May 26, 2008

US MicroGrid seeks to Fund Torrefied Wood Absorption Chilling Application

We're busy sifting through all the data and opinions to come up with (and publish) the reality behind the economics of Torrefied Wood.

Absorption Chillers are amazing things. They might represent the best first application for Torrefied Wood. For more about how they work you can read

They take in relatively low grade heat, and produce chilled water while displacing electric chillers that consume peak load electricity

We've had some experience with absorption chillers on the back end of a cogen project we developed. They work as advertised however it is difficult to find skilled maintenance workers (outside of the NYC area where they are more prevalent because they run off the underground steam loop).

Torrefied Wood input to a boiler which creates hot water or steam to drive an absorption chiller would have the following benefits:

1) Friendly conversion efficiencies: Electric chillers have an average efficiency of around 75%. When you compare full system efficiencies of biomass in a cooling application (vs. producing electricity) you pick up this 25% and that's significant. For more specifics, see and please feel free to comment on the attached spreadsheet.

2) Good scale of operation for a demonstration plant: We've learned to "learn small then scale".

So we are actively looking for a host industrial or commercial project to run the numbers on a torrefied wood boiler driven absorption chiller. Our company would fund the project and own and operate the equipment for a client who would agree to buy the chilled water at the then current equivalent cost of electric cooling.

In the first phase, we would probably purchase torrefied wood and/or pellets from an existing supplier to fully field test the system. With economic success, we'd purchase equipment and generate our own fuel. The benefit of a couple of torrefied wood absorption chilling clients would be that we could have captive demand for part of our torrefied wood production bringing in our break even point and reducing overall business model risk.

If you know of a company or institution that would be interested in the 'offtake' agreement (agreeing to buy the chilled water) please let us know. Contact info is on our website

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