FEATURE: BIOMASS TO LIQUIDS 1PMZHFOGMBTIQZSPMZTJTQPJTFEGPSSBQJESPMMPVU LOCATED IN AN INDUSTRIAL PARK IN HENGELO, the Netherlands the 25 MWth Empyro BV fast pyrolysis plant is a snug and inconspicuous building sited next door to the much larger Akzo Nobel salt factory. There is reason for that apart from the high cost of land development in the Netherlands. Post EU project The plant is the end result of an EU co-funded collaborative research project called EMPYRO which ran during 2009 to 2013 under the 7th Framework Programme. The main objective of the project, was to build and demonstrate a commercial scale poly-generation pyrolysis plant to produce electricity, process steam and bio-oil from woody biomass. – The EU project itself was the merger of the long-term strategies of the two main initiators: the pyrolysis technology developer Biomass Technology Group BV (BTG), and the chemical industry giant Akzo Nobel Industrial Chemicals B.V, reveals Gerhard Muggen Managing Director BTG BioLiquids BV and Empyro BV during the visit. The eight partner consortium was set up to gather all the complementary expertises required to reach the objectives of the project. Bruins & Kwast Recycling , BTG, BTG BioLiquids, Stork Thermeq, HoST and Amandus Kahl supplied the process technology, Jan Rusaas has modelled and optimised pyrolysis oil combustion. Akzo Nobel is the industrial end-user of the process steam from the Empyro plant. Future plans include usage of extracted organic acids such as acetic acid from the pyrolysis oil for which other research at BTG is ongoing. Finally another BTG BioLiquids BV subsidiary Empyro BV is in charge of the post project plant operation and exploitation. Modular design – The entire pyrolysis plant consists of modules or skids that are transported like standard shipping containers. These are constructed, assembled and tested in the workshop of our manufacturing partners Zeton and then disassembled for transportation to the plant site, said Muggen. All that is needed is the onsite foundation on which the skids are reassembled to form a freestanding structure. According to Muggen this modular approach enables rapid onsite construction and gives the client an opportunity to see the plant and make any amendments or adjustments before it is built on site. Indeed onsite video footage from the Empyro construction site suggests about 8 days from when the first skid arrived to the concrete foundation and the last skid one was added. – Getting it right and vetted by the client before it is 18 Bioenergy International No 78, 2-2015 built at the client site is just so much more time and cost beneficial for all parties. Zeton is just 2 km from our office and R&D facilities, remarked Muggen. Feedstock preparation A fast pyrolysis process typically includes drying a feedstock to around 6 percent moisture content and grinding it to 2-6 mm in length and 1-3 mm thick particles before it is fed into the reactor. This is necessary to ensure a rapid pyrolysis reaction and minimise the amount of water in the final bio-oil product. In the case of Empyro the feedstock is wood residues that are delivered by truck, ready milled and dried to around 10 percent moisture content. Empyro has a 10-year supply contract and the biomass itself is sourced locally. On arrival the biomass is transferred to one of two 200 m3 storage silos. From here it goes to a low a low temperature belt-dryer. On exiting the dryer the moisture content is un- Fast pyrolysis as a biomass-to-liquid (BtL) conversion technology has been generating keen interest for some time with numerous lab, pilot and demonstration initiatives. The allure is almost any kind of biomass can be converted into an energy dense, transportable and storable bio-oil. In practice commercial plants are few and far between. This may change as Empyro, Europe’s first-of-a-kind commercial poly-generation flash pyrolysis plant, hot commissions. – This is what it is all about, flash pyrolysis for cost efficent production of a high quality single-phase bio-oil for use as fuel or feedstock base, said Gerhard Muggen, Managing Director, BTG BioLiquids BV. Compact modular design, the Empyro pyrolysis plant (left) as seen from the roadway. In the background the Akzo Nobel plant.
Bioenergy no 2 - March 2015
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