RIGA - Livanu Carbon has inaugurated a new production plant in Livani, Latvia for making charcoal. The owners have invested over 3 million lats (4.2 million euros) in the project, creating nearly 20 new jobs in the process. Using the latest Belgian technology - Lambiotte CISR - the company will become the biggest charcoal producer in the Baltic States. Production capacity is planned to increase to 7,000 tons per year.
In a press release, the company reports that its owners have been involved with charcoal production since 1994, and see an increasing market demand for charcoal in Europe and Scandinavian countries.
They say that the best available charcoal-producing technology is with the Lambiotte CISR system. This technology makes it possible to produce charcoal with a much higher quality than that of other processes, with an 85 - 92 percent carbon content, compared with a 75 - 80 percent content for products coming from other Latvian manufacturers.
The Belgian technology also allows much higher resource and labor efficiency, at 8 cubic meters of wood needed per ton of charcoal, compared with 10 - 12 cubic meters with existing technology. The process is fully automated. Control software, say the owners, is provided with a real-time interactive control and regulation system.
A key feature, not found in traditional technologies, is its environmentally friendly charcoal production, they add. The Lambiotte technology is currently in use in plants in Poland, Belgium, France and the Czech Republic. This will be the first of its kind in Latvia.
There are now two Lambiotte CISR retorts installed at the plant. Each retort has a capacity of up to 2,500 tons of charcoal per year. The company plans to install a third retort which will increase total production volume to the target 7,000 tons per year. Production is expected to start this month, with the first shipments leaving the factory in June to already existing customers. Plans are for the finished product to be exported to France, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Poland and Lithuania.
The input to the process is locally sourced alder. The high quality charcoal is used primarily as fuel for grilling (barbecue) in households and restaurants, and is also used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries as well as being the raw material for the production of activated charcoal, synthetic diesel, synthetic gas and silicon.
The new technology makes it possible to reclaim the by-products of charcoal production - pyrolitic vapours and gases that are normally lost - and use them for heating and electricity production - cogeneration. The electricity produced can be classified as coming from renewable resources, which permits it to be sold at the mandatory purchase price to the electric utility Latvenergo.
The company’s technical director, Ashot Mamikonyan, who is also a member of the Livani City Council, said that “The place for production was a not random choice. The Latgale region is the most depressed region in Latvia, and there are still a lot of opportunities for developing new production sites, workforce and capacity. We are creating 20 new jobs. Workers are predominantly from Rozupe and Livani, those who formerly worked in the biochemical plant and glass factory. Initially they will go for training in Belgium for a couple of months, and continue to work here in Livani, together with Belgian specialists.”
Mamikonyan added that “Our company has modern production [methods] and places the greatest demands on the quality of its products. Expanding the capacity… will help us to better serve the increased demand in Scandinavian and European markets.”