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We deliver systems world-wide 
to enable sustainable and commercially viable conversion
of fibrous bio-waste
into valuable soil fertilizer, fuel and electricity.


 

Burning or allowing the waste materials to rot  not only wastes the remaining energy, it also emits greenhouse gases as the complex molecules are decomposed into CO2 and the more devastating methane (CH4).

        

We do not consider the remainders of farmed crops as ‘waste’, but a valuable source for soil enrichment, electricity, and fuel.

       

Using a robust easy to operate stand-alone system to convert bio-waste into hydrophobic, energy dense black pellets

        

A highly profitable solution for owners of industrial bio-waste, agricultural bio-waste, and owners of barren wasteland and energy-crop farmers worldwide.

Download the company profile.

Our product

The Torbico Torrefaction System

In the last decade several initiatives have been started in Europe and the United States to produce torrefied biofuels on small scale basis. All these initiatives are failing or struggle to provide an economically viable proposition due to two design challenges:

Process technology: the process design in previous attempts has been proven unable to produce a consistent homogeneous torrefied biofuel.

Production location: to provide an economically viable proposition it is required to produce near the source of the base material and store and transport the torrefied biofuel instead of the base material.

The Torbico Torrefaction system uses a 2-phase torrefaction chamber with a unique process control to ensure a consistent homogeneous end product.

 

The TGoC Torrefaction System consist of 2 stacked 40-foot containers on top of which the combustor for the torrefaction gases and the feed-in system for the biowaste are located. This design provides a mobile construction that can be placed on site anywhere on the globe eliminating costly storage and logistics of source materials.

In the upper (“warm”) container the biomass is heated to a temperature close to the biomass’ ideal torrefaction temperature and subsequently biomass is torrefied.
In the lower (“cold”) container the torrefied material is cooled and finally densified optionally in pellets or various forms of  briquettes depending on the end-user’s needs.

Up to four units, each capable of producing 3 tons per hour of torrefied material depending on the type of biomass, can be clustered to combine densification and maintenance scheduling.

A separate, conditioned container holds the control-room and the switch panels.

TGoC's unique process design and process control

The complexity of torrefaction is caused by the nature of biomass, an in-homogeneous product. Biomass particles always differ in size, moisture content, chemical and physical composition, proving it difficult to produce a consistent torrefied end product.

Two elements are crucial in producing a consistent end-product:

Stage separation: the core production process consists of drying, heating and torrefying. Each step has its own characteristics and requires its own process implementation. The TGoC process design is unique in its separation of the heating and torrefaction stage.

Advanced process control: During torrefaction, the process risks becoming exothermic (it generates its own heat). TGoC’s proprietary process control manages to keep the material in the narrow temperature bandwidth required to obtain a consistent end-product.

TGoC has applied for patents for both its process design and its unique process control mechanism, which is simple, cheap, and very effective.

Configuration and scope your solution

The Torbico Torrefaction System needs to be configured to the processed feedstock. Different biomass materials have different characteristics in the areas of drying, mixing, heat penetration and off-gassing, requiring a specific system configuration and torrefaction recipe tailored to the particular biomass.

In addition, the Torbico Torrefaction System may need to be integrated in an existing environment. TGoC can handle the EPC-work related to the integration, which may involve installation or connection to dryers, silo’s, bagging equipment, etc.

The end-result is a turnkey delivered, integrated system that will transform the available biomass waste into a carbon neutral solid biofuel.

Markets

Sources of feedstock

The best source materials to be used in torrefaction are biological materials consisting primarily of fibres such as plants and trees.

Waste materials as a source of torrefaction

TGoC focuses on creating sustainable carbon neutral biofuel out of waste materials. Many agricultural and industrial processes create biomass waste streams eligible for biofuel conversion. The TGoC systems are scalable to service a wide range of quantities from industrial scale processing.

TGoC has decided to start developing recipes for three categories of waste materials with a very high potential for torrefaction conversion. In the near future more recipes will be developed. These three categories of waste materials are:

Industrial and agricultural waste
Wasteland conversion
Local initiatives

Industrial waste

The industrial production of sugar, tequila and palm oil result in high quantities of waste materials in continuous supply and, due to the industrial character of manufacturing, a relatively homogeneous and pure (unpolluted) content. These industries usually have methods of recycling in use already, using the waste material for process heating but leaving a large percentage of the waste material unused. In some industries the waste material is processed to extract essential elements. For example, sugar cane bagasse is used to extract bio-ethanol. The bio-ethanol process extracts the oils from the bagasse leaving pulped fibre waste. This pulped fibre waste is an ideal feedstock to be torrefied and the TGoC torrefaction system can be used in addition to the existing recycling efforts.

