Pulp and paper company Domtar from Montreal and Battelle, an independent research and development specialist in Columbus, Ohio chose Domtar’s mill operations in Dryden, Ontario to test fast pyrolysis: oxygen-free heating for the conversion of biomass (wood chips) into biofuel.
The role of Battelle in all this comes in looking for a bigger market value – it designed smaller reactors to change the oil at a molecular level.
The great advantage of pyrolysis is that there’s no need to heave materials from one location to another: the systems are right there where biomass is, saving time and money. Especially money! Lorne Morrow, CEO of CRIBE in Thunder Bay (Northern Ontario) reports that 80% of the region’s mills are down and that the need to keep the rest “afloat” is stringent. Fortunately, that shouldn’t be too hard, since they all have the necessary room and power to support a second task.
The project is also viable because it doesn’t require further potentially significant investments. Instead, it brings in money, while still being “more energy efficient than more traditional [biofuel] approaches” (Lorne Morrow), which can be extended to other operations.
Now the companies have to verify the validity of the system design on a limited scale and then expand production to a full-scale plant. Morrow is confident paper mills are not going to be the only ones benefiting from the technology, as long as the other potential activities include natural wood or other fibers.
[via Financial Post]