2022 Biomass Magazine Issue 3

Page 1

Issue 3, 2022


PROTECTION Advancing Fire & Explosion Technologies PAGE 10


Global Pellet Market Challenges PAGE 16

Digestate Details PAGES 28, 30



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FEATURES 10 FIRE & EXPLOSION Arming the Industry

Three companies share details about new or improved fire and explosion prevention and mitigation technologies. By Katie Schroeder

16 MARKETS Navigating the Turbulence of Global Trade

Global pellet markets are facing a slate of challenges that have given rise to shortages in many countries. While breaking into these markets may seem appealing to some North American producers, it is a challenging endeavor. By Anna Simet



A Never-Ending Pursuit


By Anna Simet

06 Renewable Natural Gas and the Need for Clean Domestic Energy By Lesley Dalton

07 North American Wood Fiber Pricing, Supplies and Sawmill Capex By Brooks Mendell



24 POWER Efficient Cleaning of Sustainable Biomass Boilers

One challenge that coincides with biomass combustion is soot and dust buildup. By Asaël Hervet-Binois

26 FIRE & EXPLOSION Improving Early Warning Fire Detection: Thermal Imaging and the Internet of Things

Early hot spot detection is critical if a bulk biomass pile fire is to be avoided. By David Bursnell


FLAMEX Inc.’s MX One Fire Protection Turbine has the ability to spray 1,000 gallons of water per minute at an 80-meter distance, can be linked to a flame detector and automated. PHOTO: FLAMEX INC.

¦ADVERTISER INDEX 34 2023 Int'l Biomass Conference & Expo 33 2023 Biomass Power & Waste-to-Energy Map 23 2023 North American Renewable Natural Gas Map 2 18 19 13

Air Burners, Inc. Airoflex Equipment Fagus GreCon, Inc. FLAMEX Inc.

12 20 36 25 22 14 15 31 29

Hermann Sewerin GmbH IEP Technologies KEITH Manufacturing Company KESCO, Inc. Mid-South Engineering Company MoistTech NDC Technologies Rembe, Inc. Triple Green Products

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336, ISSN 21690405) Copyright © 2022 by BBI International is published quarterly by BBI International, 308 Second Avenue North, Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Four issues per year. Business and Editorial Offices: 308 Second Avenue North, Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Accounting and Circulation Offices: BBI International 308 Second Avenue North, Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Call (701) 746-8385 to subscribe. Periodicals postage paid at Grand Forks, ND and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biomass Magazine/ Subscriptions, 308 Second Avenue North, Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203.

28 BIOGAS/RNG Unlocking Biofertilizer as an Additional Revenue Source

There are legal Issues for renewable natural gas project developers to consider when it comes to the production and sale of digestate, By Chris Peterson

30 BIOGAS/RNG Drying Digestate

Proper drying of digestate is one key in transforming it into a salable product that can be used as a fertilizer or a solid biofuel. By Rich Trzupek

SPOTLIGHTS 31 FIRE/EXPLOSION Keys to Maximum Explosion Protection REMBE INC.

32 BIOGAS/RNG A Unique Solution to Tail Gas Flaring for RNG plants Koch Engineered Solutions



A Never-Ending Pursuit



Although we cover a very broad range of bioenergy types in Biomass Magazine, a main pillar of this 15-year-old industry trade journal is wood-using technology, including heat, power and wood pellet production. As such, a crucial topic we focus on in one issue per year is fire and explosion prevention, protection and mitigation. Although the topic may seem a bit tired, the fact is that wood and wood dust are combustible by nature, and that isn’t changing. But what companies in the general wood products space can potentially change are the number of incidents and the outcomes of those that do occur, with protection of employees, assets and the surrounding environment always being top of mind. Companies in the fire and explosion space are constantly evolving and improving technologies, and you’ll find some examples in our page-10 feature, “Arming the Industry,” by Katie Schroeder. This is, of course, a very limited review of the advancements in fire and explosion protection, but also includes some good insight from the professionals she spoke with, who continue to see the need for education, adoption and evolution of applications. Says Jason Krbec, sales and engineering manager at CV Technology, “…combustible dust is a growing issue, especially in biomass where they’re handling wood materials or biochar … On one side [technology] protects your employees, and on the other side it protects your process. So, there are two reasons as to why it becomes really critical.” You’ll also find content on this topic in our page-26 contribution, “Improving Early Warning Fire Detection: Thermal Imaging and the Internet of Things,” as well as our page-30 spotlight article, “Keys to Maximum Explosion Protection.” The bonus theme of this issue is biogas and RNG. Lately, there has been quite the buzz about the production and sale of nutrient-rich digestate, as the prices of fertilizer have soared as a result of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Two contributions are focused on this topic: “Drying Digestate,” on page 30, and “Unlocking Biofertilizer as an Additional Revenue Source,” on page 28. We have also included a column authored by the RNG Coalition’s Leslie Dalton, which includes some good industry talking points regarding the potential and value of RNG as a substitute for imported fossil fuels, and a spotlight article on page 32, which discusses a technology for tail gas flaring at RNG plants. Finally, we’ll soon be getting to work on our Biomass Power & Waste-to-Energy Map, North American Pellet Production Map and North American Renewable Natural Gas Map. We strive to independently verify all data, but if your facility is or will soon be under construction, is undergoing an expansion, has changed hands in the past year or isn’t currently listed, please drop us a line to ensure our records are as up to date as possible.




