Kentaro Umeki of Bio4Energy is part of an academy - industry project designed to develop a ready-to-implement system for phase out of fossil coal use in iron and steel industries in Sweden. Photos of biomass (left) and biochar, respectively; by courtesy of Kentaro Umeki.A project consortium including research groups, technology development companies, plant owners and iron and steel industry; is about to take a large step toward phasing out the use of fossil coal in the iron and steel industries in Sweden.
Thanks to a substantial grant from the Swedish Energy Agency, the partners will be able to deliver a reactor concept and a roadmap detailing the way in which to implement a switch from fossil coal to biocarbon in existing district-heating plants, using fluidised-bed gasification technology.
Whereas fossilised coal is extracted from the Earth’s interior in mining operations, oftentimes transported over long distances and a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions; biocarbon is high-temperature treated biomass from woody residue or industrial bio-based waste that will be sourced regionally by the partners.
In fact, when treated at a temperature range of 500 - 900 degrees Celsius, biomass becomes almost pure solid carbon and earns the name "biocarbon". It is seen as carbon “neutral” under the current regulatory framework and so the expectation is that the new technology will deliver net zero emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas.
Seven-to-nine per cent of global emissions of carbon dioxide hail from iron and steel making operations. In Sweden, where the sector is both an important employer and provider of exports, this figure is 12 per cent.