A $45/bbl RTP bio oil from biomass plant, developed by Montreal based Ensyn Corporation, is now in production at 7 UOP locations (one in Canada). As affiliates of Ensyn, UOP and Chevron will refine the base oil into gasoline, diesel (up to 80 cetane) and jet fuel with UOP’s hydrotreatment technology.
Ensyn has been developing RTP (rapid thermal process) for 25 years, and has produced over 30 million gallons of oil and fuel by the system. Ensyn and UOP Renewable Energy & Chemicals Division have formed a joint venture named Envergent Technologies LLC to advance RTP. UOP is now under way with production of oil via the RTP process which UOP calls “green fuel”, marketed without refinement as economic boiler fuel. It produces 99% less SOX emission than petroleum, 36% less NOx and 72% less CO. Its CO2 emissions are recycled by the biomass growth cycle.
Shortly following start up of the crude “green” product, UOP and Chevron will take RVP oil to the next level by refining the oil into transportation fuel. An Ensyn spokesman says this is now in the final stages of preparation for production and licensing. The remarkable RTP process consists of heating virtually any type of dried, pulverized biomass to the temperature of 500C for two seconds, which produces the basic oil for combustion as a boiler fuel and crude for refining. Ensyn data for transportation fuel has demonstrated 100 gallons yield of transportation fuel per bone dry ton of biomass in a modular facility that intakes 400 tons of biomass per day with an annual yield of 23 million gallons. Ensyn says the high biomass to liquid fuel yield reflects the system’s “high non catalytic RTP carbon conversion efficiency”.
A facility with this capacity is said to have capital cost of $60-100 million, cash operating cost of about $45/bbl and require construction time of 18-24 months. As for the question of biomass availability, a recent study by the University of California, Berkeley, confirmed earlier DOE analysis indicating that available non-food related cellulosic material could offset 30% of the transportation fuel now provided by petroleum. Looking ahead, development and demonstration of microorganisms as bio fuel alternative raw material, may hold the promise of further adding to petroleum replacement. A first microorganism based bio fuel plant at scale is now being constructed in New Mexico.
Taken together, Ensyn, UOP and Chevron’s world class skills and focus on the inherent speed and efficiency of the RTP process has been combined with the best traditional fuel refining processes to achieve economic bio fuel. A major question now is whether large fuel users such as the air lines and military, having clamored for bio fuel for some time, will become contract buyers. Equally interesting will be whether negative opinions of bio fuel will fade away