Elkem Invests in Quebec Biocarbon Pilot Plant

Elkem ASA of Norway has announced plans to invest in a new biocarbon pilot plant in Chicoutimi, QC. The total investment will amount to NOK180 million (US$19.9 million) of which NOK60 million (US$6.7 million) will be paid by Elkem with the balance coming from the federal and provincial governments and the city of Saguenay. The plant will be constructed near the company’s existing ferrosilicon plant.

With the new plant, Elkem will pilot an industrial biocarbon process tailor-made for silicon and ferrosilicon production, using climate-neutral renewable biocarbon instead of fossil coal as a reduction agent. Elkem already uses close to 20% biocarbon in its production in Norway and the company is working towards increasing this to 40% by 2030.

The pilot plant will source raw materials from local sawmills in Canada, including recycled bark, wood chips, sawdust and wood shaves.

Jean Villeneuve, Head of Elkem’s Biocarbon business, said, “Studies have shown that biocarbon can perform even better than fossil coal in production, and at the same time reduce the carbon footprint. Still challenges remain to make biocarbon viable at a large scale, including how to optimize quality, how to customize furnaces for biocarbon, how to sustainably source raw materials and how to minimize transportation.

“I am confident that Elkem’s new biocarbon plant in Canada will help us to solve these challenges, by enabling close co-operation between people at all levels of the organization, from the operators who run the furnaces to the plant management, the procurement team, and R&D specialists including our partner Pyrovac.”

Volume 34, Issue 18

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