Stated simply, pyrolysis is the process whereby carbon (organic) based feedstock, such as, MSW, wood chips, etc. are placed in a vacuum and heated to a point where the composite chemical makeup of the feedstock separates. These chemicals include oil, gas, carbon and ash. Until recently Pyrolysis only produced an impure carbon product and burned off the volatiles (oil and gas). Improvements in the technology have enabled the capture of gas & oil, with no better quality of carbon black.Magnum’s Advanced Thermolysis System (ATS) incorporates a (patent pending) combined super heated steam, direct heat, indirect heat and fast thermolysis process, thereby ensuring a more complete penetration of heat into the feedstock, enabling a complete and faster decomposition of the feedstock. Further, the use of super heated steam provides a built in safety feature against particulate combustion and avoids the necessity for a high vacuum required by conventional pyrolysis systems.
The Patent abstract which is shown below, illustrates major differences between the ATS Technology and other Pyrolysis processes.
The elimination of dioxin and other polluting emissions are some of the most important features supporting our Advanced Thermolysis System (ATS).
Apparatus and methods of operating hopper valves, reactions chambers, condensers, orifices, furnaces and chemical processors are disclosed and claimed. Several of the embodiments are specific to pyrolysis manufacturing processes. Some of the embodiments are applicable in situations where heat is used to decompose organic material, such as in the burning of wastes. The various ATS embodiments contribute to improved quality for outputs such as carbon black , activated carbon and/or improved reliability by removing the possibility of dioxin contamination as a form of pollution.
History and Current state of Pyrolysis:
History and Current State of Pyrolysis
As the field of alternative energy is, in the public perception, a new one, characterized by incredible claims and spectacular failures, investors accordingly treat the industry with suspicion.
However, as this document will demonstrate, there are technologies within this field that are unfairly painted by the brush of scepticism. Specifically, we will show that modern pyrolysis which has been around for over 50 years, is a well studied and proven technology, is being applied in commercial settings.
Simply stated, pyrolysis is the process whereby carbon based matter is brought to a high temperature in an oxygen deprived environment, resulting in a breakdown of the matter into its constituent chemical elements. When the gases produced by pyrolysis are cooled to room temperature, the heavier gases condense to liquids, which are called bio-oil. The lighter gases, like hydrogen and methane, which remain gases at room temperature, are called “syngas” (synthesis gas). By changing the temperature and duration of pyrolysis it is possible to optimize for one or more of the three by-products of pyrolysis: syngas, bio-oil and biochar. For example, slow pyrolysis under lower temperatures will produce more biochar whereas fast pyrolysis at higher temperatures will produce more bio-oil. With fast pyrolysis, the syngas that is produced can be burned within the system to maintain the temperature, resulting in bio-oil and biochar as the sole products of ordinary pyrolysis methods in use today.
Pyrolysis in History
The practice of pyrolysis was used thousands of years ago in the Amazon rainforest to create bio char, a charcoal like product that was used to enrich and stabilize the nutrient poor rainforest soils. The indigenous peoples started fires and when the fuel was hot enough covered it with earth to deprive the fire of oxygen. The high temperature would continue to break down the fuel but in the absence of oxygen bio char was produced rather than ash. More recently pyrolysis was used with wood waste feedstock during the two World Wars to produce transportation fuel when fossil fuels were unavailable. By 1945, trucks, buses and agricultural machines were powered by gasification. It is estimated that there were close to 9,000,000 vehicles running on bioderived gas in many places around the world.
The Modern Era
Our modern development of pyrolysis emerged on a number of fronts in the late 1950s. In 1958 Bell Laboratories in the US, along with a number of universities and organizations around the world, started R&D programs to examine the usefulness of pyrolysis. These systems often focussed on the production of gas from waste materials. The first Pyrolytic Gasification systems were firebrick ovens that used indirect heat in a low oxygen environment. These early systems were batch processes: ovens were filled, sealed and then heat was applied. After each batch the oven would be cleaned and readied for the next batch. The first commercial versions of pyrolysis batch systems for gasification were introduced in the hospital sector in the early 1970s, but due to low volume capacity and issues with the mortar used in the kiln construction they had limited commercial success. In the late 70s and early 80s the batch systems gave way to continuous feed systems with a cone design that made the evacuation of the gasses more efficient. The continuous feed cone design first showed up in England then the US, Germany, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands.
