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Smart and reliable solid biofuel quality control solution

Smart and reliable solid biofuel quality control solution

English EN

Automated system checks biofuel for unwanted impurities

Everything from poor quality fuel to lost tools can disrupt the burning of biofuels. OPTIFUEL weeds out the impurities for clean energy production

ENERGY

© INRAY OY LTD
Biofuel can be more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly than other fuel types. Yet quality varies significantly depending on the fuel type and its source, and how it has been handled and stored. The variations in quality cause unnecessary costs in European power plants and increase emissions in the whole bioenergy production chain. The current practice of biofuel quality control is based on a manual sampling technique, where only few samples from each delivery batch are taken and analysed in a laboratory. This is a time-consuming process, and results usually take more than a day to come back, delaying everything further. “The potential sampling error is huge,” says Ms Mika Muinonen, project coordinator and sales director at Inray, the company behind the OPTIFUEL. “Even if you have a very accurate laboratory analysis method, it doesn’t help to get reliable results.” A smart solution The OPTIFUEL project developed a smart, reliable and fully-automated solution, which provides reliable real-time data on biofuel quality. It scans solid biofuels on conveyor belts and provides analysis on factors such as moisture and foreign objects (tools that have fallen in, for example). “The principle is similar to X-ray scanners that can be seen in airports," explains Muinonen. Other technologies such as laser scanning and machine vision measure further key parameters from the fuel steam. Fuel quality is monitored at one or more critical stages of the fuel handling chain. This data is passed to a control room, where the fuel management system is used to optimise the sorting, storing, mixing and feeding of biofuel, and the precise combustion in the boiler. This means extracting more energy per ton of delivered biofuel, thus saving on overpriced biofuel, manual labour and unnecessary equipment. It also results in the production of less waste and greenhouse gases. The OPTIFUEL interface is also integrated into the control and fuel management systems of power plants, to optimise energy production across the entire biofuel process. The analysis results are ready when the driver leaves the power plant. Fuelling EU savings Optimising the entire fuel chain leads to overall efficiency improvements, and costs fall as a result. “The most obvious savings come from more accurate fuel pricing and reduced sampling and analysis costs involving less manpower,” Muinonen says. “Further savings come from reducing operating and maintenance costs and experiencing fewer failures in the process” For the entire EU’s bioenergy production, the OPTIFUEL solution could produce EUR 1.5 billion in annual savings and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 0.5-3.0 million tons. OPTIFUEL also enables the effective use of local lower-quality biofuels, which would increase EU’s self-sufficiency in this energy source. As a mid-size biomass power plant, OPTIFUEL could produce up to one million euros in annual savings. Successful Trials During the project the team installed and demonstrated the system in the field, at selected customer premises in Finland and Scotland, and carried out successful demonstrations of the system, receiving positive feedback. Several systems have already been sold. “We now have a commercialised product that can help many biopower plants to improve their production. Our next steps are selling, selling and selling.”

Keywords

OPTIFUEL, biofuel, burning, impurities, greenhouse gases, efficiency, waste, savings, money

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 733664

  • Start date

    1 October 2016

  • End date

    31 December 2018

Funded under:

H2020-EU.3.3.

H2020-EU.2.1.1.

H2020-EU.2.3.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 699 055

  • EU contribution

    € 1 189 338,50

Coordinated by:

INRAY OY LTD