Today a scientist in Bio4Energy has been telling one of Europe’s
most touted conferences on biomass about the progress of researchers in northern Sweden in their efforts to develop technology for pretreating wood or woody debris intended for scale up to commercial bioenergy or biofuels production.
He was corresponding from Milan, in Italy, where the 20th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition is in full swing. There was "great interest" at the conference in a technique that his team had been instrumental in developing—the torrefaction or roasting of forest-sourced biomass, Nordin said on the eve of chairing a conference session on 'torrefaction and carbonisation'.
By compacting the woody raw material and ridding it of moisture, torrefaction technology is used with a view to render the transportation and storage of the biomass an easier and less costly prospect. Also torrefaction might serve to make the feedstock fit for insertion into a gasifier or a biomass burner and the new 'torrefied' material more dense in energy, said another B4E expert in gasification.
During the 18-22 June conference Nordin, for his part, would also be leading a workshop and hold a plenary speech, he said in his e-mail. He and the UmU research engineer Linda Pommer represent B4E at the conference and the exhibition that run in parallel. Conference and exhibition delegates may contact the Swedish pair via the exhibition booth of Efokus, an initiative by regional authorities in northern Sweden to promote renewable energy ventures. Print materials about B4E may be collected at the Efokus booth.
Here is more from Nordin on the European Commission-sponsored European Biomass Conference and on the challenge of bringing torrefaction technology up to a commercial scale:
"There is great interest in torrefaction and almost 20 per cent of the conference output has to do, at least in part, with advanced refined fuels and torrefaction.
"[In the world] there are five industrial demonstration units where torrefaction is performed, but all wrestle with different types of challenges so development is not happening as quickly as it could be.
"Process and product control are the two most important [challenges], but here the Umeå researchers have come a long way. Densification to pellets or briquets is also an area where we have made inroads at [the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences] and at UmU, so there we can help industry past a really challenging problem.
"The investment cost for a torrefaction process needs to come down and the technological solutions that we are presenting have the potential to reduce (such costs) by 20-to-30 per cent, if we succeed all the way".