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Status of Existing Biomass Gasification and Pyrolysis Facilities in North America

[+] Author Affiliations
Theodore S. Pytlar, Jr.

Dvirka and Bartilucci Consulting Engineers, South Plainfield, NJ

Paper No. NAWTEC18-3521, pp. 141-154; 14 pages
  • 18th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference
  • 18th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, May 11–13, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Solid Waste Processing Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4393-2 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3868-6
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


A search of websites for firms in the United States and Canada identifying themselves as gasification or pyrolysis system suppliers indicates that there are a number of existing facilities where their technologies are installed. According to the websites, the companies’ existing installations focus on processing biomass and industrial residuals, rather than mixed refuse. The biomass processed, according to the websites includes yard waste, wood, and wastewater treatment sludge. The existence of these facilities provides a potential opportunity for communities in areas with a high density of development, who experience difficulties in siting “traditional” facilities for processing these biomass wastes. Such traditional facilities include yard waste and sludge composting, wood mulching, sludge drying, chemical treatment or pelletization, and combustion-based waste-to-energy. As a result of these facility siting difficulties, these communities often resort to long-haul trucking of the biomass wastes to processing facilities or landfills. Certain potential advantages associated with gasification and pyrolysis technologies could ease the siting difficulties associated with the traditional technologies, due to smaller facility footprints, reduced odors, and the potential for energy production through combustion of syngas/synfuel to power internal combustion engines or produce steam using boilers. Lower stack emissions may result as compared to direct combustion of biomass wastes. Locally sited biomass gasification facilities could reduce the environmental impacts associated with long-haul trucking and generate an energy product to meet nearby demand. Research has been conducted by the Author on behalf of client communities to identify gasification and pyrolysis facilities in the United States and Canada that are in actual operation in order to assess their potential for processing biomass wastes and for providing the advantages listed above. Website reviews, interviews with company representatives, and facility visits were conducted in order to assess their potential for development to meet the biomass management objectives of the communities. The information sought regarding design and operating parameters included the following: • Year of start-up. • Availability. • Process description. • Design throughput. • Actual throughput. • Energy product. • Energy generation capability and technology. • Residuals production and characteristics. • Emissions. • Construction and operating costs. In addition, the system suppliers’ business status was addressed in terms of their readiness and capabilities to participate in the development of new facilities. Confidentiality requirements imposed by the system suppliers may prevent the identification of the company name or facility location and certain details regarding the system designs.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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