Pyrolysis Equipment Manufacturers /
System Developers for NYC to consider
Equipment needed to pyrolyze biomass with minimum exposure to oxygen varies widely. There are small, simple systems that use careful thermodynamic design to direct fire so that it excludes incoming air.
Larger systems can be controlled to enable fast pyrolysis, which produces more oils and liquids, or slow pyrolysis, which produces more syngas.
Here's a detailed review of small, medium and large biochar technologies.
According to expert sources within the biochar industry, many companies say their equipment can handle municipal sewage biosolids, but only a few have demonstrated capacity to handle the challenge of large volumes of fairly wet feedstock. Those include: Aries Clean Energy, Biomass Controls, and Pyreg.
More about Aries
MaxWest Environmental Systems developed new technology to gasify biosolids. After the company went bankrupt in 2014, and the biosolids to energy plant it had been operating in Florida closed. When the plant opened in 2008, it was touted as the first in North America to use a gasifier to heat and dry sewage sludge, and use the heat to continue to dry more sludge, creating a closed loop system.
Its patents were acquired by Aries Clean Energy of Nashville, which now plans to use the technology in the Linden, NJ plant.
Sludge gasification technologies were reviewed in a 2012 US EPA report. It noted the differences between gasification and incineration, and that few gasification technologies were able to maintain consistent high volume production. One of them was MaxWest.
Supposedly the Linden system will dry sludge to 90% dry solids in order to gasify it. It doesn’t require natural gas but still requires some electricity purchase.
The solid product from the Linden plant is black in color, but only 20% carbon, the remainder being inorganic ash, sand, and silica oxide. Biochar from biosolids has a very high ash content. Fortunately, this mix of carbon and ash matches the chemical profile of fly ash produced by coal plants and mass burn plants. This fly ash has been used as part of the lime stabilization process for concrete manufacturers. There is less fly ash on the market as coal plants are going out of operation and are replaced by gas fired plants. Aries plans to sell all of the biochar to a concrete manufacturer to replace fly ash in its concrete mix. Aries is putting a zero value on biochar in their financials. They will generate some unknown but modest revenue on it, and it doesn’t have to be landfilled.
The Linden-Roselle Sewerage Authority (LRSA) generates only a little sludge. They will receive sludge from 7 or 8 plants, including some from a vendor that handles some of the NYC sludge stream. LRSA will pay Aries to take all their 30 wet tons per day of sludge. LRSA will cut their operational costs, and get rent from a building it is leasing to Aries. One of the advantages of the Aries technology is that it is scalable in size. Additional units can be added, so they can put scalable facilities at directly on location at wastewater treatment plants, minimizing transportation. The only material leaving the plant is the biochar / ash.