Brief introduction to …. Johan ter Harmsel
Johan ter Harmsel is the managing director of Zeton BV in Enschede, The Netherlands. Zeton delivers the skid mounted pyrolysis plant that forms the heart of Empyro.
What is your role at Zeton?
Since 2006 I am managing director of the Dutch branch of Zeton and member of the board of directors of the Canadian holding company. I joined Zeton 22 years ago, working in Marketing & Sales. Before that I worked at Bayer, in The Netherlands as well as in Germany. I studied Chemical Engineering at the polytechnical university in Enschede.
Can you tell us some more about Zeton?
For the past 28 years Zeton has been designing and building pilot plants and small scale production plants for customers all over the world. The Zeton holding operates from companies in Burlington, Canada and Enschede, The Netherlands. We are an employee-owned company meaning the employees jointly own the majority of the shares in the holding. We currently employ 80 people on a permanent basis here in Enschede. But at busy times we call upon external specialists from local installation companies and detachment agencies and our workforce grows, up to 150 people. What is unique about Zeton is the fact that we not only have an experienced team of engineers and designers, but also have our in-house workshop where we can closely manage the whole construction and assembly process of our plants.
What is the role of Zeton within the Empyro project?
In my view Zeton plays a pivotal role in the project. Based on the technology and know-how of BTG-BTL we deliver the heart of the Empyro pyrolysis oil production facility. Zeton applies its expertise in designing and constructing chemical plants to the Empyro facility to ensure this installation is realized in the optimal way. One example is that we assemble and mechanically test the main processes of the complete Empyro plant at our in-house workshop, before partially dismantling the installation into skid mounted modules and shipping these to the construction site somewhere in the world. The possibility to conduct such prior testing is a major advantage of skid mounted constructions. At the final destination the modules are quickly reassembled into a functioning installation.
What is the strength of this cooperation between Zeton and BTG-BTL?
The expertise and experience of our two companies is quite complementary. Zeton has a great deal of experience with the design and modular construction of installations. BTG-BTL contributes pyrolysis process expertise and experience. In an earlier collaborative project uniting our forces has proven to be a successful approach. I also quite like the fact that we are almost neighbours. This makes our daily collaboration even more practical. When we want to meet we simply take the bicycle to ride to each other’s offices!
The concept of modular construction suits both Zeton and BTG-BTL. And we are convinced that the provision of energy is, and will remain, a very important topic. Only when access to energy is secured an industrialised society can play a role of importance. Finally it is becoming ever more important to reduce our dependence on traditional energy sources that originate from a limited number of countries and that are getting ever scarcer to come by.
What issues are key to the future of BTG-BTL?
Energy, modular construction, fast pyrolysis of biomass and the promising research and development that mother company BTG is doing into pyrolysis oil upgrading. I feel confident that the future is looking bright for BTG-BTL.