INL successfully tests oxidation catalyst in torrefaction system

By Advanced Torrefaction Systems LLC | May 27, 2016

Advanced Torrefaction Systems LLC, based in Kirkwood, Missouri, has announced the results of its successful collaboration with the Idaho National Laboratory to test a catalytic oxidation technology designed by ATS to address problems that have hampered the development of large-scale torrefaction plants.

Highly volatile gases, mainly carbon monoxide (CO) and a wide range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are produced during the torrefaction process.  Those gases are not only dangerous, but they contain significant energy that is wasted if not beneficially utilized.  ATS’s patented TorreCat Technology uses an oxidation catalyst to safely combust those volatile gases and convert them to an inert gas stream of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and steam.  This high temperature, inert gas stream, a byproduct of the catalytic process, can be subsequently utilized as the heat source for both torrefaction and pre-drying of the biomass feedstock.  In addition, the inert gas stream, when cooled, can also be used in downstream processes such as product cooling, fine grinding and densification.  Implementation of the catalytic process results in significant improvement in operational safety and higher energy efficiency, and the entire process benefits from an internally generated inert purge gas, thereby eliminating the expense associated with purchasing or generating those needed gases.

ATS worked with the INL to design and install an oxidation catalyst in the INL’s torrefaction system in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Two rounds of tests were performed at different temperature levels.  Tyler Westover, an INL engineer who oversaw the experiment, stated that “the tests were successful and the catalyst destroyed CO and VOCs below detection levels.  In addition, the inert gas stream from the catalyst was successfully used directly in the reactor as a heat source.”  The INL test report can be found at www.atscat.com.

Dan Herren, president of ATS, said, “We are very pleased with the results of the INL tests.  We believe that use of an oxidation catalyst is necessary to provide the safest, most efficient torrefaction process possible.”