QUITMAN, MS - Large-scale production of torrefied biomass is set to begin in Mississippi, the result of a joint venture between New Biomass Energy LLC (NBE) and Solvay Energy Services, a business unit of Belgium-based Solvay chemical firm.

The recently created Solvay Biomass Energy will be co-located at NBE's facility in Quitman, MS, which is owned by BTH Quitman Hickory LLC and reportedly is the largest torrefaction facility in North America. The new venture is expected to more than triple the production capacity at the plant, to 250,000 metric tons by the end of 2014. The companies said Solvay Biomass Energy will market its torrefied wood pellets primarily for electricity production in Europe and Asia.

Torrefaction modifies the chemical properties of waste wood and biomass, producing a product that handles and burns similar to coal. According to the companies, torrefied biomass contains 35 percent more energy by weight than wood pellets and as a replacement for coal, can be used by power plants to generate clean energy.

“New Biomass Energy’s advancements in the production of torrefied wood pellets prove that this material is a significant renewable energy solution available on a commercial scale. Our collaboration with Solvay will allow us to exponentially increase production capacity and develop new applications for the material. This new business propels the torrefaction industry forward,” said Neal Smaler, president of New Biomass Energy.

“This new business has a twofold objective: on the one hand, to offer innovative and competitive solutions to utilities and energy companies, allowing them to lower the cost of using biomass in their plants, and in parallel to expand our access to biomass and to create new biosourced applications,” said Philippe Rosier, president of Solvay Energy Services.

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