Japanese firm Idemitsu Kosan has initiated operations to produce black pellets using the assets (unused land, facilities) available at Ensham coal mine in Queensland, Australia.
Under this project through the firm’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Idemitsu Australia Resources, Sorghum is cultivated and will be used as a biomass fuel. According to Idemitsu, the plant is known to be suitable for growing in the area with low rainfall. The firm completed harvest as of July.
Idemitsu is currently conducting a verification test for pelletising the plant into wood pellets and is planning to start torrefaction testing – the thermal process that converts wood pellets into black pellets – later this year.
The black pellets have better water resistance and grindability than conventional wood pellets, according to the firm, and can be used in a similar way as coal.
The project received a $20,000 (€12,300) subsidy from the Queensland State Government as it has the potential to become a large-scale commercial export base for biomass fuel, in addition to the coal export base.