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Baltic Bioenergy and Industrial Charcoal

REVIEW OF CURRENT BIOCOAL PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY
Tony Kiuru, Jukka Hyytiäinen

The Development of Bioenergy and Industrial Charcoal (Biocoal) Production (Report of BalBiC project cb46) Report 4/2013 Production and Logistics

Title: Review of current Biocoal production technology

This report has been written for The Development of Bioenergy and Industrial Charcoal (Biocoal) Production (BalBiC) project, partially financed by the Central Baltic INTERREG IV A Programme 2007–2013.

The content of this publication reflects the authors’ views; the Managing Authority is not responsible for the information published by the project partners.

Publisher: University of Helsinki, Department of Forest Sciences

Authors: Tony Kiuru1, Jukka Hyytiäinen1
1)

Department of Forest Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 27, FIN-00014 Helsingin yliopisto, Finland

Printer: Unigrafia Viikki, Infokeskus, Helsinki 2013

Table of Contents 1 2 Introduction ..................................................................................................................1 Basic information about biocoal production ................................................................ 2 2.1 2.2 3 4 Biomass as a feedstock ...................................................................................... 2 Properties of biocoal .......................................................................................... 2

Applications of biocoal .................................................................................................6 Information on the general process for making biocoal ...............................................7 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Pyrolysis ............................................................................................................ 8 Torrefaction ....................................................................................................... 9 Process parameters ............................................................................................ 9 Heat integration ............................................................................................... 11 Different possibilities for a biocoal production system ................................... 13 Global initiatives.............................................................................................. 23 Initiatives in the Baltic area ............................................................................. 26

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Current technological applications for biocoal production ........................................13 5.1 6.1 6.2 Current biocoal production systems and technology developers ............................... 23

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Development aspects in the production technology ...................................................30 References ..................................................................................................................31

interest in biocoal has grown significantly. torrefied wood. including puuhiili.1 The term biocoal is presently rather imprecise. Several lexical varieties of the term exist in Finnish. The BalBiC project uses the definition of biocoal from Wang et al. biohiilipelletti. Latvian State Forest Institute Silava and Forestry Development Centre Tapio. TOPpelletti. among others. biocoal also offers applications for agriculture and environmental management. and several terms such charcoal. and others are interrelated. char. hydrophobicity and grindability. torrefied pellets. which is widely used in energy production. black pellets. The project was partly funded by the Central Baltic Interreg IV A programme. who defined it as an umbrella concept which covers all thermally degraded biomass products with different features and applications. The report was produced within Work Package 4 of the BalBiC project. bio-char. mainly because of the improved properties of biocoal over those of untreated wood. BalBiC is a joint project of the University of Helsinki. The most interesting features of these properties are its improved transportability. The term biocoal in the BalBiC project focuses on the solid product and large-scale industrial applications such as substituting fossil coal in coal-fired power plants.PREFACE In recent years. . and Biocarbon. green coal. These properties make biocoal much like coal.. high bulk energy density. In addition to these properties. grillihiili. The aim of this report is to provide a comprehensive review of the current production technology used to produce biocoal. The purpose of this report is also to describe current on-going initiatives in the world which focus on biocoal production. torefiointi/paahdettu biomassa. black chips. interesting as they are from the viewpoints of transportation and energy production. The study reviews a wide range of the literature on the current state of biocoal production.

we refer to these two products as biocoal. At the end of the report appears a list of some of the on-going initiatives in the world and in the Baltic area. The main part of this report aims to describe the different technological applications used to produce biocoal. Tens of on-going initiatives are currently underway in the world to develop an economically and technologically feasible solution for biocoal production. No commercial-scale production plants currently exist in the world. namely high energy content and coal-like properties. 1 . have avoided these problems . which is essential for the development of biocoal markets. Biocoal is a CO2-neutral and renewable fuel that has several advantages over other biobased fuels. Although interest in energy production is presently the major driver for launching new development projects related to biocoal production. Depending on the process conditions. the solid product of pyrolysis is called charcoal or torrefied wood. only a few actually produce biocoal. This report first discusses some basic information about the properties of the feedstock used to produce biocoal as well as some of the main properties of biocoal that are interesting for different applications. After reviewing the general information on biocoal. so more testing in large-scale is needed. The suitability and properties of biocoal for energy production have recently been the most discussed applications of biocoal by far. including environmental management. however. In this study. Of the known initiatives.1 Introduction Biocoal is a solid fuel produced from biomass in a pyrolysis process. mainly because upscaling the process leads to difficulties in handling the process conditions and in maintaining consistent quality in the end product. This makes biocoal an attractive fuel for existing coal-fired power plants. Smaller demonstrations or pilot-sized plants. metallurgy and producing activated carbon. the authors remind the reader of all the other current and potential applications for biocoal. this report provides an overview of a typical biocoal production setup. describes the main process parameters and explores the differences between pyrolysis conditions. These initiatives are located mainly in Europe and North America.

2 Properties of biocoal Reviewing the literature on the properties of biocoal reveals a variety of experimental studies on the properties of biocoal. These proportions influence the distribution of biocoal productsamong the process conditions in current use. The moisture content of biomass is related to the higher heating value (HHV) and the lower heating value (LHV).). etc. The weight proportions of the main constituents differ between feedstocks. Biomass is generally composed of three major constituents: cellulose. A higher moisture content in the biomass lowers both the HHV and LHV.2 Most of the challenges of utilising biomass come from the heterogeneity of biomass feedstock. Difficulties in grinding untreated biomass can also be considered a drawback. such as peak temperature. Different feedstocks have their own unique chemical compositions. hemicellulose and lignin. hydrophobicity. Many of these studies differ from each other accord2 . grindability. which directly affect the properties and yield of the biocoal produced from it. calorific value.1 Basic information about biocoal production Biomass as a feedstock When the production of biomass is organised in a sustainable manner. significantly affect the quality of biocoal. since operations such as the co-firing of biomass in the pulverised systems of operating coal plants require a small particle size. the operating conditions in use can still significantly affect end-product quality (i. cost and sustainability of the feedstock in industrial biocoal production are also important aspects to be considered. if biomass is directly used for energy production. high moisture content and high oxygen content of biomass.e.3. 4 Among the variations in chemical composition are several factors that also affect the process. Biomass is also prone to fungal attacks and biodegradation during storage. The operating conditions. which is an endothermic process that draws heat from the actual combustion reactions. Most of the energy obtained from biomass serves to remove moisture. Although the properties of untreated biomass listed above strongly impact the properties and yield of biocoal. so a lower moisture content leads to the release of more energy. but attributes such as the availability. usually by adjusting the operating conditions. biomass is kept as a clean and renewable material. The significance of operating conditions on end-product quality places great importance.6 2. For example..2 2. For example. can be adjusted fairly easily. The other components of biomass are grouped as extractives and minerals. because the combustion of moist biomass causes water to evaporate. The high moisture and oxygen content of biomass lowers its heating value. These factors include the low energy density.5. 6 Variations in biomass must also be taken into account in biocoal production. which are exothermic. because the process itself requires more energy for the carbonisation process.7 The nature of biomass is relevant when using untreated biomass. Fulfilling the sustainability criteria also keeps the consumption of end products produced from biomass sustainable and carbon neutral. a much higher load of biomass is required to produce the same amount of energy as from fossil fuels. moisture content affects the reaction time and yield of biocoal.

