The use of bio-oils and bio-crudes to replace petroleum heating oils is currently one of the most successful applications for DTL technologies worldwide.
In this application, the liquefaction process is used to convert solid biomass into a more energy dense form. Once liquefied, it can be transported more easily, pumped to an application, and metered at precise rates to quickly adjust to changing process demand for thermal energy.
The current commercial applications are tailored to the requirements of the customer.
Ensyn has straightforward applications: production of bio-oil for transport to customers with long term supply agreements. This includes Memorial Hospital for use in heating the facility. In addition, Ensyn contracts with Youngstown Thermal who provides district steam using heat derived from bio-oil combustion.
EMPYRO has a combined application: their application in Hengelo operates to produce both local steam and bio-oil for transport to customers. Excess heat in their pyrolysis process is converted to steam and provided to local customers, and the bio-oil is transported to FrieslandCampina for industrial process heating.
Fortum/Valmet has an interesting application for bio-oil in heat and power: Bio-oils are used to power load level a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in Joensuu, Finland and provide biofuels as a light fuel oil replacement for heating applications in nearby areas. In order to more efficiently use the Joensuu CHP biomass gasification plant, excess thermal capacity (particularly in the summertime) can be used to prepare feedstock and produce bio-oil. This allows for the plant to provide biomass heat and power locally, but extend to other areas to displace petroleum.
The efforts of these pioneer companies in commercializing bio-oil applications are important steps in the greater adoption of direct liquefaction technologies. Heat and Power applications will commoditize bio-oil such that it will be a standardized product, available in larger quantity, and has a mature logistics chain.
Heat and power is as a 1st generation application of bio-oil will establish the opportunity for next generation applications, such as conversion to gasoline/diesel or extraction of chemicals, to grown in a marketplace where the availability and quality of bio-oil is a known factor.
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