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Domtar plans to convert wood waste to liquid fuels at Dryden mill

Domtar is investing up to $14 million to develop a fast pyrolysis technology at its Dryden, Ont., NBSK mill that will convert wood to “drop-in” liquid fuels.

April 17, 2012  By Pulp & Paper Canada

Domtar is investing up to $14 million to develop a fast pyrolysis technology at its Dryden, Ont., NBSK mill that will convert wood to “drop-in” liquid fuels.

CRIBE is providing up to $6 million in funding to leverage a total project value of up to $14 million for a partnership between Domtar and Battelle to develop a new approach to converting underutilized wood to fuel.

Domtar, a manufacturer and distributor of a wide variety of fiber-based products, and Battelle, a private research and development institute, have teamed up to develop a unique, cost-effective system that if successful, will increase operational efficiencies and create an alternative to fossil-fuel transportation fuels.


This system uses fast pyrolysis technology, a process that rapidly converts biomass using heat without oxygen to produce crude bio-oil and gas. The key to Battelle’s approach is in the treatment and further processing of this crude bio-oil into a “drop-in fuel”, which can be blended directly with gasoline or diesel fuel.

Domtar Dryden will use wood waste, which is currently burned for low value, as the biomass feedstock for the process. If successful, the bio-oil will be used to blend into the fuel for Domtar’s vehicle fleet or it could be used internally to offset the use of natural gas.

One of the advantages to Battelle’s system is that its unique design requires far less energy to produce the same fuel product as existing “fuel from wood” technology. As well, because it simply adds to an existing operation, it reduces capital and operating costs, making it more economically viable.

In this two phase project, phase 1 will utilize wood waste from Domtar’s Dryden mill to produce the higher value bio-oil. Once the process is optimized and results are demonstrated, phase two involves the construction of a 100 ton/day pilot plant, to be integrated into Domtar Dryden’s facility.

Once developed, the technology could be applied to other forestry operations across Northern Ontario to add a high value revenue stream and reduce business costs. This in turn will sustain jobs at the mill level and increase demand for products and services of supporting industries including forest harvesting, construction, maintenance, transportation and research and development industries.

The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy is an independent, not-for-profit research corporation, with $25 million in funding provided by the government of Ontario, that partners closely with other relevant organizations to provide support to direct and turn research results and innovative business opportunities into operational realities.

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