23. Indicative properties of torrefied wood.0 .3 .20.8 According to Domac et al.10 Calorific value (LHV) as MJ/kg received Calorific value MJ/kg3 (LHV) dry Mass density (bulk) kg/m3 19. The ash content is determined by heating the carbonised charcoal residue of the volatile matter to burn away all the combustible matter. In this report. These two factors significantly lower total transportation costs and also improve the energy efficiency of biomass combustion.0 10 .2 . calorific value and mass density properties of torrefied wood.0 TOP pellets 11 Charcoal 12 1.4 .500 28.9 .550 17. which varies between 1. Antal and Grønli3 described volatile matter content as the measured weight loss that occurs during heating. charcoal and coal.2 26. Table 1 presents the moisture content.17. TOP pellets. The fixed carbon content is defined as the percentage left after deducting the volatile matter and ash from the total content. Similar to Downie et al. wood pellets. taking into account the ash content.26.6 20.14 found that raising the peak temperature from 450°C to 700°C reduced the particle size of biocoal.35 Wood pellets 11 7.10-13 Unit Moisture content (%) % wt Torrefied wood biomass 11 3 ..2. when it reacts more completely..0 Coal 10.ing to the process conditions used. The typical properties of biocoal described in the literature include its content of volatile matter. what remains is considered ash.0 .1 Particle size distribution.27.5.9 the content of volatiles in charcoal intended for barbecue is 20-30%m.0 .5 and 5%m. Phanphanich and Mani15 reported 3 . when the residual solid is carbonised charcoal. They attributed the smaller particle size distribution to the decreasing tensile strength of the material. TOP pellets.10. 13 6.5 16.9 31. several other qualities also serve to describe the properties of biocoal. The fixed carbon content varies between 78 and 90%m. The experiments used sawdust and woodchips. The table also shows two important factors that make biocoal more attractive than untreated wood.8 .15. while the volatile content of metallurgical charcoal is typically 10-15%m.6 . The typical volatile matter content ranges from 40% to 5%.0 900 100013 2. In addition.4 750 .7 230 . charcoal and coal. pore-size and particle surface area Downie et al. wood pellets.30 100 . Table 1.6 21.16.850 35 . the moisture content is lower and the calorific value is higher than for untreated wood.19.7 . This is why the results for a single property of biocoal may vary significantly between studies.10.7 500 .1 . the given properties of biocoal are indicative and intended to provide a broad overview of its various properties. Table 1 describes the qualities that are especially interesting from the point of view of energy production and transportation. fixed carbon and ash.650 22.

For particles larger than those mentioned. to affect the physical characteristics of soil.3 Grindability Thermally treating biomass improves its grindability mainly because biomass loses its tenacity and fibrous structure. The pellets were evaluated according to two factors: the state of the pellet after the period and its water uptake during the period. Phanphanich and Mani15 found that the energy required to grind torrefied woodchips and logging residues was significantly lower than for untreated biomass. like energy content and hydrophobicity. Downie et al.16 concluded that particle size and shape dramatically affect the pyrolysis conversion time. The results showed that pellets of untreated biomass swelled and rapidly lost their form. 2. and torrefied logging residues required six times less energy than did untreated logging residues. Comparisons of coal. whereas torrefied pellets did not disintegrate and showed only modest water uptake (7-20% based on mass) depending on the production conditions. The power sector usually expresses the grindability of coal on the Hardgrove Index (HGI). which also tend to be hydrophobic. wood pellets and torrefied wood have found that thermal 4 .14 concluded that surface area increased as the peak temperature rose. In addition to this weakened hydrogen bonding capacity. is generally known to improve as the peak temperature rises. The particle surface area and pore-size distribution are interesting properties of biocoal when it is used. Pore structure and surface area vary significantly based on the structure of the biomass feedstock as well as on the process conditions. The average particle size for both of the raw materials decreased as the torrefaction temperature rose from 225°C to 300°C. From several studies of the surface area and peak temperature.18 Grindability. Grinding torrefied wood chips required approximately ten times less energy than did untreated chips.17 The hydrophobicity of biocoal means that its moisture uptake is lower than for untreated wood.11 when biomass is completely dried. which reduces total electricity costs. 2. the number of OH groups decreases. They also discovered a linear relationship between surface area and pore volume.on how the particle size distribution reacted to higher heating temperatures.2. Lu et al. for example. Phanphanich and Mani carried out their experiments in the torrefaction temperature range with logging residues and woodchips. The main benefit of improved grindability is to lower energy consumption during milling.2. According to Bergman.2 Hydrophobicity Biocoal is known to be more hydrophobic and resistant to biological decay after thermal treatment process than untreated wood. The water uptake was measured gravimetrically. Higher surface area values and pore-size distributions increase the liquid and gas absorption capacity of biocoal. Bergman11 determined this hydrophobicity by immersing produced torrefied pellets in water for 15 hours. The average particle size of logging residues was slightly larger than for the woodchips. mainly because the hydrophobicity of biocoal stems from changes in the chemical structure of the biomass. non-polar unsaturated structures form on the biocoal. which reduces the capacity of the biomass to form hydrogen bonds with water.

The higher HGI value indicates milling consumes less energy. 5 . the solution to the bonding problems is to use an additive with a high bonding capacity. Hydroxyl groups are crucial for particle binding in the absence of adhesives.21 examined densifying torrefied sawdust into pellets and found that the higher the degree of torrefaction. The HGI of torrefied wood falls in the low to mid 50s.20 A study by Li et al. while wood pellets show an HGI in the low 20s. which differ from industrial pellet mills. after the torrefaction process. Increasing the degree of torrefaction reduces the hardness of the pellets made from torrefied sawdust. The expected HGI value for coal is from 50 to 80.19 2. the reduction of hemicellulose and lignin reduces the number of hydroxyl groups.treatment significantly improves the grindability of biomass. which is significantly higher than for wood pellets. According to Stelte et al. During torrefaction.23 notes that studies of pellet manufacturing from torrefied wood use single pellet presses. Densification reduces problems associated with the heterogeneous properties of biomass and its low bulk density.2. Although studies show that producing pellets from torrefied material is problematic. Shang et al. the more the energy required to densify the torrefied sawdust. to compensate for the reduction in hydrogen bonding.22 also found problems similar to those of Li et al.. Stelte et al. which currently manufacture commercial pellets made from torrefied biomass that show good durability. for instance.4 Pelletability Producing a homogenous and standard quality end product from thermally treated biomass requires an important process in the industrial use of biocoal known as densification. The higher HGI of thermally treated biomass offers advantages when. co-firing biomass in existing coal power plants. when they tried to produce pellets from torrefied spruce at higher torrefaction temperatures (over 250°C). The densification of treated biomass offers several advantages such as reduced costs and better handling in transportation and storage.

