Airex Energy inaugurates Quebec torrefaction plant
On Feb. 24, Airex Energy officially inaugurated its biomass torrefaction plant, located in the La Prade industrial park in Bécancour, Quebec. The industrial-size demonstration plant, which required around $10 million in public and private investments for its design, construction, and start-up, showcases the latest trademarked biomass torrefaction technology, CarbonFX. The technology, designed by Airex Energy, significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions for many industries still using coal or coal byproducts.
Airex Energy's torrefaction process transforms biomass residues into biocoal pellets, a clean and renewable fuel that can replace coal and oil. Biocoal's unique properties allows it to easily disintegrate, so it can be ground up and combined with bituminous coal in thermal power stations producing electricity, without major changes to existing systems for handling, storing, and grinding coal.
The CarbonFX system also produces biochar, a product with a high carbon content used for soil remediation, liquid filtration and metal reduction. Biochar, when mixed with compost or peat moss, promotes plant growth. Biochar also helps reduce metals and enables rehabilitation of former mining sites.
Airex Energy's business model is to export its CarbonFX systems worldwide. The entire forest industry, including sawmills, pulp and paper, and wood pellet producers, is Airex's primary market for the CarbonFX systems. The processing of wood residues into value-added products can allow companies in the sector to increase their profitability while diversifying their sources of income. And because of its simple design and small footprint, the CarbonFX technology is cost-competitive.
"We believe our technology will provide new ways for forestry companies to increase profitability while diversifying their sources of revenue,” said Sylvain Bertrand, CEO of Airex Energy. “With this in mind, we have started marketing our CarbonFX systems in Canada and the United States, in order to roll out this technology in all markets generating substantial amounts of residual biomass.”
Since December 2015, Airex Energy has conducted a gradual commissioning of the plant's equipment and performed several tests to optimize the process. The company started commercial biocoal and biochar production, with the goal of producing 15,000 metric tons annually from residual biomass such as forest residues, sawdust, bark, and recycled wood for current and future clients in Canada and the U.S.