Supplementing the use of coal with biomass — a woody or energy crop — has become desirable in the production of electricity for a number of reasons. Coal power plants that have tried to fire dried biomass have learned of the necessity of costly modifications to do so effectively. Yet at the same time, many coal-fired power plants have realized that the benefits of co-firing dried biomass are great enough to warrant the necessary modifications. Some coal-fired power plants, however, have not been able to make the necessary changes — or have not found them to be cost effective.
This article will look at the factors affecting thermal processing biomass to augment coal power plants during the production of electricity. Specific thermal processing technologies can help optimize such processes.