Agri-Tech selects torrefaction equipment manufacturer

By Anna Austin
Posted July 22, 2009, at 9:02 a.m. CST

Torrefaction technology development company Agri-Tech Producers LLC has selected South Carolina-based Kusters Zima Corp. as its engineering/manufacturing partner for the production of its torrefaction equipment.

Agri-Tech is utilizing a technology developed at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, which the company obtained an exclusive license for in February.

During the process, woody biomass is heated to 300 to 400 degrees Celsius (572 to 752 degrees Fahrenheit), in a low-oxygen environment. The volatile organic compounds and hemicellulose, which are separated from the cellulose and lignin along with water, are combusted to generate 80 percent of the torrefaction process heat. The remaining warm lignin acts as a binder once the torrefied wood is pelletized.

The resulting fuel is dense, dry, water resistant and carbon neutral. It also has a low sulfur and mercury content, can be easily crushed and doesn't rot.

KZC was created in the early 1970s to manufacture textile equipment, and has a production facility in Spartanburg, S.C. The company will manufacture torrefaction machines specific to each ATP customer's needs.

Agri-Tech CEO Joseph James said the company is now approximately nine to 12 months away from commercialization. In addition to selling equipment to customers, Agri-Tech plans to deploy the equipment in projects of its own and in certain joint ventures.

Agri-Tech is also working toward creating mobile torrefaction units with NCSU.

The company's effort to commercialization its torrefaction process is featured in the February issue of Biomass Magazine, which can be found at