than coke in metallurgy. Activated charcoal can be used. although the mechanism by which this occurs remains unknown. Biocoal is generally considered good. although obtaining adequate supplies of biocoal to satisfy the high demands of the large iron and steel industries is a challenge. but also in gas and liquid absorption applications such as activated charcoal. lightweight materials for cars and airplanes. transparent and conductive carbon film). The ability of soils to retain cations in exchangeable form increases in proportion to the amount of organic matter in the soil.24 For metallurgy purposes. if not better. Biocoal’s higher hydrophobicity facilitates storage and avoids material losses thanks to its lower fungal degradation. for example. biocoal has attracted the attention mainly of the energy sector because of biocoal’s enchained properties. products such as graphene (a strong. for example. Biocoal (charcoal) has traditionally been used in developing countries for cooking. We will use biocoal for all kinds of purposes in the coming years. the main properties of particular interest in biocoal are its higher energy density. In the energy sector. oxides. which may potentially increase crop yields. so longer transportation distances become more economically viable. The improved grindability of biocoal also makes it an interesting option for co-firing in existing coal plants.26 Liang et al.25 Biocoal can also be used in agriculture to improve crop yields and soil properties. and in industry or metallurgy as activated carbon. hydrophobicity and grindability. because the raw material can be ground to a sufficiently small particle size. in air and water filters. and cell phones that roll up in your pocket.27 also found that biocoal can absorb and retain cations in exchangeable form. Recent studies promise huge applications for coal in. The treatment process produces a pure carbon product with very high surface area containing micropores that increase its absorptive capacity. in agriculture for soil preparation. Heating ores containing metal. coal may be used in many ways.3 Applications of biocoal In recent years. flexible. which form during pyrolysis. since achieving competitive steel prices requires large amounts of biocoal. Activated charcoal is charcoal that has been chemically treated at high temperatures.28 These attributes of biocoal may impact soil quality and nutrient availability for plants. Hardwood species such as eucalyptus comprise most of the biocoal used in blast furnaces.25 Biocoal has value not only in fuel and metallurgical applications. thanks to its large surface area and greater negative surface charge. In the future. biocoal provides strong reducing properties.28 Biocoal also affects the soil’s properties by increasing its capability to absorb phosphate. The high surface area of biocoal may affect the water holding capacity of treated soil. Biocoal’s higher bulk energy density decreases the total transportation costs. and sulfides in the presence of carbon facilitates metal extraction. 6 . Achieving large supplies of biocoal is currently possible only in countries with extensive forested areas and inexpensive biocoal production. as the carbon readily combines with oxygen and sulfur. An example of such a country would be Brazil.

the pyrolysis or torrefaction phase. Following the thermal treatment process. volatile gases and liquids are normally separated from the system for further processing. A more precise description of how these two processes differ appears later in this section. The thermal treatment process after the pre-drying phase is known as pyrolysis or torrefaction depending on the peak temperature used. If the process aimes to produce biocoal. transportation fuels. for example. Alternatively. General description of the biocoal production process. and the cooling phase of the treated biomass. biocoal can be directed toward combustion if the biocoal is intended for energy production.4 Information on the general process for making biocoal The biocoal production process generally entails three different phases: the pre-drying phase of the biomass. Such liquids and gaseous products can be used forcombustion in the biocoal production process or further processed into. 7 . the volatiles are combusted in an afterburner and the flue gas is used either directly or indirectly for heating during the actual process or in the pre-drying phase. after which it can then be pelletised or briquetted for transportation or storage. In the production of biocoal. biocoal is first cooled. A general picture of the process appears in Figure 1. Utility fuel Heat to process Biocoal production Combustion Pelletising Process gases Biomass Drying Pyrolysis process Cooling Biocoal Combustion Figure 1.

primary pyrolysis and secondary pyrolysis. Without oxygen. biomass is forced to decompose into three end products: solids (charcoal. The constituents of the biomass decompose at different temperatures The primary pyrolysis stage is complete at a relatively low temperature of approximately 500°C. yielding a solid product called char or charcoal. In the primary pyrolysis stage. Three stages of thermal degradation of a solid biomass particle under inert atmosphere. both of which affect the final product distribution. known as the drying stage. In the first phase. after the drying stage. however. The primary volatiles are produced from the thermal scission of chemical bonds in the individual constituents of the biomass (cellulose. hemicellulose. the biocoal itself forms in pyrolysis. such as CO2. as well as condensable species. Figure 2 presents the different stages of thermal degradation of solid biomass. which dries the biomass particle and the evaporation of moisture starts to occur.29 Figure 2. which can occur separately or simultaneously with the primary reactions.1 Pyrolysis Although the general process description has many different phases. For example. If secondary reactions occur during pyrolysis.30 At higher temperatures. the charcoal actually produced contains both “primary” charcoal and “second8 . Free oxygen in the system would allow the biomass to ignite and burn to ashes.. the primary char can remain active during secondary reactions. the particle is introduced to transient heat. the primary volatiles may participate in secondary reactions. CH. lignin and extractives).30 the degradation of biomass consists of three stages: drying. liquids (tar and aqueous solutions or organics) and gases. where biomass is heated in the absence of oxygen. The volatiles comprise permanent gas species. which can lead to the polymerisation of organic vapours to secondary char. such as organic compounds and water. and CO4. torrefied wood). According to Neves et al.4.30 It is important to note that the pyrolysis process entails primary and secondary pyrolysis. the pyrolytic volatiles begin to escape from the biomass.

Of the process parameters. Rautiainen et al.2 Torrefaction Torrefaction is a pre-treatment process of biomass under inert conditions carried out at operating temperatures between 200°C and 300°C with a slow heating rate of less than 50°C/min. The literature describes the peak temperature as the highest temperature reached during the pyrolysis process. The higher the heating rate. the heating rate should be slow. In the first published report of the BalBiC project. the peak temperature generally has the most significant effect on the properties of biocoal. 32 4. All of these parameters affect the total yield and properties of biocoal. tree species used and its varying chemical composition also significantly affects the yield and properties of biocoal. The heating rate influences mainly the distribution of different end products. The gases produced are mostly CO2. the process is called Flash-pyrolysis. where the heating rate is 0. Table 2 presents values that indicate how the conditions and temperature of the pyrolysis process affects the yields of liquid. Antal and Grønli3 have discovered that this is not always consistent.ary” charcoal. the yield of gaseous products is high. such as Prins et al. On some occasions. a slightly higher heating value has been reported. char and gas. slow pyrolysis and thermal-pretreatment. the more gaseous and liquid products form.12 The last main process parameter. 31 During the torrefaction process. torrefaction maximises the yield of biocoal. because in most cases. Pach et al. If the desired product is biocoal.34.35 and Bergman et al. 30 4. torrefaction is also referred as roasting.36. CO and methane (CH4). The volatiles include non-condensable gases and condensable liquids.18. Depending on the operating conditions. Raising the peak temperature decreases the yield of biocoal and increases the heating value of the remaining biocoal. which are adjusted during pyrolysis. The process is carried out under conditions of atmospheric pressure and in the absence of oxygen. In Flash-pyrolysis. In some instances. and the liquids include water. as in conventional pyrolysis. a longer residence time reduces the total yield of solid biocoal. the secondary conversion of primary volatiles can modestly to significantly influence the final composition and yield of the volatiles. the residence time and the heating rate. acetic acid and other oxygenates.1-1°C/s. are the peak temperature. Although a slow heating rate should maximise the yield of biocoal. known as the residence time. Several studies. Generally.18. If the heating rate is exceptionally high. 9 . describes the time that a particle spends inside a particular system.33 discuss the effect of the main process parameters on the properties and yield of biocoal from different wood species. mild pyrolysis. the biomass dries completely and turns into solid products and volatiles.3 Process parameters The main process parameters.3. The biomass moisture content. have reported on the effect of residence time on the properties of biocoal. The torrefaction temperature range is usually distinct from that of pyrolysis.