The Challenges of Incineration
Concurrent to these developments the 80s saw increasing environmental awareness and incineration technologies came under scrutiny. Environmental standards were put in place that necessitated the addition of very expensive equipment to clean the emissions, but even so the by-products remained problematic. Regulatory limits set for low volatile metals were exceeded within incineration systems by a factor of eight to ten times. As the oxygen molecule is a binding molecule the high oxygen environment of an incinerator causes the low volatile metals to be bound with the by-products. Also, dioxins are created in this high oxygen incineration environment as oxygen molecules are bound together along with other molecules within the gas stream. These are some of the drawbacks to incineration systems.
Research & Commercialization of Pyrolysis
It was during the mid to late 1980s that pilot and commercial systems using direct pyrolysis gasification systems were introduced into the market place in the form of Fixed Bed, Fluidized Bed and hybrid designs. The fixed bed design passes the ‘gasification agent’ through a fixed bed of biomass while with the Fluidized bed the feedstock is fluidized in oxygen and steam or air while being subjected to pyrolysis. Problems with these systems lay in the impurity of their by-products: primarily hazardous tar and ash contaminants. For the past 30 years these designs and their shortcomings have been subjected to a great deal of research, resulting in published university and governmental studies and the commercialization of new pyrolysis systems, although with some shortcomings. Research has demonstrated that pyrolysis, albeit expensive, will provide as much or more energy per unit of biomass than fermentation of the same biomass into ethanol. The studies are too numerous to mention so a select few are noted at the end of this article. Detailed information on each of these studies can easily be found on the Internet.
Pyrolysis is Proven Technology
The research materials, demonstration facilities, existing commercial facilities and plants under construction provide ample proof that pyrolysis is neither new nor untested. The actual crux of the matter is not whether the technology works, but rather, is the ATS Technology capable of providing a pure and superior by-product in a safe and efficient manner? To answer that question, Magnum is able to provide lab tests from a commercial plant utilizing their 4th generation ATS system, which has been operational since mid 2015. The Company is also able to detail design changes made to that 4th generation technology which improve greatly, the by-products quality, operational efficiency and plant safety.
A Sampling of Recent Studies
Pyrolysis of Wood and Bark in an Auger Reactor: Physical Properties and Chemical Analysis of the Produced Bio-oils :
Leonard Ingram,*,† Dinesh Mohan,‡ Mark Bricka,• Philip Steele,† David Strobel,† David Crocker,| Brian Mitchell,† Javeed Mohammad,• Kelly Cantrell,† and Charles U. Pittman, Jr.# Forest Products Department, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, Department of Chemistry, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, Department of Chemical Engineering, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Chemistry Department, Mississippi State University Golden, CO 80401 Received June 15, 2007. Revised Manuscript Received September 20, 2007
Quality of poultry litter-derived granular activated carbon:
Guannan Qiu, Mingxin Guo *
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Delaware State University, Dover, DE 19901, United States
Article history: Received 19 February 2008; Received in revised form 14 July 2009; Accepted 18 July 2009; Available online 22 August 2009
BioEnergy Research Group at Aston University
BERG - the BioEnergy Research Group at Aston University is one of the largest university based research groups in thermal biomass conversion in the world. It was formed in 1986 as a focus for a range of interrelated activities in biomass conversion and environmental studies related to global warming and has grown into a substantial multi-disciplinary research effort.
Our Mission - "To apply chemical engineering science and technology to help provide the world with sufficient energy, fuels and chemicals from renewable and sustainable biomass resources to meet tomorrow's needs."
