US20140161682A2 - Methods and apparatus for converting organic material - Google Patents

Methods and apparatus for converting organic material Download PDF

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US20140161682A2
US20140161682A2 US13/608,825 US201213608825A US2014161682A2 US 20140161682 A2 US20140161682 A2 US 20140161682A2 US 201213608825 A US201213608825 A US 201213608825A US 2014161682 A2 US2014161682 A2 US 2014161682A2
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conversion
organic
fluid
unit
recovery
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US8771601B2 (en
US20130195732A1 (en
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Steen Brummerstedt Iversen
Karsten Felsvang
Tommy Larsen
Viggo Luthje
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ALTACA INSAAT VE DIS TICARET AS
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ALTACA INSAAT VE DIS TICARET AS
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Priority to PCT/DK2006/000232 priority patent/WO2006117002A2/en
Priority to US91282408A priority
Priority to US13/608,825 priority patent/US8771601B2/en
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J8/00Chemical or physical processes in general, conducted in the presence of fluids and solid particles; Apparatus for such processes
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J21/00Catalysts comprising the elements, oxides, or hydroxides of magnesium, boron, aluminium, carbon, silicon, titanium, zirconium, or hafnium
    • B01J21/02Boron or aluminium; Oxides or hydroxides thereof
    • B01J21/04Alumina
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J21/00Catalysts comprising the elements, oxides, or hydroxides of magnesium, boron, aluminium, carbon, silicon, titanium, zirconium, or hafnium
    • B01J21/06Silicon, titanium, zirconium or hafnium; Oxides or hydroxides thereof
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J21/00Catalysts comprising the elements, oxides, or hydroxides of magnesium, boron, aluminium, carbon, silicon, titanium, zirconium, or hafnium
    • B01J21/06Silicon, titanium, zirconium or hafnium; Oxides or hydroxides thereof
    • B01J21/066Zirconium or hafnium; Oxides or hydroxides thereof
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F11/00Treatment of sludge; Devices therefor
    • C02F11/10Treatment of sludge; Devices therefor by pyrolysis
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10GCRACKING HYDROCARBON OILS; PRODUCTION OF LIQUID HYDROCARBON MIXTURES, e.g. BY DESTRUCTIVE HYDROGENATION, OLIGOMERISATION, POLYMERISATION; RECOVERY OF HYDROCARBON OILS FROM OIL-SHALE, OIL-SAND, OR GASES; REFINING MIXTURES MAINLY CONSISTING OF HYDROCARBONS; REFORMING OF NAPHTHA; MINERAL WAXES
    • C10G1/00Production of liquid hydrocarbon mixtures from oil-shale, oil-sand, or non-melting solid carbonaceous or similar materials, e.g. wood, coal
    • C10G1/08Production of liquid hydrocarbon mixtures from oil-shale, oil-sand, or non-melting solid carbonaceous or similar materials, e.g. wood, coal with moving catalysts
    • C10G1/086Characterised by the catalyst used
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10LFUELS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NATURAL GAS; SYNTHETIC NATURAL GAS OBTAINED BY PROCESSES NOT COVERED BY SUBCLASSES C10G, C10K; LIQUEFIED PETROLEUM GAS; ADDING MATERIALS TO FUELS OR FIRES TO REDUCE SMOKE OR UNDESIRABLE DEPOSITS OR TO FACILITATE SOOT REMOVAL; FIRELIGHTERS
    • C10L5/00Solid fuels
    • C10L5/40Solid fuels essentially based on materials of non-mineral origin
    • C10L5/44Solid fuels essentially based on materials of non-mineral origin on vegetable substances
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10LFUELS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NATURAL GAS; SYNTHETIC NATURAL GAS OBTAINED BY PROCESSES NOT COVERED BY SUBCLASSES C10G, C10K; LIQUEFIED PETROLEUM GAS; ADDING MATERIALS TO FUELS OR FIRES TO REDUCE SMOKE OR UNDESIRABLE DEPOSITS OR TO FACILITATE SOOT REMOVAL; FIRELIGHTERS
    • C10L9/00Treating solid fuels to improve their combustion
    • C10L9/08Treating solid fuels to improve their combustion by heat treatments, e.g. calcining
    • C10L9/086Hydrothermal carbonization
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F11/00Treatment of sludge; Devices therefor
    • C02F11/12Treatment of sludge; Devices therefor by de-watering, drying or thickening
    • C02F11/121Treatment of sludge; Devices therefor by de-watering, drying or thickening by mechanical de-watering
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10GCRACKING HYDROCARBON OILS; PRODUCTION OF LIQUID HYDROCARBON MIXTURES, e.g. BY DESTRUCTIVE HYDROGENATION, OLIGOMERISATION, POLYMERISATION; RECOVERY OF HYDROCARBON OILS FROM OIL-SHALE, OIL-SAND, OR GASES; REFINING MIXTURES MAINLY CONSISTING OF HYDROCARBONS; REFORMING OF NAPHTHA; MINERAL WAXES
    • C10G2300/00Aspects relating to hydrocarbon processing covered by groups C10G1/00 - C10G99/00
    • C10G2300/10Feedstock materials
    • C10G2300/1003Waste materials
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10GCRACKING HYDROCARBON OILS; PRODUCTION OF LIQUID HYDROCARBON MIXTURES, e.g. BY DESTRUCTIVE HYDROGENATION, OLIGOMERISATION, POLYMERISATION; RECOVERY OF HYDROCARBON OILS FROM OIL-SHALE, OIL-SAND, OR GASES; REFINING MIXTURES MAINLY CONSISTING OF HYDROCARBONS; REFORMING OF NAPHTHA; MINERAL WAXES
    • C10G2300/00Aspects relating to hydrocarbon processing covered by groups C10G1/00 - C10G99/00
    • C10G2300/10Feedstock materials
    • C10G2300/1011Biomass
    • C10G2300/1014Biomass of vegetal origin
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10GCRACKING HYDROCARBON OILS; PRODUCTION OF LIQUID HYDROCARBON MIXTURES, e.g. BY DESTRUCTIVE HYDROGENATION, OLIGOMERISATION, POLYMERISATION; RECOVERY OF HYDROCARBON OILS FROM OIL-SHALE, OIL-SAND, OR GASES; REFINING MIXTURES MAINLY CONSISTING OF HYDROCARBONS; REFORMING OF NAPHTHA; MINERAL WAXES
    • C10G2300/00Aspects relating to hydrocarbon processing covered by groups C10G1/00 - C10G99/00
    • C10G2300/80Additives
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10GCRACKING HYDROCARBON OILS; PRODUCTION OF LIQUID HYDROCARBON MIXTURES, e.g. BY DESTRUCTIVE HYDROGENATION, OLIGOMERISATION, POLYMERISATION; RECOVERY OF HYDROCARBON OILS FROM OIL-SHALE, OIL-SAND, OR GASES; REFINING MIXTURES MAINLY CONSISTING OF HYDROCARBONS; REFORMING OF NAPHTHA; MINERAL WAXES
    • C10G2300/00Aspects relating to hydrocarbon processing covered by groups C10G1/00 - C10G99/00
    • C10G2300/80Additives
    • C10G2300/805Water
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E50/00Technologies for the production of fuel of non-fossil origin
    • Y02E50/10Biofuels, e.g. bio-diesel
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E50/00Technologies for the production of fuel of non-fossil origin
    • Y02E50/30Fuel from waste, e.g. synthetic alcohol or diesel
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02PCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES IN THE PRODUCTION OR PROCESSING OF GOODS
    • Y02P30/00Technologies relating to oil refining and petrochemical industry
    • Y02P30/20Technologies relating to oil refining and petrochemical industry using bio-feedstock
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02WCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO WASTEWATER TREATMENT OR WASTE MANAGEMENT
    • Y02W10/00Technologies for wastewater treatment
    • Y02W10/30Wastewater or sewage treatment systems using renewable energies
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02WCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO WASTEWATER TREATMENT OR WASTE MANAGEMENT
    • Y02W10/00Technologies for wastewater treatment
    • Y02W10/40Valorisation of by-products of wastewater, sewage or sludge processing

Abstract

The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for intensifying the energy content of an organic material by converting the material into hydrocarbons and the resulting product thereof. A method for converting an organic material into hydrocarbon fuels is disclosed. The method comprising the steps of pressurising said organic material being in a fluid to a pressure above 225 bar, heating said organic material in said fluid to a temperature above 200 C in the presence of a homogeneous catalyst comprising a compound of at least one element of group IA of the periodic table of elements. The disclosed method further comprises the steps of contacting said organic material in said fluid with a heterogeneous catalyst comprising a compound of at least one element of group IVB of the periodic table and/or alpha-alumina assuring that said fluid has initially a pH value of above 7.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This is a divisional patent application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/912,824, filed Nov. 14, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,299,315, which is a national stage application of International Patent Application PCT/DK2006/000232, filed Apr. 28, 2006, which claims priority to PA 2005 00634, filed Apr. 29, 2005 and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/675,876, filed Apr. 29, 2005, the disclosures of each of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
  • DESCRIPTION
  • The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for intensifying the energy content of an organic material by converting the material into hydrocarbons and the resulting product thereof.
  • BACKGROUND
  • The world's energy demand is increasing, and the fossil fuel sources are depleted, leading to increasing competition for the available energy sources, and thereby hampering economical growth by high energy prices. To overcome this situation renewable energy sources must be brought into exploitation. The only renewable energy source with sufficient capacity to cover significant parts of the energy demand is biomass conversion. Biomass is efficiently converted into heating and electricity by existing technologies, but transportation fuels, which accounts for one third of the total energy consumption, must be available as high energy density fluids, preferably compatible with fossil fuels like diesel oil and gasoline. Therefore technologies for transforming and intensifying the energy content of biomass are required.
