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Products and solutions, 2010-03-05, 09:00 AM

Uhde’s PRENFLO™ process to be part of joint research and development project BioTfueL in France

BioTfueL is a new joint project launched by five French partners and Uhde. BioTfueL integrates the various technology stages of the so-called biomass to liquid chain (BTL chain = biomass to fuel) with the aim of developing and integrating all the stages of the BTL process chain and bringing them to market. This involves the drying and crushing of the biomass, torrefaction, gasification, purification of the synthesis gas and its ultimate conversion to second generation biofuels using Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.

Uhde’s contribution to the production of biofuels is mainly its proprietary PRENFLO™ gasification process with direct quench (PDQ). The PRENFLO™ process was selected on the basis of its flexibility in processing a wide variety of biomasses and other resources. It allows high energy efficiency and enables very pure synthesis gas to be produced. A torrefaction pre-treatment plant, which facilitates the application of biomass in the PRENFLO™ -PDQ entrained-flow gasifier, and ensures lowest possible energy consumption, is installed to allow the use of a wide range of biomasses.

The overall budget for the BioTfueL project is 112.7 million euro. The project includes the construction and operation of two pilot plants in France to produce biodiesel and biokerosene based on biomass gasification using Uhde’s PRENFLO™-PDQ process. The plants are scheduled to go into operation in 2012.

In view of the rising demand for energy and the need to increase the use of renewable resources to halt climate change, the BioTfueL project will break new ground by meeting these challenges with a technically innovative solution. In a joint effort, a completely integrated industrial process chain will be developed with which various biomasses and fossil resources, in both liquid and solid form, can be applied to produce high-quality biofuels. This flexibility of the process chain allows a high level of efficiency in optimising a continuous fuel supply to industrial plants particularly with regard to economic and logistical parameters.

The PRENFLO™ process is currently being used successfully in Puertollano, Spain where the world’s largest combined cycle power station with integrated coal gasification is in operation using petrol coke, coal and biomass as charge materials. Uhde’s PRENFLO™ process is based on the Koppers-Totzek coal gasification process which was developed around 70 years ago. The PRENFLO™ PDQ process was selected for its suitability in processing a variety of feedstocks and in generating hydrogen-rich synthesis gases, such as for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis applications, by which diesel and kerosene can be produced. BioTfueL’s objective is to remove all existing technological hurdles so that all process steps can be adapted for use in the combined application of biomass and fossil resources, and allow a secure transition to industrial-scale operations.

Throughout the process, BioTfueL will use life cycle analyses to assess the optimum equilibrium between technical-economic performance objectives (investment, yield, flexibility) and environmental demands (energy consumption, CO2 emissions), and to assist in supporting technological decisions. At the end of the BioTfueL project the partners expect there to be a good market for a significant number of industrial applications.

BioTfueL forms an integral part of the measures taken to implement the EU Directive on renewable energy which stipulates that all fuels should comprise 10% renewable energy by the year 2020. By taking part in this ambitious project, all BioTfueL partners aim to contribute to the implementation of a new industrial process chain for the production of biofuels (diesel and kerosene) using various renewable resources, and consequently meet the challenges posed by environmental demands and the need for diversified energy.

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