STEAMBIO - Flexible Superheated Steam Torrefaction and Grinding of Indigenous Biomass from Remote Rural Sources to Produce Stable Densified Feedstocks for Chemical and Energy Applications

  • Dates: February 2015 – December 2018 
  • Leader: Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials  
  • Grant agreement number: H2020-SPIRE-2014
  • Financied by



Superheated Steam Processing (SHS) has been implemented in diverse drying applications at industrial scales, due to its superior heat transfer properties. At pilot scales, SHS has been proven to torrefy biomass at temperatures up to 300°C with minimal ligno-cellulose breakdown. Unlike conventional torrefaction techniques, which use flue gases as heating medium, it does not contaminate the torrefied biomass and volatile fractions, allowing economic recovery of chemicals. Moreover, it is also readily scalable for continuous operation.

In SteamBio, a transportable demonstrator unit will be operated at five different rural locations where it will be used to torrefy tonnage quantities of six different agro-forestry residues at a throughput of 500 kg/h. The demonstrator unit will be operated at these rural locations throughout the last twelve months of the project to allow for seasonal fluctuations in the composition of the materials being valorised. The torrefied biomass fractions (solid and liberated volatiles) will then be validated as green building blocks in commercially relevant chemical production and in bioenergy use. Life cycle experts will validate that SteamBio will have positive environmental impacts and a robust business strategy will be developed to ensure widespread market replication.


The objective of SteamBio is to demonstrate a mobile processing concept that will enable efficient pre-treatment of agro-forestry residues for use as flexible feedstocks in chemical and process industries.

The core enabling technology is superheated steam processing (SHS), and the main goals that the project pursues regarding this technology are:

  • To define the optimum SHS processing parameters (temperatures below 300°C)
  • To define SteamBio system design, incorporating materials handling, the SHS torrefaction unit, and a fractionation unit to recover volatile compounds
  • To build the SteamBio system on a transportable trailer as a scalable demonstrator unit
  • To validate the technical and economic viability of the integrated process
  • To confirm the full life economic, environmental and social sustainability of the entire approach.


Due to its previous experience in other biomass European projects, CIRCE will lead the demonstration activities in the valorisation of agro-forestry residues.

CIRCE will organise the operation of the mobile demonstration facility in at least five sites, ensuring safe start-up shut down, operation and relocation of the SHS unit and industry demonstrations.

CIRCE will also be responsible for the pilot scale verification of the outputs in energy use and will participate in the validation in a full-scale real facility.


Logotipo CIRCE a color con recuadro gris sin leyenda