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Conversion of Treated Biomass

Energy Management

Once biomass has been pretreated or prepared, it can be processed in a number of ways to gain added value. NRRI is actively pursuing the following conversion development at the Renewable Energy Laboratory:

Conversion to Electricity

In collaboration with the Sustainable Rail Coalition, NRRI will install a high efficiency, 100KW steam engine electrical generator that will run on torrefied solid fuels. This will demonstrate the utility of this generation with prepared fuels.

Conversion to Liquid Fuels and/or Chemicals

In collaboration with the Forestry and Bioeconomy Initiative, NRRI will pursue various means of treating the torrefied biomass into syngas (CO and H2). Using state of the art catalysis, the intent is to demonstrate and sample liquid fuels and chemicals from Minnesota woody biomass. Initial targets with market interest include jet fuel and diesel fuel.

Conversion to Value-Added Products

Thermally-modified wood shows enhanced properties. It is anticipated that torrefied wood fibers may also show enhanced properties that may find use as stable, composite reinforcement components. Adjustment of the torrefaction process may also allow production of high value activated carbon for use in water purification.

Use as a Metallurgical Reagent

Initial tests have shown that the torrefied materials can be used as a coal substitute in iron ore reduction and may be a “green” replacement for coals used in other metallurgical applications.