Table 2.37 Mode Fast Conditions Moderate temperature. In Table 3 presents a broad view of the different pyrolysis processes and their main operating parameters.5 .700 0.38 Generally. moderate temperature and short residence time maximises liquid production.000 < 0.39 Table 3.000 10 . the definition of different pyrolysis processes and the specific process parameters used in them vary. short hot vapour residence time ≈ 1 second Temperature Around 500°C Liquid Char Gas 75% 12% 13% Intermediate Moderate temperature. long solids and vapour residence time Around 800°C 5% 10% 85% In the literature.50 600 .5 <1 800 . pyrolysis conditions significantly affect product distribution.6.1 600 . moderate hot vapour residence time ≈ 10-20 second Around 500°C 50% 20% 30% Slow (Carbonisation) Low temperature. The pyrolysis process can be divided into roughly three subclasses: conventional pyrolysis.1.000 5 .200 0. very long solids residence time Around 400°C 30% 35% 35% Gasification High temperature.000°C with solar furnaces Conventional pyrolysis Fast pyrolysis Flash pyrolysis 300 .5 Dust 10 . whereas high temperature and long residence time maximises gas production. Main operating process parameters for pyrolysis processes. Low process temperature and long residence time maximizes biocoal production.38 Parameter Operating temperature (°C) Heating rate (°C/s) Solid residence time (s) Particle size (mm) *Up to 2.000* ≥ 1. fast pyrolysis and flash pyrolysis.1 . Indicative product yields (dry wood basis) under different pyrolysis modes and conditions.1.

If the moisture content is high. A high moisture content in the pyrolysis gases reduces the calorific value. the charcoal becomes porous. The higher the moisture content. The operation of the afterburner depends heavily on the process gases obtained. thereby reducing the quality of the biocoal. Because the gases obtained from the process contain some organic compounds even after combustion.40 Handling the moisture content of the biomass is important when the aim is to optimise the carbonising process. the more energy is required to dry the biomass. The basic design of a heat integration system is to combust the volatiles in an afterburner and use the flue gas to directly or indirectly heat the biomass pre-drying process or the actual biocoal production process.12 The pyrolysis gases from biomass contain organic acids and primary tars. If very moist biomass is dried rapidly.40 Natural gas or biomass Combustion Product Gas cleaning 2 Biomass input Drying 3 1 Pyrolysis process Cooling Pelletising Heat exchange Gas cleaning Emission Figure 3.4 Heat integration Many current biocoal manufacturers have a heat integration system in their production process. which will eventually lower the thermal efficiency of the entire biocoal production plant. Heat integration options for the pyrolysis process (adapted from Kleinschmidt 40 ).4. thereby reducing the strength of the charcoal. additional flue gas cleaning is necessary. These compounds must be cracked in the afterburner. the carbonising process lasts longer and more of the biomass remains uncarbonised. 11 . because condensation of the tars on the product or internals of the afterburner and system can generate problems.

Although the flue gases contain a certain percentage of oxygen. causing the recycled steam flow to be contaminated with volatiles and tars. The directly heated system produces efficient heat transfer. the loss in the heat exchange is minimal. In the indirectly heated system.In Figure 3. hot spots may occur where the biomass comes into contact with the reactor wall. Condensation of the volatiles and tars in cold spots can cause problems in the recycling system. The use of steam affects the process gas (torrefaction gas or pyrolysis gas). require investments for ducts. fans and compressors. steam (super critical) is used directly or indirectly to heat the pyrolysis process. The heat is transferred efficiently. which leads to more tar formation during the process.40 12 . the torrefaction gas or pyrolysis gas is recirculated to directly heat the process itself. Heat is also transferred less efficiently. The presence of hot spots increases the risk that the carbonisation will be too intense. but the gas contains a higher concentration of organic acids and cyclic organic components. which would then lower the yield of end products. which may increase electricity consumption. as in the first option. The high moisture content leads to inefficient combustion of the volatiles (acids). which will have a relatively low calorific value because it is saturated with moisture. Large volumes of flue gases will. and the process also remains inert. which reduces the total efficiency of the pyrolysis process. the first option (shown in red) for heat integration is the recirculation of flue gases to directly heat the pyrolysis process.40 In the third option (shown in green). The volume of gas will be lower than in the flue gas option.40 In the second option (shown in blue). however.

fluidised beds.2 describes some of these current initiatives. Each of these vessels remains in the system until carbonisation is complete and is then replaced by a new vessel full of fresh biomass.42 13 . which condense in and clog the system. Several important. The technologies originally used in fast pyrolysis processes normally yield the desired liquid or gaseous end products. rotating cone reactors. airtight pyrolysis system. moving beds. In addition to known technologies. still require additional modifications to be efficient enough for industrial purposes.9 The way in which the process is heated divides different technologies into two categories: directly heated and indirectly heated. in contrast. The reactors must be modified or built so that the reaction chamber is gas-tight. Such biocoal has then been used to heat the fast pyrolysis process. rotary drums. The ways in which biomass is fed into the system can be categorised into three different categories: continuous. because the operating conditions are simple to attain and incur no additional costs from auxiliary equipment. while the biomass is separated into batch-type vessels. are currently tested for their suitability to biocoal production. In indirect heating. which include ovens. to improve the efficiency of the biocoal production process and consistency in the high quality of the end product. although biocoal has in many cases been produced as a side product. fixed beds. In the semicontinuous system.1 Current technological applications for biocoal production Different possibilities for a biocoal production system Existing reactor designs. Most of the technologies described in this section were originally used for drying biomass or for fast pyrolysis processes. the biomass is fed at a constant rate. Using a vacuum during the pyrolysis process increases the amount of liquids produced. some ongoing initiatives round the world have developed their own technological applications. All of the existing technologies have pros and cons for biocoal production purposes and many of the technologies. oscillating belt reactors and microwave reactors. depending on how heat is brought into the process. ablative reactors.19 The technologies can be categorised by the way biomass is fed into the system and how the system is heated. In direct heating.5 5. the process works at a constant rate. Section 5. The technologies used for drying can be modified and used for the production of biocoal also. Most pyrolysis reactors operate at atmospheric pressure. however. a heat exchange surface provides the heat. Some of the technologies described in this report are especially developed and used for torrefaction temperatures. if used to maximise the production of biocoal. The system should also be made more energy efficient by using the emitted process gases. critical issues remain to be solved. the biomass comes in direct contact with the heat carrier. while the batch-type system is refilled with new biomass only after the pyrolysis process is complete. Pressurised pyrolysis processes should produce a higher yield of char and gases. can handle exothermic reactions during the process. especially for biocoal production. In the continuous system. multiple-hearth furnaces. semi-continuous and batch-type systems.41 The pyrolysis reactors may operate at atmospheric pressure. and the biomass does not come in direct contact with the heat carrier. and is capable of handling the formation of tar-rich volatiles. screw reactors. under pressure or in a vacuum. but also requires a more complex.

