The project aims at maximising biocrude yields in a commercially viable manner as well as improving the efficiency of biocrude to renewable diesel blendstock. It also plans to make the next-generation of renewable biofuels competitive.
Denmark – Haldor Topsoe’s ‘Bio-crude Production and Upgrading to Renewable Diesel’ project will investigate innovative approaches to optimise an integrated, advanced biofuels process in order to produce sustainable renewable diesel at an attractive cost.
The chosen process is catalytic biomass pyrolysis integrated with a hydroprocessing unit. This type of process is generally considered an attractive route towards sustainable renewable fuels. It uses cellulosic feedstocks such as woody biomass, energy crops and agricultural and other wastes, making it a next generation technology.
The focus of the project is to:
1. Maximise biocrude (also known as pyrolysis oil) yields in catalytic biomass pyrolysis by optimising the physical and chemical characteristics of cellulosic biomass feedstock, in a commercially viable manner;
2. Improve efficiency of the upgrading of biocrude to renewable diesel blendstock by splitting the liquid intermediate in fractions that are hydroprocessed individually.
By extraction and distillation, biocrude is separated into three different streams of similar functionalities; a less polar aromatic fraction (light cycle oil – LCO), a pyrolytic lignin fraction, and a water-soluble fraction.
The project takes an important next step in the commercialisation of the technology by upscaling the catalytic biomass pyrolysis process, integrating it with a hydroprocessing unit, and demonstrating the long-term operation and performance of the integrated process.
Topsoe collaborates with RTI International who is developing the advanced biofuels technology that integrates catalytic biomass pyrolysis and hydrotreating to produce hydrocarbon-based biofuels. Idaho National Laboratory, National Renewable Laboratory, and Forest Concepts are also involved as project partners.
The project is funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Topsoe already offers the Hydroflex process that is in commercial operation at refineries producing renewable diesel from vegetable oils, animal fats, and tall oil. The result is identical to fossil diesel on the molecular level. This means that the renewable diesel produced from the Hydroflex process can be used as a drop-in diesel without modification of standard car engines.