Dutch company BTG-BTL has teamed up with TechnipFMC to design and build a production facility in Sweden to convert wood residues such as sawdust into bio-oil.
The plant is expected to be the first in the world where this biofuel will be produced and then further processed in a refinery for motor vehicles.
The facility will have a capacity to convert approximately 35,000-40,000 tonnes of dry wood residues per year into oil, using pyrolysis technology. This oil will then be processed in a refinery to create advanced biofuels.
The biofuel will then be mixed with other fuels, resulting in a petrol and diesel that is partly comprised of sustainable oil. The end fuel product will comply with the European REDII directive, under which petrol must contain a certain percentage of renewable energy from 2020.
TechnipFMC and BTG-BTL have already been awarded an order to construct a similar production facility in Finland, with the option to extend to four. Sawdust is converted into pyrolysis oil, which is then used to provide energy to factories in Finland and the Netherlands.
The new technology is expected to be used by Swedish joint venture Pyrocell, which is a collaboration between wood industry company Setra and oil company Preem. Construction of the facility is scheduled to begin in 2019, with production slated for 2021.
Using natural waste residues
“Our oil is a logical alternative for fossil oil, which can then remain underground,” said Gerhard Muggen, managing director of BTG-BTL. “We make use of natural waste residues. Therefore this new technology contributes to a more sustainable world in more ways than one and provides a form of energy that is practically unmatched in terms of the environment and sustainability.
“Interest in this new type of bio-oil is skyrocketing. The fact that Scandinavian countries, which are in the forefront of the push for sustainability, are moving in this direction makes it clear that this product has an enormous potential.
“The oil can be used for a wide range of applications, and the ever expanding list of new regulations focused on promoting a more sustainable and responsible use of the world’s energy resources is convincing an increasing number of companies that pyrolysis oil is an excellent alternative for fossil oil. Other oil companies are expected to soon follow in the footsteps of the Swedish company Preem.”
Transition to a sustainable society
“Sweden has unique opportunities for greatly expanding the production of renewable fuels within its borders,” continued Petter Holland, CEO of Preem. “The construction world’s first commercial production facility of pyrolysis oil for biofuel marks an important next step in our transition to a more sustainable society.”
Pontus Friberg, chairman of Pyrocell, added: “We have been working hard on this project for a long time now, and we are happy that we can now really start the practical execution phase. We opted for the combination of TechnipFMC and BTG-BTL after evaluation of other technologies and offers available in the market. The reference plant in the Netherlands, the Empyro-project, has played an important role in our decision making.”
How the process works
Pyrolysis converts raw materials such as sawdust or grass cuttings into raw bio-oil by heating the feedstock to around 500 degrees Celsius in the absence of oxygen. This process happens naturally, however over a period of several million years; it takes just a few seconds to produce the oil using pyrolysis technology.
The process was first developed over 25 years ago at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. BTG took over its development and scale-up in 1993, and in 2008 BTG BioLiquids (BTG-BTL) was set up.
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