Bio Marketing Insights Frontline BioEnergy: Transforming Biomass into Biochar and Bio-oil – Bio Market Insights

At the beginning of June, Frontline BioEnergy in collaboration with Stine Seed Farms presented the final module of the Stine pyrolysis plant project in Iowa. The plant will transform biomass into biochar and bio-oil. While Frontline has designed and executed the project, Stine Seed is presently setting up the equipment at their facilities. While the process to create electricity is similar whether using a biomass fuel or a fossil fuel, the equipment needed inside the plant is different. Both companies will command and begin operations of the plant this summer. 

Biomass is fuel obtained from a sustainable and renewable energy source, developed from organic materials such as manure, crops, scrap lumber, forest debris and some waste residues. It can be used to generate electricity and other forms of energy. This sustainable energy production can be continuous, thanks to a constant supply of waste.

Iowa State University, along with Frontline’s Joseph Polin, PhD, has developed and patented autothermal pyrolysis, or ATP. The process can be used to turn forest and agricultural waste into other usable products without needing the combustion used by other conversion facilities or processes, such as using fossil fuels. This results in carbon neutral electricity generated from renewable organic waste

The plant will produce both biochar and bio-oil. Biochar will be used as a soil amendment that improves nutrient and moisture utilization in the soil. Meanwhile, bio-oil can be used to make bio-asphalt or be refined to produce diesel and jet fuel; and thermal energy. Frontline CEO Jerod Smeenk added: “The ATP technology overcomes the scaling limitations that have plagued most pyrolysis technologies.”

“The Stine Seed Farm 50 tons-per-day project is the next step to demonstrate the scalability and operability of this unique process.” Even though biomass resources are abundant, the efficiency of utilization is very low. Therefore, it is more important to develop new technology in order to use biomass resources efficiently.

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