Anja Oasmaa on Bio-Based Substitutes for Fossil Fuels

Fast Breaking Papers Commentary, April 2011

Anja Oasmaa

Article: Fast Pyrolysis Bio-Oils from Wood and Agricultural Residues

Fast Pyrolysis Bio-Oils from Wood and Agricultural Residues
Authors: Oasmaa, A;Solantausta, Y;Arpiainen, V;Kuoppala, E;Sipila, K
Volume: 24,  Page: :1380-1388, Year: FEB 2010
* VTT, POB 1000, Espoo 02044, Finland.
* VTT, Espoo 02044, Finland.

Anja Oasmaa talks with and answers a few questions about this month's Fast Breaking Paper paper in the field of Engineering.

SW: Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

The paper was written because we thought there is a need of this kind of review including the whole chain from market studies and oil production to oil quality and use. Fast pyrolysis bio-oil (pyrolysis liquid) from plant residues is one alternative to replace fossil fuels and feedstocks. VTT has developed an integrated concept, in which fast pyrolysis is integrated to a fluidized-bed boiler. The experimental work on fast pyrolysis has been focused in further development of this concept.

We have done, with the support of Finnish industry and Tekes, techno-economic assessments, market studies, and experimental research in this area for over 20 years and published quite a number of papers. Bio-oil is quite different from conventional liquid fuels, and many challenges remain to be overcome.

"We are presently helping our industrial consortium in their efforts to demonstrate the production and use of fast pyrolysis bio-oil as a boiler fuel."

We have systematically developed analytical methods by which we can follow the bio-oil quality both in laboratory and on-line during process. A stepwise market introduction is proposed: bio oil would first replace fuel oil in boilers, where its properties would not be prohibitive. In this review we present a synthesis of the work done.

SW: Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

It is mainly a synthesis of knowledge. Our papers we refer describe the discoveries and methodologies in more detail.

SW: Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman's terms?

It describes a step wise approach to produce bio-based substitutes for fossil fuels.

SW: How did you become involved in this research, and how would you describe the particular challenges, setbacks, and successes that you've encountered along the way?

We have an excellent strategic coordinator, Kai Sipilä, in the lead, and an active and motivated team including research scientists and technicians. We have systematically done research in this field for over 20 years. We have had very tight connections to Finnish industry and hence have always focused the research towards commercialization.

Because our National Funding Agency, Tekes, and EU programs have provided us partial funding we have had the opportunity to develop experimental and analytical facilities. In addition, we have firm long-term relationships initially generated via IEA networks with top scientists in the field and have carried out research together. We have made simple free-of-charge "cook books" containing simple methods for analyzing the oils. Correlations to widely used methods are presented.

SW: Where do you see your research leading in the future?

We have developed norms and standards for fast pyrolysis bio-oils. For example, we have been involved in ASTM standardization with Ensyn (Canada) and PNNL (USA). We have made the initiative in CEN standardization in Europe. We are presently helping our industrial consortium in their efforts to demonstrate the production and use of fast pyrolysis bio-oil as a boiler fuel. The next step is to improve the quality of pyrolysis oil to replace light fuel oil. Future targets are the traffic fuels.

SW: Do you foresee any social or political implications for your research?

Sure, we wish it to have an impact on the development of renewable energy sources and especially the policies to support the use of bio-oils.End

Anja Oasmaa, Ph.D., Lic.Sc. (Tech.)
Senior Research Scientist
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Espoo, Finland



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