  • At the same time all kinds of waste are produced all over the world from factories, households etc., and as a result waste disposal has increased to an insuperable amount of waste over the last decades. Dumping of waste has become an increasingly problem and therefore a cheap effective dispose of waste has become increasingly more important.
  • A known method of waste disposal is refuse incineration. But numerous wastes are due to the high water content not suitable for incineration, e.g. sewage sludge and industrial waste water treatment residues. Incineration of such wastes require additional energy input, i.e. the overall process energy is negative.
  • In view of this new methods have been developed for treatment of such wastes. However these known methods are still very limited in regards to the kind of waste, which may be treated in the same apparatus and in regards to how much of the converted waste which is turned into recyclable products. Additionally, the energy of the organic material, which is converted into recyclable products are still very low compared to the amount of energy added to the method. Therefore in order to make conversion of organic material commercial interesting there is still a need of a more energy effective process.
  • Furthermore, known methods have shown that char and soot deposit inside the apparatus in such an amount that regular cleaning of the apparatus is needed. Such cleaning operations are time consuming and therefore expensive.
  • Corrosion of the materials used for making apparatus for the converting of organic material has in known methods been such a problem that the materials for these components had to be chosen in a more expensive group of materials. This problem of corrosion has increased the cost of the apparatus for the converting and therefore decreased the incentive for using converting of waste instead of refuse incineration.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • An objective of the present invention is to provide an improved method and an improved apparatus for converting organic material, such as waste, sludge, biomass etc., into recyclable products, such as hydrocarbon fuel, which method at least partly overcome or at least mitigate the aforementioned problems and disadvantages.
  • Another objective of the present invention is to provide an improved recyclable product from the conversion of organic material, which improved product is reusable as some kind of energy. These objectives and several others objectives, which will become evident below are obtained by a first aspect of the present invention by providing a method for converting an organic material into hydrocarbon fuels, comprising the steps of:
  • pressurising said organic material in a fluid to a pressure above 225 bar, and
  • heating said organic material in said fluid to a temperature above 200 C in the presence of a homogeneous catalyst comprising a compound of at least one element of group IA of the periodic table of elements,
  • wherein the method further comprises the steps of:
  • contacting said organic material in said fluid with a heterogeneous catalyst comprising a compound of at least one element of group IVB of the periodic table and/or alpha-alumina, and
  • adjusting said fluid to a pH value of above 7.
  • An improved method for converting organic material into recyclable products is hereby obtained. By contacting the organic material with a heterogeneous catalyst comprising a compound of at least one element of group WE of the periodic table and/or alpha-alumina, the catalyst may be reused and a continuously converting of organic material is possible. Thereby the amount of catalyst spent for converting one amount of organic material is decreased whereby the cost for converting the material is considerable decreased.
  • Additionally, the process time has been decreased considerably due to the fact that dividing the catalyst process into two separate processes increases the velocity of conversion.
  • Furthermore, by adjusting the fluid to above 7 the corrosion of the materials used for the involved components in the apparatus is considerably decreased. The corrosion of these materials has decreased to such an amount that cheap standard materials may be used for the construction of the apparatus.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention the method may comprise the step of maintaining the pH value of said fluid containing said organic material in the range 7-14, such as 7-12 and preferably in the range 7-10 such as in the range 7-9.5. It is hereby obtained that when converting the organic material into hydrocarbon fuel the corrosion of the materials used for the involved components of the apparatus is substantial decreased to at least an insignificant amount of corrosion.
  • Furthermore, according to an aspect of the present invention the method may comprise the step of pre-treating the organic material at a pressure of 4-15 bar at the temperature of 100-170 C for a period of 0.5-2 hours. By pre-treating the organic material at this pressure, the organic material is pre-converted whereby the subsequent conversion may be performed more quickly than without the pre-treatment.
  • Subsequently, the pre-treating step may according to another aspect of the invention comprise a step of size reducing of the material such as a cutting, grinding, milling, or sieving step or a combination thereof. By such a size reduction the conversion process of the organic material is performed even more quickly than without the size reduction.
  • Additionally, the pre-treating step may comprise the step of adding additives to the fluid according to the present invention, whereby the conversion process is improved even further in regards to speed of the conversion time and in regards to the resulting product from the conversion of the organic material into hydrocarbon fuels. The product resulting from the conversion of the organic material may by adding these additives be regulated, so that the resulting product may have variable composition of oil, methanol, water, water soluble organics, water soluble salts, etc. It is then possible to adjust the recyclable product in regards to the wishes of the subsequent use of the products.
  • In one aspect of the present invention the step of pre-treating may comprise the step of adjusting the pH of said fluid comprising said organic material to above 7. It hereby obtained to adjustment of the pH value in the fluid comprising the organic material at an early stage of the conversion process, whereby the process time for the conversion is reduced.
  • By the step of pretreating the fluid comprising the organic material it is possible to increase the amount of solid-state material in the fluid, which again leads to a higher rate of conversion and thereby a higher production capacity. This results in a more efficient and cost saving converting of organic material.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the method may further comprise a step of separating particles from the fluid comprising the organic material. By separating particles before contacting the fluid comprising the organic material with the heterogeneous catalyst the product resulting from the conversion process, such as oil, is then substantially free of being bound to these particles and therefore much more reusable straight after this conversion process. A second process, such as an refinery is thereby dispensable.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention the method may further comprise a second step of heating the fluid. The temperature of fluid comprising the organic material is hereby adjustable just before contacting the heterogeneous catalyst, whereby the process is optimised, which leads to a reduced process time. Furthermore, by separating the particles away from the fluid at such an early stage a substantially amount of energy for transporting the separated particles is saved, which again decreases the amount of energy spend in the conversion process as a total.
  • Additionally, the method may according to the invention comprise a second separating of particles, which step is merely for safety reason in regards to the first step of separating particles. This step reduces for the same reasons as the first step of separating particles the total amount of energy spend for the conversion process.
  • Furthermore, the method may according to the invention comprise a step of cooling the fluid. By cooling the fluid the resulting product from converting of the organic material may be optimized in relations to the composition of product.
  • Advantageously, the step of cooling may according to the present invention be performed by heat exchanging with the first step of heating and/or a step of pre-heating the fluid in the pre-treating step. It is hereby obtained to reuse the heat from the fluid, which needs to cool down before the second part of conversion into the recyclable products, in the fluid in the first part of conversion process before contacting the fluid with the heterogeneous catalyst. The total amount of energy for the converting of organic material is thereby kept to a minimum.
  • Said method may according to one aspect the present invention further comprise a step of separation gas from the fluid, such as fuel gas. By separating this gas one kind of recyclable product is obtained, which was an objective of the invention.
  • The method may according to one aspect the present invention further comprise the step that the fuel gas is used for heating the fluid in the second heating step. By using the separated gas it is reused in converting the organic material and therefore resuable.
  • Furthermore, the method may according to the invention further comprise a step of filtrating water and water soluble organics from oil and water soluble salts in a first membrane-filter. By this separating a recyclable products is obtained and a further converting into recyclable products is possible.
  • In an aspect of the present invention the water and water soluble organics are transformed into electricity in a direct methanol fuel cell. This is one way of using one of the recyclable products of the present invention. It may also be regarded as a subsequent step of converting the recycle products into a usable product in form of electricity.
  • The method may also according to another aspect of the present invention comprise a second step of filtering water soluble organics from the water, such as an purification of methanol in a second membrane-filter. By this conversion step one recycle product is obtained.
  • Subsequently, said one or more membrane-filters may be selected from the group of membrane processes comprising ultra-filtration, nano-filtration, reverse osmosis or pervaporation or a combination thereof. By this selection different kinds of recycle products are obtainable.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, the water and water soluble organics after the second filtering step may be transformed into drinkable water in a process of reverse osmosis. By the method comprising the process of reverse osmosis one very usable recyclable product is obtained.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, the water soluble organic may comprising up-concentrated methanol may be re-circulated to the pre-treating step. A further optimization of the converting method is hereby obtained, and the converted product of up-concentrated methanol is reused.
  • Additionally, the method may according to one aspect of the invention comprise a phase separator, whereby separation of oil as product is obtained.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, the step of contacting the organic material in the fluid with a heterogeneous catalyst may be performed while the temperature is kept substantially constant. By keeping the temperature constant in the contacting step the contacting of the fluid with the heterogeneous catalyst is kept in the same condition and the conversion is therefore constant throughout the contacting step. A further advantage is that the equilibriums and reaction rates of the chemical reactions involved in the conversion are kept constant throughout the contacting step, thereby ensuring uniformity in the products formed by the conversion.
  • In another aspect of the present invention, the temperature in the step of contacting may be in the range 200-650° C., such as in the range 200-450° C., and preferably in the range 200-374° C., and even more preferably in the range 250-374° C., such as in the range 275-350° C. By keeping these low temperatures the conversion process is using less energy in converting the same amount of organic material than at higher temperatures. A low temperature together with a pH value above 7 decreases the corrosion of the materials used for the apparatus in which the present method is performed.
  • A low temperature in the contacting step increases the fraction of the organic material being converted into hydrocarbon fuels, and thereby the oil production capacity of the contacting step. At such low temperatures the solubility of salts is high compared to higher temperature whereby the conversion process is further advantageous due to almost no salts depositing occurs inside the apparatus. Furthermore, at such low temperatures the organic material is less converted into soot and tar, which products are not very recyclable. Finally such low temperature allows construction of the apparatus from less corrosion resistant materials, further improving the competitive.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention, the pressure for said conversion may be in the range 225-600 bars, such as in the range 225-400 bars and preferably in the range 225-350 bars, such as in the range 240-300 bars. By using pressures inside these ranges it is obtained that standard components and equipment may be used for the present method whereby the cost of the conversion process and apparatus is substantially decreased compared to the same at higher pressures.
