Demand for biomass products is growing rapidly worldwide for being a renewable, environmentally friendly alternative to energy derived from fossil fuels. This represents a major economic opportunity for Canada given the nation’s abundance of forest biomass and the forest sector’s commitment to transformation. Through briquetting processes, biomass can be converted into clean and high calorific value biomass briquettes. Greater use of biomass briquettes could help ease Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels and, in the process, reduce net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Using briquetting technology to transform biomass
Today, Canadian Forest Service (CFS) scientists are working with their counterparts in provincial and territorial governments, industry and universities to explore a range of biomass-related and biomass-derived technologies and products. The briquetting technology is the physical transformation of the loose raw material into a compact form with biomass briquette machine. The form change results in a much higher specific density of the material, which increases its combustion efficiency as compared to the loose material.
Let’s look at some facts about biomass briquettes: the raw material piled density is 60-350 kg/m³, while the briquettes piled density is 1100-1400kg/m³. We can easily draw a conclusion that the briquettes density has greatly improved, so the combustion value also improves 30%-40%. Most important, after carbonization, the charcoal briquettes calorific value can be up to 7000-8500 kilocalories. The burning time is 200 min/kg and carbon content is 75%-85%.
Vast market for biomass briquettes in Canada
The Canada market for wood/biomass briquettes has steadily increased in recent years. According to Natural Resources Canada, about 26 per cent of Canadians use biomass for home heating. This use is most prevalent in Atlantic Canada. There are also a few biomass-based district heating systems in Canada, which burn biomass to provide heat or electricity to buildings in a community. In Atlantic Canada, existing district heating systems have been modified to burn biomass briquettes and pellets, thereby lowering reliance on fossil fuels. Canada’s biomass briquettes production capacity grew from 500,000 tonnes in 2002 to two million tonnes in 2008. Canada was the leading briquettes producer in the world in 2007.
The leading biomass briquette plants in Canada
Nova Scotia’s Minas Basin Pulp and Power announced a new cogeneration plant that will need 165,000 metric tons (182,000 tons) of green biomass per year. Enligna, the new owners of the Martara briquettes plant, have announced a plan to expand production, requiring an extra 100,000 to 200,000 metric tons (110,000 tons to 220,000 tons) of biomass per year.
Dalkia and Canadian fund Fengate Capital Management Ltd. will develop one of Canada’s largest biomass plants. With an electricity capacity of 40 MW, this new plant will consume 307,000 metric tons of biomass a year. This plant will generate electricity sold to BC Hydro & Power Authority to power almost 40,000 Canadian households. It will avoid the annual discharge of around 95,000 metric tons of CO2 – the equivalent of more than 45,000 cars off the road.
All this action means the Canada is demanding new biomass briquettes and briquettes production equipments in large amount.