A feature of the recent Advanced Biofuels Conference in Stockholm, Sweden was a pre-conference study tour to the Pyrocell pyrolysis plant in Gävle. Operational now for just over a year, the Setra-Preem joint venture produces what technology provider BTG Bioliquids calls “Fast Pyrolysis Bio-Oil” or “FPBO” that is then shipped to Preem’s Preemraﬀ Lysekil reﬁnery for co-processing in the reﬁnery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC).
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At the plant, the 15 or so participants were given a rundown of the project, key processing steps in the plant, operational experiences, and a hint of what may yet to come by Pontus Friberg, CEO of Pyrocell AB, the Setra-Preem JV.
The full-size commercial-scale plant began operations in September 2021 and was officially inaugurated in December 2021.
At Lysekil, the FPBO is fed into the FCC using separate nozzles and injection line. The green FPBO molecules are cracked together with the fossil molecules and thus the green content is distributed across the output products such as gasoline and diesel, explained Gerhard Muggen, CEO of BTG Bioliquids during the conference.
A key discussion point for crude pyrolysis oil in general is how “reﬁnery ready” the oil is before additional post-processing of the oil is required.
The co-processing rate in Lysekil thus far has been 1-3 percent by weight FPBO while commercial FCC operability has been proven at 5 percent by weight. Pilot-scale operability on the other hand has been proven at 10 percent by weight FPBO, said Gerhard Muggen.
At 220 000 barrels per day(bpd) or 11.4 million tonnes per annum crude processing capacity, Preemraﬀ Lysekil is the largest reﬁnery in Sweden.
Five percent FPBO would mean 11 000 bpd or 570 000 tonnes per annum which equates to roughly the combined annum output of 24 Pyrocell plants, a number that is not entirely oﬀ the charts just considering the number of sawmills in Sweden.
Taking the Nordic sawmilling- and solid wood processing industry into consideration, then 24 facilities is an entirely feasible number.
Indeed, during the site visit, Pontus Friberg, CEO of Pyrocell inadvertently revealed that the company is currently looking into the feasibility of building a second unit in Gävle, adjacent to the existing facility.
Hypothetically speaking, we have the space, infrastructure, and logistics all in place here. And more feedstock in the form of sawdust could be made available. It is very early stages yet, nothing has been decided at all, Pontus Friberg stressed.
Developing an FPBO pipeline
Nonetheless, back to the original FPBO co-coprocessing and FCC operability question. With its new subsidiary BTG neXt, BTG Group is in the process of commercializing a proprietary two-step upgrading process for FPBO to produce a Stabilised (Deoxygenated) Pyrolysis Oil (S(D)PO.
Lab- and pilot testing indicate that this would enable FCC co-processing ratios of a least 30 percent by weight, possibly higher.
Looking ahead, Gerhard Muggen also revealed that apart from Pyrocell’s possible second unit, BTG Bioliquids has additional projects in the pipeline including three units to Green Fuels Nordic (GFN) in Finland that commissioned its ﬁrst plant in Lieksa in 2020.
We are in the midst of other project discussions in Europe that aim to provide FPBO to a European reﬁnery and, hopefully, we will soon be able to announce our ﬁrst project in North America, ended Gerhard Muggen with a cliﬀ-hanger.