University of Calgary advances pyrolysis project
Thomas Saidak | July 1, 2011 I
In Canada, Dr. Nader Mahinpey, with the University of Calgary is working with pyrolysis to turn the nonedible parts of plants into biofuel. The resulting oil needs to be upgraded before it can be used as transportation fuel, so Dr. Mahinpey and his team are working on developing the upgrading processes and to turn the waste by-products of biofuel conversion into chemicals such as fertilizer.
Comparison of 6 methods for processing MSW:
The following are background information for various types of systems in use, to process MSW (Municipal Solid Waste), a carbon based waste. These systems are already proven and in use for many, with latest the ATS System being described the very last.
Existing operating plants and methods and technology to deal with
Municipal Solid Waste
From the worst method (at the top) to the best and most efficient method:
Land fill: – largest method for dealing with MSW resulting in problems with odor emissions, rodents, emission of noxious gases. No usable by-products except the emission of Methane gas. Removes large segments of land from more productive uses (average landfill occupies 48 hectares) and requires expensive maintenance operations. Difficult to find sites suitable for a landfill.
Incineration: - one of the most common methods of waste treatments- involves combustion of MSW in the presence of oxygen and converts organic wastes into ash, flue , gas, water vapor and carbon dioxide. Very expensive capital outlay and produces only low value products (usually gas for electricity). Eliminating toxic emissions and greenhouse gases can be a problem. Subject to many protests by the neighborhood. This method is regarded as a COST centre.
3.Third Worst (only small number of plants operating with temperature of between 3-10,000 C )
Plasma: Large Capital Outlay and expensive to operate requiring large amounts of power required to process MSW. Only by product produced is syngas and requires large amounts of ash to be dealt with (organics are melted and include glass ceramics and metals). This method again is regarded as a COST centre. Possibly only advantage of this system - that plasma destroys both medical and hazardous wastes leaving only ash to be dealt with and prevents hazardous waste from reaching landfills.
4.Fourth Worst (many such plants (several types) - are in operation. They are a form of pyrolysis but different from Pyrolysis as only a limited amount of air is permitted when processing.
Gasification (common type): converts organic components of MSW into CO ,H and CO2 (Syngas) reacting the MSW with high temperatures (>700C). Large capital outlay and generally only produces one merchantable product (syngas) which currently is of low value; therefore, again this system is a COST centre. Also, problems in dealing with emissions occur because of the partial burning of the MSW.
5.Fifth Worst (several such plants are in operation, processing biomass materials – this technology is proven for many years)
Pyrolysis – the current plants are the best of the above, in that the issues dealing with emissions and char were largely solved excepting that the conventional pyrolysis plants have problems producing high quality biochar and bio and/or fuel oil and cannot produce activated carbon; as a consequence of this inability, these plants have difficulty operating profitably, and the return on investment are well over 10 years. Further the issue of tar build-up is a recurring problem with this method.
6.Best Proven Alternative to Deal with MSW (superheated steam pyrolysis - proven technology.)
ATS Thermolysis System – this is a pyrolysis system but incorporating superheated steam instead, to process pre-dried and pre-sorted MSW. On account of the superheated steam and the patent pending process method of condensing the fuel gas, to produce a high quality of carbon or activated carbon char, bio oil or fuel oil together with a clean syngas, while eliminating noxious emissions and toxic wastes (no measurable pollution), it is named the ATS Thermolysis System. As well, it operates on a continual basis.
Whereas Method 5 (Pyrolysis) processes carbon based waste like MSW, so does the ATS Thermolysis System. The only difference is that the superheated steam and the ATS Technology, penetrates the organic wastes (MSW) completely and much more efficiently, thereby producing high quality end products that will fetch high prices in the marketplace.
To date, this ATS Thermolysis System is the most energy efficient design of any pyrolysis system, incorporating the process of generating its own clean fuel (syngas) for operations. The system even has the endorsement of ABB Inc., a large consulting engineering firm.
