Bio oils and transportation fuels by Fast Pyrolysis

Several years ago VTT identified that all biofuels are, and for the near future will be, more expensive than their fossil counterparts. This has become increasingly obvious lately as technologies are moving towards demonstration. Thus, the emphasis has been on reducing biofuel plant capital and operating costs by developing new concepts and improving existing alternatives.

Related to fast pyrolysis, the solution VTT has patented and licensed to industry, has been integration of the pyrolysis reactor and fluidized-bed boiler, which is widely employed in combined-heat-and-power production in industry and in district heating.

Replacing fossil oils in district heating

The integrated technology was invented already in 1996 at VTT. It was developed on an industrial pilot scale together with Valmet, Fortum and UPM in 2008–2013. Valmet has subsequently built a demonstration plant for Fortum in Joensuu. The bio-oil product is used to replace fossil oils in district heating.

Targeting to transportation fuels

VTT is also developing fast pyrolysis further for the production of transportation fuels. Tekes, US DoE and industry are co-funding research, in which VTT and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) (Washington, Richland) are hydrotreating primary pyrolysis oil (both thermal and catalytic oils) to higher-value products.

While the bio fuel oil application is at demonstration level, the transportation fuel concept is only at laboratory scale. Further needs for development have been identified based on techno-economic assessments and a LCA on these technologies. Currently the emphasis is on employing catalytic pyrolysis using modified in-house catalysts, product hydrotreatment and also on co-refining of pyrolysis bio-oils in standard mineral oil refineries.

Read more about VTT’s Fast Pyrolysis R&D work >

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