ever shown that they can work at industrial scale.

Just my two cents.

Henry Gibson

There is not enough biomass in the world to replace the energy produced by fossil fuels in the world; all attempts to promote biofuels must be considered as being tainted by fraudulent claims and supported by massive subsidies.

That said, there should be no organic materials put into landfills, some energy might come from that source that is now being wasted. Many forms of biomass, even pure charcoal can be used to enhance the soil to grow more food. Ethanol is itself a food.

Some kinds of heating using solar energy are economically practical in many places. Small Parabolic concentrators may be the cheapest solar electricity. They also might be able to produce thermochemical fuels. The idea of chemical heat-pipes is related to thermochemical fuels. Even ordinary thermochemical production of hydrogen might be accomplished with parabolic mirrors more economically than $150 oil.




I haven't done the calcultations myself but we are burning about 8 billions metric tons of equivalent petrol a year and the biomass that can be produced worlwide is probably about 5 billions tons / year that could yield at best 1.5 billions tons equivalents petrol in energy content. So you are right it doesn't sum up...unless population is slashed by a factor 4


There are huge amounts of toxic and otherwise troublesome wastes produced in the world.  If e.g. sewage sludge can be converted to fuel gas and even a liquid fraction, this is a game-changer; it may turn waste disposal into a profit center.

The "bio-oil" produced in this process is very different from the pyrolysis oil which usually gets that label.  It's 2-12% oxygen compared to around half of the mass of bio-oil from fast pyrolysis (from memory, can't find a reference ATM).  That will require much less upgrading work and may be usable as-is in properly designed engines.

Stan Peterson

It si a crude approach to get our primary energy needs satsified by the chemical oxidation of valuable hydrocarbosn.

I don't care whether it is from long-dead, nor short-dead fossil sources. That distinction is a conceit, and is a pure sophistry "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". The entire bio-scene is essentially an activity, that will require subsidies, forever.

Our primary energy sources must come from non-chemical sources that are essentially infinite, and most likely highly concentrated as well or thesideeffects will likely prove unacceptable.

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