Therefore, as you can see, the above pyrolysis systems in use today have been well proven and documented, and all of them are able to process carbon based organic matters. Therefore, it is not a matter of whether the ATS system will work or not. It all boils down to why the ATS system is superior to the other two types of pyrolysis systems being used. All the above five systems in use, are very expensive in capital outlay and expensive to operate. An example of how expensive an incineration system costs is the one installed for the City of Burnaby in British Columbia, Canada, with a population of less than a million people. The complete system costs in excess of $500,000,000, and it’s a COST centre, in that the City has to subsidize the costs of operating the system every year.
The ATS system can process all carbon based organic waste, but instead of using incineration or gasification, our system uses super heated steam instead, in a Thermolysis reactor,
Operating with great efficiency, a high value by-product is produced. Because of this, an ATS system will achieve a Return On Investment (ROI) of less than 3 years. This is the value of the ATS System.
Questions have been asked as to whether the ATS system works for MSW (Municipal Solid Waste). Of course, it does, as the other five systems described above do work as well. Pyrolysis technology is a proven technology for many years already.
Whereas for the other five systems currently in use, the revenues generated do not cover the operating costs. Therefore, such systems are regarded as COST centres, but for the ATS Systems, the revenues generated from high quality by-products, easily exceed the costs of operation, and therefore regarded as PROFIT centres.
We already have an ATS system in commercial operation in Canada, whereby carbon based wood biomass is processed to produce high quality biochar, a product in excellent demand in Canada and the USA. MSW when pre-sorted, pre-dried and pre-cut down to less than 10mm before entering the ATS system, is easily processed like any carbon based waste, example, MSW.
MSW wastes consists mostly of food waste, paper and plastics, after the pre sorting, drying and cutting are completed. These carbon based waste can easily be processed like all other organic wastes.
As to what the ATS Technology is and why and how efficient the ATS systems are, are all detailed in the patent pending applications being presently filed with the USA Patent Office.The ATS Systems - Best Solution for eradicating ALL Organic Wastes:
The Advanced Thermolysis System (ATS) Technology
The Best Organic Waste Solution
The Advanced Thermolysis System (ATS) of Magnum Group International Inc. (MGI) is undoubtedly the best and to date the only system incorporating a solution for all the organic waste problems that earlier and current pyrolysis systems encounter. To illustrate this new Technology, we will trace the development of earlier pyrolysis systems and the disadvantages the other pyrolysis systems encounter.
1. The initial Traditional Pyrolysis systems (whether a batch system and its loading and unloading problems or a continuing system) just applied external heat into a sealed thermal chamber. This resulted in an extremely poor grade of bio char resulting from a poor penetration of bio mass. These low-grade bio chars are not marketable. Other problems encountered were a tar build up in the piping system and poor heat control.
2. Subsequently, an upgraded Traditional Pyrolysis System (second Pyrolysis System) was introduced, which used a catalyst such as N2 to create a more thorough penetration of the bio mass feedstock, thereby releasing more of the volatiles from the biochar which created only a little bit better carbon biochar with a higher surface area. But this had the following disadvantages: (a) Catalysts are expensive. (b) did not solve the problem of tar build up in the piping (c) insertion of N2 into the thermal chamber lowered the processing temperature in the thermal chamber.
3. To overcome the difficulties encountered above, a further upgraded of the Traditional Pyrolysis System was introduced. Some of the difficulties incurred in point 2 were overcome by physical activation using steam injection into the thermal chamber at 100C+. This avoided the use of expensive catalysts and provided a more thorough penetration of the feedstock thereby releasing more of the volatiles, and addressing the problem of tar buildup; however, a major issue, being the quality of the by products, was not solved at all.
To overcome ALL the technical difficulties incurred in the Traditional Pyrolysis Systems, our Technical team headed by our Chief Scientist, finally invested the Advanced Thermolysis System (ATS), which solved all the above problems.
