Vega Biofuels enters joint venture to build torrefaction facility

By Vega Biofuels Inc. | March 14, 2014

Vega Biofuels Inc. recently announced it has entered into a joint venture agreement to build and operate a pilot torrefaction facility in South Carolina that will manufacture the company's bio-coal and biochar products.

Vega Biofuels and its partners, including Agri-Tech Producers LLC, are building the state of the art facility in Allendale, S.C. The new joint venture entity will operate under the name ATP-SC LLC and will produce various torrefied products. The joint venture partners plan to build additional plants around the world and the Allendale pilot plant will be a model for those plants.

Columbia, S.C.-based ATP is in the business of manufacturing and selling cost-effective torrefaction equipment to be used to manufacture torrefied materials and solid fuel. ATP has licensed and commercialized the innovative torrefaction technology originally developed by North Carolina State University.

ATP selected the Kusters Zima Corp. as its equipment design and manufacturing partner. KZC, a 40 year old Spartanburg, S.C.-based company has now designed and will guarantee the performance of ATP's commercial torrefaction unit.

Joseph J. James, ATP's president, stated, "We look forward to working with Vega and its leadership to get an initial plant going, so we can pursue export and domestic markets for torrefied biomass.” ATP will act as managing partner for ATP-SC and will be responsible for the day to day operations of the new entity.

Vega's renewable energy product "bio-coal" is generally made from plant or wood biomass, primarily wood, using torrefaction technology. The bio-coal will be shipped to European power generating companies from the Port of Savannah. With ATP's help, Vega is also planning to build a bio-coal manufacturing plant in South Georgia. In addition to manufacturing bio-coal, the company will also produce a product called biochar for use in various agricultural productivity applications to increase the quality of the soil.

"ATP's technology and know-how, and the pilot plant's great site and supply arrangements are a tremendous boost for implementing Vega's Business Plan,” stated Michael K. Molen, chairman and CEO of Vega Biofuels. "We are very proud to be working with industry leaders like Joe James and ATP. We are now on a very fast track to manufacture and deliver our bio-coal and biochar products to our clients. We've been working on this project for several months and we are excited to finally share the details with our shareholders. I'm also proud to announce that testing on our bio-coal samples has been completed and accepted by our E.U. clients and our plan now is to begin shipping product to Europe from the Allendale Plant by the first quarter of next year, if not sooner. In addition to bio-coal, we recently announced plans to manufacture and market our biochar product to various agricultural industries, including the fast growing hemp industry. Biochar is a product that is designed for a specific application and when used correctly can significantly increase the quality of the soil; it is not a generic product. This is an area that we are excited about and are focusing a lot of attention and resources on. We will have additional information on this and our other projects in the coming days. I want to thank our shareholders for their continued patience while we completed this deal."

Torrefaction is a mild pyrolysis that takes place in a low oxygen environment which makes the physical and energetic properties of the biomass much more comparable to traditional coal. The biomass is then compressed into pellets or briquettes to be sold to the end user as bio-coal or to be used in other forms as biochar. Torrefied biomass has the added benefit of containing very little undesirable pollutants, such as mercury, nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxides and is considered carbon neutral to the environment.