Pyrolysis as a business for heat-requiring industries : A case​ study of biochar production in connection to an asphalt plant

University essay from KTH/Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik

Abstract: The expectations on companies to introduce better business models to enhance environmental performance are increasing. Sweden is aiming at becoming climate neutral in 2045 which requires methods to capture and store carbon in addition to decrease emissions. Research has shown that biochar production can be one way to support the target. The process to produce biochar is called pyrolysis and is still only implemented in a smaller scale in Sweden. This study aims to facilitate implementation of pyrolysis in heat-requiring industries. By collecting knowledge from existing literature of the topic, as well as exploring a case at Skanska, the objectives to answer are related to the design of the pyrolysis process, the suitable feedstocks and where in the value chain cooperation is needed. Additional objectives are to develop guidelines and apply them on a case study for evaluation. Pyrolysis is the name of thermal decomposition of biomass, a process that generates biochar, bio-oil and syngas. Based on a literature review on the pyrolysis process with its products, some criteria for a successful implementation of pyrolysis are created. Those criteria are the foundation to address the first objective with relevance to heat-requiring industries. The answers are used to develop guidelines that are meant to support stakeholders that are interested to invest in a pyrolysis facility. Additionally, the results indicate that more industries could see benefits from biochar production as the design can be customized. Cooperation is considered important to deliver feedstocks and possibly sell the products, where pyrolysis is also a good example of integrating more circularity in business. It is recommended that heat-requiring industries should indeed consider an investment in pyrolysis in order to improve the environmental work. Intermediate pyrolysis with good flexibility of both feedstocks and product distribution is considered most suitable. However, further research and practical cases are needed to optimize the process for the desired objectives as well as explore the products’ markets more.

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