Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rapid Thermal Processing of Biomass

Rapid thermal processing (RTP) of biomass allows for the local and regional conversion of biomass and waste to electric power, fuel oil substitute (pyrolysis oil that could be converted to transportation fuels), and biochar for soil enhancement and carbon sequestration. UOP is one company at the forefront of RTP in the US and Canada. Brian Westenhaus has a story on some new deals between UOP (a Honeywell subsidiary) and Ensyn.
The Ensyn expertise is built on a very slick and sophisticated pyrolysis unit made by UOP. The RTP process is a fast thermal process where biomass is rapidly heated in the absence of oxygen. The biomass is vaporized and then rapidly cooled to generate high yields of pyrolysis oil. The process utilizes a circulating transported fluidized bed reactor system similar to that used in the UOP Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) technology from the petroleum industry. The process typically yields between 65wt% to 75wt% pyrolysis oil from dried woody biomass that can be utilized as fuel for industrial heat and electrical power generation.

...Almost quietly, pyrolysis has been gaining technological prowess. And much to the customer’s interest is that the technology can be at large scale for recurring feedstock supplies and can be modularized for compact, small footprints that, while not suggested yet, might be semi or fully portable. That would seize a lot of attention where land for food production isn’t practical making new income earning a fresh possibility. _NewEnergyandFuel
RTP would not only provide scalable baseload electric power, it would also convert bulky biomass into a denser form of energy that could be more economically shipped or piped to a more central thermochemical processing plant for conversion to transportation fuels or other valuable chemicals.

RTP fits well with the concept of local and regional power generation and fuels production. It is an economically empowering technology for rural areas that may have few other commercial industries or opportunities.

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