Active Energy Group announces launch of AEG CoalSwitch

By Erin Voegele | February 11, 2016

U.K.-based Active Energy Group Plc recently announced the launch of its AEG CoalSwitch division. According to the company, its AEG CoalSwitch technology creates a biomass-based drop-in replacement for coal.

Information published by AEG indicates the technology converts fibrous- or wood-based biomass material into a drop-in coal replacement by removing the majority of minerals, salts and other contaminants from the biobased material. According to the company, the process is protected by 19 international greenfield patents.

AEG said its CoalSwitch biomass fuel can be utilized in traditional coal-fired power plants as a direct substitute for coal. Alternatively, it can be used in co-firing operations. According to the company, in most cases AEG CoalSwitch can be substituted without any furnace, handling or storage modifications.

A reveal event was recently held in Utah. According to AEG, attendees witnessed the first live demonstration of an industrial-scale prototype of the AEG CoalSwitch manufacturing system. According to AEG, Aspen wood chips were processed into a biobased fuel with a calorific value of more than 23 gigajoules per metric ton. The calorific value of industrial coal ranges from 15-32 gigajouls per metric ton. The conversion process was completed within minutes. When compared to white pellets, AEG said the resulting biomass fuel is denser, requiring less space to transport the same volume of energy.

The company also noted AEG CoalSwitch fuel can be compacted into pellets, granules, briquettes, or bales, according to customer specifications. The resulting fuel is also described as being water resistant.

Information released by AEG states a 5-day pilot-scale test burn is being competed at the University of Utah’s Clean and Secure Energy Institute laboratory using the university’s 100 kW pulverized coal combustor. The test burn is expected to yield data related to energy output, stability, furnace behavior, and emissions. Details results are expected to be released in March.

A press release issued by AEG also notes that the company plans to scale up its biomass fuel production technology. The Utah-based team achieved a 10-fold increase in production level and have completed designs for a commercial-scale reactor that will produce eight times more fuel per cycle. The company’s industrial design calls for 32 of these larger reactors to be installed at a single site, with capacity reaching more than 40 metric tons per hour.