It is our mission to enable
the world wide, sustainable, and commercially viable
recovery of natural resources from fibrous biomass.
We believe that the growing of plants, trees and algae is the most natural way of producing and storing energy, producing oxygen at the same time.
After we have taken the seeds, fruit, roots, oil, starch, and sugar from the plants an abundance of energy is still stored in the remaining fibers. Burning fields and even the natural rotting process not only wastes this energy but also emits greenhouse gases as the complex molecules are decomposed into CO2 and water again.
We believe that in order to meet the anticipated 20% biomass contribution in the total energy mix in 2050 (IEA), that the biomass or its waste stream needs to be converted at its source into an energy dense,easily transportable solid biofuel.
We believe sustainability, in the broadest sense, can only be achieved if it is economically feasible.
This is why we founded Torbico to enable the commercially viable recovery of energy from biomass.
The torbico 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.
For more information on business opportunities or funding, please contact Arthur van Wylick
+31 629 628 286
For more information on technology, systems and technology related jobs, please contact Roland van Exel
+31 6 212 87 313
Many agricultural and industrial processes create biomass waste streams. Torbico enables the upcycling of fibrous biomass waste streams into solid biofuels in the form of black pellets or briquettes that can replace wood pellets or fossil coal.
The Torbico Torrefaction Systems will process wood, palm trees and palm kernel shells from the palm oil production, and agave leaves and bagasse from the tequila production.
At a later stage and upon request the configurations of the Torbico Torrefaction Systems will be become available to process sugarcane bagasse from the sugar and bio-ethanol production but also intrusive species such as arundo donax (reed), pseudo acacia, and mesquite (US) from land clearing.
Taking the wood pellets market as benchmark, the business case is very attractive: feedstock prices are lower, Capex is lower, Opex is lower, and transportation cost of the ready product is lower. As the price per unit of energy for this superior product is at least the price of wood pellets per unit of energy, the IRR for these project is between 25% and 40%.
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.
The Torbico Torrefaction Systems will be configured to the feedstock available. Different biomass materials have different characteristics in the areas of transportation and off-gassing, requiring specific both specific configurations and the use of specific torrefaction recipes for the particular biomass.
In addition, the torrefaction unit needs to be integrated in the existing environment. Torbico can handle the EPC-work related to the integration, which may involve installing or connecting to dryers, silo’s, bagging equipment, etc.
The end-result is a turn-key delivered, integrated (set of) system(s) that will turn the available biomass waste into a carbon neutral solid biofuel.
Torbico Torrefaction Systems 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.
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 combined.
A separate, conditioned container holds the control-room and the switch panels.
The complexity of torrefaction is caused by the nature of biomass, an in-homogeneous product. Pieces of biomass always differ in size, moist, chemical composition, physical composition, etc. making it historically hard to produce a consistent end product from such an inconsistent feedstock.
Two elements are crucial in producing a consistent end-product. Firstly, the acknowledgment that the main process consists of three parts: drying, heating and torrefying. Each part has its own characteristics and requires its own process implementation. Secondly, the need for advanced process control. Especially during torrefaction, the process may become exothermic (it generates its own heat). This makes it hard to keep the material in a very narrow temperature bandwidth which is required to obtain a consistent end-product.
Torbico has applied for patents for both its process design and its unique process control mechanism which is simple, cheap, and very effective.
On April 11, RWE launched its Amer Bio WKC at the Amercentrale in Geertruidenberg in the Netherlands. At this events, Torbico presented its plans for the installation of a laboratory system to jointly research the suitability of various sustainable biomass waste streams for torrefaction into solid biofuels for the Amer Bio WKC and the installation of its first production system to enable full scale co-firing tests with the selected 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.
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.
Currently the use of biomass for energy purposes is limited as untreated biomass is contains much moist, has a relatively low bulk density, and has a 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.
Torbico 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 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.
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.