July 27, 2008

New research - Still no conclusive answers: BioTorrefication, reality or blue sky

New study from England focuses on bio-torrefication of crops specifically grown for BTU content.

This study reports a 20% reduction in mass, which is less than the 40% figure that has been thrown out. What this industry really needs is a set of verifiable data from a large scale pilot project!

The report also points to a benefit of bio-torrefication that is under appreciated --

"Most interestingly, torrefaction also makes biomass more friable, making it far easier to grind. This opens the prospects of using existing coal pulverizers and of considerably lowering costs of co-firing biomass to generate electricity"

I'm tracking two things to help address the fundamental question: At what price does BioCoal become broadly economic:
  1. The underlying business model (I'm circulating a draft to people in the inudstry). Let me know if you want a copy
  2. What is the potential for co-firing milled tottefied biomass in an existing coal fired power plant.
IF ..... you can co-fire the stuff in a power plant then the price of torrefied wood or other biomass competes with the peak price of coal not the average price of coal and utilities can use it as an easy way to promote their environmental agendas without having to make large capital investments.