Martin Risseeuw is the new Plant Manager of Empyro. Coming from AkzoNobel, he has been indirectly involved with the pyrolysis process since 2001. Since July 2014, he, as a Plant Manager, has been responsible for the commissioning and managing of the plant.
What is your history and how did you get involved with Empyro?
For fifteen years I have worked for AkzoNobel, of which I worked seven years on-site in Hengelo and four years as a Power Plant Manager in Delfzijl. After my time in Delfzijl, I have been seconded at BTG-BTL for one year in order to set up the Empyro project. After that I have been responsible for the major energy contracts of AkzoNobel in the Netherlands. I have done this for three years and nowadays I am the official Plant Manager of Empyro. I have been involved with the pyrolysis process since 2001. AkzoNobel wanted to become more sustainable and we opened a study on the opportunities for greener energy supply. One of these opportunities was devoted to pyrolysis oil. However, we were too early at the time. I became involved with the project once again, as soon as the Empyro plans became more concrete. This was during the engineering and licensing phase.
What is your feel about managing the Empyro when you compare this to your previous work experiences?
At AkzoNobel everything is already planned and organized. As a Plant Manager or Manager you have access to specialists of all areas. We do not have those people at Empyro. When I started this project, I had to figure out in what way I wanted to lead the organization in the right direction, whom did I have to contact for answers on which questions? Eventually, you end up doing everything. For example, the sowing of the grass had to be controlled as well. You need a temporary office building and this needs to have furniture. You need to arrange spare parts for the plant. Everything just needs to be done. To me personally, it is a very nice way to learn a lot. We started with a piece of paper and a laptop, and right now there is an actual pyrolysis plant. This can all be attributed to collaboration.
What has been the major challenge for you with regard to Empyro?
Our challenge has been to make the plant produce pyrolysis oil as soon as possible in a reliable and efficient manner and to figure out how this could be achieved with a small team. We are a small organization that has to achieve a lot. The operators are also maintenance technicians and that requires a lot of adaptability of people.
The beauty about this position is to pioneer! You will encounter the same technological challenges in other positions, but creating a complete picture makes the difference. The plant belongs to us all. The men also feel it in that way. Together we are building something great.
How are things at Empyro currently?
We have tested the facility from mid-January 2015 till mid-March after the construction was completed. Then there finally was the first oil. Obviously, we still have some problems to solve. On the other hand we are very busy with organizing the future. A very important step was receiving the NTA8080 certificate in February. This certification is necessary in order to allow us to make the use of pyrolysis oil at FrieslandCampina eligible for the SDE subsidy. With this we can demonstrate that the entire pyrolysis chain is sustainable and reduces at least 50% of the CO2 emissions when compared to the combustion of natural gas in FrieslandCampina’s boiler. We achieve a 90% reduction and we will celebrate another milestone with the official opening of Empyro this week.
How do you see in the future of BTG-BTL and Empyro?
Right now, the plant still requires a certain amount of subsidy. That is fine, there are more sectors in which that happens. The total balance has to be right. Pyrolysis oil alone is not the solution to our energy problem, but I envision a great future for pyrolysis oil as a solution for replacing fossil fuels in the chemical industry as a raw material substitute. In my opinion the future of pyrolysis plants can be found in biomass rich regions.
The strength of BTG-BTL can be found in the people who work there: perseverance, determination, creative solutions and responsiveness are their strengths. In addition, they are the experts in the field of their technology. With regard to pyrolysis they are way ahead of anyone else.