The development of BTG-BTL’s pyrolysis technology has been financially supported by the Top Sector Program of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Currently, it is in place in the Hengelo based factory Empyro, in Twente. Oil is extracted from wood residues and is used to power the FrieslandCampina factory in Borculo. 24.000 tons of CO2 and ten million cubic metres of natural gas are saved annually, corresponding to the annual consumption of around 8000 households.
Sawdust as raw material
The factory in Finland, ran by Green Fuel Nordic Oy, will produce 20 million litres of oil per year. This oil will be used by various factories throughout Finland and the Netherlands. The pyrolysis plant will be located next to a sawmill in Lieksa, about a six-hour drive north of Helsinki. The sawmill’s residual waste (sawdust) functions as a raw material for oil production. The steam produced during the process is used sustainably in the process itself. The plant is expected to start producing in 2020.
BTG-BTL’s technology allows for renewable crude oil to be extracted from organic residual waste through pyrolysis. In the pyrolysis process, raw materials, such as sawdust or roadside grass, are heated to 500 degrees Celsius without any oxygen. What is left is crude bio-oil. The process is similar to the process used in nature, but what took mother nature millions of years takes BTG-BTL only a few seconds.
Gerhard Muggen, managing director of BTG-BTL: “We can honestly say that our oil is ‘non-fossil, non-food’. It is a worthy alternative to fossil oil and is not at the expense of agricultural land and forests. It really is a sustainable energy source. The contract with Green Fuel Nordic Oy is an important step in the international rollout of our technology and proves that customers believe in the potential of pyrolysis as a renewable oil source. It’s great that Finland, being far ahead in the field of sustainability, opts for our Dutch technology.”
“In recent years a particular kind of race has taken place"
Increase in demand
Muggen notices a strong increase in demand for pyrolysis oil. “In recent years a particular kind of race has taken place between different types of advanced biofuels. Pyrolysis oil turned out to be one of the most attractive types. I expect more orders from other countries soon, including orders from oil companies.”
The pyrolysis oil technology was invented over 25 years ago at the University of Twente. BTG took over development and upscaling in 1993. Fifteen years later, in 2008, BTG BioLiquids (BTG-BTL) was established which, together with TechnipFMC, focuses on the rollout of the technology. Supported by the European FP7 program, the first plant, Empyro, was opened in Hengelo in 2015 at Nouryon, the former Akzonobel. This factory was bought by Twence in December 2018 and runs independently ever since. In 2019, BTG-BTL and TechnipFMC received the first international contract for a factory in Lieksa, Finland, which runs on the Non-Fossil, Non-Food principle.