BDI and OMV make diesel from wood 

On 2 July 2012, Doris Bures, the Austrian Federal Minister of Transport, Innovation and Technology, and Gerhard Roiss, Director General of OMV, opened the BioCRACK pilot plant at Schwechat refinery. The plant is the first one of its kind worldwide and converts solid biomass – for example wood chips and straw – directly into diesel fuel. The pilot plant fulfils two basic tasks: diesel production, as an answer to the increasing demand, with a simultaneous increase in the biogenic portion. Therefore, with this innovative process, a future-oriented course can be set.

Since 2009, OMV and BDI – BioEnergy International AG together, supported by BMVIT and the Climate and Energy Fund, have been pursuing the innovative project BioCRACK pilot plant. “The European fuel market is facing big challenges: the increasing demand for diesel and the increase in the renewable portion in the fuel area to at least 10 percent until 2020. Conventional bio-fuels of the first generation are not a long-term solution, because the cultivation of the raw materials required for that principally is in competition to food production. Our refineries are well equipped, and the BioCRACK technology developed in partnership with BDI is yet another answer of OMV to the ever changing outline conditions”, describes Gerhard Roiss, Director General of OMV, the background.

“Worldwide, great expectations are placed in the bio-fuel of the second generation. Therefore, this new technology and the pilot plant are a true pioneering achievement of domestic companies and researchers. And, that I add: also a success of the domestic technology policy, because in research promotion, we consistently trust in environmental and energy engineering. That means careful handling of resources, energy efficiency, and climate protection”, underlines Doris Bures, the Austrian Federal Minister of Transport, Innovation and Technology, the innovative power of the project.
Fuels of the second generation are produced from biomass, are based on waste products of agriculture and forestry (e.g. wood chips and straw), and do without the use of food. That means they are principally not in competition with areas needed for food production. A further advantage of the “second generation” is the excellent environmental balance (less CO2 emissions in production).

BioCRACK pilot plant at the OMV refinery in Schwechat
“Right from the start, the objective was to develop a technically simple, cost-effective process, which is also economically operable on a small scale, fulfilling two basic tasks – diesel production and increase in the biogenic portion”, says Edgar Ahn, Member of the Board of BDI. The BioCRACK pilot plant is based on this novel, patented process for producing biogenic diesel: using heavy mineral oil, the biomass is heated to more than 400 °C, whereby diesel with a biogenic portion of up to 20 percent is generated. In that, above all renewable raw materials like wood or straw are used as biomass. The BioCRACK pilot plant is directly connected with other plants of the refinery. Thereby, with existing plants, the product generated there can be refined into diesel fuel according to the applicable standard EN590.

A further advantage of the plant: so far, heavy mineral oils were mainly used for the production of petrol – now it can be used for the production of highly demanded diesel. The by-products from the process like biogas, bio-coal, etc. can be energetically utilised or with further processing converted into higher-quality products.

“This opens up completely new perspectives for a more effective use of refineries and a more economical handling of the precious resource petroleum worldwide”, adds Roiss.
Until mid 2014, the novel process will be tested at the refinery site Schwechat and further developed into a product ready for the market. For the development of the BioCRACK technology, a promotion of the Austrian “Climate and Energy Fund” to the amount of EUR 2 million was granted within the scope of the research and technology programme “New Energies 2020”.

Source: Press release BDI BioEnergy International AG