SERC Hosts Biomass Meeting

Biomass Meeting April 2011

Biomass energy VIPs gather around the torrefier at SERC. Photo credit Kellie Brown, HSU Photographer.

SERC’s recently launched collaboration with biomass energy startup Renewable Fuel Technologies (RFT) reached an important milestone on April 7, when a group of U.S. Forest Service officials, professional foresters, and biomass specialists from across the country convened at SERC for a Torrefaction Research, Development, and Commercialization Meeting.

The meeting included a demonstration of RFT’s prototype wood torrefier that had been recently moved to SERC. Many of the meeting participants, including RFT’s technical and business leadership team, braved late-season storms and a major landslide to make the trek up from the Bay Area.

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Gasification: Torrefaction of Wood Samples

Wood chips before and after torrefaction.

Unprocessed wood chips (front) and the same feedstock after torrefaction. Photo credit Kellie Brown, HSU Photographer.

Although SERC’s three-year biomass gasification project is winding down, we are continuing to research biomass and its role as a renewable fuel. Our latest endeavour is torrefaction.

Torrefaction is a mild form of pyrolysis in which biomass is heated in an inert environment to a temperature between 200 and 300 °C. During the process, water and volatiles are removed and the hemicelluloses break down, yielding a dry, blackened solid product with a lower moisture content and higher energy content on a mass basis than the initial biomass.

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