  • Furthermore, the method may according to the invention further comprise the step of contacting is done in less than 30 minutes, such as less than 20 minutes, preferably less 10 minutes, such as less than 7.5 minutes, and even more preferably in the range 0.5-6 minutes, such as in the range 1-5 minutes. By contacting the fluid at in a short period the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material substantially.
  • Additionally, the compound of at least one element of group IVB of the periodic table may comprise zirconium and/or titanium according to another aspect of the present invention. By using zirconium and/or titanium as a heterogeneous catalyst the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the compound of at least one element of group NB of the periodic table may be on an oxide and/or hydroxide form or a combination of the two. By using the heterogeneous catalyst on an oxide and/or hydroxide form the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • Advantageously, the compound of at least one element of group NB of the periodic table is at least partly on a sulphate or sulphide form according to another aspect of the present invention. By using the heterogeneous catalyst on a sulphate or sulphide form the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, the heterogeneous catalyst may further comprise at least one element selected from the group consisting of Fe, Ni, Co, Cu, Cr, W, Mn, Mo, V, Sn, Zn, Si in an amount up to 20% by weight, such as an amount up to 10% by weight, preferably in an amount up to 5% by weight, such as up to 2.5% by weight. By using the aforementioned heterogeneous catalyst together with one or more elements of this group the conversion process time is substantially decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • Furthermore, these elements may be on an oxide and/or hydroxide form according to another aspect of the present invention, whereby the conversion process time is further decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention said heterogeneous catalyst may be in the form of a suspended particles, tablets, pellets, rings, cylinders, a honey comb structure, a fibrous structure and/or a combination of these. The advantage of said heterogeneous catalyst structures is to control the flow distribution of the organic material stream being contacted with the catalyst, while ensuring reasonable pressure drop and contact to all of the catalyst surface.
  • Additionally, said heterogeneous catalyst is at least partly contained in a reactor according to another aspect of the present invention. It is hereby possible to reuse that part of the catalyst, which is inside the reactor.
  • Advantageously, said reactor is a fixed bed reactor according to another aspect of the present invention. By using a fixed bed reactor, it is hereby possible to even more easily reuse that part of the catalyst, which is inside the reactor.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, said heterogeneous catalyst may have a BET surface area of at least 10 m2/g, such as 25 m2/g, and preferably at least 50 m2/g, such as 100 m2/g, and even more preferably at least 150 m2/g, such as at least 200 m2/g. By having this BET surface area, the conversion process time is further decreased without decreasing the quality of the conversion process, as sufficient catalytic active surface area is ensured.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention, said heterogeneous catalyst may comprise at least one surface area stabilizer selected from the group consisting of Si, La, Y or Ce or a combination thereof. By having this surface stabilizer, the catalyst service lifetime time is further expanded without decreasing the quality of the conversion process.
  • Advantageously, said heterogeneous catalyst may according to one aspect of the present invention comprise said at least one surface area stabilizer in an effective amount up to 20% by weight, such as an effective amount up to 10% by weight, preferably said surface area stabilizers in an effective amount up to 7.5% by weight, such as surface stabilizers in an effective amount up to 5% by weight, and more preferably said surface stabilizers are present in an effective amount from 0.5-5% by weight, such as 1-3% by weight. By having this surface stabilizer in up to 20% by weight, the catalyst service lifetime is further expanded without decreasing the quality of the conversion process.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention said heterogeneous catalyst may have a BET surface area of at least 10 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, such as BET surface area of at least 25 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, and preferably a BET surface area of at least 50 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, such as a BET surface area of at 100 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, and even more preferably a BET surface area of at least 150 m2/g after 1000 hours in use, such as at a BET surface area of least 200 m2/g after 1000 hours in use. By having this BET surface area of at least 10 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, the conversion process time is further decreased without decreasing the quality of the conversion process, as sufficient catalytic active surface area is ensured.
  • Furthermore, said heterogeneous catalyst is produced from red mud according to another aspect of the present invention. It is hereby obtained to use waste product in the converting of the organic material, which also is a waste product.
  • Additionally, the method may according to the invention further comprise the step of re-circulating carbonates and/or hydrogen carbonates. By re-circulating carbonates and/or hydrogen carbonates the method is reusing products resulting from the conversion method and an optimizing of the method is hereby obtained.
  • The concentration of said carbonates and/or hydrogen carbonates may according to an aspect of the invention be at least 0.5% by weight, such as at least 1% by weight, and preferably at least 2% by weight, such as at least 3% by weight, and more preferably at least 4% by weight, such as at least 5% by weight. The carbonates and bi-carbonates are important activators in the catalytic conversion performed by the homogenous catalyst.
  • Furthermore, the method may according to the invention further comprise the step of re-circulating at least one alcohol. By re-circulating at least one alcohol the method is reusing products resulting from the conversion method and an optimizing of the method is hereby obtained.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, said at least one alcohol may comprise methanol, whereby a very usable recyclable product is reused in optimizing the method.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention, the methanol content in said fluid may be at least 0.05% by weight, such as at least 0.1% by weight, and preferably at least 0.2% by weight, such as at least 0.3% by weight, and even more preferably at least 0.5% methanol by weight, such as at least 1% by weight. Methanol is involved in the chemical reactions responsible for producing the oil product, and in the chemical reactions destroying the radicals otherwise responsible for formation of soot and tar during the decomposition of the organic material.
  • Advantageously, the method may according to another aspect of the present invention comprise the step of re-circulating a fluid containing hydrogen. By re-circulating a fluid containing hydrogen the method is reusing products resulting from the conversion method and an optimizing of the method is hereby obtained.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention the hydrogen content of said fluid corresponds to at least 0.001% by weight of the amount of said organic material to be treated, such as at least 0.01% by weight of the amount of said organic material to be treated, and preferably 0.1% by weight of the amount of said organic material to be treated, such as 0.2% by weight of the amount of said organic material to be treated, and even more preferably the hydrogen content of the fluid is at least 0.5% by weight of the amount of said organic material to be treated, such as at least 1% by weight of the amount of said organic material to be treated. Hydrogen is involved in the chemical reactions producing saturated oil compounds, and in the reactions destroying free radicals, otherwise leading to formation of soot and tar during the thermal decomposition of the organic material during the conversion.
  • Furthermore, the method may according to the invention further comprise the step of re-circulating at least one carboxylic acid. By re-circulating at least one carboxylic acid the method is reusing products resulting from the conversion method and an optimizing of the method is hereby obtained.
  • Additionally, said at least one carboxylic acid may comprise at least one carboxylic acid having a chain length corresponding to 1-4 carbon atoms according to another aspect of the present invention. The said at least one carboxylic acid corresponding to 1-4 carbon atoms is involved in the chemical chain formation reactions producing the oil product,
  • Furthermore, said at least one carboxylic acid may comprise formic acid and/or acetic acid according to another aspect of the present invention. The said at least one carboxylic acid corresponding to 1-4 carbon atoms is involved in the chemical chain formation reactions producing the oil product.
  • Advantageously, the concentration of said carboxylic acid(s) in said fluid may according to the present invention be at least 100 part per million by weight, such as at least 250 part per million by weight, and preferably at least 400 parts per million by weight, such as at least 500 parts per million by weight. At this concentration level the oil product producing chemical reactions rates are sufficient to ensure conversion of the organic material to said oil product.
  • In one aspect of the present invention the method may comprise the step of re-circulating at least one aldehyde and/or at least one ketone. By re-circulating at least one aldehyde and/or at least one ketone the method is reusing products resulting from the conversion method and an optimizing of the method is hereby obtained.
  • In another aspect of the present invention said at least one aldehyde and/or at least one ketone comprises at least one aldehyde and/or at least one ketone having a chain length corresponding to 1-4 carbon atoms. The said at least one aldehyde or ketone corresponding to 1-4 carbon atoms is involved in the chemical chain formation reactions producing the oil product.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention said at least one aldehyde and/or at least one ketone comprises formaldehyde and/or acetaldehyde. The said at least one aldehyde or ketone corresponding to 1-4 carbon atoms is involved in the chemical chain formation reactions producing the oil product.
  • According to the present invention, the concentration of said at least one aldehyde and/or at least one ketone in said fluid may be at least 100 part per million by weight, such as at least 250 part per million by weight, and preferably at least 400 parts per million by weight, such as at least 500 parts per million by weight. At this concentration level the oil product producing chemical reactions rates are sufficient to ensure conversion of the organic material to said oil product.
  • Advantageously, the homogeneous catalyst comprises potassium and/or sodium according to one aspect of the present invention. By using potassium and/or sodium as a homogeneous catalyst the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material, and the rates chemical reactions involved in the oil product formation are enhanced to facilitate production of said oil product.
  • Furthermore, according to another aspect of the present invention the homogeneous catalyst may comprise one or more water soluble salts selected from the group consisting of KOH, K2CO3, KHCO3, NaOH, Na2CO3 or NaHCO3 or a combination thereof. In combination with the carbon dioxide formed as part of the conversion of the organic material said salts are converted into the carbonate involved in the chemical reactions as activator.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the concentration of the homogeneous catalyst may be at least 0.5% by weight, such as at least 1% by weight, and preferably at least 1.5% by weight, such as at least 2.0% by weight, and even more preferably above 2.5% by weight, such as at least 4% by weight. At this concentration level the oil product producing chemical reactions rates are sufficient to ensure conversion of the organic material to said oil product.
  • Additionally, said fluid comprises water according to another aspect of the present invention. Water is a cheap an very frequent fluid and therefore by using water the cost to method of converting organic material is kept to a minimum and the method may be used in all areas of the world.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, said water may have a concentration of at least 5% by weight, such as at least 10% by weight, and preferably at least 20% by weight, such as at least 30% by weight, and even more preferably at least 40% by weight. The organic material to be converted must be pumpable.
