Areva buys biocoal technology

Areva has acquired the rights to a biocoal technology developed by French torrefaction technology company Thermya.

An Areva media representative said that AREVA has acquired the company Thermya—not just the technology—and it has been integrated to Areva’s Bioenergy Business Unit.

Areva will build plants based on this technology, she said, but will focus in the short-term on commissioning two Thermya-built torrefaction plants installed in France and Spain. Construction of those plants began in early June 2011, and represent Thermya’s first commercial-scale facilities based off of its TORPSYD technology.

Prior to the commercial facilities, Thermya built a pilot unit at the company’s headquarters in Villenave d’Ornon, France, in 2007.

Thermya described its TORSPYD biocoal process as a soft thermal treatment of biomass (240 degrees Celsius or 464 degrees Fahrenheit) based on the continuous circulation of two air flows moving in opposite directions. As a result of the hot neutral gases, the biomass is dehydrated and then depolymerized in the reactor to eventually produce biocoal.
According to Thermya, the TORSPYD biocoal product retains 90 percent of its initial biomass mass and contains a moisture level of 1 percent. Properties and energy content vary, depending on the properties of the initial raw biomass, but the company says wood-derived biocoal has a calorific value of 20,000 to 21,000 kilojoules per kilogram.

The biocoal technology adds to Areva’s renewable portfolio that includes more than 100 bioenergy power plants in operation or under construction in Europe, North America, Latin America and South East Asia. The company has expanded into the Americas under its subsidiaries Areva Renewable Inc. and Adage in the U.S., and Areva Koblitz in Brazil. a



Thermya Announces Construction of Three Biocoal Plants

We’ve covered Thermya before: It’s a company headquartered in France which has developed a process to create a coal biomass from dried-out husks and other waste products. Today they announced construction of three biocoal plants, validating their product and anticipating full-scale production before the end of 2011. Thermya is similar to a company that Google Venturesrecently invested in called CoolPlanetBioFuels, with the difference being that CoolPlanetBioFuels produces a gasoline substitute through conversion versus Thermya’s solid coal replacement.

With Germany’s recent announcement to be completely free of nuclear energy by 2022, and the continuing coverage of the Fukushima Nuclear disaster in the wake of the tsunami that hit Japan, we may soon see more biomass-to-fuel products on the market, and it appears that Thermya is in a strong leadership position.

The construction of biocoal production plants using Thermya’s TORSPYD technology is going according to schedule in Spain and in the North of France, with full-scale production already in progress.

The official press release stated the following:

Villenave d’Ornon, 30th May 2011 – Thermya, a French engineering company leader in biomass-to-energy conversion technologies, announces construction of three industrial biocoal production units using TORSPYD, the innovative biomass torrefaction process developed by the company.

A first unit is currently in construction on the site of Urnieta, in the Spanish Basque Country, under the supervision of Grupo Lantec, promoter and developer of the project. Thermya, who granted a TORSPYD license to Lantec’s subsidiary Idema, has been supporting Lantec with the process engineering aspects of the project and will continue to provide support and assistance until successful commissioning of the plant in a few months.

“The commissioning of the plant is planned for the summer 2011″, said Román Monasterio, Managing Director of Grupo Lantec.

The plant, which will operate on a continuous basis, 24/7, will produce 20,000 tonnes of biocoal per year (2.5 tonnes per hour) from previously unused local forestry residues. The biocoal production will supply neighbouring coal power plants, which will allow them to reduce their consumption of fossil fuel and thereby their CO2 footprint, thanks to the co-firing of biocoal with coal.

Thermya is also currently constructing two biocoal production units in Mazingarbe, in the North of France, for French company LMK Energy. LMK Energy awarded a contract to Thermya in January 2011 for the turn-key supply of two biomass torrefaction units with a total production capacity of 40,000 tonnes per year of biocoal. The biocoal produced by the Mazingarbe torrefaction plant will be densified, in the form of pellets or briquettes, for supply to European power stations.

“The construction phase started in March and we are progressing according to schedule with the operation of the first unit planned for the end of Q3″, declared Franck Lavarde, President and Managing Director of LMK Energy.

With these three TORSPYD biomass torrefaction units now well into the construction phase, Thermya confirms its technological and commercial leadership in the field of torrefaction. Hervé Chauvin, Thermya’s Managing Director, comments:

“These contracts reinforce the relevance of our technology and, beyond that, mark the break-through of biocoal as a green fuel alternative to fossil coal.”

Additional Information: Thermya is an engineering company created in 2002 and specialised in the design and development of conversion technologies for the valorisation of non-food biomass. Thermya has developed TORSPYD, a unique and innovative proprietary technology for the torrefaction of biomass. The company is also involved in the recycling of wood waste and solid organics. Thermya is headquartered in Villenave d’Ornon, near Bordeaux, France and employs 17 highly qualified staff, technicians, engineers and scientists. TORSPYD biocoal is a high-performance solid fuel and an ideal substitute for fossil coal; it gives coal consumers the opportunity to reduce their emissions of CO2, nitrogen and sulphur oxides. In addition, as opposed to raw biomass, torrefied biomass can be co-fired without any limitation to the mix rate with coal, and it does not require any prior investment or technical modification of the facilities. The energy output of the power station is maintained while the consumption of fuel is reduced. Idema is a Spanish environmental engineering company subsidiary of Grupo LANTEC. It is specialized in the integration of innovative systems in the construction industrial units for the production of renewable energy. LMK Energy was created in 2010 to produce torrefied wood pellets, also known as “2nd generation pellets”. The two TORSPYD units located in Mazingarbe will allow LMK Energy to supply 40,000 tons of biocoal per year. For information about the sale of biocoal from these units, you can contact:

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