Business

Bold on biofuels

23/01/2013 - Fuels, Sustainability

Bold on biofuels

Globally, there have been some significant developments in biofuel technologies of late, including cars in California driving on fuel from algae.

Emerging hydrothermal technology that enables woody biomass (the woody material from trees) to be turned into bio-crude (or “green crude”) could have exciting implications for New Zealand. Producing biofuel from woody biomass is well-suited to New Zealand, based on the scale of New Zealand’s plantation forests and wood processing. A project in this space could lead to a promising biofuels future for New Zealand, while at the same time revitalising New Zealand’s forestry sector.

Given Z’s existing fuel distribution infrastructure, we are working with paper products manufacturer Norske Skog to try and bring this new technology to New Zealand, to supply locally produced, second generation biofuels to Kiwi consumers. The benefits that can be realised if Norske Skog and Z pull this off include:

  • A step change to the New Zealand forestry sector by adding value to 1.6 million tonnes of lower value, underutilised wood residues
  • Enhanced renewable energy supply and security by meeting approximately 10% of transport fuel demands from wood waste alone
  • Reduced transport greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Increased regional employment.

One such wood to crude opportunity is being developed by Australian company, Licella. Their process begins with ground up woody biomass (sawdust) mixed with water and heated under pressure. A catalyst is then injected, starting a chemical reaction. In less than 30 minutes the biomass is chemically transformed into a bio-crude oil. The bio-crude could then be refined into various products such as petrol, diesel and jet fuel.

We’re working hard to evaluate and progress the potential of hydrothermal technology in New Zealand, but it will be a multi-million dollar investment and it won’t be easy. We’ll keep you updated on progress but if you have a question, feel free to email us on theenergydrop@z.co.nz

 


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