  • The concentration of said water in said fluid may according to another aspect of the present invention be up to 99.5% by weight, such as up to 98% by weight, and preferably up to 95% by weight, such as up to 90% by weight, and even more preferably up to 85% by weight, such as up to 80% by weight. By decreasing the water content the heat value of the feedstock is increased, leading to increased oil production capacity at constant processing cost, without sacrificing the pumpability of the organic material to be converted.
  • In one aspect of the present invention said at least one carbonate and/or at least one hydrogen carbonate and/or at least one alcohol and/or at least one carboxylic acid and/or at least one aldehyde and/or at least one ketone may at least partly be produced by the conversion of said organic material. By reusing a product resulting from the conversion process, the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material. Furthermore expenses for treating an effluent stream are saved.
  • In another aspect of the present invention said at least one carbonate and/or at least one hydrogen carbonate and/or at least one alcohol and/or at least one carboxylic acid and/or at least one aldehyde and/or at least one ketone may be re-circulated after the step of contacting. It is hereby obtained that some of the resulting products from the conversion process is reused and that the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • Furthermore, at least part of a stream of said recirculation may according to another aspect of the present invention be mixed in a ratio with a feed stream of said fluid comprising said homogeneous catalyst and organic material to be converted before entering the catalytic reactor. It is hereby obtained that some of the resulting products from the conversion process is reused and that the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • Additionally, the ratio of the re-circulating stream to the feed stream of said fluid may according to another aspect of the present invention be in the range 1-20, such as 1-10, and preferably within the range 1.5-7.5, such as in the range 2-6, and more preferably in the range 2.5-5. It is hereby obtained that some of the resulting products from the conversion process is reused and that the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • Advantageously, the conversion of said organic material may according to another aspect of the present invention be at least 90%, such as at least 95%, and preferably above 97.5% %, such as above 99%, and even more preferably above 99.5%, such as above 99.9%. The high conversion leads to maximization of the oil production capacity, and minimizes or eliminates the content of unconverted organic material in oil product and mineral product, thereby eliminating the need for a purification step.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention said reactor with heterogeneous catalyst may be subjected to a treatment with hot pressurised water at pre-selected intervals.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention, said treatment with hot pressurised water may have a duration of less than 12 hours, such as a duration of less than 6 hours, preferably a duration of less than 3 hours, such as a duration of less than 1 hour.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the interval between such treatment with hot pressurised water may be at least 6 hours, such as at least 12 hours, preferably said interval between such treatment with hot pressurised water is at least 24 hours, such as at least one week.
  • By treating or flushing the reactor with hot pressurised water, the life time of the reactor is increased and the cost of the method is thereby substantially decreased.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention said organic material may be selected from the group consisting of sludge, such as sewage sludge, liquid manure, corn silage, clarifier sludge, black liquor, residues from fermentation, residues from juice production, residues from edible oil production, residues from fruit and vegetable processing, residues from food and drink production, leachate or seepage water or a combination thereof.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, said organic material may comprise a lignocelulotic materials, selected from the group consisting of biomass, straw, grasses, stems, wood, bagasse, wine trash, sawdust, wood chips or energy crops or a combination thereof.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention, said organic material may comprise a waste, such as house hold waste, municipal solid waste, paper waste, auto shredder waste, plastics, polymers, rubbers, scrap tires, cable wastes, CCA treated wood, halogenated organic compounds, PCB bearing transformer oils, electrolytic capacitors, halones, medical waste, risk material from meat processing, meat and bone meal, liquid streams, such as process or waste water streams containing dissolved and/or suspended organic material.
  • Advantageously, said sludge may according to another aspect of the present invention be sludge from a biological treatment process.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention said organic material may be sludge from a waste water treatment process.
  • In another aspect of the present invention said biological treatment process may be part of a waste water treatment process.
  • Furthermore, said biological water treatment process may according to another aspect of the present invention be an aerobic process.
  • Additionally, said biological water treatment process may be an anaerobic process according to another aspect of the present invention.
  • The method is capable of converting many kinds of organic material as mentioned above. Even though the method is performed at a relatively low temperature and a relatively low pressure the temperature and pressure is still sufficient to disinfect the resulting product. Which means regardless what organic material the resulting products is usable without infecting risk, e.g. residues from residues from food production, such as meat from a cow or a veal will not result in the spreading of the disease BSE. Likewise will virus, bacteria etc. from the organic material not be spread in a subsequent use of the resulting products.
  • Advantageously, said organic material may have been subjected to a mechanical dewatering according to another aspect of the present invention. By dewatering the organic material the heat value of the feedstock is increased, leading to increased oil production capacity at constant processing cost, without sacrificing the pumpability of the organic material to be converted.
  • Furthermore, said mechanically dewatered organic material may according to another aspect of the present invention have a dry solid content of at least 10% by weight, preferably at least 15% by weight, more preferably at least 20% by weight, most preferred 25% by weight.
  • By the pre-treatment step of the method it is obtained to increase the dry solid content, which again decreases the conversion process time.
  • Additionally, said organic material may according to another aspect of the present invention comprise a mixture of sludge, lignocelulotic materials or waste.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the concentration of said organic material in said fluid may be at least 5% by weight, such as at least 10% by weight, preferably the concentration of said organic material is at least 15% by weight, such as at least 200% by weight, and more preferably the concentration of said organic material is at least 30% by weight, such as at least 50% by weight.
  • Advantageously, the elements of group IA of the periodic table may be ash obtained from combustion of biomass or ash from coal firing according to another aspect of the present invention.
  • By mixing the different organic materials it is obtained that less catalyst has to used in the further processing and/or that the rate of the processing time is increased.
  • The present invention further relates to the product obtained by the aforementioned method. Said product may according to the present invention comprise hydrocarbon in the form of oil. A resulting product which is very usable is hereby obtained in that oil is presently a very demanded product all over the world. A product such as oil is possible to obtain in that the method is performed at very low temperatures.
  • In another aspect of the present invention said fluid may have a feed carbon content and a feed hydrocarbon content, where the hydrocarbon oil product comprises at least 20% of the feed carbon content, such as at least 35% of the feed hydrocarbon content, preferably comprises said hydrocarbon oil product at least 50% of the feed carbon content, such as at least 65% of the feed carbon content and more preferably said hydrocarbon oil product comprises at least 80% of the feed carbon content.
  • In another aspect of the present invention at least 20% of an energy content in the feed stream may be recovered in said hydrocarbon oil product, such as at least 35% of the energy content, preferably is at least 50% of the energy content in the feed recovered in said hydrocarbon oil product, such as at least 65% of the feed energy content and even more preferable at least 80% of said feed energy content is recovered in said hydrocarbon oil product.
  • Furthermore, said hydrocarbon oil product comprises hydrocarbons with 12 to 16 carbon atoms according to another aspect of the present invention.
  • Advantageously, said hydrocarbon oil product may be substantially free of sulphur according to another aspect of the present invention.
  • Additionally, said hydrocarbon oil product may be substantially free of halogens according to another aspect of the present invention.
  • By the method according to the present invention a hydrocarbon oil product free of sulphur and/or halogens is hereby obtained. Such oils free of sulphur and/or halogens is very recyclable into new forms of energy without polluting the surroundings with reactions caused by sulphur and/or halogens.
  • Said hydrocarbon oil product may according to one aspect of the present invention comprise fatty acid esters and/or fatty acid methyl esters. The oxygen content of the fatty acid esters and methyl esters is known to improve the properties of the hydrocarbon oil as transportation fuel, due to the reduced particle emission from the combustion of the fuel.
  • The hydrocarbon oil product may have diesel-like properties according to another aspect of the present invention. The diesel-like hydrocarbon fuel might be mixed directly into conventional diesel oil, thereby saving the cost of refining the oil product.
  • Furthermore, the hydrocarbon oil product may have a oxygen content in the range 0.1-30% according to another aspect of the present invention. The oxygen content of the hydrocarbon fuel is known to improve the properties as transportation fuel, due to the reduced particle emission from the combustion of the fuel.
  • Additionally, the hydrocarbon oil product may be adsorbed on the surface of a mineral product according to another aspect of the present invention. This oil containing mineral product is an improved starting material for molten mineral processing processes.
  • The hydrocarbon product may also comprise methanol according to another aspect of the present invention. By further purification a purified methanol product might be obtained, which is preferred fuel for fuel cells or additive to gasoline for production of sustainable transportation fuels.
  • In another aspect of the present invention said hydrocarbon product comprising methanol may comprise at least 20% of the feed carbon content, such as at least 35% of the feed carbon content, preferably comprises said methanol product at least 50% of the feed carbon content, such as at least 65% of the feed carbon content and more preferably comprises said methanol product at least 80% of the feed carbon content. By further purification a purified methanol product might be obtained, which is preferred fuel for fuel cells or additive to gasoline for production of sustainable transportation fuels.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention at least 20% of the energy content in the feed may be recovered in said hydrocarbon product comprising methanol, such as at least 35% of the energy content in the feed is recovered in said hydrocarbon product comprising methanol, preferably is at least 50% of the energy content in the feed recovered in said hydrocarbon product comprising methanol, such as at least 65% of the feed energy content is recovered in said hydrocarbon product comprising methanol and more preferably is at least 80% of said feed energy content recovered in said hydrocarbon product comprising methanol. By further purification a purified methanol product might be obtained, which is preferred fuel for fuel cells or additive to gasoline for production of sustainable transportation fuels.
  • The present invention further relates to the use of the aforementioned product for driving an engine or generator, for power production in an oil fired power plant, for process heating or domestic heating. These are all means of producing energy from a sustainable source, yet without having to replace or renew the hardware installations or infrastructure established for energy production from fossil fuels.
