Areva buys biocoal technology

By Anna Simet | July 24, 2012

Areva has acquired the rights to a biocoal technology developed by French torrefaction technology company Thermya.

An Areva media representative said that AREVA has acquired the company Thermya—not just the technology—and it has been integrated to Areva’s Bioenergy Business Unit.

Areva will build plants based on this technology, she said, but will focus in the short-term on commissioning two Thermya-built torrefaction plants installed in France and Spain. Construction of those plants began in early June 2011, and represent Thermya’s first commercial-scale facilities based off of its TORPSYD technology. 

Prior to the commercial facilities, Thermya built a pilot unit at the company’s headquarters in Villenave d’Ornon, France, in 2007.

Thermya described its TORSPYD biocoal process as a soft thermal treatment of biomass (240 degrees Celsius or 464 degrees Fahrenheit) based on the continuous circulation of two air flows moving in opposite directions. As a result of the hot neutral gases, the biomass is dehydrated and then depolymerized in the reactor to eventually produce biocoal.

According to Thermya, the TORSPYD biocoal product retains 90 percent of its initial biomass mass and contains a moisture level of 1 percent. Properties and energy content vary, depending on the properties of the initial raw biomass, but the company says wood-derived biocoal has a calorific value of 20,000 to 21,000 kilojoules per kilogram.

The biocoal technology adds to Areva’s renewable portfolio that includes more than 100 bioenergy power plants in operation or under construction in Europe, North America, Latin America and South East Asia. The company has expanded into the Americas under its subsidiaries Areva Renewable Inc. and Adage in the U.S., and Areva Koblitz in Brazil.