Lafarge cement operations will test torrefied biomass as substitute for coal

Pulp & Paper Canada
April 15, 2014
By Pulp & Paper Canada

A commercial demonstration of the use of biomass-based solid fuels instead of coal at cement plants or coal-fired utilities in British Columbia has received funding of $1 million from the BC Bioenergy Network.

BC Bioenergy Network, a provincially-funded organization supporting the bioenergy sector in British Columbia, will support Diacarbon Energy Inc.’s demonstration of its Torrefaction Bioreactor Technology. Diacarbon will produce a renewable and sustainable biocoal derived from wood residuals that will displace coal used by Lafarge Canada’s cement operations in B.C.

This funding by BCBN complements $1.1 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada and $7 million recently committed by private sector investors and other funders, resulting in a total project investment of $9 million.

The project involves the establishment of a fully automated torrefaction facility which will process wood residuals and demonstrate the production of biomass-based solid fuels to replace coal at cement plants or coal-fired utilities. Torrefaction, the process of heating biomass materials at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen, results in transforming wood into a material possessing the energy value and processing characteristics of coal, with a significantly lower carbon footprint. This technology can achieve these benefits cost effectively. The new plant will demonstrate the commercial viability of the technology and product under competitive market conditions.

According to Michael Weedon, executive director of BC Bioenergy Network, the global biochar industry has been progressing towards commercial production facilities for the past few years.

Jerry Ericsson, president of Diacarbon, announced that this new technology follows several years of technology and product development in B.C., where a trial demonstration plant has been in operation. “We are proud to be building the first Canadian commercial biocoal facility in BC. This is an opportunity for B.C. to be a leader by showcasing clean technologies that generate economic value, a forward thinking solution. This is just the first step in deploying torrefaction technology in BC.”

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