Arbacore pellets share many of the properties of coal
Key for the low investments and fast conversion time is that Arbaflame’s black pellets, Arbacore, share many of the properties of coal. Basically, Arbacore can be transported, stored and handled in the same way as coal. Moreover, the same equipment, including that for pulverising and combustion of the fuel, can still be used. The energy density of Arbacore’s black pellets corresponds to 76 percent of the energy value of coal while white pellets are typically almost as little as half that of coal.
Background for new R&D activities
The arbaheat project
The ARBAHEAT project aims to develop and demonstrate a new concept for the cost-effective retrofitting of existing fossil-fuel driven power plants via the first-of-a-kind integration of a biomass thermal treatment technology and application of on-site and off-site heat utilisation in an existing ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant, and to validate operational strategies that prove a feasible and affordable solution for the future energy system.
World’s first conversion
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is an electricity company with a generating capacity of over 16 GW, supplying over half of Ontario’s power needs. In 2015, Arbaflame converted their Thunder Bay Generating Station. Within months, the power station went from relying solely on coal to a 100 percent renewable solution, sending a significant message to power production companies worldwide.
“Apart from its energy value, Arbacore has several advantages over traditional white pellets. For example, its water resistance is a major benefit for the storage of the fuel – you can manage the entire supply chain in exactly the same way as for coal. Furthermore, the risk of explosion or spontaneous combustion is virtually non-existent, which is otherwise a major problem with white pellets, for which you must protect the power plant against a clearly enhanced fire risk. With the benefit of hindsight, OPG consider that they would probably not have invested in a white pellets conversion if they had had our option on the table when that decision was taken.”
From fossil fuel to renewable
in four months
The Thunder Bay Generating Station was converted with only two months down-time to a facility running on Arbacore wood pellets and it maintained power generation capacity at 170 megawatts, the same as when it was being fired with coal. And the price tag stayed at the 5 million Canadian dollars mark, 165 million dollars less than for the white pellets facility at the Atitokan Generating Station. In addition, the significantly shorter conversion time meant that the facility could be in operation more than half a year faster than its sister plant, saving even more.
At the beginning of 2014, Ontario Power Generation had two coal-fired power plants. Atitokan Generating Station, with a capacity of 205 MW, was converted to use traditional white pellets as fuel. The project took eighteen months and cost 170 million Canadian dollars to complete. The other coal-fired power plant, Thunder Bay Generating Station, was only used to manage peaks in the energy supply, so they did not want to make an equally large investment. The options were either to close the station fully or to find a cheaper way to carry out a conversion to renewable fuel. Henrik Hassel, Business Development Director at Arbaflame, tells us how Arbacore became the solution for the Thunder Bay Generating Station.
When Arbaflame first came in contact with OPG they had already initiated the conversion of the Atitokan Generating Station to use white pellets and had started discussing alternative options for the Thunder Bay Generating Station. A close dialogue with OPG verified that it is possible to make minor modifications in a very short period of time and switch to fully renewable power generation.
A political decision
The decisive step toward a fossil fuel-free production at the facility was taken in November 2013. Ontario’s government decided to close all coal-fired power stations and replace them with more healthy and environmentally-sound alternatives. Among the key factors on which the decision was based were studies which show that coal is twice as costly as renewable energy production when taking into account the extensive health problems that arise from use of coal.
The future is renewable
With the world’s first commercial conversion to Arbacore pellets in full operation has demonstrated to potential customers and other stakeholders that Arbaflame is no longer a development project. Arbaflame continues to push forward for more commercial possibilities, particularly in Europe, Canada and Japan.
an independent review of arbaflame technology
FutureMetrics has published a comprehensive analysis of Arbaflame’s steam exploded (SE) pellet technology.
FutureMetrics’ senior engineer, Laurenz Schmidt, has spent more than 5 months producing a highly detailed analysis of the process flows and the characteristics of Arbaflame’s thermally treated highly water resistant “black” pellets. FutureMetrics has created its own detailed mass and energy flow model of Arbaflame’s optimized process*.
The report’s co-author, William Strauss, has used the mass and energy flow model to create a financial model of a hypothetical 240,000 tonne per year steam exploded pellet plant. The model is subjected to a variety of sensitivity analyses including a Monte Carlo simulation.
FutureMetrics believes that the Arbaflame SE pellet technology has overcome the technical shortcomings that have prevented the production of cost competitive SE pellets.
The paper shows in detail how this conclusion was reached.
Download a copy of the table of contents HERE.
Available for purchase and download online at the FutureMetrics’ website.