Hawaii goes green with bio refinery plant

Hawaii is planning to put up a bio refinery plant and eventually lessen its dependence on oil imports amid rising crude oil prices. At present, the country imports crude oil at an annual rate of 45 million barrels.

According to news from Civil Beat of Honolulu, UOP LLC has just finished phase one of its bio refinery facility located in Kapolei.  By 2013, it plans to conduct test runs on the facility.

UOP LLC adds that the integrated bio refinery is a pioneering project in Hawaii and that it aims to manufacture biologically based forms of fuel that is usually produced using petroleum.

The majority of the country’s electric power is produced by plants fired by petroleum.  Hawaii’s transportation industry is its major local energy consumer, and much of the oil is used to operate military as well as private commercial aircraft.

Hawaii, which has openly supported clean energy programs, has teamed up with the United States Department of Energy to attain clean energy by up to 70 percent before 2030.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to make a product which is in demand in Hawaii, is expensive in Hawaii, from land that is not being productively used,” according to the Vice President of Renewable Energy, UOP, Jim Rekoske. These may be among the reasons why the state was prompted to invest in oil refineries that utilize bio resources.

The bio refinery facility is being built on property that used to be a pineapple plantation. The facility will process biomass consisting of locally produced crops, like macadamia and sugarcane, through pyrolysis to produce liquid energy that can be processed further to make fuel adaptable to vehicles and industrial boilers. Bio fuel emissions are supposed to be sulfur free, unlike those from petroleum-based fuel.

“The idea is to demonstrate that the combination of our pyrolysis and our upgrading technology provides superior economic return on investment for people who own biomass and want to turn it into transportation fuels,” disclosed Rekoske.

“We’ll show the world this ravenous technology we have can eat anything and turn it into transportation fuel.”

Rekoske added that as soon as the bio refinery project is done by 2013, it will be capable of producing fuel products ranging from gasoline to aircraft fuel.

UOP envisions that the bio refinery will be able to successfully turn biomass into bio-fuel products with diverse applications.

By Chris Termeer