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I Never Cease to be Amazed

Thanks to a reader for sending me this story:

Company trying to turn waste into biofuel

Salem businessmen to turn dairy dung into butanol for vehicles

Diesel Brewing would burn dairy waste and turn it into butanol.

Butanol is mainly used as a solvent, but company officials want to use it as a renewable fuel.

If Diesel Brewing succeeds, it likely would be the first company in the world to make butanol with what’s called a gasification process, said Andy Aden, a senior research engineer with the biomass center at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo.

Once the process is proved feasible, Raines and his team hope to build commercial-scale plants that use 100 tons of waste per day — and produce a couple million gallons of butanol per year.

Why does this amaze me? Chemical companies like Celanese (my former employer), Dow, BASF, Eastman – oil companies like BP and Shell – and numerous other companies around the world produce butanol. They have big research budgets, and they would love to find an economical direct gasification route to butanol. These companies have looked at probably thousands of catalysts, and people have spent their careers working on this problem. The challenge is that syngas (produced from gasification) doesn’t like to form butanol. You can form a little bit directly, but CO (carbon monoxide) likes to do lots of things besides form a C4 alcohol like butanol.

Methanol is not a problem. You can also produce ethanol, which is what Range Fuels is planning on doing (although you almost always have methanol to deal with as well). But the selectivity falls off sharply as you go to higher alcohols. By the time you get to butanol, you are lucky if 5% of the product is butanol. More typical is 1-2%. See this NREL report for more details:

Thermochemical Ethanol via Indirect Gasification and Mixed Alcohol Synthesis of Lignocellulosic Biomass

So why does any of this amaze me? This is all known technology. It has been looked at for 50 years by multiple big companies spending untold millions of dollars. The economics simply don’t work, because of the very low yields. But a small company in Oregon still got someone to give them money to work on it:

The only way Diesel Brewing could get its start was through Oregon’s business energy tax credit program — one of the most robust in the nation.

The tax credit is worth 50 percent of their $1.4 million in capital costs, Stapleton said.

And then they also suggest that they will be profitable:

Raines doesn’t expect to make a profit until the 100-ton-per-day plant is running.

I spent several years working on butanol, and am quite familiar with the chemistry. How butanol is typically made involves a gasification step, but then you react the syngas with propylene and hydrogenate the product. This produces normal and iso-butanol, with very high selectivity and conversion. I believe it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to economically produce butanol by gasification of biomass. The chemistry just doesn’t work. Methanol or mixed alcohols? Those economics look better, and might eventually have staying power.

Don’t get me wrong, butanol is a fine fuel, and I have a special fondness for it. I would like to see it work out. But my observation is that people grossly underestimate the difficulty of economically producing butanol from biomass.

Now, I have to get back to work on my Unified Field Theory. I know that I am not a physicist, and a solution eluded Albert Einstein. But if I can just get a large enough grant, I think I can pull it off…

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May 14, 2009 - Posted by | biobutanol, butanol

32 Comments

  1. What? You’re amazed that investors have money to waste on promising technologies they don’t understand? Again? Still? You’re no fun!

    BTW, have you noticed that diesel is now cheaper than gasoline? My theory: while ULSD make diesel more expensive, part of the initial cost is a dynamic effect. Big Oil needs time to figure out how to produce this new fuel efficiently. But when they do…

    Comment by Optimist | May 14, 2009

  2. What? You’re amazed that investors have money to waste on promising technologies they don’t understand? Again? Still? You’re no fun!

    BTW, have you noticed that diesel is now cheaper than gasoline? My theory: while ULSD make diesel more expensive, part of the initial cost is a dynamic effect. Big Oil needs time to figure out how to produce this new fuel efficiently. But when they do…

    Comment by Optimist | May 14, 2009

  3. What? You’re amazed that investors have money to waste on promising technologies they don’t understand? Again? Still? You’re no fun!BTW, have you noticed that diesel is now cheaper than gasoline? My theory: while ULSD make diesel more expensive, part of the initial cost is a dynamic effect. Big Oil needs time to figure out how to produce this new fuel efficiently. But when they do…

    Comment by Optimist | May 14, 2009

  4. Diesel Brewing Company?

    Producing C4 butanol via direct gasification?

