Text: Martti Härkänen
Linde Group member AGA supplies pioneering biomass gasification facility
Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) is a multi-step process for producing synthetic fuels (syn fuels) from biomass. The end fuel components are similar to those of current fossil-based petrol and diesel fuels and can therefore be used in existing fuel distribution systems and standard engines.
BTL fuels can be produced from almost any type of low-moisture biomass such as wood residues, forest thinning, bark from pulp and paper production or organic waste. Before it can be turned into a liquid, however, the biomass feedstock has to be gasified and treated to create a balanced syngas that can be used in the second, catalytic stage.
All steps in the BTL process chain
At present, very little biomass gasification takes place on an industrial scale. One company in Finland, however, is leading the way here. NSE Biofuels Oy is a 50/50 joint venture between Neste Oil and Stora Enso. It has been operating a biomass gasification demo plant at Varkaus in Finland since the summer of 2009. The company is using the facility to develop technologies and engineering solutions for commercial-scale production. The plant features a 12 MW gasifier. Its demo process units cover all stages of gasification from drying biomass through gasification and scrubbing to the testing of Fischer-Tropsch catalysts. AGA is a key partner in this project, supplying the joint venture with all the gases needed at each step in the process chain.