From Biomass to Biocarbon - Trends and Tradeoffs when Co-Firing

H. McLaughin (Canada)


Sustainable Development, CoFiring Biomass, Biocarbon/Biochar Properties, Biofuel Supply Chain Economics


The challenges associated with co-firing a biofuel in an existing combustion train can be conceptually divided into assembling a biofuel creation capability, transporting the biofuel to the utility location, and adapting the operations of the utility to accommodate the characteristics of the new fuel. This analysis will develop and compare the properties of three biofuels capable of being co-fired: dry wood pellets, torrefied wood pellets and biocarbon pellets (carbonized biomass pellets). The physical properties and processing mass balances of these renewable resources will be investigated. Additional characterizations will be provided that influence the transportation and utilization of the fuel by the utility in coal and lignite combustion processes. Utilizing recent data from the literature on the production and transportation costs of biofuels produced in British Columbia and consumed by utilities in Sweden, the market value and associated maximum production cost, including profit, is discussed. It is concluded that if the overall biofuel supply chain includes significant transportation costs, relative to the cost of the raw biomass and operating costs of the biofuel conversion process, then higher energy density products, such as biocarbon pellets, potentially represent the most cost-effective biofuel and present the most compatible biofuel for co-firing with coal.

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