News & Analysis

Sulzer enables production of biomass pellets

4th October 2021
James Anstee

Sulzer Chemtech’s innovative EU-funded Arbaflame project is aiming to produce 70,000 tonnes of biomass-based combustibles per year to enable clean power generation.

Arbaflame’s facility will produce 70,000 tonnes of ‘bio-coal’ pellets per year. These are made of wood biomass and can be used as fuel in place of coal in power plants. The production processes leading to the pellets also generate condensate containing key chemicals, namely methanol and furfural. The methanol will be used to produce energy to power the plant, thereby enabling circularity, while furfural is expected to be used as building block in a number of downstream manufacturing processes.

The produced biomass pellets are made of wood and can be used as a 100% sustainable alternative to coal in power plants to produce carbon-neutral power. Sulzer Chemtech’s separation equipment will play a key role in Arbaflame’s pellet production process, minimising energy usage while maximising the recovery of highly useful chemicals generated as byproducts in the process.

Sulzer Chemtech provided a separation unit that will help arbaflame recover these materials, maximising the self sufficiency of the plant while supporting the use of renewable resources in the energy and manufacturing sectors.

In order to minimise the environmental footprint of the recovery process, Sulzer Chemtech’s engineers developed a highly efficient system. In particular, the company selected distillation methods to recover the chemicals according to their claimed ability to deliver the highest purity chemicals while requiring minimal energy input. Also, the setup was engineered to be able to reuse energy in each stage of the distillation process, further increasing efficiency and sustainability.

Finally, Sulzer Chemtech was able to ensure arbaflame could benefit from the separation unit as soon as it was installed. Rune Brusletto, chief technology officer at arbaflame, commented: “The modular recovery unit provided by Sulzer Chemtech is the best investment we have made in our facility last year. It also came fully equipped and piped, ready to be operated. The collaboration with Sulzer Chemtech was extremely successful, as the company was able to deliver the unit in a very short time and has helped us streamline our operations”.

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