Measuring the quality of biofuels in real time improves the profitability of power plants

INRAY installation

Biofuels are characterized by quality variations, especially in terms of moisture and impurities. These quality variations cause challenges for the operation of power plants and the price of fuel. The quality of the biofuel is reflected in the ease of use, efficiency and maintenance costs of the plant. It is possible to solve these challenges using real-time fuel quality measurement.

El FUELCONTROL-scanner by Inray Oy Ltd it uses X-ray technology, which allows fuel quality to be measured directly on the conveyor in the same way luggage is scanned at airports. You can analyze moisture, particle size, volume flow and foreign matter content in real time. The method has been verified by the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) and ETA-Danmark.


FUELCONTROL – scanner measurement principle

Fully automatic measurement process

When the truck arrives at the plant, the plant control system gives the scanner a start message, which contains the necessary information about the truck load to be measured, such as the identification number, supplier name, and type. made out of fuel. After this, the measurement starts and the real-time measurement data is transmitted to the control room. When the entire charge has been measured and charge weight information is available, the energy content of the charge is calculated and the information is sent to the fuel management system. In addition, the removal of harmful foreign objects from the process can be fully automated - this is what is used in various power plants.



FUELCONTROL Possible scanner installation locations 

Case of success

FUELCONTROL-scanner it is widely used in Finland in heat and power plants in the 50 - 400 MWth size class. One of these is Turun Seudun Energiantuotanto Oy's (TSE) multi-fuel power plant, which was completed in 2017 and produces 2950 GWh per year of electricity and heat. The plant uses forest residues, wood chips, bark, sawdust, stumps and recycled wood. In addition to biofuels, the plant also uses small amounts of peat and coal. Most of the fuel comes from nearby areas via trucking, but an increasing amount of fuel comes from ship deliveries from the Baltic Sea area.

Originally, the plant had automatic sampling equipment for fuel quality control, with which samples were taken from each load and their humidity and calorific value were analyzed in the laboratory. TSE wanted to further develop its fuel quality control and, since 2019, quality control of biofuels is carried out with FUELCONTROL scanners. With the change, the power plant has more accurate information about moisture and the amount of foreign matter in each load, so giving feedback to fuel suppliers has become easier and faster. In addition, the operators' working time has been freed up for more productive work.


Turun Seudun Energiantuotanto Oy : Process of unloading delivery of wood chips in central.


Competition for biofuels is increasing, which means there is pressure to use new fractions and lower quality biofuels. This often creates challenges for fuel handling and combustion equipment, and also for the availability and efficiency of power plants. By using real-time fuel quality measurement, lower quality fuels can be used in a safer and more controlled manner and lower qualities can be rejected before they can cause equipment damage. FUELCONTROL-scanner has proven its benefits in various power plants over the past few years. 

This year, many Nordic power plants are using this technology, such as Helen Vuosaari (260 MWth heat plant), Tampere Electric Power Plant (200 MWth CHP), DIN Forsyning Denmark (60 MWth heat plant), Kaukaan Voima (400 MWth) and Flames (89 MWth cogeneration plant).

Inray Oy Ltd was founded in 2009 to develop measurement systems that use X-ray technology to improve the operation of power production, biorefineries, and pulp mills. The systems FUELCONTROL® from Inray are widely used in heat and power plants of different sizes to ensure efficient operation of the plant. Inray has offices in Mikkeli (Finland) and Malaga (Spain).