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.



a.z said...

Hi, I'm based in Malaysia working for an Coal Fired IPP developer. Could you send me the business model for torrified wood? We have old coal plants that may be suitable for burning torrified biomass or even use heat/process steam from these plants to produce torrified biomass economically.
Pls send to azlan.zakaria@malakoff.com.my

Tom Blakeslee said...

I'd like one too. Clearlight Foundation may be interested in investing.
Tom Blakeslee

Anonymous said...

Hi, This is fascinating, thanks for sharing. I think that utilizing existing infrastructure (i.e. coal fired power plants) to combust biomass is really interesting and deserves much more attention than it is getting now (clearly pellets are not very efficient). Anyways, I am a Bulgarian entrepreneur and have been considering the prospect of using biomass in old coal fired power plants here in Bulgaria (Bulgaria is one of the countries that cannot afford expensive renewable technologies yet it has to meet a EU quota). Therefore, your business model would be of much use. Pls send to petardim@gmail.com. Thanks in advance.