Using Steam to Convert Biomass Waste into Fuel and Chemical Precursors at Oil Industry Scale and Profitability

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One of the major challenges facing the energy and petrochemical sectors is the quest to develop a technology that will guarantee, at oil industry scale, the effective, efficient and profitable conversion of non-food biomass into liquid fuels and a range of useful chemicals.

 

Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT) has developed a staged, progressive, physical and thermochemical process – Refnova – which enables a complete fractionation of lignocellulosic materials into their constituent parts. Covered by patents in the USA and many other countries, the NPT process takes green feedstock as cut and uses no bioactives such as enzymes or bacteria. Internally catalysed it is continuous (“tubular”), fast (minutes), simple and clean.

 

Each fraction of the full slate of fuel precursors and platform chemicals produced is at a high level of purity, suitable for onward processing. Beginning with physical separations and progressively moving to more aggressive thermochemical hydrolysis and steam thermolysis operations, NPT’s staged process incorporates certain enhancing technologies which improve yields through avoiding premature cell degradation.

 

Independent technical and commercial due diligences confirm significant advantages compared to all other known biomass conversion technologies in terms of product range and quality

*Those due diligences also foresee commercial superiority driven by the lower operating and capital costs

*Potential implementers have estimated IRRs of over 40% will be achievable at the medium term target scale of 200 tonnes (green) biomass per hour (roughly equivalent to 5,000 bbl/day oil equivalent). Good returns can also be achieved at smaller scale around 50 tonnes/hour. Generally competitive without subsidy but has the advantage of Cellulosic Biofuel support in the USA and and Europe bolstering returns in the event of low oil prices.

*Green house gas savings have been estimated by E4Tech at 97.6% when Refnova-based fuel substitutes for fossil fuel

 

A 20 kilo/hour pilot plant was commissioned in 2016 and has delivered exciting results in line with expectations. This enabled the design of a large pre-commercial demonstration plant

Construction of this demonstration plant, taking feedstock at 2 tonne/hour (green) and partly funded by the UK Department for Transport’s Advanced Biofuel Demonstration Competition (ABDC) grant award, is due to be completed in early 2019 at NPT’s site on the Wilton International chemical complex on Teesside, UK. Partly commissioned in November 2018, this plant has already produced commercial grade sugars.

NPT is already working with a  range of potential implementers, both locally and internationally, and embracing a wide range of  feedstocks, with a view to enabling implementation of commercial scale designs to begin in early 2020.