Hydrothermal Processes

 

The PCS Biofuel process is a hydro-thermal process. In general, hydrothermal processes are those that use hot compressed water as a solvent.  The pressure is used to keep the solvent, in this case water, a liquid during processing.  Typically a pressure vessel is used as a reaction flask; the pressure results from the saturated steam created by heating water above its boiling point at atmospheric pressure. The saturated steam pressure in a sealed vessel keeps the water liquid allowing aqueous reactions to occur much more rapidly that they would at room pressure.

 

In the early part of the 20th century Bergus studied the hydrothermal carbonization where wood biomass was converted to a char by heating wet biomass under pressure. This is the basis of the technology known as HTC which is currently being explored to convert biomass to a soil amendment or a solid coal like fuel. The material produced by HTC is a char like material that has little binding ability and so needs a binder to make the material into a pellet. In contrast the HTP process developed by PCS is a polymer that easily binds into pellets without a binder.

The hydrothermal polymerization or HTP, is a derivative of the original HTC process. HTP uses a proprietary catalyst to convert the biomass, not to a char, but, to a solid branched polymer that makes a hard pellet with a high energy density.  The process conditions for the HTP process are milder than HTC thus resulting in a lower CAPEX and OPEX of an operating biofuel plant.

 

PSC Biofuel Process

 

The PCS process is cheap, fast, modular, scalable, and uses virtually any cellulose based waste as input, and the typically high moisture content of the biomass feedstock is not important.  When extruded into Wood Pellet format, PCS biofuels have 60% more BTU (26-30 Gj/T).  The PCS competitive advantages will redefine the global demand for renewable energy. PCS biofuels are a carbon-neutral, drop-in replacement for coal, without the sulfur and heavy metal emissions typical of coal combustion. Since input materials have been grown in the last 50 years, PCS biofuel is considered carbon neutral according to the Paris Accord. When burned for energy generation, it does not add to the anthropomorphic carbon dioxide as coal does.

Feedstock Matrix

 

The PCS process can utilize many feedstock sources, but in general the process works to convert saccharides and polysaccharides to branched polymers that are hydrophobic and have a high energy density.  There are two classes of feedstock: those used for the production of a high energy density solid fuel and those where the goal of the process is waste remediation.

 

Energy feedstocks are used to produce a hydrophobic, high energy density fuel with low ash and few impurities.  Typically woody biomass falls into this category.  On the other hand, for waste remediation we are less concerned with the production of an excellent fuel, rather the process is optimized to eliminate as much waste as possible in an environmentally friendly manner.  Typical feedstock for waste remediation would be sewage sludge, animal manures, pre and post consumer food waste and source separated municipal solid waste.

 

The PCS process can be used for waste remediation or for energy production. However, the quality of the resulting biofuel will be very different. In the former case the goal is to remediate or reduce the largest amount of waste possible whereas in the latter case the goal is to make as much biofuel as possible per unit of input biomass. To put it another way, one gets paid for remediating waste while one must pay for the feedstock used in the production of an energy product.

 

Converting Waste problems into Green Energy Solutions.

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