From coal to biocoal

Arbaflame’s timber-based biocoal enables environmentally friendly electricity production

Photo courtesy of Arbaflame
These plant-based pellets burn just like coal.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

The Norwegian company Arbaflame, founded in 2005, has patented unique technology for producing biocoal—a sustainable form of energy that can give the Norwegian forest industry a much-needed boost.

Arbaflame’s product is considered to be world leading. Biocoal replaces ordinary coal without requiring major refits of coal-fired power plants. This makes it easier for polluting coal-fired plants to begin producing environmentally friendly electricity.

The price of biocoal is currently higher than the price of fossil coal, although the difference is being reduced by rising CO2 costs and incentives that promote renewable energy. The coal industry views biocoal positively and considers it the most-efficient instrument for reducing CO2 emissions.

Photo courtesy of Arbaflame
Arbaflame CEO Håkon Knappskog.

Over the past four years, Arbaflame has conducted successful tests in close cooperation with large energy companies. The company has produced more than 100,000 tons of biocoal at its own pilot facility at Kongsvinger. The first full-scale co-firing tests have been completed at twelve power plants in Europe and Canada, with the first carried out at the Swedish Vattenfall’s Reuter Westcoal fire plant in Berlin. The first full conversion to advanced wood pellets was with Thunder Bay Ontario Power Generation; the company submitted a tender request for indicative prices for the pellets and Arbaflame was awarded the tender.

“Arbaflame works with strategic partners to increase production capacity through a technology license program. The company is currently in advanced discussions with several potential manufacturing partners including in the U.S.,” said CEO Håkon Knappskog.

The company expects that their first full-scale production plant at Follum, a paper mill until 2012, will give them the capacity to deliver larger volumes and enable them to compete fully in the market. The biocoal to be produced at Follum is one hundred percent timber based; it is hard, water-resistant, and dust-free and has almost identical handling properties to fossil coal. The planned facility at Follum will have a production capacity of up to 200,000 tons per year, which will contribute to a 400,000-ton reduction in CO2 emissions.

Last November the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) approved Enova’s decision to grant NOK 128 million to the production plant at Follum. A public enterprise owned by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Enova was established in 2001 in order to drive forward the changeover to move environmentally friendly consumption and generation of energy in Norway. The enterprise promotes more efficient energy consumption and increased production of “new” renewable energy through targeted programs and support schemes. For his hard work in the development as well as the commercialization phase of the new biocoal, Arbaflame’s Rune Brusletto won the Enova Award in 2016!

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 10, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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