Black pellet to replace coal

Paul Boughton

Black pellets have superior energy and handling qualities, and are renewable and suitable for base loading and dispatching on demand. Carole Engelder reports.

Zilkha Biomass Energy is preparing to produce its Black Pellets commercially and licence its technology to third parties. The Black pellet is an additive-free 100 per cent biomass pellet with superior energy content and handling qualities. It is uniquely water-resistant and durable.

The proprietary Zilkha Biomass process is an improvement in biomass pellet technology. The Black pellet is abrasion resistant, increasing safety and reducing product loss during storage and transport. As a water-resistant solid fuel, unlike traditional 'white' pellets, it can be transported and stored outside like coal.

The Black pellet has a higher energy density than white pellets. This means Black pellet shipping costs are 30 per cent lower per mmBTU than white pellet.

The Zilkha Black pellet is being marketed to the utility market where coal is currently being burned. It can be stored outdoors, like coal and co-fired, up to 100 per cent at the power plant.

In contrast to coal, The Zilkha Black pellet offers a much cleaner, renewable fuel. Emissions of all pollutants are reduced (SOx, NOx, CO2, mercury).

It is well-known that many renewable energy sources occur intermittently (as with wind and solar). The Zilkha Black pellet allows power generators to supply their customers with reliable green electricity using a base load fuel.

Zilkha Black pellets are produced exclusively from certified sustainable wood feedstock. Black pellets have also been produced from agricultural wastes or other local, sustainable wood sources, such as bagasse, bamboo and lumber mill byproducts.

Zilkha Biomass Energy is constructing a 275,000tonne/year Black pellet plant in Selma, Alabama. The plant will be ready to begin delivering pellets to customers in Europe and the UK by early 2015. Additional plants are being developed in southeast United States and western Canada.

Zilkha Black pellets are available for testing by interested customers from a 40,000 tonne/year plant in Texas, operating since 2010.

Zilkha Biomass Energy is owned by Selim and Michael Zilkha and Paul G Allen's Vulcan Capital. The Zilkhas have a proven track record in the energy industry since 1983 with successful companies in oil and gas, wind power, and now biomass energy.

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Carole Engelder is with Zilkha Biomass Energy, Houston, Texas, USA.