Torrefaction converts waste materials at the production location into a dry, energy dense, and very compact biofuel that is impervious to water or rot. This eliminates the inefficient bulk transportation of the waste material to processing plants which is economically not viable.

Wasteland conversion and energy crop farming

In parts of Africa, South America and Asia overextended farming leads to depletion of the soil resulting in vast amounts of wasteland and ongoing deforestation to replace the lost farming grounds. Studies show the positive effects of planting bana grass on wastelands to revitalise the soil and to reclaim the wastelands for future agriculture while bana grass can be processed into life stock feed (20%) and a valuable source of biomass feedstock. By using and converting existing wastelands the growth of biomass can play a positive role in the food-for-fuel discussion.

Similar to the use of industrial waste material the bana grass waste must be processed into high density torrefied biomass near the farming locations to avoid decay and to avoid economically unviable bulk transport.

Local initiatives

In our local backyard in Europe the intensive greenhouse horticulture as well as local municipal initiatives to meet sustainability goals by reusing the pruning waste both provide a source of biological material to be torrefied. The torrefied biomass can be sold or used locally to lower the energy consumption.

The scalable TGoC systems provide a small/medium scale solution to process the waste materials locally and stimulate self-sufficiency and minimise transportation

Non-waste sources eligible for using torrefaction

Wood pellet producers looking to expand or replace equipment will be surprised with the business case for the production of black pellets with Torbico Torrefaction Systems.

The relatively little energy that is required for the production of black pellets compared to the production of wood pellets, reduces the Opex significantly. In addition, the higher energy density reduces the transportation cost by as much as 40%.

The end-users will appreciate the better storage and handling characteristics of black pellets as they do not absorb water, are insensitive to rot and decay, and are easily grindable. Of course, the end-users also benefit from the increased energy density, resulting in reduced storage and transportation costs as well as less logistics.

About us

Realising the vision

In order to meet the anticipated 20% biomass contribution in the total energy mix in 2050 (IEA), the biomass or its waste materials need to be converted into an energy dense, easily transportable solid biofuel at the source to prove transport to high consumption areas economically viable.

Untreated biomass, from waste, trees or otherwise has a low energy density and therefore not economically viable to transport and it cannot be stored for long periods of time. The solution is to use a heat treatment (torrefaction) to process the biomass close to the source into a high-density biofuel with a near perpetual shelf life and creating a economically viable end product.

TGoC has created the Torbico Torrefaction System, a mobile production plant that can be used in remote rural environments and is scalable to suit both small-scale agricultural initiatives and industrial scale production sites. The Torbico System transforms biomass waste material, like bana grass or sugar cane bagasse, into easily transportable solid biofuels.

The team

The TGoC team is a well balanced and complementary team with over 10 years of experience in biomass and biomass related technologies combined with solid business sense.

The no-nonsense attitude and intrinsic motivation to improve the world has determined both the company culture and the product quality and simplicity.

Arthur van Wylick

Managing Director
co-founder

Experienced general manager with strong background in (sustainable) energy and retail.

Roland van Exel

Director of Operations
co-founder

Combining long term experience in torrefaction technology and business with product management capabilities

Contact

For more information on business opportunities or funding, please contact Arthur van Wylick

arthur.vanwylick@torbico.com
+31 629 628 286

For more information on technology, systems and technology related jobs, please contact Roland van Exel

roland.vanexel@torbico.com
+31 6 212 87 313

Background

The energy in biomass

Only plants, including algae, can absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and use sunlight and water to convert it into complex carbon structures to grow and store energy in the form of sugars, starch, oil, etc. Even if we have used all food and feed from the plants, the remaining fibers still contain an enormous amount of energy. Leaving these fibers on the field or in the woods, the rotting process will turn it back into carbon dioxide. The same applies if fields with straw or other remaining fibers are set on fire.

Assuming the plants are replaced, the carbon dioxide from the rotting process or burning is absorbed again making it a carbon neutral cycle in itself but the energy that was stored in the biomass is wasted. Enabling the use of the remaining energy from the fibers after all food en feed and usable chemicals were extracted is our mission.

