The project will be led by biomass specialists Forest fuels with Uniper Technologies, the University of Sheffield’s PACT facilities and the University of Leeds also playing a major role. The project will involve the construction of a prototype biomass plant at Widmerpool in Nottinghamshire which will pretreat different forms of biomass in order to remove impurities.
The cleaned feedstocks will then be blended and combustion tested at the University of Sheffield’s pilot scale Advanced Capture Technology Facilities, with expert support provided by the University’s Energy 2050 Institute. The ash produced during combustion testing will then be examined by The University of Leeds.
Biomass fuels, including waste wood, arboricultural and forestry residues and purpose-grown biomass feedstocks such as Miscanthus, often contain undesirable contaminants which are usually picked up during harvesting, transport or storage. The idea behind the ETI project is that this pre-treatment process will reduce such concentrations, thereby delivering operational benefits and value. If successful, the process could lead to lower environmental and operating costs for power producers, leading to a lower cost of low carbon energy.
“A lot of waste wood currently ends up in landfill sites or is used in incinerators” said programme manager Geraint Evans. “This project will take waste wood, wash it and blend it to remove impurities to make it as clean as possible in the lowest cost way. By removing such impurities this will lead to improvements in the efficiency of biomass boilers and the feedstocks used within them. We want to show that improving the quality of biomass feedstocks in this way is a viable way of increasing the amount of sustainable sources of bioenergy, obtaining more energy from them and delivering improved greenhouse gas savings. The intention is that once the process has been proven and tested it could then be used on other bioenergy crops and scaled up to treat larger amounts of material creating even greater efficiencies.”
Peter Solly, Managing Director of Forest Fuels, added that building on Forest Fuels experience of developing new products and markets in the virgin wood fuel sector will create an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of the next generation of bioenergy feedstocks and that improving the quality of biomass feedstocks is a big opportunity for the future.