Envergent signs memorandum of understanding with Finnish company

By Erin Voegele | October 24, 2011

Envergent Technologies LLC, a Honeywell company, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Finland-based Green Fuel Nordic Oy. Under the agreement, the companies will collaborate on projects to convert biomass into renewable fuel for use in district heating systems.

According to Envergent, the companies will evaluate the installation of new facilities to convert forest residue into liquid biofuel via Envergent’s Rapid Thermal Processing technology. Dave Cepla, Envergent’s managing director, explained that the RTP process rapidly heats dried biomass to approximately 500 degrees Celsius in the absence of oxygen. “This vaporizes the biomass to yield the liquid biofuel product,” he said. “This product, what we call RTP green fuel, can be used directly in industrial burners as a replacement to fossil fuels.”

The technology is a fast pyrolysis process, which generates higher yields of higher energy biofuel and less low-value char and gas coproducts when compared to other pyrolysis technologies, Cepla added. “The other main differentiator for Envergent is that RTP is actually the only commercially operating fast pyrolysis process available today,” he said. “It has actually been used commercially for more than 20 years and is used in seven facilities in North America and Canada today.”

The biofuel that results from the RTP process has a high oxygen and water content, which Cepla said improves viscosity but decreases heating value when compared to fossil fuels. “It also has a low pH as a result of the organic acids present and very low levels of nitrogen and sulfur,” he said. “It works as a direct replacement for fossil fuels in an industrial burner and can offer as much as a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Regarding the MOU with Green Fuel Nordic Oy, Cepla said his company will provide expertise and technical knowledge as the Finnish company develops plans for its proposed facilities. “When the projects move forward, Envergent would also supply the RTP technology license and unit equipment,” he said.

“Envergent RTP is commercially proven technology that could provide a great opportunity to establish distributed biorefineries in Finland and meet the country's broader strategy for local energy production,” said Vesa Kainulainen, chairman of the board for Green Fuel Nordic Oy. “Green Fuel Nordic's biorefinery investments in Finland will provide a strong roadmap to produce liquid biofuels leveraging local forest-based feedstock.”

Cepla said his company is excited about the potential for RTP technology in Finland. “With the pulp and paper industry declining, biomass feedstock is readily available to support the process,” he said. “There is also great interest in environmental solutions like this one throughout the region… Specifically in Finland they are planning to have 38 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. These two trends combined make RTP an ideal solution.”