Return of the Pyromaniax
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) …You just can’t turn your back for very long, around the Pyromaniax – the researchers around the world working on pyrolysis. Now, pyro comes in several flavors – fast pyrolysis, flash pyrolysis, catalytic fast pyrolysis – there’s low-pressure, low-temp, and high-temp. Whatever the flavor, the R&D progress is fast – demonstrated by companies such as KiOR which went public with a billion-dollar valuation.
The stumbling blocks – generally, too much oxygen in the pyro oils – so it needs upgrading to make a true do-oxygenated hydrocarbon fuel. Not always enough stability in the oils. Never enough aromatics.
Well, some of that changed just the other day, with what has been hailed as a platform discovery coming from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where George Huber and his team have been long identified among the leading Pyromaniax.
The team, using a catalytic fast pyrolysis process that transforms renewable non-food biomass into petrochemicals, have developed a new catalyst that boosts the yield for five key “building blocks of the chemical industry” by 40 percent compared to previous methods.
The process has been tested and proven in a laboratory reactor, using wood as the feedstock, the research team says, adding that wood, grasses or other renewable biomass can be used now to create benzene, toluene, and xylene (all aromatics), and ethylene and propylene (both olefins).
Together, these represent five of the six petrochemicals that serve as the building blocks for the chemical industry. In addition, some of them can be blended into gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.
In a special update on the Pyromaniax, we provide this round-up of 10 of the hottest projects around the world using pyrolysis. Canada, Australia, South East Asia, the US and Europe – companies like KiOR, Dynamotive, Agilyx, and Envergent, plus some hot research projects from Iowa State, the University of York, GTI and elsewhere around the world. READ MORE and MORE Abstract