Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Nuts and Bolts (Mass and Energy Balance) of torrefaction

Over the past couple of weeks, since my last post, I have had more requests for further information than I can recall receiving in the past 3 years.

As a consequence of those enquiries, I have decided to post a detailed outline of our technology, and it's operating prowess. 

It is fair to say that the single most important factor in torrefaction is not the Heating rate - but rather quite the opposite - it's the cooling rate that really matters. As we operate just at the edge of exothermic runaway, controlling the rate at which the reaction develops is critical.

This was probably the single most important revelation in the entire development process.

Most of the requests wanted to look at the "Nuts and Bolts" of our Torrefaction System. The VAST MAJORITY were interested in the performance characteristics of the system. These being:
  • Mass Balance
  • Energy Balance
  • Financial Sensibilities

From an operational point of view . . here are the numbers for our 2-Tonne per hour reactor.

Mass Input = 2790 kg (bone dry)
Mass Output = 2,000 kg (bone dry)
Mass Loss = 790 kg
Net mass recovery = 71.68%
Net mass loss = 28.32%
Feedstock Conversion Ratio = 1.395:1 (dry basis)
Energy In = 52.26 Gj
Energy Out;
Torrefied Fuel = 43 Gj (82.28%)
Tor-gas = 3.95 Gj (7.56%)
Total = 46.95 Gj
Energy loss = 5.31 Gj = 10.16%
System Efficiency = 89.84% (assuming use of Flue Gas for pre-drying) 

Now, from a financial point of view, achieving this level of performance doesn't mean anything - unless it can be done at a price that is sensible.

Our core system, very nicely achieves the $750,000.00 per tonne hour mark. It operates with a 2-man crew, and is capable of sustained performance - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Densification, whether into pellets or briquettes is proven, without binders or other additives. In the not-too-distant future, I will be posting a video of the entire system, and it's operation from infeed, through reaction, through grinding, and finishing with pelletisation. I receive a barrel of the product this week, and I have to tell you - it is some of the best bio-coal I have ever seen. Ever particle - from the smallest - to the largest, was a consistent colour and texture. There were no pyrolised pieces, and nor "raw" pieces. 

I have to say that it does my heart good to see that we have finally succeeded in creating a system that is stable in operation, and produces the elusive homogeneous product.Now - It's Onward and upward to the next level. 


P.S. In answer to the few anonymous requests I have had to publish photographs of our system - we purposely choose not to. There are a number of reasons for this. If however - anyone wishes to contact me, and has a bona-fide reason to learn the intimate details of our technology; to visit and tour our facilities; or to receive sample production runs - then I am happy to share with them on a one-to-one basis.

Unfortunately - there are FAR too many people out there - just on "fishing" expeditions, and we have little time to suffer fools. It's roughly the same as the number of requests I get for "samples" of our product. I dare say that I could keep the shipping department VERY busy if I responded to every request for samples.

Unfortunately - we need to be somewhat selective about who we send this product to - as there needs to be a sound commercial basis for doing so. When you consider that the cost to date of manufacturing this product - is in the tens of thousands of pounds sterling per tonne - you can appreciate that even a kilo of product is very valuable to us. For our Utility and Industrial Partners - for whom we are making hundreds of tonnes - it is a product that they don't particularly want out in the marketplace. Those that have supported us throughout the process - are recipients of this "black gold". Those that now want to just jump on the bandwagon . . . well, I'm afraid without a quid pro quo, the samples and information simply won't be forthcoming.

The last time I checked - we were working on projects in America, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, and most recently - Malaysia. Once these are installed, commissioned and operational - there will be many opportunities to tour the facilities.


  1. RAW...Spectacular job on completing your 2 tonnes per hour (17,520 TPY)system and achieving the US$750,000 per ton goal!! I just read an article on *Topell stating they are now promoting a 100,000 TPY (11,5 TPH)greenfield plant for US$28 million.

    Topell= $2.4 million per tonne
    Richard plant= $750,000. per tonne

    Good Show....

    * Topell article page 9 of 11 under assumptions

    1. @Anonymous;

      Our plant is significantly less expensive than the Topell Technology, however you are not comparing apples with apples.

      I suspect that the Topell price is a complete system (Drying / Torrefaction / Grinding and Pelletising) and our price is just the Reactor.

      Topell have a beautiful, elegant and sophisticated System (It's a Rolls Royce compared to our Land Rover Version) so it really isn't a fair comparison.

      For the record - a complete 120K tonne per year system using our technology would cost US$13 MM. This would include pre-drying / Reaction / Refining and Densification.


  2. 13,000,000 / 120,000= $108.00 per ton capacity

    28,000,000 / 100,000= $280.00 per ton

    Three times less!

  3. Still waiting for a video of your process from one of your multi-country project sites.

    Surely one of the six coutries you mentioned have a video, heavily cencored or not, showing the basic concept of your torrefaction technology.

  4. what material are you using for your plant in Malaysia? where?

  5. Does your equipment can only be used small wood pirolizing to get wood charcoal?

  6. Hi Richard,
    I'm happy to read about your system prowess. I'm now located in Malaysia and would be very interested to have a look at what they're doing with torrefaction here when it's ready.

    Best Regards

    Marie Gal

  7. Richard,
    Have you abandoned the torrefaction blog? It's been 10 months since your last post so either you are unable to talk about this topic or the torrefaction revolution is dead...

  8. Hello Followers of this blog...
    Did Richard go into hiding because his method isn't scalable to meet the million plus tons per year demands of the coal fired plants? My answer is YES!!!

  9. Hello Richard,
    I' e followed your blog for several years and found your information very informative and uplifting. Have you retired from the Torrefaction race?

  10. Have you ended your Torrefaction blog? If so, Why?

  11. I think Richard has stopped blogging because he has given so much misinformation to so many people that he cant remember who he has told what to and when, that he has made himself look a bit daft. So many bits of his information conflict with one another and many people within the torrefaction and biomass industries realise he is a bit dilusional