NEWS RELEASE · 24th September 2010
'Intelligent' energy system set to revolutionize
the world's biomass fuel supply market
New bio-coal process will cut greenhouse gases
and produce high energy biomass from forestry residues and waste
$13 million order received for first production plant in North America
A smart new manufacturing technology is set to revolutionize the way biomass - derived from forestry residues - is utilized globally. It will make it economically viable and environmentally friendly to transport this otherwise wasted energy resource over long distances to where it can be used to generate electricity and cut carbon emissions, by displacing fossil fuels such as coal.
The new process, called the Rotawave Targeted Intelligent Energy System (TIES), uses microwaves and recycled heat to 'cook' wood residues into high energy bio-coal. This fuel can then be burned in dedicated biomass plants for generating electricity for the national grid and heat for distribution to local buildings.
Rotawave TIES will, for the first time, allow significant quantities of biomass wood fuel to be mixed with coal and co-fired in existing coal fired power stations, currently numbering more than 1,000 installations throughout the world. This will help many of their owners and operators to meet stringent new regulator)' targets for the use of renewable energy and the reduction of carbon emissions, set in the USA, in Canada and the European Union, without the need for expensive plant modifications.
In Ontario, for example, all coal-fired power generation will be phased out by the end of 2014.
An SI3 million order for the first TIES bio-coal production plant has already been placed with Rotawave, following successful trials at a prototype installation. The customer is Canadian biocoal producer Global Bio-Coal Energy Inc of Vancouver. The facility will be built in Terrace, British Columbia, early next year and will have a production output capacity of 110,00 tonnes of bio-coal per annum. (Input capacity is 200,000 tonnes per annum of raw biomass from forestry sources). Preparatory work on site is to begin imminently.
"TIES is a landmark scientific development in the renewable energy sector, bringing biomass fuel to the forefront of economically viable options for the generation of 'green' electricity in power generation plants," says Bob Rooney, Chairman of Scotland-based inventors Rotawave Ltd. "Our process allows carbon neutral biomass to directly supplement coal as a power generating fuel. It will therefore bring significant environmental benefits at coal fired power stations, and become an important part of a balanced and diverse energy mix which will help the government to achieve its ambitious targets for cutting CO2 emissions."
Unveiled today (Friday 24th September), the patented TIES process uses energy efficient microwaves to dry wood chips produced from sustainable forestry residues and waste, such as branches, bark, sawdust and wooden off cuts — waste material left behind after timber is removed for the building, paper and furniture industries, etc. The end result of the process, which takes place at forestry sites, is a dry, water resistant, high energy bio-coal product.
Wood chip contains large quantities of water and has a low density and energy value, which means the bulky material is expensive to transport and inefficient to burn unless it is first dried out. This can be prohibitively costly in terms of energy consumption. With almost all water removed, however, transport of the biomass wood fuel becomes highly efficient in terms of carbon and monetary costs, particularly if the wood chip is pelletised beforehand to remove its bulk.
"Our new process uses energy efficient microwaves to reduce this moisture content to less than 4% by weight and to increase the energy content by 30% which is highly significant in terms of transport costs," says Garth Way, Rotawave's Technical Director. "It means we can unlock vast reserves of forestry waste for good use, across the globe."
Large quantities of forestry residue and waste aterial exist in many parts of the world, particularly in North America. Rotawave has already identified supplies of this sustainable, raw biomass totaling 200 million tonnes annually across the globe.
Rotawave's 'black' bio-coal pellets can be safely stockpiled in the open, like coal, and moved using existing coal handling equipment.
'White' wood pellets deteriorate when stored in the open, absorbing moisture and rain water. But they can be treated by the TIES process, further increasing their energy content and making it more economical to transport and water resistant for easy storage without further processing.
More than 100 order inquiries have also been received from interested lumber and forestry management companies across the globe, by Rotawave - part of the Energy Environmental Group, with global headquarters in Aberdeen. Rotawave is planning to build a new manufacturing, engineering and technical centre for core elements of the TIES process plant on the Isle of Wight in the UK. The Group's Vikoma subsidiary already has a factory there, making oil spill recovery equipment for sale worldwide.
Bio-coal is not a new source of biomass fuel. Until the TIES process was invented, however, most producers have failed to achieve throughputs in their process plants to provide large enough quantities of fuel required by the power generation entities.
There are very large quantities of forestry reside in various parts of the world, for which until now there has been little or no market. The European Environment Agency has identified residues in EU countries totalling 120 million tonnes from environmentally compatible sources, for the year 2010.
Much of this waste has to be expensively managed, for example for safety reasons to prevent it smouldering and catching fire in hot weather. The waste also emits methane, one of the most harmful of greenhouse gases.
'White' wood pellets can be co-fired with coal but the maximum proportion is limited to 10% or 15%, depending on the boiler type, due to mechanical and chemical constraints of the firing equipment. These figures can be exceeded using bio-coal, allowing power station operators to easily meet the EU's requirement to use 20% of fuel from renewable sources by 2020.
The TIES process uses energy efficient microwaves to produce bio-coal. Heat, steam and gases given off from the raw biomass fed into the plant are recycled within it to generate electricity - which runs the equipment - and heat which can be exported for further use.
Former Mayor Jack Talstra and President of the group who facilitated the negotiations to bring this operation to Terrace spoke at the celebrations
MP Nathan Cullen attended the ribbon cutting ceremony
Comment by Jeff Rueger on 25th September 2010
Finally there is mention of the energy source used for the microwave system - electricity. Sure the plant will generate some of its own electricity as mentioned in the article - but how much compared to the total amount needed to produce the final product. This really is another case of using one form of energy to create another form of energy.