    Sounds like they are bouncing all over the place. There are some really big technical differences between brewing (batch fermentation) and GTL catalysis of synthesis gas. The article wasn’t too clear about anything except some folks showing off something confusing which doesn’t seem technically plausible.

    I see no similarities between longer chained Diesel oils and Butanol, a simple four carbon alcohol. More confusion, not clear.

    However, free money from Uncle Sam for anything which might replace a gallon of imported oil?

    OK. RR, where can I sign up? Thanks for sharing this silly.

    Comment by Anonymous | May 14, 2009

  5. Diesel Brewing Company? Producing C4 butanol via direct gasification? Sounds like they are bouncing all over the place. There are some really big technical differences between brewing (batch fermentation) and GTL catalysis of synthesis gas. The article wasn’t too clear about anything except some folks showing off something confusing which doesn’t seem technically plausible.I see no similarities between longer chained Diesel oils and Butanol, a simple four carbon alcohol. More confusion, not clear.However, free money from Uncle Sam for anything which might replace a gallon of imported oil? OK. RR, where can I sign up? Thanks for sharing this silly.

    Comment by Anonymous | May 14, 2009

  6. I am certainly not amazed when RR rebuts claims not made,

    “Diesel Brewing would burn dairy waste and turn it into butanol.”

    While the Diesel Brewing web site lists dairy waste as an example of biomass waste, Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste.

    I am also not amazed that RR is only critical without suggesting a better approach. When RR finishes with Unified Field Theory maybe he can start on the EV. “I know that I am not a physicist, and a solution eluded Albert Einstein.” [\like for like sarcasm]

    Here is the problem. Greenies want to solve environmental issues like AGW by waving a magic wand and spreading pixie dust. Blaming those who would pander to such idea is a waste of time. What is needed is educating greenies (if that is possible) to mundane solutions.

    Semi-arid Eastern Oregon has one main environment issue. Wind erosion. This is a natural problem. There are also issues with burning crop residues. Dairy farms have been driven to semi-arid regions of the PNW by greenies.

    The solution is anaerobic digesters to process the dairy waste from flushed free stall barns into energy and organic fertilizer. The best part of this solution it does not require technical leaps. The bad news is it is not glamorous.

    Investors and greenies want sparkly.

    Comment by Kit P | May 14, 2009

  7. I am certainly not amazed when RR rebuts claims not made,“Diesel Brewing would burn dairy waste and turn it into butanol.”While the Diesel Brewing web site lists dairy waste as an example of biomass waste, Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste.I am also not amazed that RR is only critical without suggesting a better approach. When RR finishes with Unified Field Theory maybe he can start on the EV. “I know that I am not a physicist, and a solution eluded Albert Einstein.” [\like for like sarcasm]Here is the problem. Greenies want to solve environmental issues like AGW by waving a magic wand and spreading pixie dust. Blaming those who would pander to such idea is a waste of time. What is needed is educating greenies (if that is possible) to mundane solutions.Semi-arid Eastern Oregon has one main environment issue. Wind erosion. This is a natural problem. There are also issues with burning crop residues. Dairy farms have been driven to semi-arid regions of the PNW by greenies.The solution is anaerobic digesters to process the dairy waste from flushed free stall barns into energy and organic fertilizer. The best part of this solution it does not require technical leaps. The bad news is it is not glamorous. Investors and greenies want sparkly.

    Comment by Kit P | May 14, 2009

  8. “While the Diesel Brewing web site lists dairy waste as an example of biomass waste, Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste.”

    Kit, remember my admonishment not to write just to see your words appear on the screen? As someone commented yesterday, they often can’t make sense of what you write. More thought into your posts might help. Actually reading the article might help.

