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Active Energy complete full-scale reactor test of Utah CoalSwitch plant

In Utah, the United States, Active Energy Group Plc (AEG), a UK-headed renewable energy, forestry management, and timber processing business has announced that its affiliate company, Advanced Biomass Solutions Plc (ABS) completed the first testing of the five-tonne-per-hour CoalSwitch plant on December 29. The initial results met "all management expectations" and further testing and commissioning to continue.

Active Energy Group’s modular 5 tonnes-per-hour CoalSwitch advanced biomass pellet plant in Utah (photo courtesy AEG).

According to a statement, the plant is now undergoing full commissioning which Active Energy expects to complete in the next several weeks, which will enable the company to deliver commercial quantities of CoalSwitch advanced biomass fuel – a “revolutionary fuel” that AEG claims can be mixed in “any ratio with coal fines or completely replace coal in existing coal-fired power stations, without retrofit, globally.”

AEG says that the first successful firing of the full-scale reactors “proves” that the technology is scalable to full commercial production and reinforces that the proven science developed represents “a disruptive force” for the global biomass industry.

The next stage will be to complete commercial orders for CoalSwitch, including the first order for a full-scale coal-fired power plant in Utah, US.

The first successful test firing of the Plant proves the technology and scalability of production. Our unique biomass fuel technology will contribute hugely to the environment globally due to its unique qualities and ability to be a direct drop in coal replacement fuel, meaning that without the requirement for retrofit, coal plants anywhere can now reduce their usage of coal and decrease emissions without significant investment, said Michael Rowan, Non-Executive Chairman of Active Energy.

The plant has been constructed on a modular basis allowing further scale-up to larger plant sizes giving greater volumes of production which Active Energy currently expects to be no smaller than 10 tonne per hour plants. In addition, the decision to construct the entire plant in a containerised format allows for demounting and moving to global locations at short notice meaning that CoalSwitch plants can be located near to sources of wood waste or forestry residuals wherever they may be found.

State support

In Utah, the Governor’s Office of Energy Development (OED) issued a Letter of Support on December 15 outlining its recognition of the project for the state. The OED is providing natural resources for feedstock and financial support from Rocky Mountain Power through its STEP program

The plant will operate for a temporary period to create process algorithms, validate system performance and produce around 450 tonnes of CoalSwitch fuel for Rocky Mountain Power to utilise in a commercial scale test supported by the STEP Grant along with additional material to be analysed by industry.

Subject to successful test outcomes, OED says that it also anticipates continued investment by installing a permanent plant in Utah.

We are now entering the next phase of our development as we produce and deliver commercial quantities of production and receive first revenues from CoalSwitch. These are exciting times and we have already received much interest from governments and corporates alike due to CoalSwitch’s unique qualities and ability to utilise all types of cellulosic biomass, including the lowest quality forestry waste and residuals, waste wood, and other by-products from the global forestry industry and to blend with reclaimed coal fines or burn as a standalone coal replacement. The Group is now establishing its environmental credentials and is ready to work with governments and corporations in the near future, said Rowan.

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