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By Robert Rapier on Dec 6, 2007 with no responses

BioOil Gains Traction

BioOil, also known as pyrolysis oil, is not quite renewable petroleum, but it is a renewable liquid fuel made from the destructive distillation of biomass. A Canadian company has announced that they will build a plant in Missouri:

Canadian Company to Convert Wood to Fuel

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Canadian biofuels developer said Wednesday it plans to build a $24 million plant in southeast Missouri that would convert wood scraps into fuel to operate factories and heat office buildings.

Dynamotive Energy Systems Corp. said the plant, to be built 180 miles south of St. Louis in Willow Springs, could generate up to 12 million gallons of fuel per year, consuming up to 73,000 tons of wood byproducts and other residue from nearby sawmills.

The company said it would be the first commercial plant in the U.S. to produce liquid biofuel from wood residues.

Industrial users could use the fuel, called BioOil, to replace conventional oil to fire their boilers, Dynamotive said. The company said it already uses the fuel to generate electricity at one of its two BioOil plants in Ontario and is negotiating with potential U.S. industrial customers.

The story goes on to explain that the market for this oil is for industrial boilers and not transportation. While I have been familiar with pyrolysis oil for a long time, I honestly don’t know anything about the economics. However, I suspect they aren’t all that bad. The process is straightforward, and doesn’t operate at extreme temperatures or pressures that might require exotic reactors. I guess the main question I would have is that if it is to be primarily used as boiler fuel, why not just burn the wood directly as boiler fuel? Maybe there is a good reason; I don’t know. It’s an interesting development regardless.