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Tryout set for biomass- to-gasoline process

By Gerald Parkinson |

A demonstration plant that will produce transportation fuels from cellulosic biomass will be built at Tesoro Corp.’s petroleum refinery in Kapolei, Hawaii, by Envergent Technologies (Des Plaines, Ill.; www.envergenttech.com), a joint venture of Honeywell’s UOP (Des Plaines; www.uop.com) and Ensyn Technologies Inc. (Ottawa, Ont.; www.ensyn.com). Scheduled to start up in 2014, the plant will convert biomass into about 22,000 gal/yr of fuels — mostly gasoline, with a small amount of diesel fuel. The facility will combine Ensyn’s rapid thermal processing (RTP) technology with UOP’s hydroprocessing knowhow to process a range of cellulosic feedstocks, including agricultural waste, pulp, paper, woody biomass, algae and dedicated energy crops, such as switchgrass and sorghum (diagram). In the RTP step, biomass is rapidly heated by hot sand to approximately 500°C, in the absence of oxygen, in a circulating transported fluidized-bed reactor. The biomass is vaporized, then rapidly quenched, yielding 65–75 wt.% pyrolysis oil, plus char and non-condensable gas, which are used for fuel. The residence time is about 2 s. A shortcoming of bio-oils (including the pyrolysis oil) is that they contain 10–40%…
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