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Resource Extraction

Waste-to-Energy Solutions with Diacarbon

  • Jun, 11 2013
  • Industry Sector:Resource Extraction


Biomass waste produced by forestry, agricultural, and urban sources is abundant, underutilized, and costly to dispose of. B.C. landfills are banning biomass waste in 2015, and there is a need for an alternative disposal plan. In Canada, the forestry industry produces in excess of 21 million bone dry tonnes of biomass annually with agricultural biomass available for energy estimated to be around 17.3 million BDT annually (Source: Climate Change Solutions - Canada Biomass Availability and Cost 2010).

At the same time, rising fossil fuel prices, government incentives (carbon tax/penalties, carbon markets) and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emission are key drivers for the growth in the global bio-energy market. However, biomass needs to be upgraded to be used as a replacement of fossil fuels. Because unprocessed biomass is bulky (often containing 40-60% moisture while having low energy density) there are inefficiencies associated with transporting biomass waste and its use as a biofuel. 


Diacarbon is a Canadian waste-to-biofuels company committed to providing innovative, yet practical and socially responsible technology. Diacarbon has developed the thermal biomass refinery (TBR), a patent pending auger-based system that uses torrefaction to convert biomass into commodity solid biofuels with favourable properties in view of logistics and end-use. Diacarbon’s TBR technology helps bridge the gap between the demand for biofuels and the abundant supply of biomass waste. Diacarbon provides a waste-to-energy solution that diverts waste streams while producing a carbon-neutral bio-coal that is a clean, direct replacement for coal.


The Diacarbon TBR is transportable, robust, a proven design, and of lower capital cost than competitors.

Diacarbon’s bio-coal will be sold to industrial heat and power producers as a drop-in fuel replacement for fossil coal, petroleum coke and other biomass alternatives. Bio-coal compares favourably with coal due to it having similar chemical and handling properties.  In this regard, bio-coal is superior to other forms of biofuels.

Additionally, the use of bio-coal requires little or no modification to existing infrastructure/assets which supports its use as a drop-in fuel replacement for coal and in turn, avoids the requirement for investment in additional equipment/infrastructure by the end-user.

Diacarbon has established a strong consortium including key stakeholders from industry, academia and government that are core to development of the company’s technology, products and market applications.

Diacarbon has successfully completed industrial scale co-firing of its bio-coal in a cement kiln application and will commission its commercial scale TBR through a demonstration project in 2014. The project will involve working with a large global cement producer and will provide key operational, technical, and financial data parameters necessary for commercial scale-out of deployments in the production and delivery of bio-coal.


Diacarbon’s strategy results in the diversion of biomass waste streams from landfills, and the creation of value out of waste, which would otherwise require costly disposal.

Using bio-coal as a replacement for coal (and co-firing bio-coal and coal together) by coal consuming industries would result in a significant reduction greenhouse gas emission because bio-coal is a carbon neutral fuel and burn much cleaner in terms of SOx and NOx emissions. It enables end-users to reduce their carbon tax/penalties while providing access to lucrative carbon markets.

The cement industry represents the majority of fossil fuel consumption in BC, and is subject to the BC carbon tax.  Currently the carbon tax is set at $30 per tonne of CO2 emitted, or approximately $75-90 per tonne of coal burned.  The replacement of coal with bio-coal is therefore advantageous not only due to its higher energy content and lower emission contaminants, but for being a carbon-neutral fuel that is not subject to the carbon tax. Assuming co-firing bio-coal at 25% and using 2008 consumption data  (each tonne of coal produces up to 2.906 tonnes of CO2e) with the prevailing BC carbon tax, cement producers in BC could have avoided more than $8 million in carbon tax, close to 270,000 tonnes of CO2e while achieving net benefits of ~ $3.3 million per year (Source: Energy Use & Related Data: Canadian Cement Manufacturing Industry (CIEEDAC 2012)). 

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