Waste flows are turned into fuel by TORWASH

‘Waste does not exist’ reads the slogan on some large waste collection vehicles. ECN endorses this thought: in a sustainable economy, waste flows are used as well as possible and flows that can not be put to any other use are a source of energy.  However, some types of feedstock can only be converted into energy with difficulty, and therefore run the risk of remaining waste. TORWASH, a technology which has been developed by ECN, will help to realise more feedstocks and reduce waste in the future. This technology turns wet, fibrous or saline biomass into high-quality fuel pellets that can be co-fired in a coal-fired plant.  The promising pre-processing technology was recently, and successfully, tested by ECN. Effort can now be made to realise a pilot installation.

Wet biomass and various test results after deploying TORWASH


Roadside grass, water plants, reed, leaves, digested manure… these are abundantly available in millions of tonnes every year; potential energy sources, provided that they can be upgraded into high-quality fuel. ECN and its partners have succeeded in this with TORWASH.  TORWASH basically consists of a reactor vessel in which chemical reactions are realised by means of high pressure and high temperature, after which the entire water content can be pressed out of the biomass. A major advantage is that there is no need to evaporate water from the biomass, which is an energy-consuming process. Moreover, during the TORWASH process, the salt is also washed out of the biomass. The result is a pressed pellet with high heating value, suitable for co-firing in a coal-fired plant.


After demonstrating the principle of TORWASH, ECN established a consortium in 2010 to test the technique at lab scale. Partners in this consortium include:

  • Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier (Dutch Regional Water Board)
  • Research institute LEAF
  • TRIQUA, manufacturer of purification plants
  • Averinox, manufacturer of press and filtration systems

In the laboratory, the consortium managed to carry out the TORWASH process step by step for the first time, turning waste into fuel. The next step will be to design a pilot plant.

ECN is still looking for new partners in the construction of the TORWASH pilot installation, the identification of suitable waste flows and the marketing of TORWASHed biomass. You can contact Bert Rietveld to discuss the opportunities. Give him a call at +31 6 10091161.