as in fluidised bed processes. The plate-type ablative reactor appears in Figure 4. for example.6 14 .1. The ablative reactor permits the use of larger particles than do fluidised bed systems.2 Rotating cone reactor The rotating cone reactor introduced a rapid heating and short residence time for solids fed into the reactor. and the biomass is pyrolysed in the upward spiral motion.44 5. The biomass and sand are fed into the system from the bottom of the rotating cone. The system heats the particles on a heated surface. 5.1 Ablative reactors Ablative reactors are systems that introduce fast pyrolysis and a short residence time to biomass particles introduced into the system. and no inert gases are required.43 Figure 4.The applications used to separate biocoal from the other pyrolysis products depend on the size distribution of the biocoal particles and the reactor design used in the process. and no heat carrier gas is necessary. Biocoal can be separated.6 Cone-type ablative reactors also have difficulties adjusting the residence times for biomass particles. The reactions are also limited by the heat transferred to the reactor rather than by the absorption rate of the biomass particle. A simplified picture of the rotating cone pyrolysis process appears in Figure 5.6 The drawbacks of the reactors are that the system is mechanically complex with several moving parts. The biomass fed into the system is mixed with sand to provide more efficient heat transfer. because the surface temperature must remain higher than the reaction temperature. wood dust was decomposed into condensable gases (70%) with a part of non-condensable (15%) gases and char (15%).1. by screening or with filters and cyclones. Adjusting the pyrolysis conditions could achieve higher charcoal yields. Heat is transferred to the biomass through a hot molten layer on the hot reactor surface. Simplified diagram of a plate-type ablative reactor. Ablative reactors differ mainly in the shape of the reactor. In a flash pyrolysis process. Heat losses may also be high.

all the material remains inside s single cylinder. biomass and hot air can flow cocurrently or in opposite directions inside the reactor. The driest solids can be exposed directly to the hottest gases with the opposite direction flow. the material first enters the inner cylinder with hot air. Because of the plugging risk. where hot flue gases pass through the central shaft (where it heats the material by conduction). The rotating drum promotes heat and mass transfer by lifting the solids in the dryer and causing the particles to tumble through hot gases. these same gases from the shaft then come into direct contact with the heated material. the air and material moves to the third outermost cylinder. There is also a hybrid direct/indirect rotary dryer.41 15 . where smaller or drier material is blown into the larger concentric cylinder. the indirectly heated system is preferable. A picture of a rotary drum reactor appears in Figure 6. With the co-current flow. The direct exposure to high flue gas temperatures dries the most thoroughly. the triple-pass dryer is most suitable for material smaller than one inch. In the dryer.41 The rotary drums can be divided according to their structure into single-pass and triplepass dryers.Figure 5. hot gases are contacted with biomass inside the rotating drum.3 Rotary drum reactor The rotary drum reactor is a rotating drum in which biomass is directly or indirectly heated with hot steam or gases. Simplified diagram of the rotating cone pyrolysis process. Single-pass dryers can be used to heat larger material. In the direct contact system. In the indirectly heated system. the drying is accomplished with hot air or steam that passes through the outer wall of the dryer or the inner central shaft. The triple-pass dryer is a design modified to allow three passes of air and material. the hottest gases contact the wettest material first.41 The most commonly used dryer is the directly heated single-pass rotary dryer. After the second pass. If contamination caused by direct contact with the flue gases is a problem.44 5. In the triple-pass dryer.1. In the single-pass rotary dryer. but the risk of fire increases. where the material then leaves the system. if the high temperature is not a concern.

but some of the remaining char passes through the reduction zone. drying and pyrolysis of the biomass.4. the biomass is dried in the drying zone before entering the distillation zone. The updraft system requires control of the feedstock particle size to secure a fixed bed of uniform space between the packed feedstock. the fuel bed and gas flow in the same direction. The feedstock must be uniform in size with few fines. Counter-current systems can accept very moist biomass (up to 60% moisture content). The entering air or oxygen is at temperatures as high as 1200°C when it reacts with the char in the combustion zone. distillation. The problem with both systems is the slagging of ash in different parts of the system. Drawing of a rotary drum reactor.4 Fixed-bed reactors Fixed-bed reactors are divided into counter-current (updraft) and co-current (downdraft) systems. where it can be combusted to generate heat in the hearth zone. First. 6 The co-current system can serve to dry wet fuels and can be used with various particle sizes. reduction and hearth) through which the biomass passes. Above the pyrolysis zone. and the gas upwards. The advantage of this system is that it requires far fewer organic components than does the counter-current system. The gases leave the reactor near the hottest zone. where the biomass decomposes and is converted to volatile gases and char. the gases and char will be converted to CO and H2. the entering biomass is dried. because the volatiles enter the high-temperature combustion zone. the fuel bed moves downwards. Both of the systems appear in Figure 7. 47 16 . The hot gas provides energy for heating. Both systems typically consist of four different zones (drying.45 5.4. but using moist biomass increases the tar content of the gases that leave the reactor near the pyrolysis zone. In the pyrolysis zone. In the co-current system.Figure 6.1. In the reduction zone. these same gases are at temperatures ranging from 400°C to 800°C when they come into contact with the dry biomass.46. 6 In the counter-current system. depending on the directions in which the fuel bed moves relative to the gas.

In the upper zone. The product gases first mix with the fluidisation gases before they are removed from the system and cooled. they simultaneously eject product gases and form char.46 The fed biomass then mixes with the sand and begins heating up.5 Fluidised bed systems In the fluidised bed system. for condensable tars). In the bottom zone. Both systems appear in Figures 8 and 9. The automatically self-cleaning system makes the fluidised bed reactors suitable for continuous processing. the particles return to the bed when the cross-sectional area of the system is increased to produce a gas velocity below the fluidisation velocity. such as sand. so they can be collected (e.1. The sand serves as a heat reservoir that maintains a constant mean temperature in the beds during the process. The biomass is then fed into the system with a feed chute above the bed or with an auger extending into the bed. and the turbulent mixing in CFB systems is more intensive than in BFB systems. The overall complex.39 5. due to the high velocity. Diagram of a counter-current and co-current fixed bed reactor.49 Depending on the air velocity they use. fluidised-bed reactors can be divided into circulating fluidised-bed (CFB) or bubbling fluidised-bed (BFB) systems. As the particles pyrolyse.g. circulating flow provides good mixing behaviour for the bed. that remains in a fluidised action with air flowing from the bottom of the combustion chamber.. The particles in the remaining char erode to smaller particle sizes and are removed with the flow gas from the system. 48 17 . the velocity (volume/unit cross-sectional area) of the gas is controlled to keep the bed in a fluidised state. The CFB system is always built to recirculate particles.Figure 7.47. heat is transferred to the biomass through a bed of noncombustible material.48 The system is divided into the fluid bed zone and the freeboard zone. CFB also exchanges heat more efficiently than does BFB.

