Bio-Process Group has developed a proprietary ‘Low Temperature Steep Delignification’ (LTSD) technology that reduces capital and operating costs associated with pulp production and improves yield in non-wood pulping. The process was originally designed and developed as a pretreatment for biomass in the production of cellulosic ethanol over ten years ago. Upon realizing that the process created a very high quality fiber the process has been further developed and optimized over the past five years for making ag-pulp. Our design is zero effluent, low water and energy use, and mostly done under 100 degrees C(atmospheric pressures). Testing the LTSD process on a wide variety of biomass sources has proven the technology to be quite robust.
Most current pulp/ paper mills require large volumes of biomass to run efficiently (economy of scale). Normal wood pulp facilities take in 1 to 3 million tons/yr of biomass (d.b.) – 200 to 400 tons/hr of incoming wood. Costs for these facilities run $1.7 to $2.5 billion dollars for plants rated at around 1.4 million tons/yr of pulp production (ETSAP, May, 2015). The LTSD process, on the other hand, can be designed to run at scales as low as 2 tons/hr with a capital cost of under $2 million at this scale. This is important for ag pulp operations, as transporting low density baled biomass should be kept to under 10 to 15 miles. Storage of the baled biomass can also be a major headache. Thus the ability of the LTSD to build small facilities close to the fields can be the difference between a profitable operation versus a non-economic project.
One area we have focused on is dedicated bio-mass crops. We have run large trials on Miscanthus, Arundo, Switchgrass, and Bamboo with good success.
Bamboo is a very hard substrate which can be converted to a nice high quality long fibered pulp.
Miscanthus is a fast growing grass identified as a possible 'high producing biomass' for celluosic ethanol, but also produces a very good, soft, and long fiber pulp.
Arundo is a fast growing cane type biomass which can be harvested several times a year under correct growing conditions. It also makes a nice pulp as per photos below.