EU helps finance next-gen biofuel quality control
Europe is quickly moving towards a more renewable energy infrastructure, relying less on traditional sources such as oil and coal. This is a good thing, but the material characteristics of a birch branch are a far cry from the specialized classifications of traditional fuels. As we are moving from standardized to diverse fuels, new technologies must be invented to measure the quality of these raw materials.
The biofuel used for biopower generation is usually the stuff that remains when a saw mill or a paper mill have taken what they need. It consists not only of wood chips, but also of tree roots, tops, branches, bark, and recycled wood. And usually there’s a healthy dose of soil and other unwanted contaminants present. As you can imagine, these leftover products have not really gotten the attention they deserve in terms of scientific material analysis and quality control. This is a drawback as biomass by-products are on their way to becoming the basis for electricity and power generation for all of Europe.
Clearly there’s a need to get a better understanding of this biomass as it is used in large-scale industrial processes. And now, the European Commission has identified this challenge as well.
The EU provides 1.6 MEUR grant to Mantex
As one of the few companies focused on organic material analysis, Mantex has received a grant of 1.6 MEUR from EU’s Horizon 2020 research and development programme. The money is to be used for designing the next generation of biomass scanners, aimed primarily at the biofuel industry.
A typical solution would include a Mantex biomass scanner installed at the receiving terminal to measure deliveries for correct payment transactions, rejecting poor quality material, classifying deliveries for storage and mixing or directly measuring the biofuel supply flow of a power plant. The scanner would provide vital fuel parameters, such as weight, true energy content, density, and moisture content in real time. Based on this information a modern power plant can adjust its mixing process and incinerator for optimum performance. Instead of burning a fuel with largely unknown characteristics, you are suddenly presented with a fuel of known quality.
“This shows that Mantex vision is shared by the forest and bioenergy community and it gives us great encouragement to take our technology to the next level”, says Erik Odén, Mantex CEO. “We were able to demonstrate the required capabilities in the lab, and now we can turn this technology into real industrialised products. We have identified several customers with requirements that only Mantex technology can satisfy, and now we look forward to proceeding with those projects.”
The project extends over 24 months, where Mantex is expected to deliver a solution to meet the requirements of the growing bioenergy industry. This will make it possible to increase the usage of lower quality less expensive biofuels as well as rewarding the high quality suppliers. Ultimately making bioenergy viable and more competitive – something we should all benefit from.