Quebec study to look at biocoal

April 01, 2013
April 1, 2013, Rouyn-Noranda, QC - FPInnovations and the Centre technologique des résidus industriels (CTRI) have announced a joint research project relating to the production of biocoal from forest harvesting residues.


This $1.8-million, three-year project is being funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Natural Resources Canada, the Consortium de recherche et innovations en bioprocédés industriels au Québec – CRIBIQ (a Québec consortium for research and innovations in industrial bioprocesses), Airex Energy and Resolute Forest Products. The project consists of processing forest biomass by means of Airex Energy's pilot-scale rapid torrefaction unit in order to manufacture biocoal. This eco-friendly vegetable carbon can be used as a renewable energy source or be processed into a higher added value carbonaceous product.

The data collected during this project will be used to optimize manufacturing revenues in an effort to obtain high-value products and clarify technical and economic feasibility. The relation between the control parameters of the torrefaction process and the type of raw materials to be processed based on manufactured biocoal properties will also be studied.

"The competitiveness of the forestry industry depends on its ability to explore new markets and develop new products," stated Jean Hamel, FPInnovations' Vice-President, Pulp, Paper and Bioproducts. "This research project is providing us with an opportunity to help diversify the range of products offered by the forestry industry, by replacing bituminous coal in higher added value applications, such as in the fields of water and gas treatment, metallurgy as well as in soil remediation," he added.

According to Ahcène Bourihane, executive director of the Centre technologique des résidus industriels (CTRI), the development of under-utilized resources, such as forestry residues, would make it possible to offset the rise in energy costs and contribute toward reducing greenhouse gases, while increasing the productivity of Québec businesses, in so doing.

"We're pleased to be teaming up with internationally-renowned institutions, such as FPInnovations and the CTRI," mentioned Sylvain Bertrand, Vice-President, Corporate Development at Airex Energy. "This project will place Québec in the forefront of technological development in the booming biocoal industry."

For Alain Bourdages, Senior Director, Energy Development and Procurement at Resolute Forest Products, this partnership is very much in line with the Company's sustainable development vision: "Resolute Forest Products is constantly seeking new avenues for the development of forestry resources. We are proud to be a partner in this innovative project, which might lead to good economic development opportunities for our field of activity as well as for the communities where we work."

"The Biocoal project is a very promising one, which the CRIBIQ is proud to support within the scope of its cooperative research program," added Mohammed Benyagoub, General Manager at the CRIBIQ. "Industrial need, complementarity, experience and the common interest of the various partners are a guarantee of synergy assuring the sustainability of the industry and the creation of economic and scientific value on Abitibi territory."

In Québec, forestry operations on public lands would annually produce approximately $6.5 million bone-dry metric tons of biomass potentially convertible into biocoal. Moreover, Québec would annually consume approximately 2.5 billion litres of heavy fuel oil and 541,000 metric tons of char. The use of biocoal to replace these two energy sources would cut down on our greenhouse gas emissions by about 9 million metric tons.

About FPInnovations
FPInnovations is a not-for-profit world leader that specializes in the creation of scientific solutions in support of the Canadian forest sector’s global competitiveness and responds to the priority needs of its industry members and government partners. It is ideally positioned to perform research, innovate and deliver state-of-the-art solutions for every area of the sector’s value chain, from forest operations to consumer and industrial products. FPInnovations' staff totals more than 525 employees, including those working in research laboratories located in Québec City, Ottawa, Montréal, Thunder Bay, Hinton and Vancouver as well as at technology transfer offices across Canada. Further information about FPInnovations may be found on its website (www.fpinnovations.ca).

About CTRI
The CTRI is a college technology transfer centre (CTTC) attached to the Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, which has constantly progressed ever since its accreditation as a CTTC in 2004. At the present time, it employs 25 specialists focusing on the reclamation of industrial residues from mining, forestry and agricultural industries. This reclamation mission has been recognized by the provincial government for all regions of Québec.

About Resolute Forest Products
Resolute Forest Products is a global leader in the forest products industry, with a wide range of products, including newsprint, commercial printing papers, market pulp and wood products. The Company owns or operates over 40 pulp and paper mills and wood products facilities in the United States, Canada and South Korea as well as power generation assets in Canada. Marketing its products in close to 90 countries, Resolute has third-party certified 100% of its managed woodlands to at least one of three internationally-recognized sustainable forest management standards, including 65% certified to the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) standards. The shares of Resolute Forest Products trade under the stock symbol RFP on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Resolute and other member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada, as well as a number of environmental organizations, are partners in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. The group works to identify solutions to conservation issues that meet the goal of equally balancing the three pillars of sustainability linked to human activities: environmental, social and economic. Resolute is also a member of the World Wildlife Fund's Climate Savers program, in which businesses establish ambitious targets to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work aggressively toward achieving them.

About Airex Energy
A world leader in the design and manufacture of biocoal production equipment, Airex Energy has operated a pilot plant in Laval, Québec, using the CarbonFX process since March 2011. Along with a number of renowned partners, Airex Energy has contributed to various research and development projects exploring innovative biocoal applications.
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