At North America’s largest chocolate factory, in Quebec, Barry Callebaut produces more than 500 tons of chocolate daily. During processing, the cocoa beans are extracted from their husks, which then become industrial waste. Barry Callebaut and Ecosystem saw an opportunity to reclaim these husks as a fuel source to reduce waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and disposal and fuel costs.
In this project, a custom-built biomass boiler was installed beside the factory to burn the husks to produce steam, powering the chocolate production process without additional natural gas purchases. Biomass applications are not common for industrial processes, and newer technologies can introduce complexities. For example, cocoa bean husks leave a residue when burned, so Ecosystem had to address potential operation and maintenance issues proactively. To reduce clogging and downtime for cleaning, a system was installed to pulse air through the boiler’s tubes to clear residue.
Each year, this biomass boiler produces 462,833 therms of heat, keeping 6,324,302 pounds of cocoa bean husks out of landfills and reducing natural gas consumption, emissions and disposal costs. These outcomes are consistent with Barry Callebaut’s strategic objectives to incorporate green energy sources and reduce energy consumption in its chocolate factories around the world.