Prometec, the biomass quality control company from Finland, is delivering a comprehensive sampling solution to Fjernvarme Fyn’s site at Odense. This large biomass project will be fully commissioned in 2023, and Prometec’s fully automatized sampling solution will obtain real-time information from each biomass load to optimize energy efficiency and help improve safety at work.
The sampling solution will be installed in the sampling building at Odense. The sampler collects representative samples directly from each biomass delivery and provides real-time moisture information from each load before the truck leaves the sampling station. Prometec’s patented Q-Robot is equipped with an innovative technology measuring device that measures the moisture content of the sample as soon as the sampling is completed. The moisture data is usually used as the basis for the fuel load payments. In addition, a fully automatic bagging system has been integrated into this sampling solution to bag the samples taken by the Q-Robot for laboratory analysis. This comprehensive sampling solution is the first of its kind to be fully automated, including sample handling and moisture measurement, which significantly reduces the amount of laborious laboratory work which saves time and money.
“Moisture information is vital for power plants to optimize their combustion processes and know exactly how much energy has been delivered to their sites,” said Juha Huotari, Prometec CEO.
“We are committed to sustainability and work safety, and technological solutions are essentialMore information about biomass material means that we can operate in a more energy efficient way, ” stated Thomas Knudsen, Project Manager at Fjernvarme Fyn.
Marlene Kronborg Robanke, Strategic Buyer says, “Fjernvarme Fyn is building a state-of-the-art biomass plant. We are delighted to start a cooperation with Prometec.”
“There has been much discussion about biomass usage. We aim to be the company to deliver accurate information to our clients about biomass so that they can adjust their processes and operate in a highly energy efficient way,” said Henna Karlsson, Prometec CTO.
“The cooperation with Prometec is bringing the market a groundbreaking solution where the heterogenous biomass material can be checked in representative way and automatically in rea-time. We have developed a moisture device with Prometec for several years,” said Markku Tiitta, Puumit CEO.
Fjernvarme Fynis Denmark’s third largest district heating company and is owned by the municipalities of Odense and Nordfyn. The company owns the largest combined heat and power plants on Funen, has almost 300 employees, and is one of Europe’s largest heat suppliers. We cover approximately 97% of the heating demand in Odense and the surrounding area, corresponding to more than 200,000 residential units. District heating is supplied according to the general guidelines set out in the heating plan, which defines supply areas and more. Fjernvarme Fyn’s aim is to provide customers with the best possible heat supply at the cheapest possible prices, while helping to increase customers’ energy and environmental awareness.
Prometec is a Finnish technology company specializing in the quality control of biomass. Prometec has improved fuel quality control and energy efficiency in more than 20 heat and power plants since 2012. Sampling has been recognized as a key element in quality control due to the heterogeneity of wooden biomass material. The moisture of the material varies even within one load, and it is necessary for energy efficiency to have accurate moisture information about each biomass delivery. Prometec’s Q-Robot automated sampler systems analyze more than 60,000 truckloads and 12,000 train containers of fuel per year in three countries.
Juha Huotari, CEO, Prometec, firstname.lastname@example.org +358 50 591 7350
The measurement of fuel quality in power plants has been developed considerably in recent years and its importance will become even more important as the share of fossil fuels is replaced by less homogeneous biomass. The biomass to be burned arrives at the power plant in trucks or trains or vessels. One load may contain forest residue chips imported from the surrounding area, one lorry can contain recycled wood chips, and one may contain by-products of the forest industry, such as sawdust and bark. These loads can be very different in terms of moisture and energy content – and the variation between individual loads can also be very high. However, the quality information of the loads, of which moisture information is the most important, is currently only available when the fuel is already being unloaded and the fuel is entering the boiler or in some cases it has already been burnt.
Prometec’s product development goal has been to provide real-time moisture information on biomass loads before the load is unloaded at the power plant. The development has been based on a fully automated sampling robot, almost a decade of fuel measurement data and mathematical prediction models refined with intelligent machine learning solutions.
As a result of long-term product development, Prometec is now the first in the world to provide real-time fuel moisture data before unloading. Data is available throughout the supply chain via the Q-Data cloud service system developed by Prometec. As a result, the moisture data will enable better control of the entire fuel quality chain, as the fuel supplier will already be able to react to quality issues with real-time data. At the power plant, moisture data is an essential control parameter for the entire combustion process: the better the moisture data of the fuel unloaded into the storage silos, the more efficiently the boiler combustion can be controlled, and combustion losses and emissions minimized.
Q-Data fuel management system
A prototype of the Q-Data system has already been developed and tested in Kajaani, but the first actual Q-Data system will be built for Kuopio Energia within next few months. The use of the real-time moisture data produced by the system will be developed in cooperation with Kuopion Energia. The first objective is to use the real-time fuel moisture data to instruct the truck driver where to unload the fuel. In this way, for example, dry fuel can be driven to one storage silo and more moist fuel to another, and the boiler feed can be directed to the storage silos to ensure that the fuel flow is as even as possible in terms of moisture. In the future, the aim is to provide quality data directly to the power plant control system so that the boiler combustion process can be controlled as energy-efficiently as possible by optimizing the fuel supply.
