Canada-based fast pyrolysis company Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation and France-based IFP signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the field of pyrolysis oil upgrading with the aim to produce second-generation hydrocarbon biofuels.
Pyrolysis oils present several challenges for transportation applications as they are typically high in water, solids and acids and do not meet the specifications of fossil fuels. The US Department of Energy recently issued a funding opportunity announcement for up to $11 million over three years, seeking applications to develop integrated upgrading processes of bio-oils (biomass fast pyrolysis oils) at the bench scale. (Earlier post.)
Dynamotive has begun the development of an upgrading process—demonstrated at the lab scale last year (earlier post)—which could potentially overcome these challenges and could provide an economically viable process to upgrade BioOils to synthetic hydrocarbons. Dynamotive recognizes that the development of synthetic hydrocarbon fuels requires specific expertise which IFP has in this field.
The memorandum establishes progress milestones through 2010. Subject to satisfactory completion of the milestones the Companies may enter into definitive agreements thereafter.
The process. The process being developed by Dr. Desmond Radlein and his research team takes the bio-oil produced by the pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass, and then hydro-reforms it to a Stage 1 gas-oil equivalent liquid fuel that can either be directly utilized in blends with hydrocarbon fuels for industrial stationary power and heating applications or be further upgraded to transportation grade liquid hydrocarbon fuels in a Stage 2 hydrotreating process.
Stage 2 upgraded BioOil (Upgraded BioOil B or UBB) is a mixture of components similar to a crude oil fraction with an overall oxygen content of less than about 0.1% and a heating value of about 45 MJ/kg. Its main components are paraffins, olefins and aromatics in the range of C4 to C30.
Distillation analysis of samples of the UBB confirmed gasoline, jet, diesel, and vacuum gasoil fractions:
- Gasoline: 20% wt
- Jet: 30% wt
- Diesel: 30% wt
- Vacuum Gasoil: 20% wt