Thursday, December 9, 2010

terryels discusses his recent P2O factory tour

TerryEls, Experienced (18 years) Refinery Expert visits JBII:
I visited the plastic to oil factory and viewed the input (charge), the process, process control, and resulting petroleum product. I examined the machine closely and followed pipes throughout the plant to better understand flow and the syngas loop. I reviewed the stack emission test report, residue and syngas analysis reports. I spoke to operators, staff, but spent most of my time with Mr. Bordynuik. I briefly met Rick Heddle at the factory.

The charge capacity of the plastic to oil process is likely greater than 20 metric tons per day. In my opinion this is a regulatory limit, not operable capacity. Barrels per day are likely higher than 100 when operated at the charge capacity. The product slate is gasoline, ultra-low sulphur diesel and/or fuel oil. The final petroleum product did not solidify when left to cool. I was able to take fuel with me for testing. Islechem confirmed the chemistry and process scaled nicely from a 1 gallon lab unit to a several thousand gallon machine. Scaling successfully rarely happens in chemistry and processes. They have a handle on the mechanical scaling and the challenges of charging different bulk densities into the process. I see no reason why the process wouldn’t benefit from economies of scale if they were to build a 50 metric ton per day charge capacity machine.

In my opinion, the machine is well designed and assembled. They have their own machine shop and were manufacturing their own parts. They have skilled machinists, engineers, and welders. They have some significant IP. It may appear like a simple process but there is a lot of technology and know-how working. I am quite impressed with the simplicity of the machine. They did not over-engineer it as cost was clearly a driving factor. It’s often difficult to keep plants simple when employing engineers in various specialties. I believe the operable rate of the machine will be in excess of 90% due to its simplicity, serviceability, and overall robust deign.

I spoke to John for over an hour. He is very knowledgeable and could answer tough questions. There is no doubt in my mind he and his team are able to refine various plastics into a marketable final petroleum product. They are processing less than 5 barrels per hour and have plenty of technology managing it. They do not require emission monitoring and reporting systems and scrubbers so the overall machine cost is low. They could further reduce emissions by installing a low NOx burner on the furnace.

The quality of the petroleum product was exceptional when compared to other plastic conversion processes I have reviewed.

Over the years refineries have had to upgrade to refine heavier crudes. JBI built a machine to refine the “heaviest crude” so to speak so they will not face the upgrade cycles as our refineries do.

Hindsight being 20/20, I do not believe it was a good decision to permit the first machine in NY. It is a difficult state to do business in and it is just too cold. I am back for a meeting in Buffalo and am looking forward to returning home.


What more were you able to find out about throughput?

i verified it in the time I was there. It's simple pounds in/pounds out. I watched the gas compression system and the burner to tell me how much heat was being driven into the system. The charge is monitored by a scale and the final petroleum product was quantifiable by the level of the fuel in the tank. What is important here is the ratio of charge to final product. They scale the machine to whatever size they want. So to me 20T was not the important question. The material balance is what is important. They have excess heat so the primary production factor in this machine is how much heat can they drive into it.

The ratios provided by JBI jive with the material and heat balances I was able to complete.

What type of regulatory limit?

They have no emission monitoring or controls so the only way to ensure they do not exceed Title V emissions is to limit the lbs in. They have a long way to go to reach a Title V so I believe a simple per amendment for a 100T or more a day machine would not be difficult to get.

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