The development of a Clean Agro Pellet commodity will enable the large scale application of crops on marginal land and agricultural field and process residues.

In the CAPCOM-NL project, a Clean Agro Pellet Commodity is developed to enable the large-scale use of field and process residues for production of electricity, heat, liquid fuels, chemicals and materials. For many applications a clean pellet is needed as the presence of potassium and chlorine will cause fouling and corrosion of heat exchangers. Steam pre-treatment will improve storage properties and the fermentability of the material. Via pelleting the biomass is densified and biomass handling is improved.

The project is funded by TKI-BBE and project partners. It is a unique cooperation where the entire supply chain is represented: farmers (Cradle Crops), agro-industry (Colombia and Brazil), technology developers (Viride, Wageningen Food and Biobased Research (WFBR) and ECN part of TNO), harbour facilities (SmartPort) and possible end users (RWE, AER). The project started in February 2019 and will end in January 2021. WFBR, ECN part of TNO and Viride will perform the main research tasks.

Project objectives

The research will focus on the best way to connect technologies (counter current mineral extraction, steam explosion and pelleting) to produce a commodity from a range of raw materials (Empty Fruit Bunches, Sugar Cane Trash, Miscanthus). The commodity should be easily transported, transhipped and stored. It should be widely applicable as a high quality solid fuel and as a raw material for production of liquid fuels, chemicals and materials. The commodity has to be sustainable with respect to environmental impact, social impact and economy, in the country of origin, during transport as well as in the country of destination. The biocommodity should be able to help to reach the Dutch sustainable energy target (16% sustainable energy in 2023).

WFBR: Counter Current Extraction, fermentation tests, TEA, SA

WFBR will focus on counter current simulated moving bed extraction. With this technique, the minerals may be removed from the biomass before shipment. This way, the minerals may easily be recycled to the field and less problems will occur during (co)-firing of the biomass in boilers.

WFBR will also perform fermentation tests with treated biomass. These tests have to prove that the CAPCOM’s are easily hydrolysed with state of the art enzyme mixtures.

Another main task is the development, techno economic assessment and sustainability assessment of the full chain from agro/field residue via the CAPCOM process to the end user.

Viride: Special pre-treatment process

Viride will further develop their special pre-treatment process. So called ‘Green pellets’ will be produced. This process emphasizes on higher fermentability, easier pelleting, less dust formation, easier grindability and higher hydrophobicity of the produced pellets. All of these properties will improve the value of the pellet.

ECN part of TNO: Pelleting, process design, optimisation and scale-up

ECN part of TNO will focus on the pelleting of the extracted and pre-treated biomass. They will perform combustion tests to assess the corrosion and fouling propensity of the CAPCOM’s. ECN part of TNO will also be responsible for process design, and assessment of options for optimisation and scale-up of the pre-treatment process.

Expected project result

At the end of the project it is expected that an integrated process is developed to produce a biocommodity from a range of raw materials. With this process pellets have to be delivered that are suitable for both thermo-chemical and fermentative processes to produce electricity, heat, liquid fuels, chemicals and materials. A preliminary design for a pilot installation and a demo installation will become available. Based on that, a full sustainability analysis of the whole biomass-to-products chain will be conducted.