    This particular comment seems to be another case of one that you should have just shared with your close friends. Instead of just assuming that I simply misunderstood the article, perhaps you might come to a different conclusion: I read far more than what’s in the article. Indeed, their plans are to gasify the waste. If you had any doubts, instead of showing off your poor research skills, you could have brushed them up and made an actual argument that I was wrong by showing something contradictory. Alas, had you done so you probably wouldn’t have bothered to post as you would have satisfied yourself that gasification is indeed what they are proposing.

    “I am also not amazed that RR is only critical without suggesting a better approach.”

    Do you actually read anything I write, or do you just hastily write comments in the hope that something sticks? It is not necessary in every post for me to suggest a better approach. I have done so on numerous occasions – and have come out strongly in favor of anaerobic digestion to methane. There isn’t an easy answer for all problems, but I can say that these guys aren’t going to have the answer because I am well acquainted with this problem.

    To conclude, sloppy comments on your part just waste time and bandwidth for everyone. Frankly, I am surprised that you continue to make them, given your oft-repeated statement that you don’t get any benefit out of coming here. When I find that there is no benefit for me at a site, I don’t go there any more.

    RR

    P.S. It’s kind of funny, really, because I just reread the article and it is very explicit that they are gasifying dairy waste. So Kit’s comment “Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste” is that much more bizarre. Here Kit. Just one example from the article: “Diesel Brewing would burn dairy waste and turn it into butanol.”

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 14, 2009

  9. “While the Diesel Brewing web site lists dairy waste as an example of biomass waste, Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste.”

    Kit, remember my admonishment not to write just to see your words appear on the screen? As someone commented yesterday, they often can’t make sense of what you write. More thought into your posts might help. Actually reading the article might help.

    This particular comment seems to be another case of one that you should have just shared with your close friends. Instead of just assuming that I simply misunderstood the article, perhaps you might come to a different conclusion: I read far more than what’s in the article. Indeed, their plans are to gasify the waste. If you had any doubts, instead of showing off your poor research skills, you could have brushed them up and made an actual argument that I was wrong by showing something contradictory. Alas, had you done so you probably wouldn’t have bothered to post as you would have satisfied yourself that gasification is indeed what they are proposing.

    “I am also not amazed that RR is only critical without suggesting a better approach.”

    Do you actually read anything I write, or do you just hastily write comments in the hope that something sticks? It is not necessary in every post for me to suggest a better approach. I have done so on numerous occasions – and have come out strongly in favor of anaerobic digestion to methane. There isn’t an easy answer for all problems, but I can say that these guys aren’t going to have the answer because I am well acquainted with this problem.

    To conclude, sloppy comments on your part just waste time and bandwidth for everyone. Frankly, I am surprised that you continue to make them, given your oft-repeated statement that you don’t get any benefit out of coming here. When I find that there is no benefit for me at a site, I don’t go there any more.

    RR

    P.S. It’s kind of funny, really, because I just reread the article and it is very explicit that they are gasifying dairy waste. So Kit’s comment “Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste” is that much more bizarre. Here Kit. Just one example from the article: “Diesel Brewing would burn dairy waste and turn it into butanol.”

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 14, 2009

  10. “While the Diesel Brewing web site lists dairy waste as an example of biomass waste, Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste.”Kit, remember my admonishment not to write just to see your words appear on the screen? As someone commented yesterday, they often can’t make sense of what you write. More thought into your posts might help. Actually reading the article might help.This particular comment seems to be another case of one that you should have just shared with your close friends. Instead of just assuming that I simply misunderstood the article, perhaps you might come to a different conclusion: I read far more than what’s in the article. Indeed, their plans are to gasify the waste. If you had any doubts, instead of showing off your poor research skills, you could have brushed them up and made an actual argument that I was wrong by showing something contradictory. Alas, had you done so you probably wouldn’t have bothered to post as you would have satisfied yourself that gasification is indeed what they are proposing.”I am also not amazed that RR is only critical without suggesting a better approach.”Do you actually read anything I write, or do you just hastily write comments in the hope that something sticks? It is not necessary in every post for me to suggest a better approach. I have done so on numerous occasions – and have come out strongly in favor of anaerobic digestion to methane. There isn’t an easy answer for all problems, but I can say that these guys aren’t going to have the answer because I am well acquainted with this problem. To conclude, sloppy comments on your part just waste time and bandwidth for everyone. Frankly, I am surprised that you continue to make them, given your oft-repeated statement that you don’t get any benefit out of coming here. When I find that there is no benefit for me at a site, I don’t go there any more.RR P.S. It’s kind of funny, really, because I just reread the article and it is very explicit that they are gasifying dairy waste. So Kit’s comment “Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste” is that much more bizarre. Here Kit. Just one example from the article: “Diesel Brewing would burn dairy waste and turn it into butanol.”

