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Clean Thermal Biomass Conversion

Contruction Update
Designed to overcome all the challenges associated with traditional thermal biomass processing technologies (and the so-called “advanced” contemporaries), Interra’s patented clean thermal biomass conversion technology generates unmatched biochar and bioenergy/biofuel production.

In the second edition (2015) of the Biochar for Environmental Management textbook the authors list five key goal for advanced biochar manufacturing technologies. Interra’s technology meets all five goals:

  • Continuous feed pyrolysers to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution emissions associated with batch kilns” ✔︎
  • Exothermic operation without air infiltration to lessen energy inputs and increase biochar [and biogas] yields” ✔︎
  • Recovery of co-products [biogas] to reduce pollution emissions and improve process economics” ✔︎
  • Control of operating conditions to improve biochar properties and allow changes in co-product yields” ✔︎
  • “Improve feedstock flexibility making possible the efficient conversion of not only wood, but herbaceous feedstocks, manure and agro-industrial waste into biochar” ✔︎


Current Construction

Interra has finished the construction of the support structure for the pilot-unit along with numerous sub-systems. In addition, the control and electrical systems are complete. Mechanical testing has successfully demonstrated the core design principles and innovations. In late 2016 Interra was able to successful test the sytem to produce biochar and syngas. Stay tuned for updates on the next steps for Interra Energy!

Biochar Project Update


Design Principles

Technology design and development serves as the core of Interra Energy, Inc. Interra’s patent-pending clean thermal biomass conversion system represents a new platform technology, leaps and bounds more advanced than existing technologies in “waste” biomass utilization.  When designing the Interra Clean Thermal Biomass Conversion system, Interra’s team employed the following design principles:

  1. Optimize the system for the highest value product in terms of ecological and financial value – biochar.
  2. Whenever possible, borrow technology solutions from existing, robust technologies in other industries. Why reinvent the wheel when you can instead just start piecing together the wagon.
  3. Design for multi-modal flexibility from the beginning – feedstock, temperature, pressure, throughput rate, etc.
  4. Start from the chemistry, the mechanics will follow.

These design principles resulted in a truly unique system that contains game-changing innovations. How and why the system will improve upon existing technologies is, like any great bit of clean tech, astounding in its simplicity and exceptionally practical in its execution.


Innovations & Technology Benefits

Technology Feature
Operational Benefit
Business Advantage
Relatively low-temperature, high-pressure slow pyrolysis.Highest possible yield of biochar. Greater energy density of gas.Highest total value of output products per ton of input.
Thermally self-sustaining reactor, after start up.No combustion or heat input required after start up. Allows for electricity generation rather than using gas to heat biomass. No air emissions source from traditional heating methods.Lower operational and capital cost. Removes a regulatory hurdle associated with traditional burners.
Methane rich gas created instead of syngas, producer gas, wood gas, etc. Most energy dense gas possible from thermal biomass conversion. Gas can go directly into traditional power generation equipment without modification.Lower operating and capital costs.
High continuous-feed throughput.Constant generation of electricity. More efficient. Avoids waste associated with batch systems. Scale-able.Higher throughput means more biochar/electricity produced per capital dollar spent. Also, lower operational cost per output.
Gas cleaning within system.Don't need extra gas scrubbing/cleaning equipment. No tar to deal with. Lower capital costs. Less operational cost from gas cleaning equipment maintenance.
Almost entirely made of off-the-shelf parts. Only a few easily machinable custom pieces fashioned from off-the-shelf parts.Easier to replace parts. Inexpensive to keep higher spare part inventory levels, which translates into better system uptime. Lower capital costs. Quicker manufacturing/assembly of system.
Excess heat transfer system used to dry incoming biomass.No need for outside heat to dry biomass. Quicker carbonization of biomass due to dryness upon entering system.Lower operational costs.
Adjustable throughput and reactor pressure.Control of operating conditions.Product diversification (biochar & gas with properties geared towards different end uses).