  • Furthermore, the present invention relates to the use of the aforementioned product as a blending component in petrodiesel or gasoline or in a suspension fired system or in a process for molten mineral processing. These are all means of producing energy from a sustainable source, yet without having to replace or renew the hardware installations or infrastructure established for energy production from fossil fuels.
  • Additionally, the present invention relates to the use of the aforementioned for producing a fertilizer product or for producing clean water stream. Said clean water stream may furthermore have drinking water quality.
  • The present invention additionally relates to an apparatus for converting an organic material into hydrocarbons, comprising: a pre-conversion system and a product recovery system, said pre-conversion system comprises
  • a first heating unit for heating a feed of fluid comprising organic material
  • a catalyst reactor for contacting the feed of fluid comprising organic material, and
  • an adjusting unit for adjusting the fluid to have a pH value of above 7, and said product recovery system comprises
  • membrane-filter for separating a first stream of oils and water soluble salts in from a second stream of water and water soluble organics.
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, the pre-conversion system may further comprise a storage for feeding organic material to the fluid in a feeding direction.
  • Furthermore, the pre-conversion system may further comprise a pre-treating unit situated after the feedstock and before the first heating unit in the feeding direction, according to another aspect of the present invention. By pre-treating the fluid comprising the organic material it is possible to increase the amount of solid-state material in the fluid, which again leads to a higher rate of conversion and thereby a higher production capacity. This results in a more efficient and cost saving converting of organic material.
  • Additionally, the pre-conversion system may according to the present invention further comprise a first particle separating unit situated after the first heating unit in the feeding direction. By separating particles before contacting the fluid comprising the organic material with the heterogeneous catalyst the product resulting from the conversion process, such as oil, is then substantially free of being bound to these particles and therefore much more reusable straight after this conversion process. A second process, such as an refinery is thereby dispensable.
  • Said pre-conversion system may according to the invention further comprise a second heating unit situated after the first particle separating unit and before the catalyst reactor in the feeding direction. It is hereby possible to optimize the temperature before entering the fluid into the reactor and thereby an optimization of the conversion process.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the pre-conversion system may further comprise a second particle separation unit after the catalyst reactor in the feeding direction. This particle separating unit is for the same reason as above advantageous.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention the pre-conversion system may further comprise means for re-circulating part of the feed of fluid after the catalyst reactor into the feed of fluid before the second heating unit in the feeding direction. It is hereby obtained that some of the resulting products from the conversion process is reused and that the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • Furthermore, the first heating unit may according to the present invention comprise a first heat exchanger, which besides heating cools the fluid from pre-conversion system before entering the product recovery system. It is hereby obtained to reuse energy inside the apparatus and thereby same energy in the total amount of energy used in converting the organic material.
  • Additionally, the pre-treating unit may according to the invention further comprise a heat exchange, which besides heating the fluid in the pre-treating system cools the fluid from pre-conversion system before entering the product recovery system. This heat exchanger is for the same reason as above advantageous
  • The pre-treating unit may further comprise a first expansion unit, which is situated between the first heat exchanger and the second heat exchanger, according to an aspect of the present invention. It is hereby obtained to produce gas, such as fuel gas.
  • In one aspect of the present invention the product recovery system may further comprise a gas separating unit for separation of gas, such as fuel gas, the gas separating unit is situated after the second heat exchanger and before the first membrane-filter in the feeding direction. It is hereby obtained to separate the aforementioned gas, such as fuel gas from the rest of the fluid.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the product recovery system may further comprise means for re-circulating said gas, such as fuel gas for heating the fluid in the second heating unit. It is hereby obtained that some of the resulting products from the conversion process is reused and that the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention the product recovery system may further comprise a second expansion unit situated after the first membrane-filter in the feeding direction. It is hereby obtained to produce oil out from the fluid, and thereby a very
  • Furthermore, the product recovery system may according to one aspect of the present invention further comprise a phase separator unit for separation of oil from the first stream, said phase separator unit is situated after the membrane-filter in the feeding direction. It is hereby obtained to separate oil from the fluid.
  • Additionally, the product recovery system may according to another aspect of the present invention further comprises means for re-circulating part of the first stream into the pre-treating unit of the pre-conversion system. It is hereby obtained that some of the resulting products from the conversion process is reused and that the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • Advantageously, the product recovery system may according to another aspect of the present invention further comprise direct methanol fuel cell for generating electricity from the second stream.
  • According to yet another aspect of the present invention the product recovery system further comprises one or more membrane-filters may be selected from the group of membrane processes comprising ultra-filtration, nano-filtration, reverse osmosis or pervaporation or a combination thereof.
  • Furthermore, the product recovery system may according to an aspect of the invention further comprise the second membrane-filter for separating a purified methanol compound from the second stream.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the product recovery system may further comprise means for re-circulating the purified methanol compound from the second stream to the pre-treating unit of the pre-conversion system. It is hereby obtained that some of the resulting products from the conversion process is reused and that the conversion process time is decreased without decreasing the conversion processing of organic material.
  • The present invention further relates to a plant comprising the aforementioned apparatus, for producing the aforementioned product by using the aforementioned method.
  • In one aspect of the present invention the plant may comprise means for supplying organic material to the apparatus and means for removal of the products from the apparatus.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the plant may further comprise a refinery
  • The present invention further relates to a heterogeneous catalyst for use in a method for converting an organic material into hydrocarbons, comprising a compound of at least one element of group IVB of the periodic table and/or alpha-alumina.
  • Additionally, the compound of at least one element of group IVB of the periodic table may comprise zirconium and/or titanium according to an aspect of the present invention.
  • Furthermore, the compound of at least one element of group IVB of the periodic table may be on an oxide and/or hydroxide form or a combination of the two according to an aspect of the present invention.
  • Advantageously, the compound of at least one element of group IVB of the periodic table may be at least partly on a sulphate or sulphide form according to an aspect of the present invention.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the heterogeneous catalyst may further comprise at least one of element selected from group of Fe, Ni, Co, Cu, Cr, W, Mn, Mo, V, Sn, Zn, Si in an amount up to 20% by weight, such as an amount up to 10% by weight, preferably in an amount up to 5% by weight, such as up to 2.5% by weight.
  • Furthermore, these elements are on an oxide and/or hydroxide form according to another aspect of the present invention.
  • Additionally, the heterogeneous catalyst is in the form of suspended particles, tablets, pellets, rings, cylinders, a honeycomb structure and/or a combination of these according to yet another aspect of the present invention.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention the heterogeneous catalyst may have a BET surface area of at least 10 m2/g, such as 25 m2/g, and preferably at least 50 m2/g, such as 100 m2/g, and even more preferably at least 150 m2/g, such as at least 200 m2/g.
  • Advantageously, the heterogeneous catalyst further comprises at least one surface area stabilizer selected from the group of Si, La, Y and/or Ce according to an aspect of the present invention.
  • Subsequently, the heterogeneous catalyst may according to an aspect of the present invention comprise said at least one surface area stabilizer in an effective amount up to 20% by weight, such as an effective amount up to 10% by weight, preferably said surface area stabilizers in an effective amount up to 7.5% by weight, such as surface stabilizers in an effective amount up to 5% by weight, and more preferably said surface stabilizers are present in an effective amount from 0.5-5% by weight, such as 1-3% by weight.
  • In another aspect of the present invention the heterogeneous catalyst may have a BET surface area of at least 10 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, such as BET surface area of at least 25 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, and preferably a BET surface area of at least 50 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, such as a BET surface area of at 100 m2/g after 1000 hours of use, and even more preferably a BET surface area of at least 150 m2/g after 1000 hours in use, such as at a BET surface area of least 200 m2/g after 1000 hours in use.
  • Finally, the heterogeneous catalyst may be produced from red mud according to an aspect of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention will in the following be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1 show schematic drawing of laboratory scale set-up,
  • FIG. 2 shows a general process flow sheet,
  • FIG. 3 shows one aspect of product recovery according to the present invention,
  • FIG. 4 shows another aspect of product recovery according to the present invention,
  • FIG. 5 shows yet another aspect of product recovery according to the present invention, and
  • FIG. 6 shows yet another aspect of product recovery according to the present invention.
  • The drawings are schematically and shown for the purpose of illustration.
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic drawing of the laboratory set-up used for the tests given in the examples. The pre-treated fluid containing the homogeneous catalysts and organic material to be converted is supplied to the system at the position A. The fluid is pressurized by means of the pump 1 and is heated to approximately 230 C in the heater 2 comprising a heat exchanger and a temperature controller TIC. A second fluid is supplied to the system at position B. This stream is pressurized by means of the pump 3 and heated in the heater 4 to the temperature necessary to obtain the desired conversion temperature of the mixed fluid streams at position 4, comprising a heat exchanger and a temperature controller TIC. The heterogeneous catalyst is located in the tubular catalytic reactor 5. After contact with the heterogeneous catalyst, the fluid containing the converted organic material is cooled to ambient temperature in the cooler 6, and filtered in the filter 7 for separation and collection of suspended particles. Subsequently the fluid is expanded to ambient pressure over the valve 8. The system pressure is maintained by controlling the flow through 8, utilizing the pressure controller PIC. The expanded fluid temperature is measured with the thermocouple 9. The liquid fraction of the stream is collected in a liquid trap 10, and the gas is vented off from the trap at position G. The flow rate of the produced gas is continuously measured by a gas meter placed in H (not shown). The composition of the gas is analysed by gas chromatography (not shown) of a small sample taken through I, at controlled pressure established by the flow control valve and the pressure controller (PIC) 11.
  • FIG. 2 shows a schematic drawing of a preferred aspect of a method according to the present invention. Organic material for conversion is received in a feed storage (not shown on the figure). Said organic material may comprise a wide range of biomass and wastes, and may also comprise fossil fuels such coal, shale, orimulsion, heavy fractions of crude oil etc. Many aspects according to the present invention involve treatment of organic material from a mixture of different sources of material as just mentioned.
