Generating "bio-coal" from biomass using torrefaction
Biomass – organic matter from living, or recently living organisms – is one of the world’s largest primary energy sources. Biomass, in particular agricultural/horticultural residue, may be a plentiful and economic resource for the Australian agriculture industry, but it is not commonly used because of its low energy density, which leads to high transportation costs. Torrefaction can help to solve this problem.
Torrefaction is an energy densification process, where the biomass is treated in the gas phase of a mild thermal decomposition process, operated at 200–300°C under atmospheric inert environment.
CET’s torrefaction process results in biomass with:
- higher calorific value
- lower moisture content
- water resistivity (hydrophobicity)
- uniform properties.
These are all factors that increases the value of biomass as a fuel source.
The agricultural/horticultural industry generates a substantial amount of waste that can be converted to carbon fuel then exported as an alternative fuel to coal.
What’s happening now?
CET’s research into torrefaction technology will lead to economic benefits, including reduced waste disposal costs and reduced energy costs if the fuel is used on-site for heat and power generation. This would provide a hedge against future increases in global energy costs.