Biocarbon has an energy content of 30 GJ/te. Each Van Aardt module (5,000 tepy of biocarbon) can produce 1.5 MW (depends on energy conversion efficiencies) of electricity or 14 GJ (13 MMBTU) of heat. Conversion to heat is much more energy efficient than electricity production.
The process utilizes local biomass, which can include forestry and agriculture waste and residual, and MSW (municipal solid waste). The process works for CCHP (combined cooling, heating and power) and remote communities to replace fossil-fuel-sourced power plants, such as diesel.
Converting biomass into biocarbon produces a fuel that can be efficiently utilized to generate energy. The utilization of biomass for power generation is difficult for smaller electrical demand (<10MW), as a steam turbine is generally not economic. The generating technologies for such situations [e.g., internal combustion engines (e.g., Jenbacher), microturbines, fuel cells] are based on gasification of the biomass, producing a syngas (mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen). These technologies are sensitive to the wood tars that are produced when biomass is gasified. During the carbonization process, the wood tars are already removed in the Van Aardt process.