Econcern, the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and Chemfo have signed a contract to build a commercial-scale torrefaction plant that will produce second-generation biomass-based pellets.
Torrefaction is a method used to improve the properties of biomass as a fuel. It consists of the slow heating of biomass in an inert atmosphere to a high temperature. The treatment yields a solid uniform product with a lower moisture content and a higher energy content compared to those in the initial biomass.
The so-called BO2-technology, developed by ECN, produces pellets of torrefied biomass. It enables a range of biomass streams, such as wood chips and agricultural residues, to be converted to a superior sustainable solid fuel.
Current first generation pellets have a limited energy density, require indoor storage and bring difficulties with pulverisation. The second generation BO2 pellets are claimed to have a higher energy density, can be stored outside and can be pulverised directly in coal mills.
The BO2 pellets can be used for electricity and heat generation in large-scale coal-fired power plants, in biomass CHP plants or in domestic pellet boilers and stoves. They also have high potential as a feedstock for gasification-based production of transportation fuels.