Technical and Marketing Criteria for the Development of Fast Pyrolysis Technologies

Technical and Marketing Criteria for the Development of Fast Pyrolysis Technologies

Juan Miguel Mesa-Pérez (Bioware Tecnologia, Brazil) and Felix Fonseca Felfli (Methodist University of Piracicaba, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8711-0.ch009
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Abstract

The management of projects regarding the use of biomass requires human resources with specific technical knowledge and tools to assess the real potential of raw materials within one or several production chains. Storage and transportation logistics, conservation and handling of the biomass, available technologies of transformation, and consumer market for the products are critical stages in the management process. The following chapter will present the technical, financial, and market criteria for managing production chains that use biomass as raw material in processes of fast pyrolysis.
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Background For Fast Pyrolysis: Composing Elements Of The Production Chain

Biomass Thermo-Conversion Processes

The thermo-conversion processes are aimed at transforming solid biomass into new solid, liquid, and gas products of greater aggregate value (Basu, 2013). The distribution of the new products from this transformation will occur according to the quantity of oxygen involved in the thermo-chemical reactions and the temperature of the process. For example: in the combustion process, thermo-chemical reaction occurs in stoichiometric conditions that correspond approximately to the band of (6-7) kg of air/kg of dry biomass. In this process, the intended product is the heat from the combustion reaction. As the quantity of air in relation to the stoichiometric value decreases, the main primary product changes, as indicated in Figure 1.

Fast pyrolysis of biomass is defined as the thermal degradation of organic material in the absence of oxygen for the production especially of bio-oil. Charcoal and gases are also produced during this process.

Figure 1.

Intended products in the thermo-conversion processes

Production Chain of Biomass Transformation

Pyrolysis is only one element in a series of interconnected stages that compose what we have defined as the Production Chain of Biomass Transformation – PCBT. This can be divided into three primary elements (Figure 2):

  • 1.

    Raw material;

  • 2.

    Transformation Technology;

  • 3.

    Consumer market.

Figure 2.

Composing elements of the Production Chain of Biomass Transformation – PCBT

Regardless of the PCBT used to elaborate a business plan, there are requirements that characterize the investment risks, which we list below according to the PCBT’s primary elements (Nagano, Stefanovitz, & Vick, 2014).

Raw Material

“Good biomass is that which ensures”:

  • Large scale supply (from 100 ton/day);

  • Standard quality (size, shape, and composition);

  • Absence of environmental restriction;

  • Competitive prices (defined by a sensitivity analysis).

Transformation Technology

The investment risks of innovative technology are directly related to the experience accumulated by the technical team involved in all the stages of the development, from the pilot to the demonstrative commercial scale. The rigorous definition and standardization of procedures and methodologies for obtaining the products, as well as the definition of project parameters and scale-up of minimize the risks by ensuring:

  • The stable operation of the technology’s composing equipment,

  • Processed products which are made standard according to consumer market,

Consumer Market

The largest risk element in PCBT is when the consumer market is inexistent or under development.

The product that will be inserted in the consumer market, in most cases, intends to replace already existing fuels and/or inputs, which are generally derived from petroleum. Adjustment of pyrolysis products to the final consumer in the most effective way possible supposes the need to minimize the incompatibilities between biomass- derived products and petroleum-derived products. In other words, this adjustment must create standardized fuels. This requires the conduction of appropriateness and adjustment tests on pyrolysis products alongside the final consumer.

Regardless of the environmental gains that may come from the use of a green technology, the determining factor nowadays is the product’s final price in relation to other existing products in the market. A good approach consists of ensuring that prices are 10% lower in comparison to equivalent petroleum-derived products.

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