Unfortunately the energy density of biomass is relatively low as it also contains up to 60% moist and has a low bulk weight. This makes shipping biomass not an economical option.
In today’s green energy market, wood pellets are the most commonly used biomass product. Trees are chopped and debarked, chipped and dried and subsequently milled and pressed into pellets. Although this does increase the energy density the drying, chipping, milling and pressing also requires substantial amounts of external energy, This process only works with wood and is hardly suitable for other types of biomass.

This is where torrefaction comes in. Many types of fibrous waste which have no other value, can easily be dried, torrefied and densified to make it both an ecologically smart energy source and an economically viable one.

Burning (torrefied) biomass is carbon neutral

While growing, biomass absorbs CO2 and using sunlight and water, converts the CO2 in complex chemicals, mostly sugars, used to grow and store energy. Even if the edible parts of the plants are harvested, there still is an abundance of fibrous material left. This material can be left to rot, but doing so will cause it to degrade into CO2 again and, even worse, will also create methane.

Burning the same material will also create CO2, however no methane, but now we have utilized the energy that was stored in the biomass.

If we plant new biomass, which we usually do to grow new edible material, that newly growing biomass will absorb the CO2 that was released during burning: making the CO2 go full circle.

By utilizing torrefied biomass roughly 85% in CO2 production will be saved relative to fossil coal. Of course, there is some CO2 involved in the process of harvesting and transportation.

The excellent business case for torrefaction

Currently the use of untreated biomass for energy purposes is limited due to the moisture content, the low bulk density, and low energy density. Only if the biomass is available in the vicinity of the power plant it is worthwhile transporting the biomass. Wood pellets, the only form of biomass that can be transported economically, is limited to wood only. Pellets from straw and other materials turn out to be inferior and not durable enough for transportation.

TGoC Torrefaction Systems produce black pellets from wood cheaper than wood pellets can be produced when compared per unit of energy. Adding the advantage of lower feedstock costs when using waste streams further increases that margin. Adding the lower transportation and handling cost due to the higher energy density makes it even more interesting for the producer and the end user.

At this time, the international standardization organization ISO, is working on standards for solid bio fuels just as they have provided standards for wood pellets. This clearly shows the worldwide believe in the use of biomass as energy source and torrefaction as the process to make that economically and ecologically feasible.

Torrefied material can be used in different applications and markets

Torrefied material has many of the characteristics of fossil coal but without the downside of carbon emissions. This product can be used in various types of boilers and furnaces. This makes it a suitable fuel for domestic heating, replacing fossil coal, lignite or brown coal, and even natural gas although the latter would require a change of furnace. Also in semi-governmental and municipal settings like hospitals, swimming pools and offices torrefied material in the form of pellets of pillow shaped briquettes is a sensible, carbon neutral fuel that can compete with existing fuels. Smaller industries that currently use coal, cokes or natural gas for heating purposes can make the same switch and make a strategic choice to reduce their carbon footprint dramatically.

The current combined heat and power plants running on fossil coal could also transition although their enormous volumes and thus buying power would require (national) subsidies as torrefied biomass cannot be produced at the price level of fossil coal in the current (non-level) playing field.

In some places, biomass is gasified and the biogas is used in small scale industrial boilers. The fluctuating characteristics of biomass tend to cause fluctuating gas quality. In addition, this process is only commercially viable if the need for gas is close to the biomass source. Torrefaction solves both problems: the biomass can be converted close to the source into an economically transportable solid fuel and the gasification process at a location close to the end-users produces a very stable output.

Another, more high-end, market for torrefied material is the market of active carbon. Torrefying biomass to the extreme leads to a product that has little energy, no volatiles (gases), but a maximum amount of carbon molecules with a huge contact surface in it microscopic structure. As the microscopic structure strongly depends on the originating biomass, for this attractive market, it is important to select the right biomass as feedstock.

The torrefaction process

Mankind has heated biomass without burning it for different purposes for a long time. The simplest reason would have been drying of biomass but in Western Africa, wood would be lit and buried under sand to produce charcoal for cooking and in France wood would be kept in sealed ovens to make it less sensitive to rot and decay. The most known use, however, would be the roasting of coffee beans.

The process of heating biomass without burning it, i.e. keeping it deprived from oxygen during the process, is called torrefaction. As said, the reasons for torrefaction are various. The torrefied and densified material is dry, very energy dense, insensitive to rot and decay and easily grindable, allowing it to be safely and economically transported, stored outside and preserve its energy over time.

This makes torrefaction the ideal process to turn fibrous biomass waste streams into an economically feasible solid bio fuel.