SBS's leading-edge technologies efficiently convert a wide variety of biomass and municipal solid waste (MSW) to renewable energy. Our Sublimax platform converts solid waste to a high BTU gas that can power electrical generators, without first converting the solid waste to liquid. Our CMD platform creates renewable, drop-in diesel fuel from various forms of biomass and MSW using a technique called Continuous Microwave Thermo Catalytic Depolymerization (CMD). The application of microwave energy to waste-to-fuel conversion is a giant leap forward in effectiveness and efficiency.
Sublimax sublimates feedstock solids directly to a gaseous state without passing through a liquid stage. The gas is then used to power a generator to produce electricity. Sublimax is not a gasification process as commonly understood; it is a technology that provides a substantial improvement over traditional gasification. Sublimax can sublimate feedstocks as diverse as coal, MSW, plastics, manure, tires and renewable biomass. It does not produce a low BTU syngas typical of other gasification technologies but rather a high BTU gas containing a significant percentage of methane, which is well suited to producing electricity in both reciprocating and turbine gensets. Importantly, Sublimax does not produce the harmful chemicals typically associated with traditional gasification, and consumes considerably less energy than traditional gasification technologies.
*Power generation potential dependent upon feedstock characteristics (energy value, particle size and moisture content).
Continuous Microwave Thermo Catalytic Depolymerization (CMD)
CMD is a state-of-the-art Continuous Microwave Thermo Catalytic Depolymerization process that efficiently generates large quantities of renewable diesel fuel and highly valuable biological charcoal (“biochar”).
SBS has demonstrated that the CMD process generates 50 to 80 gallons of renewable diesel fuel and roughly 800 pounds of high quality biochar from one ton of biomass or MSW. The process is so efficient that roughly 85% of the BTU value of most feedstocks is converted into revenue-generating commodities.
While pyrolysis is a well-established process for producing renewable fuel, and microwave energy has played an important role in the production of ceramics, textiles and pharmaceuticals for decades, their combined application in renewable energy is leading-edge. The SBS breakthrough is the application of microwaves and a particular set of catalysts to the pyrolysis process to produce far greater quantities of oil much more efficiently.
The technology functions within independent, self-contained modules, each with a capacity to process 33 tons-per-day of biomass. SBS can scale each production facility to fit the available feedstock simply by installing the appropriate number of CMD production modules, eliminating the scale-up risk common to other technologies. For example, 36 modules would equip a facility with the ability to process 1,200 tons-per-day of biomass.
Significantly, CMD produces a syn-crude that can be refined on site into a true drop-in fuel – petrochemical that is the functional equivalent of diesel fuel derived from oil – that will conform to the ASTM D975 standard. It requires little or no blending, can utilize the existing petroleum distribution infrastructure, and can be used in modern engines with no modifications or loss of warranty coverage.
CMD syn-crude can also be refined to produce jet fuel, kerosene, and gasoline, all of which will conform to their respective ASTM standards for petroleum-based fuel.
An Important Technology Byproduct
The use of microwaves as an energy source in the CMD process converts feedstock to fuel at low temperatures. Process temperatures in this range also create high quality biochar at a rate of roughly 800 pounds per ton of feedstock.
Biochar is a highly sought after soil amendment. Because it is at least 80% carbon and highly porous, it increases water retention, improves the efficacy of fertilizer, and facilitates the growth of naturally occurring soil microorganisms that promote healthy plant growth. Studies have shown that proper application of biochar to poor soils can as much as double crop yields. The positive effects of biochar are long lasting, unlike those of fertilizer, which must be applied annually.
From an environmental perspective, one ton of biochar is the equivalent of approximately three tons of atmospheric CO2. When biomass is pyrolyzed in the CMD process, much of the carbon in the biomass is retained as charcoal, which is recalcitrant to weathering and has been shown to have a mean residence time in soils on the order of thousands of years. Initial studies also suggest that biochar reduces nitrous oxide and methane emissions from soils, two gases that have far more potent greenhouse effects than carbon dioxide.
In addition to its use as a soil amendment, biochar is valuable as a feedstock for coal-fired power plants, with an energy content of about 11,000 BTU/lb. Utilities or independent power producers with coal-fired plants can generate a portion of their output from a renewable source.
With dual revenue streams from fuel and biochar, each fuel production facility can generate attractive returns without renewable fuel subsidies.
Renewable Diesel Fuel
Market and Technical Considerations
SBS's CMD technologies produce a drop-in fuel that integrates seamlessly into the fuel supply network. The product values of renewable synthetic diesel and biochar, combined, makes for an attractive case for financial success even without mandates or subsidies.