Tuesday, August 05, 2008

More Pulp and Paper Plants Adding Biofuels and Energy Production to Facilities

Considering that there are 200 or more similar chemical pulp mills in the U.S., and at least an additional 100 in Canada, basic arithmetic shows this barrelage capacity for Fischer-Tropsch synthetic crude oil could total somewhere upwards of 420 million barrels per year, or between 15 and 20 billion gallons per year for the entire North American pulp and paper industry. _RenewableEnergy
We have previously mentioned how ideally suited pulp and paper mills are for producing biomass energy and fuels. Already in the process of manipulating biomass using thermochemical and heavy industrial processes, the addition of a few key processes to pre-existing plants will give pulp mills a huge head start in the biomass energy and fuels industry.
Pulp mills are ideal sites for integrated biorefinery operations for four basic reasons. First, they are already set up to receive and process massive amounts of delivered roundwood and woods chips, served in this capacity by rail, truck and some also by barge operations. In the U.S. alone, pulp mills use more than 120 million dry tons of wood per year, and they have access to at least an equal amount of forest residuals and even a greater amount of agricultural wastes and energy crops if needed.

Second, these mills have basically the same existing infrastructures for warehousing and shipping out finished products around the country. Third, they have a well-established in-place administrative infrastructure and related human resources that can be extended to serve a biorefinery business without incurring significant new costs. Fourth, pulp mills have operating utility support systems for process water, electricity, steam and waste/environmental treatment that can easily be umbrella'd to support biorefinery operations without major new investments.

And possibly as a strong fifth reason, chemical pulp mills already operate as biorefineries of sorts, producing fiber used to make paper and paperboard as well as some specialized dissolving pulps used to make viscose types of "bio-plastics" and rayon materials. Bio-byproducts made from sulfate (or kraft) spent cooking liquors (black liquor) include ingredients used in making coatings, adhesives, detergents, paint, varnish, ink, lubricants, waxes, polishes, gasoline additives, agricultural products, etc. Turpentine is obtained by condensing exhaust vapors during the pulping of softwoods with the kraft process. There also is a spectrum of lignin-based byproducts produced from refinement of black liquors...

...Rather than burning these high volumes of spent cooking liquors directly in recovery boilers, integrated biorefineries can process them into an array of value-added cellulosic biofuels, including ethanol, various synthetic gases (syngas), synthetic crude oil and biodiesel. These fuels could be used to offset petroleum-based fuels being burned in the mill and/or to sell as transportation/motor fuels.

There are as many as 12 clearly defined pathways into integrated biofuel/bioproduct production at pulp and paper mills. These include the thermochemical approaches that generally involve gasification of either biomass and/or spent cooking liquor streams alone or in combination with advanced gas-to-liquid technologies such as Fischer-Tropsch-based systems, and various pyrolysis techniques involving fluidized bed boilers. _Much More at Source
It is not a matter of trying to replace all energy sources with one magical bioenergy elixir. Rather, the challenge is to put together a viable mosaic of approaches to clean, safe, and renewable energies that can, over time, take over for oil, gas, coal, and unconventional fossil fuels.



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