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Radian completes preliminary engineering on torrefaction process

By Rona Johnson | January 24, 2011

Salt Lake City-based Radian BioEnergy has completed preliminary engineering on a commercial-scale proprietary torrefaction system, which can convert wood and other biomass feedstocks into biochar or “green coal.”

“It’s a top-fed system where the wood enters the top and warm inert flue gases are used to do the torrefaction,” said Radian BioEnergy CEO Ben Phillips.

The technology leverages Radian’s existing biomass gasification reactor configuration.  “It basically readies us to be able to supply this type and scale of torrefaction system to perspective commercial buyers.” Phillips said the company would either license the technology to potential buyers or sign a contract to sell the equipment and then have it manufactured.

“The development of our torrefaction technology will further enhance our product offerings in the biomass energy sector, enabling us to supply major equipment or turn‐key solutions to customers seeking a solution for biomass upgrading,” Phillips said.

The Radian torrefaction system will produce approximately 200 tons per day of biochar, ranging in energy content from 9,000 to 11,000 Btu per pound depending on operating conditions and product yield goals. The biochar burns similar to coal so that it can be integrated into coal‐fired power plants. Phillips said the initial design was based on wood, and additional biomass types will be evaluated in the future. 

Phillips said they haven’t made any sales yet but have had interest in the technology. “The next steps for us will largely be customer driven,” he said. “If a customer is ready to issue a purchase order or secure a license then that would be the transaction and then we would go into detailed engineering.

Radian is a doing business as (DBA) Emery Energy Co., which was founded in 2002. Radian is a DBA for all of Emery’s biomass-related technologies because the company is also involved in coal gasification. “Radian is the brand and marketing arm for all of our biomass and waste feedstock technology applications, for which torrefaction is one,” Phillips said.