Blackwood and Boonstoppel have announced the successfully completion of a Dutch research programme involving the use of torrefied biomass in small-scale heating units.
Blackwood Technology B.V., a Netherlands-based torrefaction technology developer and torrefied pellet producer and Boonstoppel Engineering B.V., a Dutch engineering company specialised in the design, engineering, coordination, and project management of renewable heating, cooling and ventilation systems, have announced the successful completion of a research programme involving the testing of torrefied biomass in small-scale biomass heating boilers.
Confirmed torrefied benefits
The research programme was sponsored by the Province of Gelderland and sought to investigate the use of torrefied biomass as a substitute for woodchips or regular wood pellets in small-scale de-centralized heating units.
The test programme confirmed the benefits of using torrefied biomass in smaller-scale heating applications. The better fuel qualities of torrefied biomass were evidenced by improved combustion behaviour and more stable heat output. The higher energy density of torrefied biomass also means that more energy can be kept in the same storage space.
– Until now, the most obvious outlet for torrefied biomass was the co-firing market where torrefied wood is replacing fossil coal in large-scale power plants. We are delighted that this test successfully demonstrated how torrefaction can also add value in smaller scale biomass heating systems. We are grateful to the Province of Gelderland which made this successful research program possible, said Maarten Herrebrugh, CEO of Blackwood in a statement.
Herrebrugh added that as a result of the test, new markets can be opened for low-grade biomass, which can be upgraded using torrefaction and transformed into a homogeneous, solid biofuel with a high energy density.
– We carried out testing of torrefied pellets on a conventional wood pellet stove. Aside from minor adjustments we had to make to the feeding screw of the pellets, we were able to substitute regular wood pellets with torrefied pellets and obtained positive results. The torrefied pellets show a stable and complete combustion, resulting in minimal ash and low emissions. They represent a suitable fuel to be deployed for de-centralised heating, said Bas van Breugel, CEO of Boonstoppel.
Small-scale plant for local demand
– The proof that, thanks to torrefaction, inexpensive local biomass can be used in heating applications instead of imported wood pellets is an important step towards the creation of a cost-effective biobased economy in Gelderland. Today, the test results confirm the business case for the circular use of local, low-grade woody residues in small-scale boilers. In the future, torrefaction as a pre-treatment technology will further enhance the biomass supply chain by enabling other bio-based applications, said Gerard Taat, of the Province of Gelderland.
As a result of the test programme, Blackwood and Boonstoppel are now investigating the possibility of building a small-scale torrefaction unit in the Province of Gelderland to supply the market for small-scale de-centralised biomass heating boilers.