Metso investigates biocoal as a replacement for coal

Wood chips in various stages of torrefaction. (Photo: Metso)

The Finnish company Metso has started a programme of research into the industrial use of biocoal. The TISCO project (Torrefaction – integration and suitability for co-firing) investigates the suitability of fuel produced using torrefaction for co-firing in coal-fired power stations on an industrial scale. The project also includes an analysis of the emissions arising from the woody heating material throughout its entire life cycle, from wood procurement to electricity and heat generation.

According to Metso's initial estimates, in only a few years biocoal could replace some of the coal used in power stations. The research project is being partially financed by Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for technology and innovation, and will run until August 2013. The Finnish companies taking part in the project are investigating the suitability of Finnish biocoal as a fuel throughout the various stages of its procurement, production and use.

Metso is developing the know-how for the torrefaction of wood. UPM obtains and supplies wood as a raw material and is interested in trading in biocoal as well as using it for energy production. PVO-Lämpövoima is studying the integration of torrefaction technology into power station processes. Helsingin Energia is concentrating on the use of biocoal in its electricity and heat production. For Helsingin Energia the research project is part of a development programme with which the energy utility company wants to achieve a carbon-neutral future by 2050.

There are currently several other projects concerned with the manufacture and use of torrefied biomass, primarily in the USA and in the Netherlands (see S&WE 5/2012, page 241).

Katharina Ertmer