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Content archived on 2024-05-07

Development of advanced fast pyrolysis processes for power and heat


The primary objective is to design, build and operate two novel and advanced fast pyrolysis processes, each for the production of 150 kg/h pyrolysis liquids (bio-oil) - an advanced fluidised bed reactor process and a rotating cone reactor process. The size is sufficient to derive useful design and performance data for scaling up and will also provide sufficient pyrolysis oil to allow thorough testing and comparison in a modified diesel engine for power production and in a furnace/boiler for heat production. Secondary objectives are to support this development with:
- supporting investigations on different feeds and evaluation of process parameters for process design improvements and optimisation, - analysis and characterisation of pyrolysis liquids to aid process development and optimisation,
- development of norms and standards for pyrolysis liquids to aid users of the liquid product, robust market and techno-economic assessments for evaluation of the potential of the technologies.

The current status is that there are two operational pilot plants in Europe - the 200 kg/h plant in Spain operated by Union Fenosa and the 650 kg/h plant recently commissioned in Italy by ENEL. Both are based on technologies developed during the 1 980s. This project aims to build on the accumulated knowledge and experience from these plants as well as the many laboratory units that are currently being researched both at the proposers laboratories as well as throughout Europe.

The established fluid bed concept is being modified and developed by Hick Hargreaves Ltd to provide direct in-bed heating rather than indirect heating of the recycle gas. This results in much lower gas flows and hence smaller and less expensive equipment. Temperature control and hence process control will be easier and it is anticipated that product quality will be improved in terms of reduced liquid product viscosity which will make for improved utilisation in engines and combustors.

The rotating cone technology was invented at the University of Twente, Netherlands, and further developed by BTG and Royal Schelde. It has been tested in a prototype pilot-plant of 50 kg biomass per hour which is now being tested in China. The next stage of this work is to integrate the char combustion to make the process energy self sufficient and a unit is available which requires optimisation and automation for continuous operation. The key advantage of this process is the reaction intensification in which very high throughputs are achieved in a small overall reaction volume, thereby minimising costs.

A diesel engine has already been successfully modified to operate on crude pyrolysis liquid but this project has been severely handicapped by limited oil supplies. A more extensive and thorough test programme is therefore included to establish operational boundaries and performance data to enable a demonstration project to be assembled. There is some experience of pyrolysis oil combustion, but little experience in Europe of burning fast pyrolysis liquids and no available knowledge of burner design or boiler or furnace design constraints.

All the pilot plant design and operation and product testing aspects of the project will require considerable support in design, evaluation, testing, analysis, characterisation, and optimisation which will be provided by several institutions with extensive experience in these areas. A thorough technical, economic and market assessment Is included to provide a sound foundation for commercialisation.

Call for proposal

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University of Aston
EU contribution
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Aston Triangle
B4 7ET Birmingham
United Kingdom

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Participants (5)