Solvay has launched the production of torrefied biomass at an industrial scale in the United States. The business will be run by the recently created Solvay Biomass Energy joint venture between Solvay and U.S. company New Biomass Energy (NBE). Torrefied biomass, which handles and burns similarly to coal, is produced through torrefaction, a process that modifies the chemical properties of waste wood and biomass.
Brussels, Belgium – Torrefied biomass can immediately and practically substitute coal, enabling power plants to generate clean energy. Today, some power plants in Europe use traditional wood pellets to replace coal. Torrefied biomass, however, contains 35 % more energy by weight than wood pellets, which also yields significant logistical benefits to customers.
Moreover, Solvay is improving the water repellent properties of torrefied biomass to further enhance its storage and handling properties. Torrefied biomass is produced in Quitman (MS) at a plant that was built and developed by NBE. Solvay is planning to more than triple annual production capacity from 80 000 t currently to 250 000 t by the end of 2014. Solvay Biomass Energy will use by-products, such as sawmill residues, from the highly developed timber industry in the area’s managed forests.