  • The feed storage will typically have a capacity corresponding to three days of plant operation. The feed storage is preferably a concealed and agitated silo, such as an agitated concrete silo. A fluid containing the organic material is pumped to the pre-treatment step 1 at position A.
  • The first part of the pre-treatment comprises in this aspect a size reduction of the feed e.g. by cutting, grinding, milling and/or sieving the material. This size reduction may be an integral part of feeding pump (not shown). During the feeding operation to the pre-treatment the pressure of the fluid containing the organic material to be treated is increased to a pressure in the range 4-15 bars. In the second part of the pre-treatment the fluid containing said organic material is typically maintained in a pre-treatment vessel for a period of 0.5-2 hours. The pre-treatment vessel is preferably an agitated vessel, which is maintained at a temperature of 100-170 C, and preferably in the range 110 to 140 C. The energy for this pre-heating of said fluid comprising said organic material to be converted is preferably supplied, by recovering heat from one of the process streams to be cooled. In the figure this is illustrated by integrating the heat exchanger 2 in vessel for recovery of heat from the process stream D.
  • The pH in the pre-treatment vessel is adjusted to a value above 7, and preferable in the range 8-10. This pH adjustment is in many aspects according to the present invention performed by adding additives to the vessel either directly into the pre-treatment vessel and/or through its inlet, e.g. by adding a base, which may also comprise an element of group IA of the periodic table. Non-limiting examples of such additives are KOH, NaOH, K2CO3, Na2CO3, ash from biomass or coal combustion. Such additives may be added to the vessel through a stream S either streaming into stream A or streaming directly into the vessel 1. Feed of the stream S may be provided by a feeding pump (not shown).
  • During the residence in the pre-treatment vessel larger molecules such as cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin are hydrolyzed, and cells from biomass addition is opened facilitating the release of cell contents, such as salts. For a number of potential feedstock this cell opening involve release of catalysts such as potassium from the feedstock itself, thereby allowing for a very efficient process. A number of other additives may also enhance the pre-conversion of the organic material and are further advantageous for the subsequent processing. Such other additives include alcohols, such as methanol, carboxylic acids, aldehydes, and/or ketones. In a preferred aspect of the invention a number of such additives being utilized in the pre-treatment, are produced in-situ in the process and re-circulated to the pre-treatment step as shown by the streams E and F. Typical compositions of these recirculation streams is further described in relation to the FIGS. 3-5.
  • A fluid stream containing pre-converted organic material is withdrawn from pre-treatment vessel by the feed pump 3, and pressurized to the operating pressure e.g. 250 bars. The feed pump may comprise a plunger pump.
  • After pressurization the fluid containing the pre-converted organic material, the homogeneous catalyst and other additives is heated in the first heating step 4 by heat exchange with the hot converted product stream from the catalytic reactor. The temperature of the fluid containing the pre-converted organic material will in many applications according to the present invention be in the order of 20-30° C. below the operating temperature of the catalytic reactor. During this first heating step the organic material in the feed is further thermally decomposed. A number of undesirable side reactions may proceed during this thermal decomposition, such soot and char formation. Besides reducing the overall efficiency of the process, this may lead to operational problems such as plugging or reduced efficiency of heat exchanger, and deposition on downstream equipment. The aforementioned additives reduce these undesirable side reactions and enhance further the conversion of the organic material into desirable products.
  • From the heat exchanger 4, the fluid containing said pre-converted organic material may pass a first particle separation device 5 for collection of suspended particles, which may be formed during said pre-conversion during heat-up. This particles separation device 5 may comprise any conventional means for particle separation, e.g. a cyclone, a filter, a gravimetric settling chamber etc. Particles collected are withdrawn from the process shown by the stream B.
  • After the first particle separation device 5 the fluid containing said pre-converted organic material is mixed with a re-circulating stream from the catalytic reactor. This mixing will typically increase the temperature of the mixed fluid with 10-20 C, and the recirculation will further introduce desirable compounds for the further conversion into the feed. After mixing with the re-circulation stream the mixed fluid passes to a trimheater (second heating unit) 6, wherein the temperature is raised to the operating temperature of the catalytic reactor 7. The trimheater 6 may in many aspects according to the present invention be a gas or oil fired heater, and is preferably at least partly fuelled by re-circulating gas and/or other fuel products produced in the process. In a preferred aspect, this trimheater is fuelled by re-circulating the produced gas denoted I in FIG. 3. The recirculation of said produced gas I may include a purification step.
  • In the catalytic reactor 7, the fluid containing homogeneous catalyst, additives, and pre-converted organic material is contacted with the heterogeneous catalyst. The heterogeneous catalyst will typically be contained in a tubular fixed bed, and the catalytic reactor may comprise multiple tubular fixed beds. During the conversion a dissolved fuel gas, a water soluble organics and an oil is generally produced. The product distribution is adjustable within a wide range of concentration of resulting products as shown in the examples below, and may be controlled by selecting a suitable combination of residence time, re-circulation flow rate, reaction temperature, and concentration of homogeneous catalyst and additives.
  • Part of the product stream from the catalytic reactor is re-circulated by the pump 8, and mixed with the fluid containing the pre-converted organic material as described above.
  • The remaining part corresponding to the mass flow of the fluid containing the pre-converted organic material before mixing with the re-circulating stream is withdrawn to the second particle separation device 9. As for the first particle separation device this second particles separation device may comprise any conventional means for particle separation e.g. a cyclone, a filter, a gravimetric settling chamber etc. The main feature is to provide a hot separation of potential suspended particles produced oil prior to cooling and expansion to avoid adsorption of the oil to the suspended particles. However, in a number of applications of the present invention e.g. for feedstock with a low ash content this particle separation device may be optional. Particles collected in the second particle separation device are withdrawn from the process shown by the stream C.
  • Subsequent to the passage of the second particle separation device the fluid stream is cooled in by heat exchange with the feed stream in the heat exchanger 4, and in the heat exchanger 2 and expanded to a pressure in the range 75-225 bars over the expansion valve 10, and separated in the product recovery system 11. Some of the separated fluid stream from the product recovery system 11, such as the streams F and/or E may be re-circulated to the pre-treatment step as described above. The product recovery system 11 is further illustrated and described below in the FIGS. 3-6.
  • The separation system, illustrated in FIG. 3, comprises a gas-liquid separator 12, separating the gas products in stream I and the liquid products in stream J. In an aspect the gas product is used internally for fuelling the trimheater 6. The liquid products are further separated in a first membrane filter 13. The membrane filtration separation is pressure driven, and in many applications applying a nano- or ultrafiltration membrane. The filtration retentate in stream L includes parts of the feed water, the oil product and the dissolved inorganic compounds, e.g. salts from the feedstock and the homogenous catalyst. The oil product is separated from stream L in an oil separator (phase separator unit) 14 operating at atmospheric conditions, and forming the oil product stream H. The remaining water and dissolved inorganic compounds forms stream O. The main part of stream O is recycled to the pre-conversion 1, 2 in stream E, thereby recycling the homogenous catalyst, while a purge stream P is discharged to balance the inorganic compound input from the feedstock.
  • The further processing of the membrane filtration permeate, denoted stream K, is illustrated in FIGS. 4-6. Stream K contains smaller water soluble organics like C 1-4 alcohols and carboxylic acids.
  • In one aspect illustrated in FIG. 4 stream K is fed to a separation unit (membrane filter) 15, producing pure water of drinking water quality in stream G and a stream of water soluble organics in stream F. The separation unit 15 is in an aspect of the invention a reverse osmosis membrane unit, comprising a multitude of membrane modules. The retained water soluble organics in stream F are recycled to the pre-conversion step 1, 2.
  • In a further aspect, illustrated in FIG. 5, stream K is split into a concentrated water soluble organics stream F and an organics depleted water stream Q. The separation unit 16 involved is in many applications a membrane separation driven by temperature or concentration gradients, like membrane distillation or pervaporation. The water stream Q is further purified in a polishing step 17, producing the pure water stream G. The polishing step 17 is preferably an activated carbon filter or like means for absorption of very low concentrations of impurities from a water stream.
  • In an aspect illustrated in FIG. 6 the water soluble organic stream K is fed to a direct methanol fuel cell 18, producing electricity and a process water stream R. The direct methanol fuel cell 18 might include feed stream and effluent conditioning steps.
  • Examples Illustrative Example 1 Conversion of Sewage Sludge
  • Anaerobic digested sewage sludge below was converted according to the method of the present invention in the laboratory scale plant shown in FIG. 1.
  • The dry matter content of the sewage sludge was 5%. The main components of the dry matter in weight % were:
  • C=28.3%
  • H=4.33%
  • N=3.55%
  • O=28.4%
  • P=4.49%
  • Al=7.77%
  • Si=7.44%
  • Ca=6.95%
  • Fe=3.17%
  • K=1.62%
  • An elemental analysis of sewage sludge dry matter was further analyzed by induced coupled plasma (ICP) revealing the following composition:
  • O Al H Ca Si
    C [%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%] N [%] P [%] K [%]
    30.9 30.5 6.15 5.2 5.03 4.98 4.66 4.62 2.36
    Fe Na Mg Zn
    Cl [%] S [%] [%] [%] [%] [%] Ti [%] Ba [%] Mn [%]
    1.13 1.09 1.04 0.938 0.875 0.226 0.195 0.0652 0.0375
  • The combustible fraction amounts to 58% of the dry matter content, with a heat value of 22.2 MJ/kg, which translates into a calorific value of 476 KJ/kg in the sewage sludge as received.
  • Prior to the test the sewage sludge was pre-treated by sizing to less than 1 mm by cutting longer particles by a Seepex macerator (type 25/15-I-I-F12-2) and milling by a colloid mill (Probst and Class, type N100/E), and filtered by a screen basket filter (mesh width Imm).
