Photo copyright Solvay

Mississippi-based torrefaction technology specialist New Biomass Energy has announced a partnership with Belgian chemical group Solvay and the formation of Solvay Biomass Energy, which will produce torrefied biomass — a product that can be used as a fully sustainable alternative to coal.

The new facility will be located in Quitman, Miss., and will be the first for mass production of the fuel. The joint venture will be aiming to promote the use of torrefied biomass in industrial processes as a more practical and environmentally friendly substitute for coal. The biomass is produced through torrefaction, a chemical process that alters the chemical composition of wood. Torrefied wood pellets contain one-third more energy by weight compared to regular wood pellets. This means that the product is more energy-efficient and also offers benefits in terms of logistics and transportation.

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In a statement released by New Biomass Energy, its president Neal Smaler commented that the collaboration with Solvay will allow for a vast expansion of capacity and will lead to the development of new applications for torrefied biomass. The joint venture will play an important role in the development of the torrefaction industry, he added.

The Quitman processing facility is expected to operate at an annual production capacity of 250,000 metric tons by the end of this year. Its products will primarily be marketed for electricity production in Europe and Asia.