Heating with “Green” Coal as an Alternative Source of Energy

DBU supports development of bio-coal – projects on display at Hanover Expo

Hanover. Fossil energy sources such as gas, oil and coal are running out. For this reason, renewable energy sources are experiencing a veritable boom. One alternative to solar cells, wind turbines and co. in some niches could be bio-coal, which has the energetical properties of brown coal. Two projects involving so-called “coalification” are to be presented at the joint stand of the Deutsche Bundes-stiftung Umwelt (DBU) at the Hanover Expo. From 20-24 April in Hall 002/Stand D62, the DBU is presenting altogether nine innovative projects that are notable for their contribution to climate protection and the effective use of energy in industrial processes. The Expo, the largest capital goods fair in the world, will be opened by German President Horst Köhler. Its motto this year is the effective use of energy in industry.

"In a brief space of time, a source of energy is produced that nature needs 50,000 to 50 million years to create"

The Hessian company Willi Schlitt is developing a kind of biomass coal that is to have the energetic properties of brown coal and can be formed into briquettes. In a boiler, a slurry containing vegetable waste such as garden debris or straw is turned into “green” coal using extreme temperatures and high pressure (hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) or coalification). And this happens in only a few hours. “In a brief space of time, a source of energy is produced that nature needs 50,000 to 50 million years to create, “ says Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde, DBU Secretary General. “Green” coal, Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde says, has many advantages. “Biowaste is put to use and at the same time a type of coal is produced that contains fewer substances that are harmful to the environment and that saves resources.” The DBU is supporting this project, which is finally intended for practical use in industry, with around 404,000 euros.

All the carbon contained in the raw biomass is also contained later in the bio-coal

“We can process one-and-a-half tonnes of biomass in a day,” says Rainer Schlitt, Managing Director of the company Willi Schlitt. He explains that loading the plant with biomass and later taking out and processing the coal are carried out automatically. Almost all the carbon contained in the raw biomass, he says, is also contained later in the bio-coal. Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde: “In the end, fewer harmful substances could be present in the coal, which reduces air pollution.”

"The energy balance is likely to be better overall than with previous procedures"

A feasibility study by the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences has examined whether waste from compost bins can also be used to produce bio-coal. This project is being supported by the DBU with more than 138,000 euros. Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde says the scientists have shown that watery organic waste such as that from compost bins is especially suited for coalification. Prof. Hans-Günter Ramke confirms that “not only can [such waste] be used to produce a fuel with a high calorific value, but when properly processed, the energy balance is likely to be better overall than with previous procedures.”

Other project partners at the DBU stand at the Hanover Expo

Europe’s largest environmental foundation supports projects involving the production of alternative fuels by means of the coalification of biomass as the sole sponsor. “This opens up an interesting and environmentally-friendly way of employing biowaste and agricultural residue that have previously gone unused for energy and material production“, says Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde. Other project partners at the DBU stand at the Hanover Expo are Airmatic (Hemer), Bauer Anlagen (Weissbach), Mirroxx/PSE (Freiburg), PYTEC (Lüneberg), vibrotec (Unna), the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and Pentagal-Chemie und Maschinenbau (Bochum). In the run-up to the Hanover Expo, a special new publication by the DBU provides an overview of new technologies in the field of energy efficiency and climate protection. It is available free of charge at www.dbu.de/publikationen.

For further informations please contact: Rainer Schlitt, Willi Schlitt GmbH & Co. KG, Fon: 0049171/3066644 (AZ 25656) and Prof. Dr. Hans-Günter Ramke, Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences, Fon: 00495271/687130 (AZ 25604).

One alternative to solar cells, wind turbines and co. in some niches could be bio-coal, which has the energetical properties of brown coal.

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