Biocoal: Clean energy from the furnace
Smart energy | Sustainability and climate protection | Straw, wood chips or green cuttings can be transformed into biocoal using the POLTORR technology developed by thyssenkrupp. For co-developer Karl Lampe, the big advantages of the process are clear: POLTORR offers a real, CO2 saving alternative to fossil fuels while at the same time making biowaste and residual products industrially usable again.
“What takes many millions of years to occur naturally, we can achieve here in a very short time.” Process engineer Karl Lampe believes in the benefits of his development – a multiple-hearth furnace called POLTORR which can be used to make biocoal from second-generation biomass. How does it work? Biomass and biogenic waste of all kinds are crushed, predried and then roasted at 220 to 320 degrees in the absence of air, employing a similar method to the one used in the production of coffee.
This process, called torrefaction, causes the biomass to lose its fibrous structure, thus making it easy to grind. At the same time, the calorific value is increased. In this way, it is possible to produce a product with the same properties as coal on an industrial scale.
Clean biocoal for various applications
While fossil fuels produce large quantities of CO2 every year, biocoal is much more eco-friendly. “The fact that our technology also uses natural waste as a raw material is a further major plus point,” says Karl Lampe. While other processes that generate energy from biomass often use foodstuffs, i.e. edible plants such as rape, corn or sugar cane, POLTORR works with second-generation biogenic fuels.
For example production waste, wood, straw, green cuttings or biowaste can be used. These waste materials are processed and transformed into biocoal for industrial use. This reduces the CO2 footprint by almost 100%.
With the POLTORR technology we are able to reduce the CO2 footprint by almost 100%.
Dr. Karl LampeProcess engineer
This is made possible by a special furnace design developed by Karl Lampe and an interdisciplinary team. He has good memories of the project: “Our team came from many different specialist areas – and that is also reflected in the product and its capabilities today.” Whether in biorefineries, cement and lime production, electricity generation or ore processing – the POLTORR technology can be used in many industry sectors to ensure clean energy.
POLTORR was developed at the thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions research and development center in Ennigerloh. Around 100 employees work on new products and technologies for plant construction at the 50,000 square meter site.