- Written by Anna Strom
road transport in Sweden could be replaced by renewable alternatives produced by gasification of forest-sourced biomass or its waste streams. However, “smart” solutions such as pretreatment technologies to render the raw material more malleable had to be further developed for the biofuels, in turn, to be produced on large scale and become a cost competitive alternative to fuels based on fossil oil, they said.
“We have to build huge, extremely costly infrastructure. We need pretreatment technology and gasification technology… Switching from fossil fuels to biomass is not that straight forward. You have to do it smart, preferably using torrefaction”, Nordin told an audience of 60, mostly academics.
He was referring to a pretreatment method which, he said, had similarities with roasting coffee beans, although in the case of the B4E research the material to be roasted, or torrefied, was forest-sourced biomass or grasses. Torrefaction would rid the biomass of excess moisture, protect it from contamination and render it more homogenous, giving it similar density properties to coal, Nordin said. All of which would make for easier transportation, storage and conversion of the biomass in the gasifier.
Indeed, in a recent report analysing the European biofuels market, German consultants ecoprog GmgH found the supply to refineries with feedstock, including its transportation, to be the most cost-intensive step in the value chain for biofuels.