Restoration Bioproducts to build $5.8M biochar plant
Facility will be in Waverly, working with wood pellet maker
Lynchburg-based Restoration Bioproducts LLC will invest $5.8 million and build Virginia’s first biochar production facility in Sussex County, creating five jobs and purchasing 34,560 tons of Virginia-grown wood products, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Monday.
Wood pellet manufacturer Wood Fuel Developers is already in Waverly. Restoration Bioproducts will use pyrolysis technology to turn wood waste from Wood Fuel Developers’ mill into biochar and syngas, a form of natural gas. Black carbon produced from biomass sources, Biochar is organic matter, highly porous, stable, carbon-rich, charcoal-like and used commonly as an agricultural soil amendment, odor absorber or animal feed additive. The syngas produced by Restoration Bioproducts will be used to power the pyrolysis reaction chamber and a 500kw electric generator to provide electricity to Wood Fuel Developers.
Wood Fuel Developers produces the EasyPellet brand of wood pellets for home heating and animal bedding. Restoration Bioproducts will process 11,000 tons per year of waste wood fibers produced by Wood Fuel Developers into biochar, wood, benegar, biooil and power, according to its website.
The $5.8 million investment over three years will be used for a new facility in Waverly. Forestry is Virginia’s third-largest private sector industry.
“Technology and entrepreneurship are powerful forces driving the commonwealth’s economy forward. Today’s announcement is further evidence that Virginia is the location of choice for companies looking to transform their industries through innovation,” Youngkin said in a statement. “I congratulate Sussex County on bringing a first-of-its-kind green energy project to Virginia and commend Restoration Bioproducts for demonstrating the power of private-sector led, sustainable waste solutions.”
Wood pellets are big business right now. Because of the war in Europe, the supply of compressed wood pellets from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine has been cut off to power plans in Western Europe that burn the pellets instead of coal, The Wall Street Journal reported. That puts a premium on U.S. wood pellets, primarily produced in the South.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Suffolk County and Restoration Bioproducts LLC to secure the project for the commonwealth. Youngkin approved a $50,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, which Sussex County and Waverly will match with local funds.