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Rob Laubacher

Nov 9, 2012
11:36

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Intriguing proposal. My question concerns the costs of bio-coal vs. mined coal. I surmise from your proposal that bio-coal is cost-competitive with mined coal in British Columbia, where there is a carbon tax of $30/ton of CO2 emitted. Would bio-coal be cost competitive in regions that do not currently tax CO2 emissions, in particular, developing countries like China and India, where most of the world's cement demand is expected to be in coming decades?

Darren Blanch

Nov 16, 2012
06:01

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Although a carbon tax regime is key to adoption of bio-coal, industrial end users of thermal coal will continue to face coal price increases as a result of increased demand for coal in China, Japan and India over the next 10 years. Citi Equities is forecasting thermal coal prices as high as $ 150 short ton by 2018. This is leading to diminution of their margins and prospects for some form of carbon tax will certainly cause further diminution. This should help support growth in the use of bio-coal. In various regions throughout North America, there is no carbon tax in place and the political uncertainties surrounding passage of cap and trade or related tax regimens cannot be counted upon to offset the premium that will have to be paid for bio-coal. But there are a number of other costs that thermal coal users will have to incur, if they decide to continue to burn coal. For example, the requirement for expensive emissions control equipment (scrubbers, etc.) and other retrofits on existing assets for older coal fired power plants. Such added costs have to be considered on a case-by-case basis and once calculated, they add to the cost of burning thermal coal. In other words, these added costs make burning thermal coal less attractive, when compared to using biofuels, such as bio-coal in the fuel mix. Thus the rate increases power plants will have to pass through to their customers for using some bio-coal could become inconsequential. In regions such as in China/SE Asia, bio-coal can be cost competitive with fossil coal and coke in absence of carbon tax. Our company has been approached by several interested Chinese groups regarding the use of bio-coal. The main issue becomes the scale at which bio-coal can be produced and the supply requirements of the end-user. That being said, Diacarbon intends on exploring opportunities related to off take and licensing of technology within these regions going forward.

James Greyson

Nov 30, 2012
10:41

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I like the plan to replace coal! Your bio-coal is simply charcoal? Would it be easier to follow if it was just called charcoal? On the other hand bio-coal is not bio-char? Biochar=charcoal in soil? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biochar If you burn it then it's simply charcoal? Interesting to swap coal for charcoal, since the energy density is similar. However if 3/4 of the energy content of the biomass is lost in converting to charcoal might it be better to instead adapt the cement plant to burn seasoned biomass?

Darren Blanch

Dec 15, 2012
01:55

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The biocoal in this context refers to two products that vary in their degree of carbonization; torrefied wood and charcoal. We have tested both high energy density products such as charcoal and medium energy density products such as torrefied wood. You are correct to identify the differences in yield of dry biomass input as 1/3 or 2/3 based on degree of carbonization, but in this case we are also providing a solution for biomass waste diversion from landfill and both charocal and torrified wood have applications in this regard. For clarity, biocoal definitions are referring to two fuels of varying energy content, and the yield recovery also considers the benefits of energy density of final product from a logistical perspective. Seasoned biomass does not meet the fuel criteria of fungibility in cement applications as the grindability (hardgrove index) is not favorable when compared to fossil coal. When considering a replacement fuel for the cement industry, one must consider grindability, moisture, and energy density, and seasoned biomass is only suitable for a supplementary fuel at minimal cofiring rates, and is not a replacement for fossil coal.

2013cementjudges 2013cementjudges

Jul 4, 2013
02:50

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Proposal is very professionally prepared. But it seems more focused on bio-char coal than innovations in the cement making process itself. Waste material of various kinds (old tires, waste chemicals, etc.) are already used today in cement making and account for approximately 40 percent of the energy used in U.S. cement production. The proposal also does make a convincing case that bio-coal represents a significant new breakthrough over use of other kinds of unconventional fuels. It also does not address potential challenges associated with using bio-coal in cement making and not does it discuss economic aspects (e.g. is bio-coal cheaper than other alternative fuels?)