50 Adjusting the particle size.Figure 8. The high flow rates and short residence times of the fluidised bed might be expected to produce different kinds of biocoal than would slow pyrolysis. Simplified diagram of the circulating fluidised bed process.48 Fluidised-bed reactors are also more suitable for large-scale applications (over 30 MWth) than are fixed-bed reactors.44 18 .47.48 The mixing action in fluidised beds provides efficient temperature control. fluidised-bed systems can achieve higher heat transfer and reaction rates than can fixed-bed systems. These factors make the fluidised-bed interesting for biomass combustion. The reactor can also be used with very moist fuel (up to 60% moisture content) and has a high ash content (up to 50%).44 The advantages of fluidised-bed reactors include the flexibility of the fuel size.51 Figure 9. as well as heat and mass transfer between the gas and the particles. Simplified diagram of the bubbling fluidised bed process. reaction temperature and gas flow rate through the fluidised bed can change the product distribution. Despite their compact construction. shape and properties they can use.

53 The advantages of microwaves over conventional heating are a uniform.52 Inside the reactor. The disadvantages include the difficulty in precisely measuring the temperature during the 19 .1.6 Screw conveyor The auger or screw reactor is a mechanical biomass-mixing reactor.52 A simplified picture of the screw conveyor appears in Figure 10. Heat is transferred from the outside to the inside of the material. Simplified diagram of the screw conveyor process. and the range and quality of the end products. and radiation. energy savings from using the process. exits from the end of the reactor.51 The heat carrier is normally heated independently and then mixed with the biomass before entering the reactor. Based on the particle size and density difference.7 Microwave Conventional heating processes transfer energy to materials through conduction.54 The adjustable parameters that affect the process are the microwave power level.53 The interaction reactions between microwaves and materials can be divided into three types. Pressure differences draw the resultant gaseous products out of the reactor from the open ends. water content and particle size. The operating temperature can be adjusted with the heat carrier. reflective (conductors).51 Mechanical wear can become a problem in the system.5. including the resultant biocoal and the heat carrier. The vessel itself does not rotate. the rotating screw moves the biomass forward. Microwaves deliver energy directly to the materials through molecular interaction within the electromagnetic field and instead of via thermal transfer. transparent (insulators) and absorptive (dielectrics). Figure 10. The solid material. Screw-type reactors can be heated externally or directly with a heat carrier such as sand.55 listed the advantages and disadvantages of microwave-assisted pyrolysis. and effective control of the heating process without direct contact. The main advantages of the process were its flexibility in using various feedstocks. processing time. a solid separator device serves to remove the biocoal from the heat carrier material. The benefit of the screw conveyor is that the system can operate in a relatively small space.44 5. One option besides conventional heating that is used in biocoal production is microwavebased heating.1.52 The auger system can consist of a single or several auger units. but mixing devices rotate inside a stationary horizontal reaction vessel. convection.53 Luque et al. selective and high heating rate. this electromagnetic energy then turns into thermal energy.

such as ash. the residence time in the combustion zone is usually short. Picture of a Rotawave microwave reactor. where the heated material loses its water and some organic compounds through evaporation. The residence time varies from 0.57 the multiple hearth is divided into three different zones. because of its high start-up and standby costs. The rabble motion breaks up the solid material for better surface contact with heat and oxygen.58 According to Dangtran et al.56 5.5 to 3 h depending on the number of hearths and shaft speed. The multiple-hearth furnace can be operated continuously or intermittently. where the remaining material. The biomass enters the hearth from the top and flows downward on 6 to 12 horizontal hearths. The upper hearths comprise the drying zone (temperature between approximately 420°C and 540°C).8 Multiple-hearth Furnace The multiple-hearth Furnace design is normally a vertical cylinder-modelled steel shell furnace. 20 . A picture of the Rotawave microwave system appears in Figure 11. The lower hearths form the cooling zone (temperature between approximately 175°C and 205°C). A simplified picture of a multiple-hearth furnace appears in Figure 12. The middle hearths constitute the combustion zone (temperature between approximately 815°C and 930°C).process and scaling up the system. A rotating shaft with rabble arms in the centre of the furnace sweeps the biomass in a spiral motion.. but the continuous process is preferable.1. The biomass changes direction as it moves from the centre of the furnace to the outer border and switches between the hearths. Figure 11. cools as its heat transfers to the incoming combustion air. where the material is exposed to high temperatures.57 The combustion air flows from the bottom to the top counter-current to the incoming solids.

9 Belt reactors The belt conveyors serve to move biomass through a heated reaction zone.60 Figure 13.59 5. The belts use oscillation to mix the biomass. the process temperature has been in the torrefaction temperature range. Previously. Normally the drying of the biomass is uniform.Figure 12. A simplified diagram of a continuous multiple-hearth furnace.45 21 . especially for continuous operation. When the belt reactor has been used for biocoal production. the belt reactors have been used mainly for drying purposes. Diagramof an oscillating belt reactor.1. A picture of the system appears in Figure 13. the biomass is a thin layer on a horizontal belt that is then heated with air or combustion products. A small particle size is normally required. since the biomass band is usually in the range of 2 to 15 cm. The residence time and peak temperature can be adjusted easily. In belt conveyor-type reactors. Single or multiple belts can adjust the heating in different belts.

while the heat-carrying gaseous medium enters from the bottom of the reactor. Diagram of a compact moving bed reactor. The problems result mainly from the biomass mixing poorly during the process.1. The operating temperatures have varied in the temperature zone typically used for torrefaction. The solid products are removed from the bottom. which leads to a non-uniform end product. as are gaseous products from the top of the reactor. A picture of the system appears in Figure 14.5.62 Figure 14.62 22 . so wear will not pose a problem. the reactor has no moving parts inside it.10 Compact moving bed The Compact moving bed consists of a reactor in which biomass is fed from the top of the system. A typical reaction time in the Compact Moving bed is 30-40 min at a temperature of approximately 300°C. where it is then allowed to gradually fall.61 As a benefit. Uneven feedstock particle size may also lead to un-even heat treatment across the diameter of the reactor. ECN in Holland have used the compact moving bed to produce biocoal.

fast and economically viable. which dries municipal. 6. The reactor will be located in Standerup. The rotary drum reactor is called ACB (Accelerated Carbonised Biomass) technology. industrial and agricultural sludge. the reader may visit the website of the company in question.000 tons annually. These descriptions aim to provide a general impression of the related companies. because in the end. the actual product falls under the same umbrella concept presented in the beginning of this report. In the project. The system is pressurised for more effective heat 23 . The company claims a single-line production unit has a commercial production capacity of 50. Efficient process performance and a desirable end product distribution rely on the control of the main process parameters and the varying quality of the feedstock. Several different technologies have been tested in demonstration or pilot-sized production facilities. The design and manufacturing expertise is based on the Andritz DDS (drum drying system). One of the main problems in technical development is to find a reactor technology that would enable one to optimise and adjust the process conditions in order to maximise the yield and product quality with various feedstocks.1 Andritz – ACB technology and Moving bed technology .1. and no widely proven technological applications are able to produce it. technology applications and size of the ongoing initiatives.1 Global initiatives 6. Although much talk and plans have focused on commercial scale biocoal production plants. Some of the initiatives have also claimed the end product with their own trademark name. The technology is based on their indirectly heated rotarydrum technology. Denmark. waste gas utilisation and thermal energy production. The reader should not get confused by the various names companies may give to biocoal.6 Current biocoal production systems and technology developers Biocoal production technology is still evolving and new projects related to it are in constant development. The ACB system is offered as an integrated solution with their turnkey production unit. no markets currently exist for trading biocoal. and the system uses moving bed reactor technology from ECN. The conversation about biocoal production is presently very active. which has process steps for densifying. Most development projects have made or plan to build a pilot-size production plant. This paper presents only some of the potential technology suppliers and currently ongoing development projects in the world. Table 4 at the end of this section presents a list of development projects that are currently ongoing or are planned. The reactor can process different-sized particles. The differences between companies and their trademark products stem from the technology used and the slightly varying process conditions.Rotary drum and Moving bed reactor Andritz uses two technological platforms in their biocoal production systems: the moving bed reactor and the rotary drum reactor. For more information about the companies listed. Andritz has licensed key technology from ECN. Optimising for different feedstocks should be easy.63 The pressurised moving bed reactor is a co-operation project with the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN).

