AEG provides update on CoalSwitch reference projects

By Erin Voegele | September 28, 2021

U.K.-based Active Energy Group discussed progress made at its CoalSwitch projects in Ashland, Maine, and Lumberton, North Carolina, as part its first half interim financial results, released Sept. 28.  

AEG’s CoalSwitch technology produces a high-calorific, high-bulk-density biomass pellet. According to the company, CoalSwitch is produced primarily from forestry waste and other industrial cellulose waste products. The product can be fired with coal in existing coal-fired power plants at any ratio, up to 100 percent.

During the first six months of 2021, AEG completed construction of a second CoalSwitch reference plant in Ashland as part of a joint venture with Player Design Inc. The company reported that initial deliveries of CoalSwitch were made to the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and PacifiCorp in June. The company also provided samples of the product to 12 prospective customers.

A statement released by AEG in mid-September explains that the Ashland reference plant was in operation from May 2021 through Aug. 5, 2021, in accordance with the temporary permit granted to the AEG’s joint venture partner Player Design by the state of Maine. The facility ceased operations on Aug. 5 when a monitoring component failure resulted in a suspension of production, AEG said in its financial report. That failure rendered both reactors inoperable and requiring replacement. The company said all other equipment at the Ashland facility remains operable.

“The reference plant validated the steam explosion process to produce next generation biomass fuels on an industrial scale,” AEG said in a statement. “Production cycles, utilizing residual wood materials to create CoalSwitch pellets, allowed production variables to be assessed providing invaluable know-how and identifying areas where the process will be enhanced to further improve the quality of the pellet and reduce production costs.”

According to AEG, independent analysis and feedback from prospective customer testing of the CoalSwitch product produced at Ashland indicates the product is of superior quality to white pellets in terms of heating value and bulk density. The company said it is examining options to reestablish production at the Ashland facility as soon as practicable, subject o relevant operating permits being granted.

Regarding the Lumberton reference plant, AEG reported that the facility is near completion. Construction, however, was suspended in May due to the need to amend a required permit.

Moving forward, AEG said it plans to design and construct a facility to produce up to 70,000 metric tons of CoalSwitch annually. The company said engineering activities are underway to improve the reactor and indicated the proposed facility is planned for development in Maine.

A full copy of the half year financial report can be downloaded from the AEG website