I’m very proud of them. They make a very good alternative biofuel, because they have so many outstanding properties and advantages.
Lignin is an organic polymer which is found in, for example, trees and plants. When producing, for example, ethanol, lignin and wood fibre are the by-products at the end of the process.
“The black pellets originate from Russia. Alcohol factories were established all over the country, and at several of them ethanol was produced, leaving behind large quantities of lignin, which for many years has been lying in huge piles without being used for anything,” explains Thomas Bornerup.
A few years ago, Verdo became aware of the huge piles of lignin and wood fibre in Russia, and after analysing the substances, the company had no doubt that the raw material could be used as a good alternative biofuel for larger energy plants.
“We did what we always do when we discover a by-product that has the potential to become a biofuel: We have it analysed by an independent laboratory, and based on the results, we assess whether it has the potential to be used as a biofuel or not. Afterwards, we test the material ourselves to find the best possible shape in terms of handling, transport, storage and burning. In this case, the result was black pellets,” says Thomas Bornerup, who has also had the pellets certified as FSC Recycled. The certification ensures the traceability of the product – that it only originates from recycled materials from wood.
Verdo’s black pellets have a high calorific value and good storage properties, and they also have the advantage that the material is available in almost inexhaustible quantities in Russia. This keeps the price down while ensuring stable supplies.
“All over the world, we are seeing a growing demand for traditional biofuels such as wood pellets, because biomass is being used to replace fossil fuels as part of the green transition. However, when the whole world is demanding wood-based biomass, it is an advantage if some of its energy supply – ideally somewhere in the region of 10-25% – is based on alternative biofuels. This reduces your vulnerability to fluctuations in the production of biomass or to price increases,” says the divisional director.
Black pellets are just one of many products that Verdo has identified as an alternative to fossil fuels and traditional biofuels. Over the past 15 years, Verdo has specialised in finding by-products from all sorts of production processes and offering them as an alternative biofuel.
In addition to the fact that these alternative products help stabilise energy supplies, transforming by-products into usable biofuels also creates growth and prosperity in the countries where they would otherwise have been written off as waste.
“If we don’t use these by-products, then they are basically just taking up space in the countryside or at rubbish tips. But when we use them to make biofuels, they suddenly acquire value, which creates jobs and growth in the local area,” says Thomas Bornerup, recalling that he himself has seen how the transformation from by-product to biofuel has spawned new schools and businesses in, for example, Africa.
Verdo is therefore working continuously to track down, locate and experiment with by-products from different industries all over the world. And the sky is the limit, because every day tonnes of by-products are deposited with no apparent value. At present, Verdo is also selling biofuels based on olive stones, sunflower seed shells and nutshells, just as alternative biofuels are being used at Verdo’s own CHP plant.
License Code: FSC® C125676