Thermal Energy opens Dry-Rex test facility

By Jerry W. Kram
Canadian company Thermal Energy International Inc. has established a test facility for its funded research projects, including work on its Dry-Rex biomass-drying technology. The laboratory will be located in Chilliwack, British Columbia.

The Dry-Rex system is a low-temperature biomass-drying technology. The low temperature minimizes the amount of volatile organic compounds generated by biomass, which reduces the risk of fires or explosions. The system can operate on waste heat from a variety of commercial and industrial sources. According to Raymond Belanger, chief scientist at Thermal Energy, the facility has already received its first contract from an Italian firm to conduct tests on drying orange and grape pressings. He added that several potential customers from Europe's biofuels industry have been in contact with the company. Potential applications include waste streams such as wood, industrial and municipal sewage, food and beverage waste, and other materials, which could be converted into biofuels. The system could also be used to dry distillers grain produced by ethanol plants.

"With all fossil fuels increasing in price at the same time as demand grows for eco-friendly alternatives, more and more manufacturers and producers are realizing their waste has the potential to become valuable biofuels," said Tim Angus, president and chief executive officer of Thermal Energy. "Our new lab provides a cost-effective way for them to determine the viability of converting their biomass for this use or as a secondary commercial product."

The lab is equipped with a gravimetric moisture analyzer to determine the concentration of moisture and solids before and after testing. It will also be equipped with a calorimetric device for measuring the energy content of dried waste products to determine their financial value as a fuel source.

Thermal Energy will also be developing a green energy power facility for an unnamed pulp and paper mill in eastern Canada, a project for which Natural Resources Canada committed $900,000 in funding in February. Thermal Energy conducted a feasibility study of the benefits of using the Dry-Rex system to dry the mill's biomass waste stream to produce a biofuel. The mill is reviewing the findings and is expected to make a decision this fiscal year.