Research and Development | Tech Validation

Arterran’s focus shifted from research to production over the course of several years and from 2008 to 2011 development centered on recyclable catalysts. Lab scale research and development was undertaken with a 1 litre reactor, increasing to bench-scale 10 and 40 litre reactors for a range of feedstocks.

In 2011, Arterran Renewables was officially founded to commercialize its production process. In December 2011, the first independent analysis of Arterran’s fuel by Powertech Labs, a subsidiary of BC Hydro, confirmed its energy content (26.8 MM Btu/tonne, 28.3 GJ/tonne).

Between 2011 and 2015, Arterran worked with progressively larger reactors and lower temperatures and pressures across a range of commercial scale reactors (200, 400, 550 and 1,100 litres).

In March 2012, the second independent analysis, by Britley Mineral Testing Labs, a subsidiary of GWIL Industries, reported the fuel suitable as a binder for coal fines and confirmed the energy content of the fuel (24.0 MM Btu/tonne, 25.37 GJ/tonne).

In 2014 and 2015, the production process was optimized for shorter processing times with 1,100 litre reactors across a range of feedstocks.

In April 2015, the third independent analysis, by SGS, confirmed the energy content of the fuel (22.7 Btu/tonne, 24 GJ/tonne).

September 2017 – April 2018. Working with DMI process engineers further optimized the process and resulting in a reduction in processing time. Independent lab work conducted at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) under full disclosure provided complete process, catalyst, product, and economic validation.


Production Process

Arterran Production Plant

Raw Biomass Receiving

  • Concrete deck to hold 22,000gmT of chipped biomass (~21 days of feedstock)
  • Auto screening for overs/unders and metals with each truck delivery
  • Small re-sizing chipper to allow for all overs to be be sent to storage deck
  • Stacker/reclaimer to store and auto-feed biomass to the process building 24 hours/day
  • In-line hammermill to size biomass for bioreactors

Bulk Catalyst Receiving & Storage

  • Catalyst Recycling Tank (D) – one x 50,000 litre tanks

Modular Process Systems

Below is a diagrammatic view of the two reactor process modules with total capacity of 150,000 tonnes per year finished Arterran Advance Fuel (AAF).


Arterran Process Overhead ViewArterran Process Overhead View

Pellet Densification System & Storage

The Arterran Advanced Fuel (AAF) biomass material is continuously densified with multiple, industry-standard pellet presses (5 tonne/unit output). The finished product is then stored on a separate containment area for daily loading into trucks or rail cars for shipment to customers or to a port.

Special Note: At this point in the manufacturing process, there is no requirement to store the pellet fuel in a building.


Unique Benefits of the Arterran Advanced Fuel

  • Hydrophobic
  • Lowest Price/GJ
  • Greater Energy Density 24-29GJ
  • Modular by Design – plants can be erected to supply 150,000-600,000T at one location matched to available biomass
  • Manufacturing components are readily available and industry standard
  • Construction schedule for any size plant is less than 12 months

Arterran Process 50T Module


Exceptional Economics

  • The ideal co-fire fuel for coal power stations
    • Co-firing offers incremental reduction in CO2 emissions from 1-100%
    • Immediate emissions reductions with no conversion capital requirement
    • No additional capital required to transport or store AAF
    • Low opex process offers lower cost fuel per GJ out of the gate
    • Greater energy and mass density offers lowest cost per GJ delivery cost
    • Net result combines for a drop in renewable fuel that’s easy for coal generators to adopt, and at an industry lowest cost per GJ delivered.


Ramping Up | Pilot to Full Scale Production

Full scale commercial production begins with 50 tonnes per day at co-location partner Alberta forestry partner and scales to 150,000 tonnes per year by 2020 and 600,000 t/yr by 2022.

Full-Scale Production


Technology Description

Arterran Thermocatalytic Conversion (ATC) – Arterran’s method for converting lignocellulosic biomass is a highly efficient, low cost process to homogenize and densify biomass into a pellet fuel. The process combines a proprietary catalytic solution and biomass into a slurry and processes it in a pressure vessel for 60 minutes.

The residence time directly correlates to the energy density of the output (i.e. 24 GJ/T to 28 GJ/T). The catalytic solution reacts with elements of the biomass as increased pressure and temperature impregnate the catalyst into the biomass. The reaction between the catalyst and biomass causes change in the biomass’ structure which allows the moisture entrained in the biomass a pathway to escape.

The process has been demonstrated and third party verified on a broad range of cellulosic materials including woody biomass, agricultural residues, and municipal solid waste. The output from the ATC process is hydrophobic with an ultimate analysis similar to that of bitumous and anthracite coals.

The output from the process is easily densified into briquettes or pellets for transport and requires no expensive drying process for the biomass at the front-end of the manufacturing process.

However, and most importantly, the energy density of the non-Arterran biofuels ranges from 18 to 21 GJ per tonne, from higher energy input processes, whereas the Arterran product requires less energy to produce, and is more readily finished at a superior energy density best suited to coal fired facilities combustion needs at an average of 23 to 24 GJ per tonne.

This lower opex cost provides for an industry lowest cost advanced renewable fuel leaving Arterran’s production plants, and the greater energy, and mass density over competitor fuels equates to a lowest cost per GJ logistics cost, for a net result of a best of breed advanced renewable fuel delivered to generators at an industry lowest cost.

Biomass Fuel Comparison

No conversion cost, as is currently required today, plus a superior coal like renewable fuel, that’s also cheaper than any renewable fuel available today, equates to the most easily adoptable, lowest cost drop in coal replacement fuel to assist expedite coal’s replacement.

Unit Lifecycle GHGs Comparison AAF_Coal Fuel Systems