Solvay has started producing torrefied biomass at an industrial scale in the US, using sawmill waste from the timber industry in managed forests.
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. Torrefied biomass can immediately and practically substitute coal.
Some power plants in Europe use traditional wood pellets to replace coal. Torrefied biomass, however, contains 35 percent more energy by weight than wood pellets. Solvay said it is improving the water repellent properties of torrefied biomass to further enhance its storage and handling properties.
Torrefied biomass is produced in Quitman, Mississippi. Solvay will provide its industrial expertise to more than triple annual production capacity to 250,000 tons by the end of 2014 from 80,000 tons currently.
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