Issue: Jun 2013


by Bob Brooks

Bio diesel and JetA have moved a giant step ahead in the race to provide renewable,
price competitive fuels that drastically cut GHG emissions and the need for imported fuel. At the heart of one of the most dynamic technologies that achieves this is perfection and demonstration of the pyrolytic (rapid thermal processing) conversion of a broad spectrum of biomass to bio crude oil. Combined with new refining technology, the long sought escape from dependence on petroleum is coming into focus with facilities now being constructed for volume production starting next year. The $45/bbl cost of the new crude is on an oil equivalent basis.

Ensyn Technologies, Ottawa in affiliation with the Canadian firm, Envergent have been perfecting the dynamic pyrolysis system for biomass conversion for over 20 years.
Several moderate size systems have been built and proven (images can be seen at www.

Ensyn’s pyrolysis technology gasifies the material into a stream of carbon,
hydrogen, and oxygen and when rapidly cooled, densifies into a trio of carbon based soup, a solid bio-char and a flammable renewable gas. The sand used as the heat transfer medium is reheated by the solid char which when burned to heat the process sand renders the overall heating system self sufficient once started.

Refining bio crude oil, developed and proven by UOP/Honeywell, is said to be not the same but no more difficult compared with petroleum refining. The first full scale plant dedicated to producing renewable jet fuel for commercial and military aircraft is to start in the U.S. in 2014, according to a spokesman for UOP/Honeywell. An earlier report puts this first high volume production at 100 million gal/yr initially.

Another earlier report stated that diesel fuel via the Ensyn and UOP technologies
would also kick-off at the 100 million gallon/yr level at an ENi refinery in Italy also next year. ENi is reported to have 85 refineries worldwide. In the overall picture annual production of diesel and JetA is expected to exceed well over 1 billion/gal/yr in a few years. This however does not count a number of ventures elsewhere in the World.

A written statement from UOP/Honeywell states, “Pyrolysis oil from Envergent’s RTP Rapid Thermal Processing technology contains no sulfur and is virtually carbon neutral. It can be adapted to a number of industries, in addition to transportation such as pulp and paper, refining and petrochemicals and electrical generation. The process has minimal requirements for utilities so is ideal for remote facilities. The process can handle a range of feedstocks as well. In some cases the fuel can reduce GHG emissions by up to 90% compared with traditional fuel. Ensyn has designed and built seven commercial RTP facilities throughout the U.S. that covert biomass into bio crude oil then into fuel, which indicates distributed production advantages”

Also, the emerging U.S. need for increased production of fuel with low GHG emissions will surely kick off additional stepped-up efforts to optimize production of domestic biomass by forest industry firms.

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