A production with a proven track record
Our production process is based on the proprietary technology, Carbonex, developed by the SOLER Group and implemented in every production site of the Group. Carbonex is an industrial scale solution designed to convert wood and other biomass residues into biocarbon, electricity and other by-products which support the industrial transformation to climate neutrality.
The Carbonex biorefinery, first implemented in 2012 in Gyé-sur-Seine (Eastern France), has successfully been in operation for over a decade. Two more similar facilities have been implemented since and, bearing witness to an excellent track record and resource efficiency, have been running uninterruptedly. As of today, we are able to produce 50,000 tonnes of biocarbon each year.
Pyrolysis at the core of our solution
Our system relies on the pyrolysis principle: a thermochemical conversion of organic materials, such as biomass residues, into high added value products. Sometimes called “dry distillation”, pyrolysis is an advanced process markedly different from combustion, for it relies on heating up biomass at controlled temperatures and in the absence of oxygen. This technique results in the decomposition of biomass into solids and gases.
The solid products of biomass pyrolysis feature very high carbon contents, which make them an excellent substitute for fossil coal-based materials. Thanks to its unique capacity to concentrate sequestered carbon in its solid products, pyrolysis is a solution which can strongly contribute to limiting the industrial CO2 emissions.
As for the gases produced during pyrolysis, they are a calorific mixture of molecules which can either be refined further for biochemical purposes, or simply be converted into usable green energy.
Our system relies on the pyrolysis principle, which is markedly different from combustion of biomass.
Lacanau production site, France
A carbon-wise technology
Before the pyrolysis process takes place at our production site, the carbon cycle begins in the forests. Unlike fossil fuels, biomass does not take centuries to form. Every year, trees absorb significant CO2 amounts from the atmosphere, thus working towards mitigating climate change. Nurturing this cycle through sustainable forest management is at the core of our company’s activity.
Once the collected wood residues have arrived at our site, we begin to prepare them for the pyrolysis process by chopping and drying them. The energy needed for this phase is entirely provided by the heat production that takes place within the facility.
The following stage consists in heating the biomass residues to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. This phase is carried out in several pyrolysis reactors* which have been designed to operate in cycles, thereby ensuring the continuous operation of the entire plant.
The reactors are interconnected so as to collect the produced pyrolysis syngas, an excellent energy carrier. The pyrolysis gas is then converted into syngas, which can be used, for example, in the cogeneration unit, which converts its thermal energy into heat used for drying the wood, and electricity made available to local communities.
After being cooled down, the solid biocarbon produced during the pyrolysis process – and which was originally stored in the wood as organic carbon – continues its journey to the industrial customers to help them offset their carbon emissions and create carbon sinks. This way, the Carbonex technology builds a bridge between sustainable forests and a carbon neutral economy.
*Reactors: a container where a chemical reactions happens