- Fossil fuels are running out, which is bad for our future perspective
- New ways to generate energy are necessary, and Empyro from Twente has one
In 2015 Empyro opened a pyrolysis oil factory in Hengelo, at the AkzoNobel terrain. Twenty years of R&D and much perseverance resulted in their pyrolysis technique, says Gerhard Muggen, director of BTG Bioliquids. “You need stubbornness to bring a technology like this to the market because it is ground-breaking. The basic pyrolysis process is present in nature but was non-existent on a commercial scale. At Empyro we quickly heat biomass to 500 degrees Celsius without adding or admitting oxygen, resulting in an oily vapour which we then condense. We can produce 700 kilos of pyrolysis oil with 1000 kilos of biomass, for example containing wood chips. The remaining 200 kilos we use for electricity and heat generation, sufficient to drive our own systems. It seems so straightforward but it really is a challenge to realise this on such a large scale. I’m extremely proud that the factory has been running for over a year now!”
“We detach biomass sources and actual use of the energy. We do this by launching pyrolysis plants in countries like Sweden and Canada where biomass is available in a sustainable, sufficient and inexpensive way. We produce crude pyrolysis oil, which can be used locally or transported to counties with little biomass, but where there is a demand for energy or chemicals. The big advantage of oil is that you can store and transport it. FrieslandCampina, one of our customers, uses the oil to generate steam in a sustainable way to run their boilers. If they had to store the biomass around their factory, that would mean that large sheds would be placed close to built-up areas. In addition, there is a risk of mould and the development of bacteria when storing biomass. Oil, on the other hand, can be stored for a long time.
The oil that we produce can not only be used as fuel but in the long term also for the production of asphalt, bitumen for roofs, adhesives and chemicals. Our oil is especially important in the latter category; wind and solar energy are beautiful ways to generate energy, but you cannot use it to produce chemicals. I don't see a plane flying on wind or solar energy any time soon, you still need fuel.”
BTG Bioliquids (BTL) recently signed an agreement with Technip, a global leader in project management, engineering and construction for the energy industry. With branches in 45 countries, Technip has high-quality industrial facilities on all continents, and a fleet of specialised vessels is available for the installation of pipelines and submarine construction. The agreement combines Technip's global power in technology, engineering, procurement and construction with BTL's expertise in design and commercial operations of one of the first Fast Pyrolysis Oil production facilities in the world. Technip and BTL will also collaborate in developing commercial applications of Fast Pyrolysis Oil for sustainable fuel and as a raw material for the petrochemical industry.
“This agreement allows us to position ourselves as a technology company globally. The strong combination of Technip and BTL will now offer turnkey pyrolysis installations and services to industries that are looking for new applications of biomass in preparation for the transition to a "bio-based economy."
Henk Kamp, Minister of Economic Affairs, adds: “This collaboration is a next step towards a more sustainable refining sector. I encourage companies to increase the share of renewables in their energy consumption. The collaboration between Technip and BTL will enable the global development of this promising technology. "