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Is the U.S. Torrefaction Market Moving?

By Anna Simet | February 22, 2013

Having followed progress of the U.S. torrefied wood pellet market for the last several years, it’s safe to say that progress hasn’t exactly been quick.  Five years ago there was a lot of buzz and proposals, but it soon fizzled, likely a result of the start of the recession.

A couple of years ago, I was writing an article on the status of the market here, and for it I spoke with a university that was interested in using torrefied wood pellets in lieu of coal. After some successful tests it put out a purchasing request, and unfortunately, the bid went unanswered. The energy director at the university simply said, “We’ve found out that there’s just no supply.”

So fast forward to a couple of years later. A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine received a message from a man who was looking for torrefied wood supply, but had come up empty handed when looking for commercially-ready volumes. While that’s a little disappointing to hear, there are some big things happening in torrefaction here, and I believe the market is moving forward.

For example, just this week, Thermogen Industries signed a letter of intent with the Eastport Port Authority in Eastport, Maine, to build a 200,000 to 300,000-ton torrefied wood pellet manufacturing facility on land adjacent to the port’s Estes Head Terminal. Following completion of engineering and site design, Thermogen aims to formally begin the permitting process with a goal of starting construction as early as possible in 2014. In Millinocket, Maine, the company already has a fully-permitted project that work on began in October.

Down in Mississippi, New Biomass Energy just reported it had made a third shipment of torrefied wood pellets—4,000 tons—to Europe. The company is working on expanding its plant to commercial scale—150,000 to 200,000 tons—and expects the project to be complete this year.

Finally, Oregon-based HM3 Energy has reached several milestones in the las few years, including completion of a 50,000-ton demonstration-scale torrefied briquette facility, and construction commencement of a small commercial plant.

While Europe continues to be well ahead of us in regard to torrefaction, the market here appears to be progressing.

In the April issue of Biomass Magazine, staff writer Chris Hansen will dig into the U.S. torrefaction market, and I am confident he will be able to shed some light on what’s really happening. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

5 Responses

  1. Zanaver Kovacs

    2013-02-23

    1

    Unfortunately you are correct, there are some announcements but not a single plant has been shown producing torrefied woods. Some plants were built in Europe but are not (yet) in operation. Also a few claiming to produce torrefied wood are actually just producing charcoal! The reasons: technology, no willingness from the utilities to participate in the investments, constant changing of legislation supporting renewable (green certificates and others), We have been also following closely this Market. May be it is just not viable and it is time to turn to the more promising market of :CO2 + Algaes + light"

  2. Zanaver Kovacs

    2013-02-23

    2

    Unfortunately you are correct, there are some announcements but not a single plant has been shown producing torrefied woods. Some plants were built in Europe but are not (yet) in operation. Also a few claiming to produce torrefied wood are actually just producing charcoal! The reasons: technology, no willingness from the utilities to participate in the investments, constant changing of legislation supporting renewable (green certificates and others), We have been also following closely this Market. May be it is just not viable and it is time to turn to the more promising market of :CO2 + Algaes + light"

  3. Jonathan Braun

    2013-02-23

    3

    Chris should make a point of looking at the Heyl & Patterson solution that is being marketed by Torrefy Corporation. H&P is a 125-year-old US engineering company that dominates the world calciner market. The company has shown that it can make both bio-coal and biochar in a rotary calciner, a robust machine that has been used for decades to thermally treat a wide range of materials--ranging from oatmeal to yellowcake. I've been searching for a reliable, reasonably affordable torrefaction technology for three years. H&P's solution impresses and attracts me because of its simplicity and the fact that it lends itself to installation in existing facilities, e.g. sawmills, as well as purpose-built refineries. In addition, the technology is clearly feedstock flexible, capable of converting forestry and agricultural residues and other kinds of biomass into bio-coal.

  4. Larry Amick

    2013-02-23

    4

    We believe that torrefaction of various forms of biomass has reached commercial feasibility. As has been prematurely predicted for many years, the dense, energy rich, easily transported and stored, drop in coal equivalent will clearly play a key part in the current alternative energy and renewable fuels markets.

  5. JOE MAJKA

    2013-02-25

    5

    Aeon Energy Solutions would suggest Chris also look into Konza located in Kansas --″Advance technology proven experience ″, sums up Konza’s credentials and the’ Why’ of our selection of KRF as Aeon’s preferred Torrefaction partner. This decision concludes an extensive search by Aeon to locate a partner with the most advance technology , engineered driven products , extensive fabrication qualifications and an established history of successful production, installation and maintenance of heavy industrial grade capital equipment . Our Torrefaction system is 100% Made in the USA of the highest grade components, time test quality craftsmanship, available ‘system only’ or ‘complete EPC-Turn Key’ acquisition, and priced economically to compete in today’s world marketplace. Konza Renewable Fuels (KRF) torrefaction technology is an economical high yielding system based on proven engineered platforms (Time, Temperature, Tolerances and Turbulence) underwritten with 65 years of quantifiable industrial design/build manufacturing experience. This Torrefaction technology transforms common renewable biomass feedstock (i.e. woody biomass, corn stover, wheat straw, miscanthus, switch grass, hay, and other varieties of biomass) into a highly coveted, marketable renewable , and environmentally friendly alternative energy source : Torrefied Biomass aka’ Bio-Coal’. Systems available up to 120,000 tons per year. More information goes to www. aeonnrg.com

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