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 14, 2009

  11. Since RR has a reading deficiency, I will say it in a different way.

    Journalists say outlandish things, such as ““Diesel Brewing would burn dairy waste and turn it into butanol.”

    This would be very interesting if true. If confronted with such misinformation, Kit the engineer looks for a different source. In this case, I wrote “While the Diesel Brewing web site lists dairy waste as an example of biomass waste, Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste.”

    Web site! Web site! Web site!

    RR spends most of his time commenting based on what he learns from journalists with making much effort to check his sources. I consider it a public service to correct RR misinformation. I do enjoy many of the other commenter thoughts because they are a different point of view than journalist.

    So RR I can post nice things about you when you get it right but I suspect you do not get slapped up side the head with a slide rule by old guys. Whap!

    Comment by Kit P | May 14, 2009

  12. Since RR has a reading deficiency, I will say it in a different way.Journalists say outlandish things, such as ““Diesel Brewing would burn dairy waste and turn it into butanol.”This would be very interesting if true. If confronted with such misinformation, Kit the engineer looks for a different source. In this case, I wrote “While the Diesel Brewing web site lists dairy waste as an example of biomass waste, Diesel Brewing did not make any specific statements about how they would process dairy waste.”Web site! Web site! Web site!RR spends most of his time commenting based on what he learns from journalists with making much effort to check his sources. I consider it a public service to correct RR misinformation. I do enjoy many of the other commenter thoughts because they are a different point of view than journalist.So RR I can post nice things about you when you get it right but I suspect you do not get slapped up side the head with a slide rule by old guys. Whap!

    Comment by Kit P | May 14, 2009

  13. Kit, I think you need to take a step back and read very carefully what is written. Otherwise, everyone is going to conclude that you are illiterate. First, the article says that the waste would be gasified, and quotes several people on the gasification process. Your very weak objection is that the company itself didn’t state this in the article, and you resort then to a charge that I “got it wrong.” Pathetic, but I guess if you got nothing, your natural instinct is to go on the attack.

    But as I said, I also went to their website and spent half an hour looking over everything before I ever posted anything. It’s all about gasification. Therefore, I can only conclude based on your comments here that I “got it wrong” is that you are simply trolling for attention and crossing your fingers, hoping that nobody will notice that you are adding absolutely nothing to the discussion.

    Finally, you are warned to stop making false claims. Your comment “RR spends most of his time commenting based on what he learns from journalists with making much effort to check his sources” is a lie, so guess what that makes you? I tolerate a lot, but continued false claims will result in banishment. I think I have said that before. Excessive profanity, personal attacks, and advertising will result in the same. Consider yourself warned. Again. Do it again and instead of responding I will just delete your post.

    Continue to waste my time, and that of other readers, at your own risk. Heck, I guess I would be doing you a favor if I kick you out of here.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 14, 2009

  14. Kit, I think you need to take a step back and read very carefully what is written. Otherwise, everyone is going to conclude that you are illiterate. First, the article says that the waste would be gasified, and quotes several people on the gasification process. Your very weak objection is that the company itself didn’t state this in the article, and you resort then to a charge that I “got it wrong.” Pathetic, but I guess if you got nothing, your natural instinct is to go on the attack.

