A higher form of energy

There's no shortage of gasification companies claiming their systems are superior. What makes the Highbury system so special? What makes us, a start-up company (albeit one on the threshold of major industrial expansion) so confident that our processes and technology will prevail?

Consider the track record of the sustainable energy industry thus far: only a very few (and small scale) viable substitutes to petroleum-based fuels, chemicals and derived energies are fully commercial. Biomass gasification processes have typically yielded either a low-grade fuel gas, which has insufficient power to be a truly viable energy substitute, or a higher-grade syngas, where the process has restrictive capital costs as well as high energy and resource input requirements. Most of these syngases are heavy with restrictive tars that require further processing, additional energy and extra capital to remove effectively.

Why do other technologies fall behind? Because compared to Highbury:

  1. They can't use low-grade organic material/biomass.
  2. They cost too much to build.
  3. They cost too much to run.
  4. The syngas they produce is low energy (4-5 MJ/m3).
  5. Their syngas is too high in tar.
  6. Their processes are not scalable.

Highbury's superior technology not only overcomes these deficiencies, it delivers numerous advantages. Our patented tar reduction process, for example, cleans 95% of the tar from the syngas right in the gasifier, eliminating the need for expensive, additional downstream tar cracking vessels. We've also been able to achieve very high efficiency levels with our dual-bed fluid hydrodynamic system and some of the innovative sand-based inert carriers we've developed for it.

Instead of adding air to our process, we use a carefully measured amount of steam. Owing to the release of hydrogen (H2) from the water molecules, this process produces a greater quantity of hydrogen than would otherwise occur.

The results bear out the system's design. Syngas from the Highbury system is measurably superior in quality and caloric content; instead of a typical 4.5 – 5 megajoule (MJ)/m3, our system delivers up to 14. That's almost triple the efficiency. Almost triple the energy recovered. Almost triple the economic viability.

A higher value syngas additionally sets up for a greater variety of options in terms of downstream fuel/chemical refinement options.

What makes the Highbury System better?

  1. It's more robust. The Highbury System can take heterogeneous biomass – low-grade biomass including human sewage that would be very difficult if not impossible to gasify in other systems.
  2. Up to 40% lower capital costs. Our patented tar removal process reduces capital costs by as much as 40%. How? By eliminating the tar reforming vessels other systems require. Roughly 40% of the cost of a biomass-to-ethanol production plant, for example, goes into the tar reforming process. On a large-scale plant, that can add up to millions of dollars.
  3. Lower operating costs. Because our system runs continuously on its own energy, no external energy source such as natural gas, or expensive combustion medium such as oxygen, is required. The savings are approximately $45/tonne of input biomass.
  4. Syngas that's high-Btu. Our syngas production grades have recorded levels approaching 14 MJ/m3 (376 Btu).
  5. Syngas that's clean. Our novel, patent-pending tar removal process also allows us to manipulate the H2/CO ratio – which facilitates converting the syngas to liquid state if desired.
  6. Scalable Efficiency. With the Highbury System, a small increase in plant size reflects a large increase in production. Our engineering partner, Vancouver-based NORAM Engineering and Constructors Ltd., has the worldwide design and manufacturing experience to implement our technology at full industrial scale.