Munro & Associates has partnered with with Biomass Energy Enhancements (BEE) and UK-based Energy Group (AEG) to bring to market the first sustainable biomass fuel.

The biomass fuel can be used in traditional coal-fired plants as either a co-mixed fuel with coal or, because of its very high BTU rating, independently without changing the infrastructure of the plant. This is important because retrofitting a coal fired power plant can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Moreover, current coal-fired plants can experience significantly reduced pollution emissions by transitioning to the new fuel creating an immediate improvement in surrounding air quality.

Other processes that have been used in the past, such as simple compaction and thermal drying, either leave a high level of toxic salts in the biomass creating pollution and frequent maintenance issues or leave too much intercellular moisture reducing the effective energy release from the fuels. BEE’s process "explodes" the fibers like popcorn and exposes the intra-fiber moisture and soluble salts which can then be easily removed. This new process allows biofuels to be generated from materials that would not have been suitable or viable before, such as reclaimed waste wood, and diseased and invasive crops or trees.

A further benefit is that the final product is also hydrophobic, which not only prevents possible reabsorption of moisture that would degrade the fuel, but it subsequently reduces distribution, transportation and storage costs.

Although Munro has worked on several new technologies over the years, rarely does the company make the leap to actually invest in the technologies as well," said Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates. "This process has the potential to revolutionize the industry and we are very proud to be a part of the Coal Switch Team."

Munro’s engineers worked with the BEE team to create a highly scalable, mobile and "flexible in the field" process that can be moved anywhere in the world. This creates a massive savings in regards to moving the raw potential biomass to a facility, rather than move the scalable facility easily and cheaply to set up onsite.

"Our primary goal at BEE was to make the unusable usable," said Chas Fritz, CEO of BEE. "According to the U.S. Department of Energy, over 93 million tons of forestry residues are left to rot each year in the U.S. alone and the global figure is vastly higher. That doesn’t include waste timber from sawmills, construction sites and other industrial uses such as redundant railroad ties. Our unique process converts all of that material into high-energy fuel, benefitting the environment in numerous ways. We needed a strong partner with the vision and resources to take the system to market, and we believe that Active Energy Group has the infrastructure, industry connections and international network to work with us to successfully implement a worldwide launch."

"My colleagues and I have been searching for the past five years for the ‘holy grail’ of the power generation industry: a sustainable clean energy fuel that will act as a direct replacement for coal; some nine billion tons of which is currently utilized each year, causing enormous damage to the environment," said Richard Spinks, CEO of AEG. "I’m delighted to report that after a few false starts, we’ve not only found a method of producing that fuel, but that after months of working closely with BEE and thoroughly testing their claims for their technology, we’re even more convinced that they’re the ideal partners for AEG."

Munro engineers took the original prototype design created by BEE and scaled it up to create the new process/design. A critical component of Munro’s redesign methodology is its proprietary Design Profit® software that provides the company with the unique ability to assess virtually every aspect of the manufacturing process and its associated costs. Through the software, every system, sub-system and component – along with its fabrication process, assembly steps and fastening methods (including tools) – is analyzed to produce accurate metrics for piece cost, labor cost and non-labor costs, as well as investment costs.