02 July 2012 13:17 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--The OMV oil, gas and petrochemicals group and BDI – BioEnergy International have opened a pilot plant that directly converts solid biomass such as wood chips and straw into diesel fuel, the first installation of its kind in the world, the Austrian companies said on Monday.
The BioCRACK pilot plant, which uses a patented process, was opened by Austrian minister for transport, innovation and technology Doris Bures and OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss at the OMV refinery in Schwechat, southeast of Vienna.
“The European fuel market faces considerable challenges. It must meet the growing demand for diesel and raise the renewable energy share in the transport fuel sector to at least 10% by 2020,” said Roiss.
“Conventional first-generation biofuels are not a long-term solution because the cultivation of the necessary raw materials competes with food production. Our refineries are well positioned and the BioCRACK technology that was developed in partnership with BDI is a further response from OMV to the changing conditions,” he added in a press release.
OMV and BDI have been jointly involved in the BioCRACK project since 2009, while the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund provided it with a grant of €2m ($2.5m) as part of the New Energies 2020 research and technology programme for the development of the BioCRACK technology.
“There are high expectations worldwide for second-generation biofuels,” said Bures.
“This new technology and the pilot plant therefore represent true pioneering work by domestic companies and researchers,” she added.
By mid-2014, the pilot plant's process would be tested at the refinery and brought to market maturity, OMV and BDI said.
Second-generation fuels are extracted from biomass, using waste products from the agricultural and forestry sectors but without the use of food, meaning the fuels do not compete with areas needed for food production, the companies added.
“From the start of the project, the objective was to develop a technically simple, cost-effective and, on a small scale, profitable process that fulfils two basic tasks – to produce diesel and to raise the biogenic share,” said Edgar Ahn, a board member of BDI.
Biogenic diesel is extracted using a process in which the biomass is heated with heavy oil to more than 400°C (752°F), meaning diesel is produced with a biogenic share of up to 20%, he said.
A further advantage of the BioCRACK plant is that, in the past, heavy mineral oil was used mainly for the production of petrol at the OMV refinery, but it could now be used for the production of diesel, which is in strong demand, the companies said.
($1 = €0.79)
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