On our trip return from Canada we had time to stop by the small town of Redfield, Iowa to see the currently running 50 Dry Ton Per day ABRI biochar plant.This visit was on 11/28/2009 this article is written about 12/5/2009
This plant is the first of a new design of plants built by ABRI for full production large scale biochar and biooil production. This units has been up and running in full production testing mode. One of the things that is not shown here is the cooling unit. It was discovered that the one that was originally built was not adequate to handle this very large plant and cool the biooil adequately and it was being rebuilt at the time we were there. The plant had been running 8 hour days previous to this but could not sustain longer runs because of the overheating of the biooil. This is fixed and further testing is occurring.
Pictures were taken of parts of the 50 ton plant. Some of these pictures are poor but are helpful to see this big plant design. It is just much larger version of everything than our 1 ton plant includes. It was a bit dark in the building and it was cold so my flash didn't want to work.
This is the tub grinder used to prepare round bales of corn stocks that are to be fed into the plant. I didn't take a picture of the bales they are in the building behind me.
The above picture is of the conveyor that loads the biomass into this large drying unit. This is very different from the current 1 Ton per day unit in that the entire process is designed to run in a continuous manor from beginning to end on these production units where the demonstration type we are working with at Biochar Products is designed to give more control as we feed and test various feed stocks.
This the double cyclones that are used to dry biomass in this large unit. It is much larger with lots more volume than is possible with smaller units it is probably close to 20' high so dried material has to pass though this before it move on to the char reactor. The unit to the right side of this picture is a conveyor and bin that moves biomass from the dryer to the char reactor.
This is a part of the dryer unit called the chain flail. It spins around at high speed and as you can maybe see in this picture there are two of these. These chains spin around very fast and break up the biomass to be dried. It helps to break it into small pieces and it also keeps the biomass in the hot air stream which dries the pieces of biomass.
This is very valuable inclusion in the ABRI plants because it helps to condition the biomass for best use in the char reactor. This is something other biochar making processes don't have so biomass must be preconditioned in different ways before it is fed into the unit.
This is a picture of the main char reactor which is heavily insulated. This is where the biochar and biooil are actually produced. The horizontal tube along the front of the reactor is the char conditioner. This is where the char is cooled before it is exposed to the air. The sloping tube to the left is the left is a new improvement called the slurry auger. I will describe it further with the next few pictures.
The vertical pipe in this picture is where low pressure water is fed into the bottom of the slurry auger. This along with pressure and heat as the char continues to cool eliminates the hydrophobic nature of the char and further conditions it so it is not dusty and it becomes easy to handle when it is applied to soil or loaded into bags for transport.
This is the other end of the slurry auger where it eventually produces the final products which drops into bins for storage or further packaging.
This is a bin of char after it comes out of the slurry auger you can see it is kind of clumpy, not just a very fine powder as comes out if the slurry auger is not included in the process. It is much better for soil amendment and for handling.
These are the main venturis on this large unit the secondary venturis and the main cooling unit are removed to be rebuilt. This is where the biooil is produced. There are cooling lines that run into these and the other venturis to cool the biooil from the smoke produced when the biomass is turned to char.
This unit has a very interesting control screen. It is a touch screen picture of the entire plant. It is in a very dark place so I had a difficult time getting a good picture but you can see a fuzzy view of it here.
This is an amazing plant and is almost completely up and running as of this date. It will be the first full scale production plant for ABRI and will produce large quantities of char and oil in the coming years for use in Iowa.