    But as I said, I also went to their website and spent half an hour looking over everything before I ever posted anything. It’s all about gasification. Therefore, I can only conclude based on your comments here that I “got it wrong” is that you are simply trolling for attention and crossing your fingers, hoping that nobody will notice that you are adding absolutely nothing to the discussion.

    Finally, you are warned to stop making false claims. Your comment “RR spends most of his time commenting based on what he learns from journalists with making much effort to check his sources” is a lie, so guess what that makes you? I tolerate a lot, but continued false claims will result in banishment. I think I have said that before. Excessive profanity, personal attacks, and advertising will result in the same. Consider yourself warned. Again. Do it again and instead of responding I will just delete your post.

    Continue to waste my time, and that of other readers, at your own risk. Heck, I guess I would be doing you a favor if I kick you out of here.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 14, 2009

  15. Kit, I think you need to take a step back and read very carefully what is written. Otherwise, everyone is going to conclude that you are illiterate. First, the article says that the waste would be gasified, and quotes several people on the gasification process. Your very weak objection is that the company itself didn’t state this in the article, and you resort then to a charge that I “got it wrong.” Pathetic, but I guess if you got nothing, your natural instinct is to go on the attack.But as I said, I also went to their website and spent half an hour looking over everything before I ever posted anything. It’s all about gasification. Therefore, I can only conclude based on your comments here that I “got it wrong” is that you are simply trolling for attention and crossing your fingers, hoping that nobody will notice that you are adding absolutely nothing to the discussion.Finally, you are warned to stop making false claims. Your comment “RR spends most of his time commenting based on what he learns from journalists with making much effort to check his sources” is a lie, so guess what that makes you? I tolerate a lot, but continued false claims will result in banishment. I think I have said that before. Excessive profanity, personal attacks, and advertising will result in the same. Consider yourself warned. Again. Do it again and instead of responding I will just delete your post.Continue to waste my time, and that of other readers, at your own risk. Heck, I guess I would be doing you a favor if I kick you out of here. RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 14, 2009

  16. This is one of those where I can’t even understand the point Twit P is trying to make. Is it that the article got it all wrong? As RR said, if you want to make that argument you need to show that they aren’t doing gasification. Just claiming something doesn’t make it so. Your post is half uninformed blather and half red herring, neither of which add value.

    Comment by Anonymous | May 14, 2009

  17. This is one of those where I can’t even understand the point Twit P is trying to make. Is it that the article got it all wrong? As RR said, if you want to make that argument you need to show that they aren’t doing gasification. Just claiming something doesn’t make it so. Your post is half uninformed blather and half red herring, neither of which add value.

    Comment by Anonymous | May 14, 2009

  18. This is just Kit showing his ignorance. He took it literally when they mentioned ‘burn’. Robert automatically (and correctly) translated burn to gasify. Kit is correct that you can’t burn biomass and produce butanol, but he appears to be the only one here who translated that literally. So beware if someone says it is raining cats and dogs. We may be treated to Kit pompously arguing that this is impossible while everyone else around him understands that this isn’t literal.

    Comment by Doug | May 14, 2009

  19. This is just Kit showing his ignorance. He took it literally when they mentioned ‘burn’. Robert automatically (and correctly) translated burn to gasify. Kit is correct that you can’t burn biomass and produce butanol, but he appears to be the only one here who translated that literally. So beware if someone says it is raining cats and dogs. We may be treated to Kit pompously arguing that this is impossible while everyone else around him understands that this isn’t literal.

    Comment by Doug | May 14, 2009

  20. Since RR has a reading deficiency, I will say it in a different way.
    Kit, YOU are the guy with the deficiency. And it goes WAY beyond reading…

    Kit the engineer looks for a different source.
    I call BS: How come you never share ANY of those sources, Engineer Kit? Is it because they only exist in your head?

    In truth, Kit the engineer [‘s ass?] can’t seem to provide any data, nor can he string together a sensible argument. Hint: “I hate journalists” is a slogan, not an argument.

