Residual biomass: the new oil
My Clean Break feature in today’s Toronto Star is about a technology that turns residual biomass — everything from forest slash to industrial wood waste — into a renewable oil for heating and power generation. Two companies are the focus of this piece: Advanced Biorefinery and Dynamotive Energy Systems, with each targeting a different part of the market. Advanced Biorefinery (which I’ve written about before) has designed a transportable pyrolysis system that can go to where the biomass is, for example, out in remote logging country where there’s plenty of forest slash to process. Dynamotive prefers to build larger, more permanent plants beside a feedstock supplier, such as a wood-flooring company in West Lorne, Ontario.
The end result of their process is “bio oil,” a carbon-neutral alternative to conventional fuel oil that can be used for industrial heating and power generation. It’s a fascinating area, unfortunately overshadowed by the hype around alternative transportation fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.