Skip to main content

Reliable Bio-based Refinery Intermediates

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BioMates (Reliable Bio-based Refinery Intermediates)

Reporting period: 2018-02-01 to 2019-05-31

The BioMates project aspires to develop bio-based intermediates (BioMates), which can get upgraded in existing oil refineries next to fossil feedstock (co-processing). The project is designed to use only non-food/non-feed material as feedstock, and only material qualifying for EU’s “advanced biofuel category” (e.g. straw and short rotating coppice like Miscanthus), often referred to as 2nd generation (2G) biomass. Innovative 2G biomass conversion technology is used for the cost-effective production of such renewable and reliable intermediates. Biogenic co-processing feed streams need to be highly compatible with existing fossil feeds used in conventional refinery conversion units, allowing their direct and risk-free integration to any refinery towards the production of hybrid fuels.

The approach supports the reduction of fossil energy requirements, minimization of capital expense as it will partially rely on underlying refinery conversion capacity, and increased bio‐content of final transportation fuels.

The BioMates approach encompasses innovative biomass conversion technologies, including ablative fast pyrolysis (AFP) and single-stage mild catalytic hydroprocessing (mild-HDT) as main processes. Fast pyrolysis in-line-catalysis and fine-tuning of BioMates-properties are additional steps to improve the conversion efficiency and cost efficiency of BioMates, as well as its quality, reliability and competitiveness. Incorporating state-of-the-art hydrogen production from renewable sources and sophisticated electrochemical compression of the hydrogen required as well as optimised energy integration completes the sustainable technical approach leading to improved sustainability and decreased fossil energy dependency.

The BioMates approach for decarbonising the transportation fuels will be demonstrated via pilot units in an industrially relevant environment (“Technology Readiness Level” 5). This will allow for the development of an integrated, sustainability-driven business case encompassing commercial and social exploitation strategy.
The most important part of the 1st reporting period’s (RP1) project work was to perform the actions at the beginning of time-critical pathways of the overall workflow:
• Producing straight-run bio-oil in the TRL4-pyrolysis-plant,
• Upgrading the TRL4-pyrolysis-plant for advanced ablative fast pyrolysis (AFP) enabeling staged condensation and in-line catalysis,
• Developing a recipe for advanced AFP,
• Starting to produce advanced bio-oil in the TRL4-pyrolysis-plant,
• Developing catalysts for mild hydrotreating (mild-HDT),
• Optimising mild-HDT for the produced bio-oil, using the developed catalysts,
• Starting sustainability assessment and preparing for first feedback to production (AFP + mild-HDT),
• Developing the electrochemical H2 compressor to be used later on makeup hydrogen in the mild-HDT validation plant,
• Preparing settings and scenario descriptions for starting the sustainability assessment (which is completed and agreed upon by all partners now).

The main results so far are:
• Straight-run bio-oil production in TRL4 from both Straw and Miscanthus showed a yield of approximately 20 wt.-%.
• AFP with staged condensation delivers a single phase condensate at a first-stage-condensation-temperature of 66°C (straw) and 62 °C (Miscanthus).
• For lab-scale mild-HDT of straight-run, straw-based bio-oil, conditions of 360 °C and 4 MPa led to optimum BioMates properties when using the newly developed catalyst. Here, increasing BioMates' hydrogen content from 7.1 to 10.8 wt%, reaching a degree of deoxygenation 84 % and decreasing the acid number from 55 to 3 mg KOH/g was possible.
• With the developed electrochemical compressor, recovery of >80 % of the hydrogen is possible from 95 % H2/N2-mixtures at the cost of a slightly higher driving voltage compared to compressing pure H2.
• Light cycle oil (FCC LCO) and Light vacuum gas oil (LVGO) are the most promising candidates of intermediate streams in conventional refineries to be blended with BioMates.
The BioMates project develops and validates an innovative, cost-competitive and environmentally superior pyrolysis and hydroprocessing technology, rendering bio-based intermediates which can be directly integrated within existing oil refineries. The technological innovations assimilated in the project are expected to validate the low-cost production of high-quality bio-based intermediates (BioMates) which can be easily transported and integrated in oil refinery units.

The favourable production cost will be achieved via:
• Cheap, available feedstock with no or very low generation of direct or indirect land-use change
• Decentralized Ablative Fast Pyrolysis (AFP)
• Single-step hydroprocessing of bio-oil
• Innovated hydroprocessing catalyst
• Electrochemical compression and purification of recycled gas (rich in hydrogen)
• Renewable make-up hydrogen (fed into the system to compensate for losses and consumption of H2)

Moreover, the BioMates approach will provide a link of the rural areas that have significant potential for development with the EU refining industry that will be the end user of BioMates. As a result, there are several social benefits that the BioMates approach encompasses, which include:
• Enhancement of EU competitiveness
• Job creation in rural areas
• Secure energy supply / minimize imports

The overall environmental, economic and social sustainability will be ensured by a comprehensive integrated sustainability assessment to avoid undesired side effects.
The BioMates approch