Sunday, December 27, 2009

Choren, Air Liquide Team Up for French BTL

An ambitious new French BTL (biomass to liquids) project will be pushing the envelope of full-chain BTL production:
The Bure Saudron pilot will demonstrate a complete BTL production chain: gathering and conditioning of the biomass, gasification, gas processing, and conversion to synthetic fuel via the Fischer-Tropsch process. It is intended provide the experience necessary for the establishment of a BTL sector, both for process integration techniques and for the definition of a regional economic model. This will be the first production unit of its kind in France.

The pilot plant will use some 75,000 tonnes per year of forest and local agricultural residue to produce about 23,000 tonnes/year of second-generation biofuel (diesel, kerosene and naptha).

Currently, a limitation of BTL processing is the mass yield of the end products. The Bure Saudron project will experiment with a novel solution to increase process efficiency—the ratio of hydrogen to carbon monoxide generated during the synthesis stage of the fuel will be greatly enhanced by the external input of hydrogen. This innovation will be a world first, according to CEA.

This first phase involves the detailed design studies and is under contract with the CNIM group (Constructions Industrielles de la Méditerranée) as prime contractor, and in partnership with Air Liquide, Choren, SNC Lavalin, Foster Wheeler-France and MSW Energy.

Air Liquide will coordinate some of the technical engineering operations and process steps downstream, from gasification through final biofuel upgrading. Air Liquide will also provide oxygen and hydrogen. Oxygen is a required component of the gasification process, and the hydrogen will be used to enhance the quantity and quality of the synthetic fuel produced. Choren is providing the gasification technology. _GCC

The French BTL project intends to grow its own biomass and perform its own gasification and chemical synthesis. Other BTL projects aim to buy biomass from contracted providers or off the open market. It will take several years for the biomass market to develop and mature in terms of quality control and guaranteed delivery. Any carbonaceous mass will do -- as Oynklent Green [OTC:OYNK] very well knows. ;-)

Hydrogen is likely to prove useful in many ways to the biofuels enterprise. Hydrogen gas is intelligently used by Neste in making its advanced biodiesel product. Adding hydrogen gas to a biomass gasification process to increase yield is another use. The French will use excess nuclear capacity during off hours to produce the hydrogen for use in the above project.



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