Biomass carbonization: Process options and economics for small scale forestry farms

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Bioenergy represents a unique opportunity for forestry companies to diversify the sources of income and create new stable business opportunities: a large number of initiatives has started in the last decades especially regarding decentralized power generation; nevertheless the conversion of the farmers to energy producers is not a trivial issue. The present work has focused on a possible alternative to biopower generation for forestry farms: the biomass carbonization (i.e. biomass slow pyrolysis). Charcoal making presents good prerequisite conditions for successful biomass based systems in the forestry sector: the system results incentive-independent, the power generation represents the co-product of a different primary production (resulting a real additional income), the plant capital cost is affordable for small scale farmers, operations requires technical skills normally available in the forestry sector and the reliability of the system is proven and credible, reducing the risks contained in business plans based on "number of hours of operation over several years". Moreover charcoal is a well known product, familiar to forestry companies for a very long time, the market is well defined, the technology is known but still offers opportunities for further improvements (in terms of efficiency, costs and environmental impacts), the technology does not present major risk, the investment is well suited to small farmers and the process and technology gives a great opportunity for small scale and local supply chain development. Based on these considerations, the present work investigated the technological opportunities for small scale charcoal making systems. Various process configurations have been examined, focusing on advantages and disadvantages representative of each solution in view of small scale application suitable for the Italian case and a designed pilot plant has been proposed.




Chiaramonti, D., Prussi, M., Nistri, R., Pettorali, M., & Rizzo, A. M. (2014). Biomass carbonization: Process options and economics for small scale forestry farms. In Energy Procedia (Vol. 61, pp. 1515–1518). Elsevier Ltd.

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