High Potential Technologies for Ireland’s Bioenergy Sector

Review of the Innovation Exploitation Seminar on 25th January

Published on 30-01-2017 10:34:27 by AGRIFORVALOR

CakePHP Over 80 people participated in AGRIFORVALOR’s Innovation Exploitation Seminar on Thermochemical Bioenergy Technologies in Teagasc, Thurles on Wednesday January 25th.

Over 80 people participated in AGRIFORVALOR’s Innovation Exploitation Seminar on Thermochemical Bioenergy Technologies in Teagasc, Thurles on Wednesday January 25th. The event entitled “High Potential Technologies for Ireland’s Bioenergy Sector” helped to bring technology producers closer to primary biomass producers (farmers and foresters), industry and other potential partners. This is the first in a series of AGRIFORVALOR events aimed at closing the research and innovation divide in Ireland.

Dr. Robert Johnson, head of R&D at Arigna Fuels kicked off proceedings, giving the audience an overview of Torrefaction, the main players and reactor technologies in the torrefaction market, including microwave and rotating drum. Robert then focussed in on the Arigna Fuels process via screw reactor and the benefits offered including an energy increase of up to 25 MJ/kg from 13 MJ/Kg at 30% moisture content. Robert also expressed Arigna Fuels interest to collaborate and work with local producers to test different types of biomass at full scale or pilot level.

Next up was Robert Dowdall of Insight Renewables, an Enterprise Ireland backed UCD Nova spin-out focussed on torrefaction. Robert described the journey from the lab to the development of the second prototype system. Robert highlighted some of the challenges associated with biomass including low energy density, high moisture content, variability and susceptibility to decomposition, and how torrefaction provides a solution to many of these problems. Whilst there are a variety of torrefaction processes and technologies, the key innovations in Insight Renewable technology are its modular design and a unique scrubbing system that overcomes torrefaction process issues in particular tar formation (which can cause blockages). The potential mobile application of Insight Renewables torrefaction technology holds huge potential for the development of local biomass supply chains supported by localised depots, resulting in reduced transport costs and the creation of new jobs. This gained significant interest on the day as was Roberts clear interest in working with potential commercial and public stakeholders to demonstrate the technology in an industrial environment as well as mobile applications.

Seán O’Grady of Premier Green Energy (PGE) concluded the presentations with an overview of PGE’s Pyrolysis system and a fascinating summary of recent developments in Europe, Asia and the United States applying this technology .The key strength of the PGE’s Prima system is its flexibility and capacity to process a variety of residual streams including biomass and wood into pyrolysis oil, char and syngas,  and the effectiveness of PGE’s gas conditioning system for removing syngas contaminants and environmental compliance.  The benefits and uses of char derived from the process were explored.  The potential for scaling and replication in an Irish setting is significant, as Seán’s overview of the scheduled delivery of a 4MWe PGE unit to Wales gave an insight on what can potentially be achieved. He also gave an overview of the various projects that PGE have participated in including ReNEW and DEPOTEC.

During the active workshop session, groups were established to further explore the specific ideas put forward by the three speakers. Attendees joined the group in which they were interested and potential collaboration opportunities were scoped. This session was productive and led to a number of areas of possible collaboration for future exploration through AgriForValor.

Following lunch, the participants went for a site visit to Premier Green Energy and the BioBase4SME Pilot Plant in Thurles. Guided by Seán O’Grady, the stakeholders were given a demonstration of wood chip to syngas via the pilot pyrolysis units on site. The audience were also shown the pilot Anaerobic Digestion Units which are part of the Interreg co-funded BioBase4SME piloting initiative. Finally, the audience were shown the full scale pyrolysis unit which is being developed on site for deployment in Wales in the coming months.

Overall the event was a great success, where primary producers were able to see some of the technologies and opportunities that exist in Ireland. We now look forward to the next AgriForValor event in Grange, Co. Meath on 17th February – High Potential Technologies for Ireland’s Biobased Sector. 


Presentations from the Day

Torrefaction Market Opportunities for Irish Bioenergy Crops – Dr. Robert Johnson, Arigna Fuels

High Potential Torrefaction Technology – Demonstration Opportunity and Mobile Solutions – Robert Dowdall, Insight Renewables

High Potential Pyrolysis for Regional Waste Management Solutions – Seán O’Grady, Premier Green Energy