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Prometec to supply biomass sampler to Stockholm Exergi

Finland-headed automated sampling solutions provider Prometec Tools Oy has recently announced that it is to deliver an automated sampling robot and other needed sampling equipment to Stockholm Exergi AB's Värtaverket, a large biomass fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) located in Stockholm, Sweden. The order is the company's first outside Finland and also the first to be used in a railcar sampling application.

Fortum Värme's newly commissioned biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant in Stockholm, Sweden.

Fortum Värme’s (now Stockholm Exergi) biomass-fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Stockholm.

According to Prometec, its automated sampling solution “brings millions in savings” for biomass power plants. The sampling robot drills 5 litre samples from the randomly chosen places from each biomass load. This method makes quality controlling faster and improves working safety.

Traditionally, samples are collected manually from the loads. The sampling from biomass is challenging because there can for example be snow and ice inside the load which decreases the energy content of the load by even up to five percent.

In Finland there are currently three Prometec truck samplers in operation at biomass heat and power plants – Kuopion Energia, Napapiirin Energia ja Vesi and Fortum Joensuu CHP plant.

A first for rail

Jointly owned by the city of Stockholm and energy major Fortum, the 350 MWth output biomass combined heat and power (CHP) plant is one of the largest in Europe. Located in the Värtan harbour district in Stockholm, the plant consumes around 12 000 m3 of woodchips per day. This is supplied mainly by vessels and railcar with a small share by truck.

We decided to make a deal with Prometec because their solution best answered our strict sampling demands. The Finnish robot will be installed to the Värtaverket site during next year, said Martin Eriksson, Project Sponsor from Stockholm Exergi.

Prometec is to deliver a fully automated train sampler and sampling equipment to Stockholm Exergi.

“Stockholm Exergi also noticed that they need to improve their biomass quality controlling because they receive enormous amounts of biomass annually. We won a public tendering concerning an automated train sampler in September,” explained Timo Huotari, Chief Marketing Officer for Prometec.

It is a significant challenge. During the heating season one or two block trains arrive to the power plant daily. In each block train there are about 30 wagons carrying 4 000 – 5 000 m3 depending on the container type used.

Because biomass is an extremely heterogeneous material in which the moisture within one load can vary a lot, it is vital that samples are being taken from the randomly chosen places by the robot, not manually. In this way we will get representative samples from each wagon, said explained Huotari.

The order, which is worth in the region of EUR 1 million, marks the company’s first installation outside of Finland. It is also the first robot order for railcar applications.

Globally, enormous amounts of biomass are being moved by train. This opens a large growth potential for us, said Timo Huotari.

He added that the company recently launched a sampling as a service in Finland which also opens for synergies at shared terminals something that the Nordic forest industries already have for pulp chips, pulpwood and sawlogs.

The combination of sampling as a service along truck and or rail sampling applications also provides us with an additional business model, ended Timo Huotari.

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