Chemrec was founded in 1989 in Stockholm, Sweden, when patents for the gasification of black liquor transferred hands. The company name derives from the words CHEMical RECovery, which describes the process used to recover syngas from black liquor. The company changed hands several times throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s before becoming the property of Nykomb Synergetics in 2003.
Black liquor is spent oil that results from the kraft process, which is used to turn would pulp into pure cellulose for paper production. It is closely related to brown liquor, which results from the sulfite process (also used in paper production). As a result of the widespread production of paper, black liquor is readily available and is considered a waste product. Black liquor does contain useful cellulose, so recovery techniques that remove the cellulose can increase efficiency of paper mills.
The advantage of black and brown liquor, from an investment standpoint, is that gasification provides paper mills with much-needed cellulose recovery from liquor as well as waste removal. It also leads to syngas production, which can be converted to biofuels or other hydrocarbons used to fuel the mill itself. Thus, there is a strong financial incentive for mills to capitalize on this process.
The Chemrec process is a single-stage gasification process. Only one stage is required because black/brown liquors are relatively pure already. The resultant syngas needs little further refining. Little tar is formed and methane content of the gas is low. All of these properties make black/brown liquor ideal for conversion to syngas and bioful.
Chemrec does not directly produce biofuels. Rather, the company produces the equipment that paper mills require to convert waste liquor to syngas. Thus, Chemrec has a line of manufactured units that can be fitted to paper mills for the purpose of liquor recovery. Products currently include:
- A300 Booster - Helps to improve black liquor recovery capacity
- OX450 Booster - Increase liquor recovery and produces fuel gas that can be used in the mill itself
- P500 Expansion - Produces low-carbon biofuels and high heating value fuel gas
- P2000 Replacement - Produces low-carbon biofuels and increase cellulose recovery from black liquor
- X2000 Combine Cycle - Recovers cellulose and produces fuel gas as well as biofuels