World energy consumption is projected to double by 2050. Today, scientists and industry agree that crude oil and natural gas will not be able to satisfy this demand, resulting in the need to develop and utilize ‘renewable energies’. However, this does not mean the ‘end’ of fossil energy sources, but rather the preservation of remaining resources and the tapping of natural energy reserves, such as oil plants, waste edible oil and biomass from all sources.
The energy sources not only offer alternative production methods for agriculture and industry, but are also an important step towards a sustainable energy supply. This is why the European Union has provided intensive support for biofuel research in recent years and has set a target with its directive on the blending of biofuels.
In cooperation with science, technology and research experts, LEWA, a leading manufacturer of metering and diaphragm pumps, had the opportunity to participate in the development of new production processes for second generation biofuels (BTL).
Second generation biofuels can be extracted from energy plants or unused waste usually via two different technologies:
- Gasification to produce synthesis gas with subsequent Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
- Thermal decomposition or direct liquefaction to produce bio crude oil
LEWA diaphragm metering pumps have been successfully used in numerous pilot and test facilities due to their robustness and adaptability to various process conditions and liquid characteristics. LEWA is to supply process diaphragm pumps for increasing reactor pressure, or circulation pumps for Fischer-Tropsch-synthesis at the first ever commercially operating BTL plant (BTL = Biomass To Liquid).
The harsh process conditions (T > 200 °C and p_vap > 50 bar) posed a great challenge for the planning of a customized solution. Maximum process and environmental safety as well as the highest possible availability are the customer benefits of the hermetically sealed LEWA pumps.
The demands of the Kyoto protocol to drastically reduce CO2 emissions are principally implemented in Europe due to the promotion of BTL technology. This European trend will soon be taken up in the USA, China and other countries. LEWA, with its know-how and local presence, is playing an important global role in the development of this cost-effective and environmentally friendly technology.