The high velocity allows the use of0 a broad range of particle sizes in the process.1. The system applies fluidised-bed technology. Topell energy claim the system can produce 60.000 tons annually. The reactor consists of an empty cylindrical reactor chamber where the biomass comes into contact with a high-speed flow of process gas. The gas-solid contact allows effective temperature control inside the reactor. The recycled product gas is then collected during the process and later circulated and heated with an electrically heated thermal oil system.1. the two production lines – when combined – can produce approximately 90.65 6. The input scale has been set to 50-100 kg/hour depending on the biomass used.64 6. The reactor has no internal moving parts. Stamproy uses oscillating belt reactor technology for their biocoal production. The reactor Topell uses is called the Torbed reactor system. and the residual time adjusted precisely. constructed and commissioned.transfer due to higher gas flows. in 1998.Torbed reactor Topell energy is a privately funded clean technology company in Duiven. The temperature can be adjusted in each zone or the entire reactor can have a uniform internal temperature.67 6. Netherlands. a pilot-scale biocoal production plant called PATRIG.1. According to Stramproy. The Turbo-Dryer consists of a reactor.1. The drying conditions can be adjusted automatically. Netherlands.4 Topell energy (NL) . The company has a CHP station with two biocoal production lines in a single factory.Turbo-dryer (Multiple-hearth furnace) The Wyssmount Turbo-Dryer is a multiple-hearth furnace-type reactor.61 24 . The reactor design is based on moving bed technology that uses recycled product gas (torgas) to directly heat the biomass. Contact with the hot process gases and the biomass yields a high heat and mass transfer. The high velocity gas suspends the biomass in a fluid-like state. The biomass is fed from the top of the reactor and is then wiped through the trays. lower velocities and pressure drops for increased capacity.66 6. which houses several slowly moving rotating circular trays. which are heated with air or gas circulated by fans. but the biomass itself rather than a separate material forms the actual bed.3 Stramproy Green Investments (NL) – Oscillating belt reactor The Stramproy green investment biocoal production plant is located in Steenwijk. The residual heat of the CHP is used in the drying phase of the biocoal production process.5 Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (NL) – PATRIG – (Moving bed reactor) As part of the TorTech project.2 Wyssmount (US) . which has developed a process for biocoal production. The reactor was developed by a company called Torftech Ltd.000 tons of biocoal annually. so the performance and maintenance costs should be low. the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) designed.

During the process. Thermya listed its ability to convert all kinds of lingocellulosic biomass into their solid product called BioCoal.56 Rotawave list among the benefits of their system its high thermal energy conductivity.72 25 .6.1.7 Biolake (NL) – Screw conveyer reactor Biolake is a young enterprise established by ATO together with five entrepreneurs located in North Holland. The solid organic particle introduced into the system moves down inside the TORSPYD reactor.1.69 Among the benefits of the process. and the quality is consistent. The system allows the conversion of biomass to biocoal. Because of the microwaves’ direct interaction with the molecular structure.6 AREVA – Thermya TORSPYD (Moving bed reactor) The AREVA company announced the acquisition of Thermya technology. where the temperature rises progressively.71 6. which contains several different screws with different operating temperatures. ranging from torrefied biomass to charcoal. The biocoal manufacturing process operates between 260°C and 350°C. The system collects the by-product gases and burns them in a boiler. Testing of the system is currently underway. thereby enabling them to produce biocoal.53 6. The biomass is heated from outside the reactor. Thermya promises that their BioCoal contains less than 1% moisture. The company uses screw dryers for biocoal production. The TORSPYD process is a soft thermal treatment of biomass based on the moving bed reactor application. which generates high calorific values and solids yields.8 Rotawave (UK) – Targeted Intelligent Energy System (Microwave) Rotawave Ltd.70 The products are homogenous. the particle size has no influence on the reaction time or on the degree of pyrolysis.1.68 Areva are now using Thermya TORSPYD technology for biocoal production. The heat is then used in the reactor to dry the biomass. retains 95% of its initial biomass energy and more than 90% of its initial dry mass. The biomass is in the continuous circulation of two air flows moving in opposite directions. have developed a microwave process called Targeted Intelligent Energy System that transforms biomass into biocoal. the biomass gradually loses its moisture content and organic content.

Belgium Crockett. Austria Standerup. 6. Spain Graz. Mikkeli. USA Vanderhoof. Netherlands Roxboro. The authors found no plans or ongoing initiatives in Latvia to build a modern biocoal production facility.2 Initiatives in the Baltic area Currently. The most promising biocoal initiative in Finland is probably that of the Biosaimaa cluster. Netherlands O-vik. The best-known ongoing and most promising future initiatives in the Baltic Sea region are described below. USA North Holland Dilsen Stokkem.2. no commercial biocoal production plants exist in Finland. The Biosaimaa cluster is planning to launch a biocoal pilot plant at the end of 2012. Sweden San Sebastian. Belgium Winschoten. which would be located in Pursiala. / Biosaimaa cluster (Finland) The project in the Biosaimaa cluster coordinated by Miktech Ltd.Table 4. The technological applications used in Latvia are tried and tested technologies. probably represents the most promising initiative to build a biocoal production facility in Finland. In Latvia. USA Zilkha Biomass Energy Unknown Torrsys Agri-tech Biolake Torr-Coal Fox Coal BioEnergy Inc AREVA (Thermya) Andritz Andritz River Basin Energy Wyssmont Moving bed Screw conveyor Screw conveyor Rotary drum Screw conveyor Rotary drum Moving bed ACB technology Moving bed Fluidised bed Multiple-hearth furnace USA 6. but the production capacities are rather small. WY.40.1 Miktech Ltd. although there are some demonstration-size biocoal production facilities. several producers of biocoal exist. The project 26 .76 Plans also aim to build a large-scale biocoal production plant by 2015. 73-75 Developer Topell Energy Integro Earth Fuels Stramproy Green 4Energy Invest Reactor type Torbed Turbo-Dryer Belt conveyor Rotary drum Location Duiven. 63. Overview of initiatives seeking to produce biocoal. USA Steenwijk. Denmark Laramie. Netherlands Amel. which Miktech co-ordinates. Canada Columbia.