  • Subsequently 1.5% by weight of potassium in the form of potassium carbonate was added to the resulting slurry. The pH value of the slurry was 9.0.
  • 125 ml of ZrO2 heterogeneous catalyst stabilized with 2.2 atomic mole % of Si. The catalyst in the form of cylindrical pellets of 3 mm length and a diameter of 3 mm was added to the tubular reactor.
  • 63 g/h of the pre-treated sewage sludge was pressurized to 250 bars and heated to 230 C in the pre-heating step. This stream was mixed with 393 g/h of pressurized water heated to a temperature so as to obtain a substantially constant temperature of 360±5 C after mixing.
  • The mixed flow was subsequently contacted with the heterogeneous catalyst in the reactor. The feed to water ratio translates into a water to feed ratio of 6:1, and the total flow of 456 g/h translates into a contact time of approximately 4 minutes.
  • After to the contact with the heterogeneous catalyst, the fluid containing the converted organic material is cooled to ambient temperature, filtered through a particle filter for collection of suspended particles, and expanded to ambient pressure. The liquid fraction on the stream was collected in a liquid trap, and the gas is vented off.
  • The experiment resulted in three product streams, a gas, an aqueous product and a solid precipitate. Samples for analysis was collected for a period of 15.5 hours.
  • Gas Analysis
  • The flow rate and composition of the produced gas was measured continuously by a gas meter with sampling. The composition was measured by gas chromatography.
  • The analysis of the gas phase revealed the following results:
  • Gas analysis
    Hydrogen [vol. %] 55.13
    Carbon dioxide [vol. %] 31.92
    Carbon monoxide [vol. %] 0.00
    Methane [vol. %] 12.87
    Ethene [vol. %] 0.00
    Ethane [vol. %] 0.00
    Propene [vol. %] 0.00
    Propane [vol. %] 0.00
    C4-compounds [vol. %] 0.00
    Total [vol. %]: 99.92
    Total amount of carbon, g 0.91
  • Liquid Analysis
  • The liquid product was contained suspended particles. The filtered liquid was analyzed by ion chromatography, Induced Plasma Emission (ICP) and high temperature total carbon analyzers and mass spectrometry.
  • The analysis of the liquid phase revealed the following results:
  • Liquid analysis
    pH 8.32
    Total Organic Carbon (TOC), [ppm by weight] 726.8
    Total Inorganic Carbon (TIC), [ppm by weight] 361.5
    Total Carbon, [ppm by weight] 1088.3
    Methanol [ppm by weight] 600
    Ethanol [ppm by weight] 300
    Acetic acid [ppm by weight] 332.7
    Formic acid [ppm by weight] 10.3
    Acetaldehyde [ppm by weight] 104.9
    Total amount of carbon in liquid 9.30 g
  • The inorganic carbon content in the liquid was found primarily to be due to the presence of carbonate.
  • Solid Analysis
  • The solid fractions was analyzed by means of a total carbon analyzer and by elemental analysis by an induced coupled plasma analyzer (ICP). An organic phase was found to be adsorbed to the inorganic particles under the experimental conditions used.
  • This organic phase was extracted prior to the solid analysis using CH2Cl2. The extractable fraction of the organic carbon was found to be an oil phase, primarily consisting of saturated hydrocarbons with a chain length of 12 to 16 carbon atoms, and there for comparable to fuel or diesel oil. The oil contained 2-hexadecanone, heptadecane, 6,10-dimethyl-2-undecanone, hexadecane, 3-methyl-indole, 2-tridecanone and other compounds. A sulphur and halogen analysis performed at the extracted oil, showed that the oil was essentially free of sulphur and halogen compounds. The total amount of oil extracted from the solids was 3.86 g and the total amount of carbon found in the oil phase was equivalent to 3.28 g.
  • No carbon was detected in the solid product after extraction of adsorbed oil, indicating 100% conversion of the organic material in the feed. The same result can be concluded from the carbon balance below:
  • Carbon Balance
  • Input C: Output C:
    Sewage sludge: 13.81 g 0.91 g gas C → 4.97%
    K2CO3: 4.51 g 4.34 g TIC liquid → 23.68% 
    9.3 g TOC liquid → 50.74% 
    0.0 TOC solid → 0.00%
    3.28 g C in oil → 17.9%
    Σ 18.33 g Σ 17.83 g conversion → 97.3%
  • Energy Balance:
  • Heat Value Amount Energy Fraction
    Component [kJ/kg] [g] [% of energy input with feed]
    Feed sludge 476 976.5
    Methane 50,400 0.25 2.71
    Hydrogen 240,103 0.21 10.8
    Methanol 19,918 13.67 58.6
    Oil 41,900 3.86 34.8
    Sum 107.0
  • Illustrative Example 2 Conversion of Sewage Sludge
  • Anaerobic digested sewage sludge with characteristics as given above in example was preheated and converted using the same catalyst and experimental set-up.
  • 140 g/h of the pretreated sewage sludge was pressurized to 250 bar and heated to 230 C in the pre-heating step. This stream was mixed with 414 g/h of pressurized water heated to a temperature so as to obtain a substantially constant temperature of 300±5 C after mixing.
  • The mixed flow was subsequently contacted with the heterogeneous catalyst in the reactor. The feed to water ratio translates into a water to feed ratio of 3:1, and the total flow of 545 g/h translates into a contact time of 3.3 minutes.
  • After to the contact with the heterogeneous catalyst, the fluid containing the converted organic material is cooled to ambient temperature, filtered through a particle filter for collection of suspended particles, and expanded to ambient pressure. The liquid fraction on the stream is collected in a liquid trap, and the gas is vented off.
  • The experiment resulted in three product streams, a gas, an aqueous product and a solid precipitate. Samples for analysis was collected for a period of 10.5 hours.
  • Gas Analysis
  • The analysis of the gas phase revealed the following results:
  • Gas analysis
    Hydrogen [vol. %] 31.36
    Carbon dioxide [vol. %] 41.17
    Carbon monoxide [vol. %] 2.25
    Methane [vol. %] 24.22
    Ethene [vol. %] 0.00
    Ethane [vol. %] 0.00
    Propene [vol. %] 0.00
    Propane [vol. %] 0.00
    C4-compounds [vol. %] 0.00
    Total [vol. %]: 99.00
    Total amount of carbon, g 0.54
  • Liquid Analysis
  • The analysis of the liquid phase revealed the following results:
  • Liquid analysis
    pH 7.42
    Total Organic Carbon (TOC), [ppm by weight] 985.1
    Total Inorganic Carbon (TIC), [ppm by 439.3
    weight]
    Total Carbon, [ppm by weight] 1424.4
    Methanol [ppm by weight] 800
    Ethanol [ppm by weight] 0
    Acetic acid [ppm by weight] 347.2
    Formic acid [ppm by weight] 43.2
    Acetaldehyde [ppm by weight] 156.5
    Total amount of carbon in liquid 13.33 g
  • The inorganic carbon content in the liquid was found primarily to be due to the presence of carbonate.
  • Solid Analysis
  • The solid fractions was analyzed by means of a total carbon analyzer. An organic phase was found to be adsorbed to the inorganic particles under the experimental conditions used.
  • This organic phase was extracted prior to the solid analysis using CH2Cl2. The extractable fraction of the organic carbon was found to be an oil phase, primarily consisting of saturated hydrocarbons with a chain length of 12 to 16 carbon atoms, and there for comparable to fuel or diesel oil. The oil contained 2-hexadecanone, heptadecane, 6,10-dimethyl-2-undecanone, hexadecane, 3-methyl-indole, 2-tridecanone and other compounds. The total amount of oil extracted from the solids was 12.73 g and the total amount of carbon found in the oil phase was equivalent to 10.83 g.
  • No carbon was detected in the solid product after extraction of adsorbed oil, indicating 100% conversion of the organic material in the feed.
  • Carbon Balance:
  • Input C: Output C:
    Sewage sludge: 20.58 g 0.54 g gas C → 1.97%
    K2CO3: 6.78 g 6.43 g TIC liquid → 23.5%
    6.3 g TOC liquid → 23.02% 
    0.0 TOC solid → 0.00%
    10.83 g C in oil → 39.58% 
    Σ 27.36 g Σ 24.1 g conversion → 88.1%
  • Energy Balance:
  • Energy Fraction
    Heat Value Amount [% of
    Component [kJ/kg] [g] energy input with feed]
    Feed sludge 476 1470
    Methane 50,400 0.28 2.01
    Hydrogen 240,103 0.07 2.40
    Methanol equivalents 19,918 9.30 26.37
    Oil 41,900 12.73 76.2
    Sum 107.0
  • Illustrative Example 3 Conversion of Corn Silage
  • Corn silage was pretreated and converted using the same catalyst and experimental set-up as described above in example 1 and 2.
  • Prior to the test the sewage sludge was pretreated by sizing to less than 1 mm by cutting longer particles by a Seepex macerator (type 25/15-I-I-F12-2) and milling by a colloid mill (Probst und Class, type N100/E), and filtered by a screen basket filter (mesh width 1 mm).
  • Subsequently 1.5% by weight of potassium in the form of potassium carbonate was added to the resulting slurry. The pH value of the slurry was 9.6.
  • The characteristics of the corn silage after the pretreatment was the following:
  • Corn silage feedstock
    Dry matter content [% weight] 11.29
    Inorganic fraction of dry matter [% Weight] 29.4
    Density [kg/m3] 1.0099
    pH 9.6
    Heat of combustion1 [kJ/kg] 1435
    1Based on 18 MJ/kg heat of combustion for the organic fraction of the dry matter.