    Take a look in the mirror, Kit: EVERYTHING to accuse RR of applies to your non-sensical comments.

    One more thing, Kit. Why do you spend so much time on this site, if RR is as ill informed as you would have us believe? Let me guess: Mr. Popular is not exactly getting dragged away from his computer by all his friends…

    Sorry, Kit, you’ve had several chances, and you blew them all. Just go away, and don’t come back.

    RR, please feel free to delete any comments from Kit. He is just lowering the quality of the discussion on this blog. Something we all (but especially you, RR) have worked hard to establish.

    Comment by Optimist | May 15, 2009

  21. Since RR has a reading deficiency, I will say it in a different way.
    Kit, YOU are the guy with the deficiency. And it goes WAY beyond reading…

    Kit the engineer looks for a different source.
    I call BS: How come you never share ANY of those sources, Engineer Kit? Is it because they only exist in your head?

    In truth, Kit the engineer [‘s ass?] can’t seem to provide any data, nor can he string together a sensible argument. Hint: “I hate journalists” is a slogan, not an argument.

    Take a look in the mirror, Kit: EVERYTHING to accuse RR of applies to your non-sensical comments.

    One more thing, Kit. Why do you spend so much time on this site, if RR is as ill informed as you would have us believe? Let me guess: Mr. Popular is not exactly getting dragged away from his computer by all his friends…

    Sorry, Kit, you’ve had several chances, and you blew them all. Just go away, and don’t come back.

    RR, please feel free to delete any comments from Kit. He is just lowering the quality of the discussion on this blog. Something we all (but especially you, RR) have worked hard to establish.

    Comment by Optimist | May 15, 2009

  22. Since RR has a reading deficiency, I will say it in a different way.Kit, YOU are the guy with the deficiency. And it goes WAY beyond reading…Kit the engineer looks for a different source.I call BS: How come you never share ANY of those sources, Engineer Kit? Is it because they only exist in your head?In truth, Kit the engineer [‘s ass?] can’t seem to provide any data, nor can he string together a sensible argument. Hint: “I hate journalists” is a slogan, not an argument.Take a look in the mirror, Kit: EVERYTHING to accuse RR of applies to your non-sensical comments.One more thing, Kit. Why do you spend so much time on this site, if RR is as ill informed as you would have us believe? Let me guess: Mr. Popular is not exactly getting dragged away from his computer by all his friends…Sorry, Kit, you’ve had several chances, and you blew them all. Just go away, and don’t come back.RR, please feel free to delete any comments from Kit. He is just lowering the quality of the discussion on this blog. Something we all (but especially you, RR) have worked hard to establish.

    Comment by Optimist | May 15, 2009

  23. I have to agree with Optimist. I’ve been reading this blog for 2 years and the quality of the posts have recently declined because of some of the participants.

    The key takeaway for me from this article is the fundamental challenge of building a biofuels related company. There are key components – gasification, feedstock handling, gas cleanup, syngas conversion to C1, C4 or other chemistries which are all challenging enough to *each* build an entire company on.

    Large giants such as GE, ConocoPhillips and Siemens have a difficult time enough developing, selling and maintaining Gasifiers – how is a small private company going to solve all several of these key problems independently?

    Read the CEC report on 20 years of lessons learned from biomass plants in CA. It’s not just the chemistry that is a problem. Feedstock handling, feedstock availability and prices (as someone mentioned in an earlier comment) are all serious business killing issue.

    My feeling is that people in the startup community for biofuels are not cognizant of the difficulty of each of these individual challenges before investing, which is why these things get done.

    these plants needs a series of breakthroughs! gasification, de-watering, feedstock handling, syngas conversion – no single company is going to provide all of them simultaneously in the form of their 1st, 2nd or 3rd plant.

