A new biomass scanner is born


Ralf Torgrip, Research Manager

Our new biomass sample analyser being developed at the research department is starting to take shape. This is the next generation Desktop Scanner capable of scanning a diverse range of biomass samples. With this we intend to make buying, selling, categorizing, and processing bioenergy material much easier and fairer. Good news for bioenergy and CHP (Combined Heat and Power) plants all over the world.

Bild3Why is there such a demand for a new analyser?

Todays method of laboratory prepared samples for oven drying is time and labour consuming, unrepresentative of a large delivery, and has a large error margin. The result is delivered 24 hours after delivery and so invoicing and follow-up logistics are delayed. Even then the energy value that drives payment is based on a fixed figure for the particular material type. In reality there can be large deviations between this assumed value and the true energy value based on the carbon content. The energy value also depends on the ash content and analysis of this is expensive and can take several weeks. It all makes buying and selling the huge volumes of raw material needed to keep a biomass boiler in operation very inaccurate. Margins are often small so buyers and sellers alike are in want of a fast and fair assessment.

Building on existing Mantex technology

The qDXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) technology in the existing Desktop Scanner works very well for clean debarked wood chips but required further development for the more complex bioenergy materials. Ralf Torgrip, our research manager, has integrated complementary sensor technology to utilize more information from the X-ray interactions and so can obtain a more complete breakdown of the elements present in the sample. Ralf and his team have analysed around 200 different samples, both on a mini-conveyor and sample containers, and have been able to demonstrate that the technology works.

The information from all the sensors is processed by the internal industrial computer to deliver not just moisture value but true energy value and ash content. All in around 60 seconds. With minimal sample preparation. This is a much safer way for both buyers and sellers to trade material and receive the right payment for its value.

Performance on a wide range of materials

Bioenergy samples are often containing various wood types as well as amounts of branches, leaves, roots, soil, bark, sludge and other items. A more complete assessment is required to be able to measure the relevant parameters.


Recent blind tests with a prototype analyser measuring samples from all over Sweden showed that the system met all the current industry accuracy requirements by some margin. The Swedish Forestry Research Organisation (Skogfors) commissioned the study and have recognised its significance.

The new measurement platform is designed to be used in harsh environments with temperatures from -20 to +40 °C and a frame designed to take a few knocks when being moved around the site. The same robust and dependable dual X-ray components that have served existing Desktop customers so well for many years is still at the heart of the new analyser. This is designed to be delivered to remote locations around the world without needing an extensive support network.

Can you trust it? Mantex is working with the relevant authorities in Sweden to have the process and technology accredited and the products independently verified. So all parties can be sure that the results are correct.

What can the technology do for you?

In fact the system can deliver much more information than mentioned above. During this development phase we are interested to hear from bioenergy users about what they would want to measure. What would you like the system to deliver? Get in touch with us and we can quickly assess if your wish could be fulfilled with this technology.

We will shortly deliver prototype systems for testing and hope the product will be made for general availability by the end of 2015. Then there is almost no limit to the number of samples that can be tested from each biofuel delivery. Allowing screening of poor material, classifying, and fair payment for buyer and seller.

Harvey-WashbrookPlease contact Sales Manager Harvey Washbrook (+46-8 477 04 64, harvey.washbrook@mantex.se) for more information and to discuss your biofuel analysing requirements.