The University of Louisville Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research has formed a partnership with a South Carolina company to accelerate commercialization of a coal-like product made from wood and biomass materials.
Greenville, S.C.-based Integro Earth Fuels Inc. is the developer of NuCoal, a product made from sustainable wood waste that can be burned with or in place of coal by heat and power generators. The Conn Center, part of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, will establish research and development and pilot-scale production facilities to study the torrefaction and densification of wood and agricultural biomass sources.
Torrefaction is “roasting” wood to remove moisture and certain volatile compounds, leaving a bio-coal product. Densification of torrefied material is a step in making the product easier to make, store and ship.
“Conn Center’s expertise is crucial in making this technology work at any scale,” said Conn Center director Mahendra Sunkara. “The use of this product as a substitute for coal can help extend the life of Kentucky’s coal-fired power plants while significantly reducing pollutant and carbon emissions.”