The APS technology breaks down the organic waste at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to produce solid, liquid and gaseous products. The solid product comes in three main forms, carbon black, activated carbon and bio-char. The liquid product is a bio-oil and the gas is a bio- or syngas, composed mostly of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane. These products are very similar to naturally occurring materials like coal, oil and natural gas and can easily substitute for fossil fuels and the products made from them.
Carbon black is a term is often applied as a sweeping definition covering everything from activated carbon to the lowest quality of bio-char, but is in fact a distinct product on its own. The International Carbon Black Association (ICBA) defines carbon black as a virtually pure elemental carbon in the form of colloidal particles that are produced by incomplete combustion or thermal decomposition of gaseous or liquid hydrocarbons under controlled conditions. Its physical appearance is that of a black, finely divided pellet or powder.
Due to its unique properties, the uses of carbon black include pigmentation, ultraviolet (UV) stabilization and conductive agents in a variety of everyday and specialty high performance products, including but not limited to:
Almost all carbon black is manufactured from fossil fuels, heavy aromatic oils and natural gas. Cost of production varies widely with fluctuating world prices for these raw materials. The APS technology utilizes biological feedstock for our raw material, giving a near constant cost and supply of raw materials, while being more environmentally sound. The carbon black produced using the APS technology is of high quality and purity but can be set to produce Carbon Black of differing quality, depending on the needs of the clients.
Some of the feedstock produces an activated carbon, used mostly in filtering applications. Activated carbon is a porous highly adsorptive form of carbon used to remove color or impurities from liquids and gases, in the separation and extraction of chemical compounds, and in the recovery of solvents.
The Canadian and worldwide outlook for activated carbon is for continued growth, as increasing stringent environmental requirements drive both developed and developing regions to incorporate the material in water and air treatment systems. The global market for activated carbon is expected to grow 10% annually in the next 3 years according to a market analysis by IBK Capital Corp.
Biochar is the general term for the carbon rich product produced using pyrolysis. It is the impure form of the products mentioned above, but still has a value, mostly as a soil amender. There is a large body of peer-reviewed literature quantifying and describing the crop yield benefits of biochar-amended soil. Field trials using biochar have been conducted in the tropics over the past several years. All showed positive results on yields when biochar was applied to field soils and nutrients were managed appropriately. Large scale field trials have recently begun on highly fertile Iowa Mollisols by the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).
Besides benefits to crop yields, biochar also has another environmental benefit, sequestration of carbon. Scientists have shown that biochar can stay in the soil from several hundred to a few thousand years.
Pyrolytic liquid is referred to by many names including pyrolytic oil, bio-oil, bio-crude-oil, bio-fuel-oil and pyrolytic tar. The crude pyrolytic liquid from an indirect-heat pyrolysis process is usually dark brown and free flowing with a distinctive smoky smell. Chemically, it is closely related to biomass in elemental composition and is composed of a very complex mixture of oxygenated hydrocarbons.
On the market, the most widely used technology to produce bio-fuel is pyrolysis. The problems in pyrolysis are generally that a lot of carbon dust is contained in the oil, and the process is difficult to control and sensitive to pollutants. Bio-oil also generally has a low energy content of 14-19 GJ/tonne because of a higher water content.
With the APS’ three stage pyrolysis, it is easier to control the process making it less sensitive to pollutants as well as removing carbon and other impurities from the liquid. The bio-oil from the APS System is therefore lighter and purer than those obtained from fast pyrolysis systems. Pyrolysis oil from the APS technology can be more readily used as a fuel source, without requiring additional refining. Depending on the organic waste source, it is comparable to light fuel oil.
The syngas produced is used to keep the APS boilers at the required temperature. About 50% of the gas produced is needed for this. The rest of the gas can be used to dry feedstock if needed. In the case of excess syngas this can be used to heat buildings or to create energy to feed the grid.