Torrefied wood pellets are an immediate and practical replacement for coal. Torrefied pellets integrate easily into existing coal power plants, enabling plants to generate clean energy without lengthy or expensive conversions.
Torrefied wood brings great value to applications beyond energy as well. Torrefied wood is an excellent candidate for plastics and composite materials because it is hydrophobic, durable, can withstand processing at higher temperatures and is lighter weight than regular wood flour. Torrefied wood is beneficial as a soil amendment, improving soil stability and crop yields and reducing irrigation needs, and as a feedstock for gasification, resulting in much cleaner syngas compared to untreated wood.
Torrefaction is the process of roasting wood or other biomass material at high temperatures in an oxygen-deprived environment. This process removes and recycles low quality energy from the material and changes its chemical composition. The torrefied wood is then ground and processed through a pellet mill to create durable torrefied pellets.
Our proprietary torrefaction process has been refined over thousands of hours of testing and production. We can adjust our process to meet specifications for certain product characteristics, such as hydrophobicity and energy content. Our torrefied wood pellets generally have an energy content of 20-23 GJ per metric ton.
Our proprietary technology includes machinery with a long track record of reliable operation. The torrefaction process is safe, quick to deploy, versatile and scalable. It is the most proven torrefaction technology in the world, with a substantial and successful operating history.
Natural gas is used to start the torrefaction process. Once operating, the torrefaction process is self-sustaining because it generates off gases that are recycled and used to heat the thermal oil for the process heat.
The technology uses components that are easy to source and operate reliably. The reactors can torrefy a variety of feedstocks and are very forgiving of variations in particle size and moisture content. We have successfully torrefied and pelletized hardwoods, softwoods, energy crops such as miscanthus, and agricultural residuals such as bagasse.
Whether producing torrefied pellets or using them as fuel, safety is of utmost importance.
We know and understand the types of equipment that need to be installed in a torrefied pellet production environment for spark and fire detection and extinguishing.
Torrefied pellets are inert – chemically inactive – because the VOCs in the wood are removed in the torrefaction process. Torrefied wood is extremely stable and can be handled safely.
In our production process, the biomass material is completely torrefied and the pellets are completely cooled to ensure safe storage in both piles and silos.
No special safety measures are required for shipping. NBE has a permit for marine transport and is the only company that has shipped torrefied pellets across the Atlantic Ocean.
Safety measures are different for commercial scale facilities than for pilot scale labs and demo scale plants. Our knowledge and experience in a commercial scale environment sets us apart in this industry.
A complete Process Hazard Analysis was performed at the Quitman Plant. Appropriate safety and security procedures are in place, and our strict HSE policies and preventative maintenance measures help ensure safe and efficient operations.
We have safely produced over 75,000 tons of torrefied material over the last 8 years and are confident that torrefied pellets can be produced and utilized safely in other operating environments as well with appropriate preventative measures in place.
We have invested in extensive research and development to ensure efficient production of high quality products. For example, we have two types of pellet mills installed and a commercial scale briquetting machine on site to determine optimum densification methods.
Torrefied material grinds and burns like coal and can be integrated into existing systems at any percentage up to a full conversion.
Torrefied pellets have a high energy density, allowing coal plants to operate close to their rated capacity.
Torrefied wood has significantly less sulfur content than coal and produces much less ash byproduct.
Torrefied pellets can be used to meet baseload power requirements, making them one of the few forms of renewable energy that can replace coal as a source of baseload power.
Torrefied pellets are more moisture resistant than wood pellets, making them easier to handle and more practical to ship and store.
Coal power plants are large capital investments and it is difficult to retire them early in pursuit of cleaner energy. Torrefied pellets allow legacy coal plants to continue supplying power, using a renewable, sustainable resource.
Torrefied pellets have a higher energy density than regular wood pellets, making them more economical to ship than wood pellets with similar total energy content.
Torrefied pellets grind much more easily than wood pellets and provide better combustion with less ash and unburned material.
Torrefied pellets can be utilized immediately in existing coal systems with lower capital investment and shorter start up time than wood pellet conversions.