IrBEA along with THREE C project partners were delighted to be invited to visit Arigna Fuels processing plant facility located in the Arigna valley in county Roscommon. The company operated a coal mine until the 1990s and is now transitioning to manufacture and supply of a 100% based biomass fuel called ‘Harvest Flame‘ which is a renewable solid fuel.
Biochar is a stable form of charcoal, produced from a wide variety of biomass streams using pyrolysis technology. It is increasingly recognised for the important role it can play in environmental or agricultural applications, to be utilised as an effective carbon sequestration method and in its ability to decarbonise heating requirements.
The Stradbally Woodland Railway to become the first carbon neutral steam heritage operation in Ireland
We had the pleasure of visiting Stradbally Woodland Railway on Sunday 19th March 2023 and witness our biomass product, Harvest Flame, being used to power a steam locomotive. You can read more about the steps that the The Stradbally Woodland Railway (SWR), the oldest heritage railway in Ireland run entirely by volunteers, are taking to become the first carbon neutral steam heritage operation in the country HERE.
Laois is leading the way to de-carbonise and re-fuel the Heritage Railways while keeping everything moving along!
In September, Ireland saw the first passenger train to be hauled by a steam locomotive using a 100% renewable biomass-based coal substitute. This was on the Stradbally Woodland Railway, a short narrow-gauge line with steep gradients. Being in woodland, the old saying ‘from small acorns do great oaks grow’ could be perfectly appropriate for this significant trial. The fuel used was a stove-ready commercial product called ‘Harvest Flame’ that is made via the process of torrefaction from biomass – in this case olive stones, a residue from the food industry. This material is also suitable for small locomotives and traction engine boilers. So, Ireland’s original volunteer run heritage line has now also pioneered a first step towards carbon neutral steam heritage. Read more HERE
Peter Layden, Managing Director of Arigna Fuels, and Denis Naughton, Minister for Communications, Climate Change, and Environment, viewing the new Biomass pilot plant in Arigna and discussing how it can contribute to the Ministers climate change agenda.
Arigna Fuels was very pleased to welcome Minister John Perry T.D. to their plant in Arigna to view the exciting new developments there.
During a tour of the plant Minister Perry inspected the newly installed packaging and screening facility. This will allow the company to significantly increase its bagged output and also further improve the quality and presentation of its products.
Minister Perry was particularly impressed with the commitment of the company to Research and Development. He was fully briefed on the major R&D project currently under way. This involves the production of ‘bio coal’ –a renewable fuel with the combustion characteristics of coal but made from renewable products such as woodchip, nut shells and even potentially rushes. This project is supported by Enterprise Ireland and will be progressing to pilot plant stage over the coming months after extensive lab trials.
Arigna Fuels has always been at the forefront of new product development in the Irish and UK markets. Employing 50 full time staff and 15 more indirectly it’s range of smokeless and environmentally friendly fuels continue to grow sales as consumers demand better value for money in more challenging times. In particular our Ecobrite product for closed appliances has a loyal following from people who want real heat at an affordable price whilst Cosyglo continues to attract people who want a long lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly open fire.
As part of the ongoing drive to reduce costs the company’s Energy Management System has recently achieved certification under the new International Energy Management System Standard ISO50001. This standard provides a framework for establishing energy management best practice to help organisations to improve their energy performance in a logical, controlled and systematic way. Arigna Fuels Ltd. is the first Irish SME to be awarded with an accredited certification to ISO50001. The certification was granted by Certification Europe following a detailed assessment process. Becoming certified to this standard ensures that the company will continually strive to improve its energy performance. Minister Perry was pleased to present the award to Brendan Layden –Operations Director
Picture Shows Minister Perry presenting the new certificate to Brendan Layden Operations Manager. Also in Picture John Ryan -Certification Europe and Peter Layden-Managing Director Arigna Fuels
WDC Investment Fund to help accelerate the transition from low smoke carbon based products to renewable biomass products.
Arigna Fuels emerged from the coal mining industry in the region and built the first smokeless fuel plant in Ireland in the mid-1980’s.
Today’s announcement is part of an ongoing investment by Arigna Fuels shareholders in transitioning the company to a renewable and sustainable future.
The Western Development Commission today announced investment and support for Arigna Fuels as the company moves towards renewable biomass based products.
Arigna Fuels is a family owned business based on the Roscommon/Leitrim border and has been ever present since the 1870’s through generations of the Layden family. Arigna Fuels was the first manufacturer of smokeless coal ovoids in Ireland and has continually expanded operations up to a 24/7 basis and developed its brands Ecobrite and Cosyglo as market leaders in the expanding market for cleaner solid fuels. The company has sold well in excess of 1million tonnes of manufactured fuels to date and currently employs 53 staff directly and up to 15 indirectly. In response to the on-going climate change agenda and in anticipation of Arigna Fuels’ customer’s future needs to find suitable replacement for carbon based fuel, the company embarked on a multi-million euro investment and commenced work on a biomass based fuel in 2010 and construction of a pilot plant in 2012.
The technology developed for the new plant is cutting-edge and has been developed by the Arigna team. The next stage for the biomass project is the production of commercial quantities of biomass based product to test a number of identified market segments both in Ireland and abroad. Once the development phase is complete the company plans to expand capacity rapidly. The team at Arigna have put a large focus on the energy efficiency of the process to ensure that all useful energy is recovered and available for use in the process itself.
WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said, “Arigna Fuels is an excellent example of both the challenges and opportunities of the ‘just transition’ to a low carbon economy in regional and rural areas. This is a resilient family business that has provided significant employment for generations along the Roscommon / Leitrim border and continues to innovate. We are happy to support Arigna Fuels as they continue to innovate and develop new and sustainable markets in a time of significant change.”
Brendan Layden Managing Director said “Arigna Fuels have been very impressed with our interactions with the WDC and its staff. From early on it was clear they shared our vision for innovation and our desire to produce a renewable and sustainable product for our customers. Our new products will still be usable in existing appliances and make the inevitable transition from carbon based fuels to a renewable fuel possible for all.”
Gillian Buckley, Investment Manager, stated that “The WDC Investment Fund is delighted to support Arigna Fuels, a family business steeped in a rural area at the cutting edge of the transition to the low carbon economy and renewable fuel products.”
This funding round was also supported by the company’s shareholders and the Bank of Ireland.
The WDC policy team are currently studying the impact on rural areas of the move to a low carbon economy as part of the Government’s Climate Action Plan, the findings of which will be published early next year.