    Comment by westside | May 15, 2009

  24. I have to agree with Optimist. I’ve been reading this blog for 2 years and the quality of the posts have recently declined because of some of the participants. The key takeaway for me from this article is the fundamental challenge of building a biofuels related company. There are key components – gasification, feedstock handling, gas cleanup, syngas conversion to C1, C4 or other chemistries which are all challenging enough to *each* build an entire company on. Large giants such as GE, ConocoPhillips and Siemens have a difficult time enough developing, selling and maintaining Gasifiers – how is a small private company going to solve all several of these key problems independently?Read the CEC report on 20 years of lessons learned from biomass plants in CA. It’s not just the chemistry that is a problem. Feedstock handling, feedstock availability and prices (as someone mentioned in an earlier comment) are all serious business killing issue.My feeling is that people in the startup community for biofuels are not cognizant of the difficulty of each of these individual challenges before investing, which is why these things get done. these plants needs a series of breakthroughs! gasification, de-watering, feedstock handling, syngas conversion – no single company is going to provide all of them simultaneously in the form of their 1st, 2nd or 3rd plant.

    Comment by westside | May 15, 2009

  25. “Feedstock handling, feedstock availability and prices (as someone mentioned in an earlier comment) are all serious business killing issue.”

    One way to look at this, and something I tell people, is this. It is easier to handle coal than to handle biomass, and it is easier to handle natural gas than either. If you don’t see lots of GTL or CTL projects going on, it’s because the economics are not attractive. So BTL is being built in spite of already poor economics for things that are much easier to handle logistically. Long-term, I think BTL works, but the economics today are poor.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 15, 2009

  26. “Feedstock handling, feedstock availability and prices (as someone mentioned in an earlier comment) are all serious business killing issue.”One way to look at this, and something I tell people, is this. It is easier to handle coal than to handle biomass, and it is easier to handle natural gas than either. If you don’t see lots of GTL or CTL projects going on, it’s because the economics are not attractive. So BTL is being built in spite of already poor economics for things that are much easier to handle logistically. Long-term, I think BTL works, but the economics today are poor.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 15, 2009

  27. If one of the processes for e.g. hydrogenating bio-oil to more useful products works out, then any fast-pyrolysis process which yields bio-oil can be used to make feedstock from biomass.  Until then….

    As for the Twit, just ban him.  If you let him and his pal Stan Petersen run rampant, they'll trash the place as badly as GCC.

    Comment by Engineer-Poet | May 15, 2009

  28. If one of the processes for e.g. hydrogenating bio-oil to more useful products works out, then any fast-pyrolysis process which yields bio-oil can be used to make feedstock from biomass.  Until then….

    As for the Twit, just ban him.  If you let him and his pal Stan Petersen run rampant, they'll trash the place as badly as GCC.

    Comment by Engineer-Poet | May 15, 2009

  29. If one of the processes for e.g. hydrogenating bio-oil to more useful products works out, then any fast-pyrolysis process which yields bio-oil can be used to make feedstock from biomass.  Until then….As for the Twit, just ban him.  If you let him and his pal Stan Petersen run rampant, they'll trash the place as badly as GCC.

    Comment by Engineer-Poet | May 15, 2009

  30. If one of the processes for e.g. hydrogenating bio-oil to more useful products works out, then any fast-pyrolysis process which yields bio-oil can be used to make feedstock from biomass.I have been studying this a lot for a while, and I am pretty convinced that one of the pyrolysis/torrefaction processes is going to be the answer. But there is a good reason I am not writing about it…

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 15, 2009

  31. If one of the processes for e.g. hydrogenating bio-oil to more useful products works out, then any fast-pyrolysis process which yields bio-oil can be used to make feedstock from biomass.I have been studying this a lot for a while, and I am pretty convinced that one of the pyrolysis/torrefaction processes is going to be the answer. But there is a good reason I am not writing about it…

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 15, 2009

  32. If one of the processes for e.g. hydrogenating bio-oil to more useful products works out, then any fast-pyrolysis process which yields bio-oil can be used to make feedstock from biomass.I have been studying this a lot for a while, and I am pretty convinced that one of the pyrolysis/torrefaction processes is going to be the answer. But there is a good reason I am not writing about it…RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | May 15, 2009


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