Thursday, 17 June 2010

Torrefaction Myths vs Torrefaction Reality

The torrefaction Industry is one that encompasses virtually every continent on the Globe. No matter where you look - someone, somewhere, is screaming from the mountaintops about their "Proven" or "patented" process that is the Holy Grail of renewable fuel.

If one were to believe the rhetoric and hype, the world is full of operating reactors making millions of tonnes of Bio-Coal. Alas, such is not the case.

As of TODAY (June 17th, 2010) there are NO COMMERCIAL Torrefaction reactors operating anywhere in the world. period.

Plenty of research, testing, trials and prototype (pilot scale) reactors have been built - and some have operated on a continuous basis for hundreds of hours. While this is certainly a necessary step in the Development process; it is no more a commercial unit than a radio-controlled airplane is a Cessna 172.

The people who are yelling the loudest - are the most vague about their operations.

For Example:

"Vega's China Venture to Use Special Torrefaction Technology in Ten Manufacturing Plants"

This headline was splashed all over the Internet, and appears to indicate a major development and implementation of the technology. One only has to look a little closer, to read all of the "will's", "wants to", intends to", etc. (along with the ever-present disclaimer that says these are "forward looking statements - which may, or MAY NOT be true"

Hmmm . . . . .let me see - publish whatever you want - to create market hype and pump up the value of your stock; then hide behind anonymity when it comes to substantiating your statements. Even DIRECT requests to the Company have resulted in no response.


The American Corporation indicated that they were on the verge of operations. Let's see - where I come from - this would mean that:

1) They have a physical plant facility, somewhere on this planet, that has the ability to make torrefied wood.
2) They have a technology, and the attendant machinery, to undertake torrefaction.
3) They have a product (Bio-Coal) that is accepted in the marketplace. (Presumably by large power generation Utilities)


One has to wonder what they do have. Well . .. in the past few months, they have a virtually total abandonment by the Board of Directors; they have cancelled all of their MOU's; LOI's and Framework Agreements, and they have a significant debt - with no income.

"New Earth Renewable Energy Inc. uses proprietary technologies to develop and produce alternatives to fossil fuels"

WOW! Not only do you get ONE product (like "old fashioned" Torrefaction) you get THREE products. It would appear that they have gone above and beyond the technology hurdle - and gotten to a THIRD GENERATION process. A very small amount of research revealed that they are, in fact, using an existing technology (Pyrovac) that was developed in Quebec, Canada; operated for a short period of time; then "mothballed". Certainly - the Technology exists; the Reactor Exists, but it is a LONG way from being anything even CLOSE to torrefaction.

Add to all of this, a multitude of Companies promoting "proven torrefaction technology". In one form or another, these "intermediaries" are touting technologies that have been trialled - and, for one reason or another - not completed. Case in Point - Integro Earth Fuels did a lot of development work on the Wyssmont dryer. I haven't heard anything from Walt Dickinson (Integro) for almost a year now, since he was faced with the inevitable tar problem that a system of this faces. Perhaps after the initial flurry (where it seemed like every second week there was another "announcement" of their achievements) the reality of the technology challenge has finally hit home.

The one question that everybody seems to be asking is - "IF the technology is PROVEN and OPERATING, WHY are the Major Utility Companies not beating a path to their door?" After all - this product "ticks ALL the boxes" in terms of CO2 Reduction; Environmental Sustainability; economics, etc. Other than RWE investing in Topell; and Vattenfall recently signing up with ECN, it would appear that the Majors are still sitting back and taking a "wait and see" attitude. Surely - if the claims made were TRUE - there would be NO HESITATION in adopting the technology.

So here is the OFFER:

We have several HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS STERLING available, to develop a biomass to fuel manufacturing facility, for ANY Company that can substantiate their claim of an economic, cost-effective, operating torrefaction reactor.

Simple as that.



  1. Hello Raw,

    I read your blog.
    I want to inform you that our plant in Rotem (Dilsen-Stokkem) is now operating. It's our first productionline. We have had our hot commissioning in june. The torrefactionpart functions great. The problems we have (had) are located in the peripheral before torrefaction.
    The second line on this location will be built next year. Two others will be built also next year in Holland

  2. Are there any new updates or findings related to this technology?? Thank you. James

  3. Several HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS STERLING...Is this for R&D, turn-key plant(s) or technology Manufacturing and Marketing?

  4. I have one USD $ to anyone who can point me in the direction of a functioning plant that produces more than one bucketful an hour.
    And, it it can scale up, I have several mlliion tons a year or biomass to push through it and will award a royalty to the turn key plant builder.

  5. Hello " anonymous",
    just read your comment, about torrefaction technology and upscaling.
    I´m very possitive that I have the know how,about the necessary key technoƶogy for torrefaction in a large industrial scale.
    If your are still interested please respond on this platform!!!!!

  6. And where are you now?