Torrefaction increasingly effective in biomass monetisation

Upgrading biomass to high-quality fuel or feedstock is a promising alternative to the use of fossil fuels. Next to energy crops such as willow, switch grass and miscanthus, residual flows from agriculture or forestry, such as straw or palm oil residues, and even blends of fossil and non-fossil flows, such as RDF, are suitable for processing.
The challenges are numerous though. The biomass contains too much moist, has a low energy density, is difficult to grind due to its tough fibres and storage and handling are difficult as a result of decay and heating.

Biomass fuel

These problems can be dealt with by torrefaction: a pre-treatment technology that improves the characteristics of biomass. During torrefaction, biomass is heated in an oxygen free area to a temperature of 250-320°C. The treatment makes the biomass brittle, less humid and hydrophobic. After torrefaction, the biomass can be pelletised.  This leads to a solid biomass fuel, which, due to its high mass and energy density, can be processed well. The pellets are suitable for storage and handling, are easily transported and grinded and suitable for co-firing in a coal plant. They can also be integrated in other conversion processes such as gasification for the production of chemicals, transport fuels, electricity or heat.

Feedstock analysis

The torrefaction technology is nearing maturity and becoming increasingly interesting for commercial application. ECN is one of the pioneers in torrefaction technology and feedstock analysis and offers support to businesses with its broad expertise, pilot set-ups, and analysis and test facilities.

What can we do for you?

  • Is your business involved in biomass processing and are you looking for a partner to further develop torrefaction technology or equipment? ECN can be your partner, offering state-of-the-art expertise and infrastructure.
  • Would you like to learn if your residual flows are suitable for monetisation by means of torrefaction? ECN can conduct a feedstock analysis for you.
  • Would you like to learn about the opportunities of torrefied biomass as fuel in your business operations? ECN can offer you advice.

Bert Rietveld will gladly discuss the opportunities with you. Give him a call at +31 6 53292766.