Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fired Up

If the word “pyrolysis” is not yet part of your vocabulary let me explain why it should become as familiar to you as Jay-Z or the Jersey Girls. It is all about chemistry, which to most is not very exciting stuff. Furthermore it is about the chemistry of decomposition!

Pyrolysis chemically decomposes organic materials by heat in the absence of oxygen. It is a process technology that has been around for centuries with applications in producing coke for steel and biochar among other applications in the energy and chemical industries.

Why is this important for investors? Well, the technology however long in the tooth may have economic relevance because it is hints at being environmentally sound and sustainable. Our post on May 26th “End of an Age” discussed combustion chemistry and described how oxygen is a vital element in the utilization of fossil fuels for energy production. What if carbon-based fuel sources - fossilized or otherwise - could be turned into power without oxygen? There would be no double oxygen molecules to team up with the carbon molecule to make that nasty CO2, right? Pyrolysis also makes possible a reduction in nitrogen oxide formation.

Enterprising individuals and teams have been hard at working trying to turn pyrolysis into a viable business model. Pryolysis of biomass generates three different energy products in various quantities: coke, gas and oils. In the next post we look at opportunities to invest in this technology as it is redeployed in the current environmentally conscious economy

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