Torrefaction

Torrefaction is a simple process where biomass is heated in a low-oxygen environment to drive off volatiles into the gas stream. This process breaks down biopolymers and removes moisture leaving a higher quality fuel.

Konza introduces a new “coal”, torrefied biomass, to the power generation industry. As the demand for electricity is increasing because of everything from electric cars to smartphones, we need a source of cleaner energy. Power plants are going offline because the public demands more stringent air pollution standards. Converting existing coal-fired power plants to conventional biomass is cost prohibitive. Burning conventional biomass in a standard coal power plant can cause debilitating issues. It is time for a clean and renewable fuel that has the handling and energy characteristics of coal. Torrefied biomass is that fuel.

Torrefacation Advantage

​Torrefied biomass has four distinct advantages over green and dried biomass:

  1. higher energy content, it has a similar calorific content to coal
  2. ability to co-fire with coal,
  3. hydrophobic nature, and
  4. ​reduced shipping costs.


​Neither raw nor dried biomass can be stored outside for any length of time because it will absorb water, which increases the rate of decomposition or spoiling. Being hydrophobic, torrefied biomass can be stored indefinitely outside in wet conditions without decomposing or absorbing water.

​Why now?
Coal-fired power accounts for 40 percent of the electricity produced worldwide. That requires almost 8 billion tonnes of coal every year. Renewables only represent 11 percent of electricity generation. While there are multiple renewable energy sources, recent technological advancements in torrefaction place biomass at the front of the pack. It is speculated that the demand for torrefied biomass, sometimes referred to as bio-coal, in Europe alone could top 50 million tonnes per year or more by 2020. That may sound like a lot, but it is only 0.6 percent of the total coal used for electricity.

Energy efficient options 
Torrefaction gases generated during the process can supply as much as 85 percent of the energy necessary to dry and torrefy the product, making the torrefaction process very efficient. It will also be possible to use the waste heat as a supplemental source to co-located processes requiring heat. 

KRF Torrefied Biomass is torrefied all the way through, not just on the surface. The final product has a uniform moisture and color.

Pilot facility

​In August of 2010 Konza officially began operating our small torrefaction reactor, called the Prairie Dog. Most of our testing has used lodgepole pine and recycled wood (mainly pallets). Our system is able to process most types of biomass provided they are properly sized prior to arrival onsite. The pilot plant can produce up to 1,500 lbs/hr of torrefied biomass from green biomass. The KRF pilot plant has been able to successfully process product that had a starting moisture content from 2 to 50 percent with no major adjustments. 

​Test samples have included
•Algae
•Corn Stover
•Eastern Red Cedar
•Hemlock
•Lodge Pole Pine
•Recycle Wood (Pallets, etc.)
•Sorghum
•SPF (Spruce, Pine, Fir)
•Switchgrass
•Wheat Grass

Konza Pilot Plant Emissions Resources 
Source Emissions Test Report – AirSource Technologies
Air Permit Section Response – KDHE

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