  • The inorganic content of the dry matter was mainly the added potassium carbonate, accounting for approximately ¾ of the dry matter inorganic compounds. GC-MS analysis of the corn silage feedstock revealed numerous compounds, but all were present in concentrations too low for identification. Particularly aromatics like phenols were not found in any significant amount.
  • The dry matter content of the corn silage feedstock was analyzed, revealing the following composition:
  • Corn silage dry matter
    TC [mg/kg] 325000 Mo [mg/kg] 7.82
    TOC [mg/kg] 315000 N [mg/kg] 6960
    Al [mg/kg] 233 Na [mg/kg] 825
    Ca [mg/kg] 2023 Ni [mg/kg] 11.1
    Cl [mg/kg] 1682 S [mg/kg] <0.1
    Cr [mg/kg] 28 Si [mg/kg] 2090
    Fe [mg/kg] 4571 Zr [mg/kg] 2.24
    K [mg/kg] 112350
  • 140 g/h of the pretreated sewage sludge was pressurized to 250 bar and heated to 230 C in the pre-heating step. This stream was mixed with 377 g/h of pressurized water heated to a temperature so as to obtain a substantially constant temperature of 350±5 C after mixing.
  • The mixed flow was subsequently contacted with the heterogeneous catalyst in the reactor. The feed to water ratio translates into a water to feed ratio of 3.75:1, and the total flow of 517 g/h translates into a contact time of 3.3 minutes.
  • After the contact with the heterogeneous catalyst, the fluid containing the converted organic material was cooled to ambient temperature, filtered through a particle filter for collection of suspended particles, and expanded to ambient pressure. The liquid fraction on the stream is collected in a liquid trap, and the gas is vented off.
  • The experiment resulted in four product streams, a gas, an aqueous product, a free oil phase and a solid precipitate. Samples for analysis was collected for a period of 16 hours.
  • Gas Analysis
  • The analysis of the gas phase revealed the following results:
  • Gas analysis
    Hydrogen [vol. %] 7.5
    Carbon dioxide [vol. %] 88.74
    Carbon monoxide [vol. %] 0.00
    Methane [vol. %] 0.33
    Ethene [vol. %] 0.06
    Ethane [vol. %] 0.06
    Propene [vol. %] 0.25
    Propane [vol. %] 0.05
    C4-compounds [vol. %] 0.00
    Total [vol. %]:
    Total amount of carbon, g 15.2
  • Liquid Analysis
  • The analysis of the liquid phase revealed the following results:
  • Liquid analysis
    pH 8.30
    Total Organic Carbon (TOC), [ppm by weight] 2105
    Total Inorganic Carbon (TIC), [ppm by weight] 201
    Total Carbon, [ppm by weight] 2305
    Methanol [vol %] 1.64
    Ethanol [vol %] 0.27
    Acetic acid [ppm by weight] 5185
    Formic acid [ppm by weight] 2206
    Glycol acid 10470
    Acetaldehyde [ppm by weight] 115.0
    Total amount of carbon in liquid 40.1 g
  • The inorganic carbon content in the liquid was found primarily to be due to the presence of carbonate.
  • Solid Analysis
  • The solid fractions was analyzed by means of a total carbon analyzer. An organic phase was found to be adsorbed to the inorganic particles under the experimental conditions used.
  • This organic phase was extracted prior to the solid analysis using CH2Cl2. The extractable fraction of the organic carbon was found to be an oil phase, primarily consisting of saturated hydrocarbons with a chain length of 12 to 16 carbon atoms, and there for comparable to fuel or diesel oil. The oil contained phenol, toluene, 4-ethyl-phenol, 4-ethyl-3-methylphenol, cyclopent-2-ene-1-one 2,3,4 trimethyl, 2-methyl-1-penten-3-yne and other compounds. A sulphur analysis of the oil showed that the oil phase was essentially free of sulphur. A similar analysis for halogen compounds showed that the oil phase was essentially free of halogen. The total amount of oil extracted from the solids was 14.76 g and the total amount of carbon found in the oil phase was equivalent to 12.55 g.
  • No carbon was detected in the solid product after extraction of adsorbed oil, indicating 100% conversion of the organic material in the feed. The same result can be concluded from the carbon balance below:
  • Carbon Balance:
  • Input C: Output C:
    Corn silage feed: 82.19 g 15.2 g gas C → 18.5%
    40.1 g TOC liquid → 48.8%
    0.0 TOC solid →  0.0%
    28.35 g C in oil → 34.5%
    Σ 82.19 g Σ 83.62 g conversion → 101.8% 
  • Energy Balance:
  • Heat Value Amount Energy Fraction
    Component [kJ/kg] [g] [% of feed energy content]
    Feed sludge 476 2240
    Hydrogen 240,103 0.07 1.6
    Methanol 19,918 28.9 17.9
    Ethanol 28,200 4.20 4.2
    Glycol acid 14,400 0.41 10.4
    Acetic acid 18,200 1.23 6.5
    Oil 41,900 14.76 45.1
    Sum 85.7
  • Additionally the following are definitions used in the description of the present invention.
  • The term hydrocarbon fuel is in the present invention intended to define all hydrocarbon based fuels, which may or may not comprise other elements than carbon and hydrogen, e.g. some of said hydrocarbons may comprise oxygen and other elements e.g. in the form of groups of alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acid, ester, esthers etc. and reaction products thereof.
  • The membrane processes of the present invention is well known in the prior art (e.g. W. S. HO et al, “Membrane Handbook”, Van Nordstrand Reinhold, p. 103-132, p. 263-446, 1992, ISBN 0442-23747-2, K. Scott, “Handbook of Industrial Membranes” Elsevier Science Publishers, 1995, p. 3-163, p. 331-355, p. 575-630, ISBN 1 85617 233 3)
  • The surface areas referred to throughout this specification and claims are the nitrogen BET surface areas determined by the method described in the article by Brunauer, P. Emmett and E. Teller, J. Am. Chem. Soc, Vol. 60, p. 309 (1938). This method depends on the condensation of nitrogen into the pores, and is effective for measuring pores with pore diameters in the range of 10 Å to 600 Å. The volume of nitrogen adsorbed is related to the surface area per unit weight of the support.
  • It is well known in the prior art that the activity of a catalyst is proportional to the surface area (BET), and that catalysts may show a significant activity drop over time, when subjected to e.g. hydrothermal conditions as used in relation to the present invention. In order to minimize such potential activity loss a surface area stabilizer is incorporated into the heterogeneous catalyst.
  • Red Mud is a waste product of bauxite processing via the Bayer process. It comprises oxides and hydroxides of mainly aluminium, iron, titanium, silicon, and sodium.

Claims (21)

1-102. (canceled)
103. An apparatus for converting an organic material into hydrocarbons, comprising:
a pre-conversion system and a product recovery system (11), said pre-conversion system comprises
a first heating unit (4) for heating a feed of fluid comprising organic material
a catalyst reactor (7) for contacting the feed of fluid comprising organic material, and
an adjusting unit for adjusting the fluid to have a pH value of above 7, and said product recovery system (11) comprises
membrane-filter (13) for separating a first stream (L; H, O, P, E) of oils and water soluble salts in from a second stream (K; F, Q, G; R) of water and water soluble organics.
104. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the pre-conversion system further comprises a storage for feeding organic material to the fluid in a feeding direction.
105. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the pre-conversion system further comprises a pre-treating unit (1) situated after the feedstock and before the first heating unit (4) in the feeding direction.
106. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the pre-conversion system further comprises a first particle separating unit (5) situated after the first heating unit (4) in the feeding direction.
107. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the pre-conversion system further comprises a second heating unit (6) situated after the first particle separating unit (5) and before the catalyst reactor (7) in the feeding direction.
108. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the pre-conversion system further comprises a second particle separation unit (9) after the catalyst reactor (7) in the feeding direction.
109. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the pre-conversion system further comprises means for re-circulating (8) part of the feed of fluid after the catalyst reactor (7) into the feed of fluid before the second heating unit (6) in the feeding direction.
110. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the first heating unit (4) is a first heat exchanger, which besides heating cools the fluid from pre-conversion system before entering the product recovery system.
111. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the pre-treating unit further comprises a heat exchange, which besides heating the fluid in the pre-treating system cools the fluid from pre-conversion system before entering the product recovery system.
112. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the pre-treating unit further comprises a first expansion unit (10), which is situated between the first heat exchanger (4) and the second heat exchanger (1).
113. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the product recovery system further comprises a gas separating unit (12) for separation of gas (I), such as fuel gas, the gas separating unit (12) is situated after the second heat exchanger (4) and before the first membrane-filter (13) in the feeding direction.
114. An apparatus according to claim 111, wherein the product recovery system further comprises means for re-circulating said gas (I), such as fuel gas for heating the fluid in the second heating unit.
115. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the product recovery system further comprises a second expansion unit situated after the first membrane-filter (13) in the feeding direction.
116. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the product recovery system further comprises a phase separator unit (14) for separation of oil (H) from the first stream (L), said phase separator unit (14) is situated after the membrane-filter (13) in the feeding direction.
117. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the product recovery system further comprises means for re-circulating part (E) of the first stream into the pre-treating unit (1) of the pre-conversion system.
118. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the product recovery system further comprises direct methanol fuel cell (18) for generating electricity from the second stream.
119. An apparatus according to claim 103, wherein the product recovery system further comprises one or more membrane-filters (15, 16, 17) is/are selected from the group consisting of membrane processes comprising ultra-filtration, nano-filtration, reverse osmosis or pervaporation or a combination thereof.
120. An apparatus according to claim 119, wherein the product recovery system further comprises the second membrane-filter for separating a purified methanol compound (F) from the second stream (K).
121. An apparatus according to claim 120, wherein the product recovery system further comprises means for re-circulating the purified methanol compound (F) from the second stream to the pre-treating unit (1) of the pre-conversion system.
122-136. (canceled)
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