Our technical team overcame the difficulties by inventing an advanced physical activation system, incorporating the use of super heated steam (temperature approx. 500 ͦC). Not only did our Technical team address this issue but they also engineered a technique for creating this super-heated steam, utilizing a unique heated thermal chamber as a source for super heating the steam.
Subsequently, further improvements were developed by our Chief Scientist involving a thermal chamber containing not 1 but 3 reactor tubes, each containing a rotating auger to ensure a thorough mixing of the feedstock. This new design technology significantly creates much more heat efficiency than the traditional large single tubular reactors used in the Traditional Pyrolysis Systems.
The advantage of incorporating super-heated steam, since it was near the processing temperature of the thermal chamber, ensured that there will only be a small drop in the processing temperature. This resulted in a temperature, near the equivalent, to what is required to create activated carbon, a high quality/price by-product from wood biomass. With the required adjustable temperature, the ATS system can partially activate the biochar produced so that it approaches the quality of the desired grade of activated carbon (having a surface area approaching 140 to 500 square meters per gram of biochar depending upon the activation time).
Our technical team also recognized that there was no singular process in the industry for activating bio char into activated carbon. To introduce such a revolutionary method, our Technical team invented a state of the art, energy efficient design, of an activation reactor for inclusion in our latest enhanced ATS system, thereby utilizing the extra heat generated in the ATS system (approx. 1000C), to transform biochar into activated carbon, a product that has a high value in the market.
4. Highlights of the State of the Art ATS System
• The State of the art ATS system utilizes super-heated steam to decompose the organic feedstock to create valuable end products having a much higher quality than any other competitor pyrolysis systems.
• The ATS system is a continuous system requiring virtually no additional fuel once the system commences operation, resulting in a much higher production rate than any other similarly sized system. Earlier, and some current pyrolysis systems, are only batch systems which create the difficulties of a stop and go operation.
• The ATS system is the only unique multi-purpose waste conversion system available today.
• The ATS system is an innovative three stage process in one system thereby maximizing the energy efficiency of the whole system.
• The ATS system produces no measurable pollution.
5. The advantages of the ATS Technology over Traditional Pyrolysis Systems
A thermal chamber housing design incorporating 3 reactor tubes which maximizes heated air flow and efficiency of heat transfer to the tubular reactors.
A method of separating steam from the fuel oil during condensation thereby producing steam free of soot and eliminating the problem of tar build-up in the condensers and piping system.
A method of creating steam, free of organic particulates, thereby eliminating the problem of a repetitive buildup of organic soot.
A method whereby the time is extended for removal of volatiles from the residual carbon black produced from the pyrolyzing of the feed stock materials by adding a 3rd tubular reactor in the reactor chamber, thereby increasing the purity of the carbon black from 95% to 99%
A method of increasing the flash point temperature of the fuel oil from 40 ̊C to not less than 75 ̊C by incorporating the use of a proprietary Venturi condenser, thereby enhancing the merchantability of the fuel oil and providing a sufficient quantity of residual off-gas for heating purposes.
A method for cleaning the fuel oil by incorporating a Laval separator which separates the combustible light liquid fuel oil fractions (highly desired by the market) from the heavy fuel oil fractions. The heavy oil fractions (approx.2-3%) remain and are added to feedstock material and reprocessed through the ATS system.
A method providing for a vortex pre-mixing chamber for the low heat value syngas thereby increasing its heat value for burning in the furnace.
A special oil burner for starting and lighting the increased - heat value syngas during the operation mode of the ATS system.
A method of ensuring that at least 30% of superheated steam by weight in relation to the weight of the feedstock material is injected into the tubular reactors, thereby causing a more thorough release of volatiles contained in the feedstock material while reducing the possibility of ambient air entering into the reactor tubes.
A method using hinged dual flap air lock gates instead of dual blade gates, thereby eliminating a particulate build-up in the sliding gate blades and eliminating the risk of ambient air entering into the tubular reactors.