“This solution, developed by Prometec, will for the first time allow immediate forecasting of delivery lots with different moisture content. This is exactly the data we need, for example to use artificial intelligence to tune our combustion process for optimum efficiency and to get the most out of the fuels we buy. It is also really important that we can react immediately and intervene if he fuel supplied does not meet the quality requirements,” says Peter Seppälä, Production Director of Kuopion Energia.
“It’s great that we can put our innovation into practice with our long-term partner Kuopion Energia and use the data to find ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions in plants,” says Henna Karlsson, Business Director at Prometec. “We want to be a pioneer in biomass quality control and we believe that our innovation will help power plants to achieve significant cost savings while promoting more sustainable use of natural resources,” says Henna Karlsson.
Prometec’s automatic sampling has been verified by VTT
A comparative study carried out by VTT (Technical research center of Finland) was made in November 2020 at Kuopio Energy’s Haapaniemi power plant. For five days, samples from different types of biofuel loads were collected in both ways, with a Q-robot and manually by VTT. So, the comparison included automatic sampling and manual sampling. Load-specific samples were taken daily from all loads delivered during the 10-hour test period. Samples for the comparison were collected from a total of 59 loads, of which 26 loads were forest residue chips, 20 loads of whole wood and stem chips, 8 loads of peat and the remaining loads were sawdust and bark.
The comparative study followed the principles of the Wood Fuels Quality Guide (VTT-M-07608-13) and manual sampling was carried out in accordance with the standard EN ISO 18135: 2017. Manual increments were taken during the unloading from the falling material stream. According to the quality guideline, at least 6 individual samples (2 truck + 4 trailer) are taken from a combination of truck+trailer vehicle (100 – 160 m3), in which case these sample volumes have the possibility to achieve an accuracy requirement of about 3% in moisture with 3 – 5 load deliveries. Automated sampling was performed by a Q-robot that took load-specific samples according to its normal operating sequence. The Q-robot takes samples fully automatically and randomly from different depths and different points of the load in accordance with the sampling standard EN ISO 18135: 2017. Moisture was analyzed from the samples and particle size distributions were also analyzed from forest residue chip samples.
The difference in average moisture of all fuel types over the reference period between sampling methods was 0.7 percentage points. In the comparison, there was a particular interest in the differences between the sampling methods for inhomogeneous forest residue chips, where the moisture variations within the load can be very large. In comparison, the average moisture difference between the sampling methods for all forest residue chip loads was 1.5 percentage points. For forest residue chips, as for all other fuel types, the moisture variations between the loads were reasonably large and the moisture between the sampling methods were scattered in one and the other, but no systematic difference was observed between the sampling methods. As a result of the verification, no clear systematic difference between the methods affecting the results in one direction could be observed from the results. In the light of these research results, the automatic sampling of the Q-robot meets the requirements of the standard for reliable sampling.
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The latest customer survey was sent about a month ago. The purpose of the survey was to find out our customers’ satisfaction with the products and services, and in a bigger picture, the customers’ opinions about us. Therefore, we would like to say thank you to all the respondents, we greatly appreciate your answers. Based on the responses, we can say that we have succeeded in creating good and reliable relationship with our customers. In particular, we received praise for working close to the customer and being active towards the customer. We will continue this work. Also, we received positive feedback from the quick response to the contacts. Our customers’ willingness to recommend was very good 9.4 (max 10) based on the international NPS = Net Promoter Score scale. The answers encourage us to continue our innovative work in both products and services.
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BIOFMET – New metrological methods for biofuel materials sampling and analysis
Prometec will be one of the key players to take part in the European-wide “BIOFMET” project co-funded by EU and coordinated by the Danish Technological Institute (DTI). The collaboration project aims to research online metrological methods for analysis of solid and liquid biofuels, to provide a metrological framework, including determination of the calorific value and quantification of impurities for validation of the developed methods ensuring traceability of on-line instrumentation. More accurately, our task in this project is to bring improved methods to representative solid biofuel sampling. The project is consisting consists of research institutes and research centers and companies around the Europe.
“This type of cooperation with research institutes is extremely fruitful for us. This is our chance to be a part of the huge change towards more environmentally friendly and energy efficient solutions in bioenergy sector”, says Henna Karlsson, co-founder and CTO of Prometec.
The aim of the project
The new sampling methods combined with on-line measurement methods developed in the project will be demonstrated at test-sites (Power plants) in Finland and Denmark.
“We want to be a part of the global network and in the front line when it comes to technological development of the bioenergy sector. We think that bioenergy industry will benefit a lot from the state-of-the-art technological solutions. For decades, this industry sector has suffered from problems in reliable sampling and real-time moisture information availability. Also, bioenergy sector has been accused for not being renewable. Now, it is the right time to solve these problems and correct these claims with the help of technological solutions”, says Prometec’s CMO, Timo Huotari.
BIOFMET project will start in June and it will last for 3 years.