The actual commercial-size production facility is planned for 2015 and will produce approximately 100. Eastern Finland. The actual process is divided into three phases: in the first phase.78 6. The demonstration plant would produce approximately 5. The purpose of the demonstration plant is to carry out cost analyses of biomass use in biocoal production. and Promicco Ltd.77 During the project. Although construction of the pilot plant is already planned (Jartek Ltd.000 tons of biocoal and 4. The pilot plant is planned to operate for two years. LUT is handling the project in co-operation with the Finnish innovation and development organisations of the area.and medium-scale companies. In the second and third phases. The project aims to ease the entry of new firms into the biorefining sector. the temperature is raised to the operating temperature (200°– 300°C).79 27 . 30 persons. Mikkeli. local universities and professional companies in the field.76 Construction of a pilot plant is planned for Pursiala. The aim is first to build a demonstration plant in 2014 and then to proceed to build a commercial-scale biocoal production plant in 2015 in Nurmes. and the actual production facility. but construction of a pilot plant should still be underway in 2012.2 Kymeenlaakso University of Applied Science / Biotuli demonstration plant (Finland) The Biotuli project is a Finnish innovation and development project co-ordinated by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). The research also focuses on raw material properties and process adjustment.700 tons of wood oil annually. Eastern Finland (Finland) The City of Nurmes and Feedstock Optimum Ltd.000 tons each of biocoal and wood oil. in Eastern Finland.76 6. as well as the wood chips heating rate can be adjusted separately in the single-screw conveyors. The capacity of the pilot plant will be about 2900 tons annually.000 tons of biocoal annually. the equipment and the supplier of the technology have not been finalized for upscaling to a commercial-size plant. will provide the pelletising unit). The demonstration plant will employ ten persons. The estimated biocoal production capacity is 25 kilos per hour. The project does research on new antibacterial products and the opportunities they offer for small. The production facility would use about 800.000 cubic metres of woodchips.2. The actual production plant is estimated to produce 200. will provide the actual process technology. Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences developed and manufactured a small-scale biocoal demonstration plant. flue gas temperature and flow rate. end products and the technique itself. where the woodchips remain. Negotiations have been ongoing with two separate companies that would supply the biocoal production technology and a pelletising unit. are planning to build a biocoal production facility.3 The city of Nurmes.aims to eventually build a commercial-scale production plant by 2015. The production is based on slow pyrolysis technology. The aim of the pilot plant is to gain more information about the use of raw materials. The residence time. the woodchips are dried at temperatures ranging from 20°C to 100°C. which includes the building and its actual operating costs. The demonstration equipment technology is based on three continuously operating linked screw conveyors.2. The end product will be tested in the Pursiala power plant of Etelä-Savon Energia Ltd.

The main objective of the project is to promote and develop the environmental and bioenergy sectors of South-East Finland. and the outer wall is made of stainless steel. and Metso Ltd.80 Figure 15. In this reactor. the char is redirected back to the fluidised bed boiler. The reactor temperature is approximately 500°C.80 6. The project aims to research the effects of thermal treatment on wood.6. The factory will enrol ten supply chains and employ about 70 persons annually. The inner wall of the reactor is ceramic. Wood can be heated in different phases to a maximum temperature of 400°C. The production is based on a fluidised bed boiler.5 The Kouvola Region Vocational College / Biosampo initiative (Finland) The Kouvola Region Vocational College has an initiative called Biosampo which involces the construction of a small-scale slow pyrolysis plant.000 tonnes of oil.2.81 The reactor is designed so that the condensable products and biocoal can be collected from the different process phases. Oil production requires approximately 250. Simplified diagram of the fast pyrolysis reactor by Fortum Ltd. have planned to launch in 2013 a fast pyrolysis unit in Joensuu that is capable of producing 50. and cyclones are used to separate charcoal from the pyrolysis gases.2.000 solid cubic metres of wood.4 Fortum Ltd.81 28 . and to improve the competitiveness of the local countryside. and Metso Ltd.80 Figure 15 presents a simplified diagram of the pyrolysis reactor. The temperature can be adjusted to the desired operating temperature and kept constant. / Joensuu pyrolysis oil factory (Finland) Fortum Ltd. and Metso Ltd. The reactor is a batch-type system where the raw material is loaded on top of the reactor and sealed into a gas-tight reactor.

is also developing two biocoal production plants.2.83 In addition to the co-operation with Livanu Karbons Ltd. Both of the kilns can be loaded and discharged separately.. The system is a semicontinuous system. which combine biocoal and electricity production.2.84 29 . both of which are located at their production facility in Livani.6.7 Livanu Karbons Ltd. 9 Livanu Karbons is a company that produces and exports biocoal from Latvia.500 tons of biocoal per retort. produces biocoal in their system known asthe “EURO” Coal-burning kiln. and therefore a cheaper investment. Their annual production capacity is estimated to be 2. The wood is carbonised with a hot inert gas.83. The system consists of two kilns which are connected to each other. in Kaplava (Eastern Latvia) and Ugale (Western Latvia). Balt Carbon Ltd. each consisting of three vessels.8.9 the Lambiotte process is a continuous carbonisation process of wood. (Latvia) The Livanu Karbons operates in co-operation with a Latvian company called Balt Carbon Ltd. The hot gas stream (around 900°C) is produced by burning combustible gas in a stove connected to the middle of the reactor. According to Arheo Ltd.82 6. and Balt Carbon Ltd. it is removed from the first kiln and moved to the second kiln for the pyrolysis process. the system is capable of producing 25-45 tons of biocoal per month. The capacities of these plants are 2.000 tons and 8.000 tons of biocoal annually.. one train at a time. which are from Belgium. When the raw material is completely dry.8 The CISR Lambiotte is a modification of the SIFIC Lambiotte system. In the other kiln. The main differences between these two systems is that the CISR system is smaller. the raw material is first dried.. The unit operates in two different phases simultaneously. (Latvia) Arheo Ltd. which encounters the downward-moving raw material flow. where the raw material is fed into two separate vessel trains. 84 According to Domac et al.6 Arheo Ltd. though it is not equipped with a by-product recovery option like the SIFIC is. Balt Carbon is a company that only produces and installs SIFIC/CISR LAMBIOTTE reactors. Livanu Karbons has two LAMBIOTTE CISR retorts. The peak temperature in the process varies from 420°C to 480°C. The system uses the hot flue gases to heat the process itself and also collects condensable liquids from the bottom of the kiln.

The main problems in upscaling is optimising the process on a large scale. the challenge is to produce large amounts of biocoal of a consistent quality. both between different particles as well as within even a single particle. Without product validation and a standard for needed quality. upscaling the process makes controlling the biocoal quality and process conditions more difficult. The end product obtained from the biocoal production process will differ in homogeneity with respect to the grade of charring. for example. storage. large-scale tests must be made in. In addition to the upscaling problem is that the used technology should be highly energy efficient. and commercialisation will fail. The process should be able to easily separate the gaseous. Although biocoal has been successfully produced on a smaller scale. and other areas. co-firing. For technology developers. When the product quality can be kept consistent enough. liquid and solid products formed during the process. because the feedstock and process conditions inside the reactor may vary more than on a small scale.19 The production technology should also be able to handle variation in different kinds of feedstock and also take into account variation in the chemical composition of the feedstock. Consistent quality is needed to produce standard-quality end products. and adjusting a proper heat integration system is crucial for making the process economically viable. developing the technology and choosing between solutions will be difficult. When material produced varies widely.7 Development aspects in the production technology Only a handful of initiatives in the world have produced larger amounts of biocoal. the quality and specifications of the end product are difficult to determine. such as biocoal pellets for commercial purposes. 30 .

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