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Content archived on 2024-05-14

Development of a bio-crude-oil/diesel oil emulsion


In the context of an increasing use of Renewable Energy Sources (ROES), biomass derived liquid biofuels (like flash-pyrolysis oils, ethanol, methanol) are very attractive. However, technological development for Bio-Crude-Oil upgrading, in order to improve its utilisation, is still a problem to be solved. The aim of this research project is to develop a low-cost physicochemical and mechanical process for improving operational properties and performances of pyrolysis-oils (biomass derived Bio-Crude-Oil). Preliminary but very promising results showed the possibility of reducing the Bio-CrudeOil (BCO) acidity, producing binary emulsions with different ratios of BCO and Diesel-Oil, reducing pollutant emissions, particularly in terms of dust and sulphur.
The use of a mixture of the Bio-Crude-Oil and conventional Diesel-Oil is therefore relevant in both economic (e.g. fuel cost, new job creation, rural development) and environmental (C02, sulphur, dust emissions) terms. The main objective of this research project is therefore to achieve a low-cost upgrading process for power/heat generation.
Some sophisticated and expensive processes are today under development for upgrading the BCO such as Upgrading by hydro-treatment, Upgrading by Zeolite Cracking and Electronic or plasma-chemical upgrading. The proposed low cost emulsification process suitable for physical-chemical upgrading of BCO through emulsification with conventional fuels is essentially based on a two step process. The first step consists of removing polymerazable products and highmolecular weight compounds obtained during the pyrolysis process by filtration under vacuum of BCO in the presence of inorganic and organic absorbers. In this way the most important components, responsible for the spontaneous polymerisation of BCO ( basically formic acid and related sub-products) are removed at very low cost. This process results in a drastic decrease of the corrosion properties of BCO due to its intrinsic acidity. The second step is the formation of the multi-component fuel based on the emulsification of BioOil with a conventional fuel oil. Both the upgrading and the emulsification processes are not expensive, and can be adopted on industrial scale at very low cost.
The adoption of the emulsification approach for BCO upgrading could produce viscosity and surface-tension reduction (more homogeneous atomisation and better combustion of the fuel), increase of the heating value and Cetane number and corrosion reduction. This technology could be easily integrated in a biomass conversion reactor. Its use, reducing the need for important modifications in the power/heat generator, improves its reliability and competitiveness, widening the market perspectives particularly for small capacity generators.
This project is aimed at:
1. Characterisation of Bio-Crude-Oils obtained from different biomass resources and conversion technologies
2. Development of a low-cost physical/chemical and mechanical process for the BCO quality improvement
3. Development and optimisation of stable (> 1 month) emulsions ranging from 25 % BCO and 75 % Diesel-Oil to 75 % BCO and 25 % Diesel-Oil.
4. Emulsion characterisation in terms of physical, chemical, rheological, operational, and thermodynamic stability.
5. Design, construction, set up and commissioning of a system for fuel production.
6. Experimental campaign aimed toassess the combustion characteristics of the BCO/Diesel-Oil emulsion in small Diesel engines (2+25 and - 250 kW), the operating performances of small power generators ( e.g. efficiency) and the noxious emission levels (compared to the 100% diesel engines of the same size).
7. Assessment of the economics and market potential of this technology for power and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) production using this type of fuel
8. Assessment of the effect of the penetration of this technology on rural activity, its impact on new job creation (contribution to rural development), and evaluation of the specific investment cost per job created (ECU/job)
9. Assessment of the potential benefits on the environment
10. Preliminary evaluation of the investment financial support necessary for penetrating EU and export markets

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Consorzio Interuniversitario per lo Sviluppo dei Sistemi a Grande Interfase
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9,Via Gino Capponi 9
50121 Firenze

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