KiOR: Thermochemical conversion of biomass

KiOR Inc is Pasadena, Texas, USA based drop-in renewable fuel producer company. Being drop-in replacement KiOR’s renewable fuel is 10450151_680657768650710_5470902751896477621_ninfrastructure compatible which means that it does not require modifications in the existing fuel infrastructure. As per the information in the company’s official website KiOR is the first company in the world which started production of drop-in hydrocarbon gasoline and diesel from cellulosic biomass at commercial scale.


KiOR’s technology platform is feedstock flexible and various sources of biomass such as pulp logs, tops and limbs of trees, urban wood waste such as wood from tree cover, agricultural residues such as stalks, stems, leaves and residues left over after the crop is processed such as bagasse and dedicated energy crops such as Switchgrass and Sorghum all are potential feedstock for KiOR’s conversion process.

KiOR Thermochemical Technology

KiOR’s  proprietary process is based on thermochemical conversion of biomass. The process combines a reactor, separator and its proprietary catalyst to bring out the renewable fuel from biomass.

The first step of the process is the conditioning and processing of the biomass so as to prepare it for next processing steps.

In the second steps the processed biomass is fed into the reactor where it interacts with the catalyst. The technology is based on the fluid catalytic cracking which has been in use for the last more than 60 years. The difference is that KiOR uses it for converting biomass into crude fossil fuel equivalents hence it is known as Biomass Fluid Catalytic Cracking (BFCC). In a few seconds the process produces renewable crude oil as a primary product along with light gases, water and coke as byproducts. After the conversion is over catalyst is separated in the separator and regenerated in the catalyst regenerator where coke is burned off. The regenerated catalyst is then recycled back to the reactor.

In the subsequent steps the renewable oil and byproducts are cooled and separated in the recovery unit. The cooling condenses the renewable crude oil into liquid. Hydrotreatment of the crude oil refines it into gasoline and diesel blendstocks. The blendstocks can be directly dropped-in to conventional fossil fuels. Light gases, the byproduct of the procedure, are burned to produce electricity in the co-generation unit.

Commercial Plant at Columbus, Mississippi, US

This is the first commercial scale cellulosic fuel production facility of the company which started production in 2012. The plant with 13 million gallons of transportation fuel per year  production capacity uses wood waste and non-food crops as feedstock.


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