Canadian Biomass Magazine

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Battelle develops mobile bio-oil conversion plant


November 8, 2013
By Battelle

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cat-pyro-2November 8, 2013, Columbus, Ohio - Battelle engineers and scientists have developed a mobile device that transforms unwanted biomass materials such as wood chips or agricultural waste into valuable bio-oil using catalytic pyrolysis. As currently configured, the Battelle-funded unit converts one ton of pine chips, shavings and sawdust into as much as 130 gallons of wet bio-oil per day.

cat-pyro-2November 8, 2013, Columbus, Ohio – Battelle engineers and
scientists have developed a mobile device that transforms unwanted biomass
materials such as wood chips or agricultural waste into valuable bio-oil using
catalytic pyrolysis. As currently configured, the Battelle-funded unit converts
one ton of pine chips, shavings and sawdust into as much as 130 gallons of
wet bio-oil per day.

This intermediate bio-oil then can be upgraded by hydrotreatment
into a gas/diesel blend or jet fuel. Conversion of the bio-oil to an advanced
biofuel is a key element of Battelle's research. Extensive testing of the
bio-based gasoline alternative produced by Battelle suggests that it can be
blended with existing gasoline and can help fuel producers meet their renewable
fuel requirements.

An alternative use of Battelle's bio-oil is its conversion
to a bio-polyol that can be substituted in chemical manufacturing for polyols
derived from petroleum. Battelle's bio-polyols have been validated by a
third-party polyurethane producer as a viable alternative.

Battelle is evaluating this one-ton-per-day system at its
West Jefferson, Ohio facility. The pilot-scale system is the culmination of
Battelle's second-stage development of the mobile pyrolysis technology. In the
first stage, which took place over the past four years, Battelle created a
bench-scale machine that converted 50-pounds of woody waste per day,
demonstrating the novel concept. The next step will be to work with a strategic
partner/investor to produce a tenth-scale demonstration unit.

Currently, Battelle experts are using mainly pine waste in
the transportable pyrolysis unit, although the high-tech machine can be
modified to use other types of unwanted agricultural field residue known as
stranded biomass, including corn stover, switch grass and Miscanthus.

Additionally, all of the waste materials produced by the
unit's process — liquid, solid and gas — have been taken into account. The
liquid waste stream is water that can be safely recycled or disposed of, the
solid char contains inorganics that can be used in fertilizers and the venting
gas is monitored for safety.

Because of its small size, the pyrolysis unit is installed
on the trailer of a flat-bed 18-wheel truck, making it mobile and thus
transportable to the waste products. This feature makes it ideal to access the
woody biomass that is often left stranded in agricultural regions, far away
from industrial facilities. It's potentially a significant cost advantage over
competing processes represented by large facilities that require shipment of
the biomass from its home site.

The Battelle bio-oil created by the mobile pyrolysis unit is
similar to naturally occurring fossil oils harvested from underground. The
hydrotreated, upgraded fuel from machine meets the Renewable Fuel Standard
(RFS) set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

 


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