A method of extracting outside air from the first loading hopper bin prior to the feedstock material being pyrolyzed, thereby eliminating the ambient air from entering into the first tubular reactor and assisting in eliminating odours during the Thermolysis operations.
A method of connecting an emergency nitrogen fire suppression system to the reactor to extinguish any fires in the reactors and thermal chamber.
A method of dispersing explosive pyro-gas safely in the event of a shut down due to a power failure.
A method for providing access to the piping system for the purpose of removing any build-up of soot.
A method whereby the auger system contained in the tubular reactors incorporates one or more blending zones, enabling a more thorough mixing and penetration of the superheated steam into the feedstock materials.
So, the combination of the above unique advantages together with the innovative and proprietary design containing 3 reactors in the thermal chamber, each having its own motor, allows the ATS system to regulate the time of decomposition of feedstock in each reactor, and therefore, allowing the system operator to optimize the various quantities and qualities of by products he wishes to produce.
6. ATS System - the Environmental Friendly Technology
Approval from the Canadian Govt. stating that our ATS system presently operating in the Province of Alberta, Canada, is in full compliance with all environmental issues.
The ATS system is fully supported by Alberta Innovates, a govt. body, after they did a comprehensive study on the ATS system. As the ATS system emits no measurable pollution (in other word, no hazardous emissions), it passed the strict compliance procedures.
The biochar produced by our ATS system has been certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) of Canada and the USA. This certification designates that the products produced by our ATS Systems are now certified, that they meet the strict organic standards of OMRI and that they do not have chemicals or toxins or anything else that could hurt a person by their use. The products produced by our ATS System, are only a few approved products that has certification by OMRI. This certification now makes the biochar markets in Canada and the USA wide open for customers that desire organic biochar. MGI through its joint venture partner in Canada, is now the certified leader in the production of high quality organic biochar in a booming market in North America which is projected to grow exponentially in the future.
7. Waste Management Applications
For application in the waste management field, where there is a variety of waste feedstock materials, the composition of which may vary from season to season, a one stage process will have difficulty in processing such mixed waste of un-predictable composition. To deal with a variety of waste materials such as used tires, manure, waste plastics and MSW, etc., only the ATS System can effectively and efficiently process them by incorporating our patent pending three stage Thermolysis Technology.
a. Using super heated steam as opposed to direct heat solely, the first stage acts as a Thermolysis mode. It converts most of the organic composition to fuel at the critical cracking stage. The most important function in this stage is to obtain the greatest amount of fuel oil. The temperature in the first stage is under 450C.
b. The second stage involves gasification, deep Thermolysis, carbon activated, and fuel gas synthesis modes. The purpose of the second stage is to completely de-compose the organic compounds. The processing temperature in the second stage is adjustable between 450C ~ 550C.
c. The third stage completes the breakdown by releasing the remaining volatiles in the bio char and together with the super heated steam injected into this reactor, creates a partial activation of the biochar to create a much purer form of carbon product, operating at a temperature range of 550C-650C.
With this state of the art three-stage Technology, the ATS System is able to process efficiently, different types of organic wastes. Table 1 shows some of the major organic wastes that the ATS System is capable of processing :
Table 1- Waste Streams
-Used tires or waste rubber
-PP, PE, HDPE, PVC
-Coal and oil waste
-Other organic waste
The ATS System should not be considered as only an energy converting system, but also the top leading-edge waste management system that can be used in many major waste applications such as recovery of landfills, removal of oil and coal waste, deal with manure problems and retreatment of activated carbon. It can be applied by industries to produce carbon black and fuel oil. This ATS Technology is also able to reduce CO2 emissions when treating waste and is the best solution to replace incineration while at the same time maximizing revenues.
We believe the Advanced Thermolysis System (ATS) and its innovative design incorporating other features such as a modified Venturi condenser, gravitational dust separator, 3 phase furnace, activation chamber (none of which is present in other current pyrolysis systems) delivers the best quality of biochar, carbon black or activated carbon, that is achievable in the present market.