Indian based Zeenews reports that Professor Guo Qingxiang Dean of the School of Chemistry and Materials Science of the University of Science and Technology has been able to demonstrate a new process known as Pyrolysis Liquefaction Technologies- that decompose biomass using heat which then turns it into liquid they call "bio-oil".
Using crop waste and stalks, stalks, chaff and sawdust they claim the resultant bio-oil is 56.8% ( a curiously precise figure !) cheaper than diesel oil and 39.1 % cheaper than heavy oil. The bio-oil only produces two-fifths of heat energy from the same amount of diesel oil and only half that of heavy oil, Guo said.
The technology, which can produce over six kg of bio-oil from 10 kg of sawdust and five kg from stalks, has passed appraisals by provincial department of science and technology.
Xinhua repport that one tonne of bio-oil in the Chinese lab only costs about USD$100. The lab also invented a machine that can process 120 kg of biomass per hour.
Traditionally, 700 million tons of stalk and chaff left left from harvesting are burnt causing pollution but is a huge waste of energy, Guo - but it does retrun essential minerals etc to the soil.
Bio-oil can be used directly in heating boilers and as fuel for motor vehicles after further refining. Ethanol can also be extracted from bio-oil.
This appears to be a variant on the wartime Fischer Tropf method of coal liquefaction which the Nazis used , and latterly South Africa - apparently it becomes economic when oil is US$50 a barrel and above ?
In the 1990's several fast pyrolysis technologies reached near-commercial status. Six circulating fluidized bed plants have been constructed by Ensyn Technologies, with the largest having a nominal capacity of 50 t/day operated for Red Arrow Products Co., Inc. in Wisconsin. DynaMotive (Vancouver, Canada) demonstrated the bubbling fluidized bed process at 10 t/day of biomass and is scaling up the plant to 100 t/day. Ensyn develop industrial applications for its core technology, Rapid Thermal Processing or (RTP™), and exploits these applications commercially in the biomass sector (see Footnote).Biomass Technology Group, BTG (The Netherlands) operates a rotary cone reactor system at 5 t/day and is proposing to scale the plant up to 50 t/d. Fortum has a 12 t/day pilot plant in Finland. The yields and properties of the generated liquid product, bio-oil, depend on the feedstock, the process type and conditions, and the product collection efficiency, they all have the virtue of low Sulphur and Nitrous oxides ourtputs.
Direct hydrothermal liquefaction involves converting biomass to an oily liquid by contacting the biomass with water at elevated temperatures (300-350°C) with sufficient pressure to maintain the water primarily in the liquid phase (12-20 MPa) for residence times up to 30 minutes. Developers include Changing World Technologies (West Hampstead, NY), EnerTech Environmental Inc (Atlanta, GA) who use "bio-solids" ...er human sewerage, and Biofuel B.V. (Heemskerk, Netherlands)- no website.
Ensyn Coproration (EC), develop industrial applications for its core technology, Rapid Thermal Processing or (RTP™), and exploits these applications commercially in the biomass sector.
More information on research in this field is available at the
U.S. Department of Energy website and the associated Biomass website.
Ensyn's largest RTP™ Biomass Refinery has recently been constructed in Renfrew, Ontario. This will convert 160 green tons of wood per day into natural resin products (75% yields are claimed) , co-polymers, other chemicals, liquid fuel and green electricity. Other projects are being developed with strategic partners in Canada, the USA and Europe.
Ensyn "bio-oil" fuel has been commercially available for for industrial heat since the early 1990's.
Ensyn (website) believes that RTP™ is the only bio-oil technology in the world that is operating commercially, and that RTP™ is the only commercial technology capable of producing large quantities of bio-fuel,
Biomass Technology Group have a useful downloadable leaflet (PDF Alert) which explains pyrolysis very well and also a 400 page book "Handbook Biomass Gasification" for Euro 60.