EDITOR Anna Simet asimet@bbiinternational.com ONLINE NEWS EDITOR Erin Voegele evoegele@bbiinternational.com STAFF WRITER Katie Schroeder kschroeder@bbiinternational.com


VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTION & DESIGN Jaci Satterlund jsatterlund@bbiinternational.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Raquel Boushee rboushee@bbiinternational.com

PUBLISHING & SALES CEO Joe Bryan jbryan@bbiinternational.com PRESIDENT Tom Bryan tbryan@bbiinternational.com VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS/MARKETING & SALES John Nelson jnelson@bbiinternational.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER/BIOENERGY TEAM LEADER Chip Shereck cshereck@bbiinternational.com ACCOUNT MANAGER Bob Brown bbrown@bbiinternational.com CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Tiller jtiller@bbiinternational.com MARKETING & ADVERTISING MANAGER Marla DeFoe mdefoe@bbiinternational.com SOCIAL MEDIA & MARKETING COORDINATOR Dayna Bastian dbastian@bbiinternational.com

2022 National Carbon Capture Conference & Expo NOVEMBER 8-9, 2022

Iowa Events Center, Des Moines, IA Produced by Carbon Capture Magazine and BBI International, the National Carbon Capture Conference & Expo is a two-day event designed specifically for companies and organizations advancing technologies and policy that support the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from all sources, including fossil fuel-based power plants, ethanol production plants and industrial processes, as well as directly from the atmosphere. The program will focus on research, data, trends and information on all aspects of CCUS with the goal to help companies build knowledge, connect with others, and better understand the market and carbon utilization. (866)746-8385 | NationalCarbonCaptureConference.com

2023 Int’l Biomass Conference & Expo FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2023 Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, GA

Now in its 16th year, the International Biomass Conference & Expo is expected to bring together more than 800 attendees, 140 exhibitors and 65 speakers from more than 21 countries. It is the largest gathering of biomass professionals and academics in the world. The conference provides relevant content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-to-business environment. In addition to abundant networking opportunities, the largest biomass conference in the world is renowned for its outstanding programming—powered by Biomass Magazine—that maintains a strong focus on commercial-scale biomass production, new technology, and near-term research and development. (866) 746-8385 | www.BiomassConference.com

2023 Int’l Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo JUNE 12-14, 2023

CHI Health Center, Omaha, Nebraska From its inception, the mission of this event has remained constant: The FEW delivers timely presentations with a strong focus on commercial-scale ethanol production—from quality control and yield maximization to regulatory compliance and fiscal management. The FEW is the ethanol industry’s premier forum for unveiling new technologies and research findings. The program is primarily focused on optimizing grain ethanol operations while also covering cellulosic and advanced ethanol technologies. (866) 746-8385 | FuelEthanolWorkshop.com

Please check our website for upcoming webinars


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Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge for anyone outside the United States. To subscribe, visit www.BiomassMagazine.com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@ bbiinternational.com. Advertising Biomass Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Biomass Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to asimet@bbiinternational.com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.


Renewable Natural Gas and the Need for Clean Domestic Energy BY LESLEY DALTON

The importance of energy independence has been a topic of discussion for decades. Unfortunately, the conversation has too often been placed on the backburner as other issues divert our attention. The current geopolitical situation has once again put the need for domestic energy sources back in the forefront, however, and we must face this issue and act now. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. and the rest of the world are witnessing firsthand the need to reduce reliance on other nations for energy. Investing in our own domestic sources is essential to making our economy and country more secure. And as we steer our focus toward domestic resources, we must also do so through a sustainable lens. Here’s how to start. If you live in a town that creates waste (and every town does), then you have a continual source of organic material that could and should be converted into clean, domestic, renewable energy. As waste decomposes it emits methane, which is a naturally occurring, but potent and harmful greenhouse gas. Renewable natural gas (RNG) facilities capture this methane from existing garbage, inedible food, agricultural waste, animal manure and wastewater, and repurposes it as a clean energy source. Because RNG captures emissions from society’s inevitable waste streams and redeems its energy value, it has the lowest lifecycle carbon intensity (CI) of any clean energy source available today. RNG uniquely takes a product that is negatively impacting the environment—waste—and creates a reliable energy resource that is fully compatible with our current infrastructure and appliances, serving an important role in the energy transition. RNG creates a circular economy by reusing local materials. Recycling organic waste in this fashion creates carbon-negative renewable energy that is at the heart of sustainability. Additionally, the use of local materials eliminates the exportation of pollution, addressing environmental justice concerns. RNG is a complement to other intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar because it is storable, dispatchable and can be utilized with other fuel, heat and power generation resources that provide reliable domestic energy.


In addition to serving as a renewable fuel for medium and heavy-duty vehicles, and renewable heat for homes and businesses, RNG is a feedstock used in the production of renewable hydrogen, renewable electricity, sustainable aviation fuel and bunker fuel for marine applications. Distributed energy resources make communities more resilient, and every country, state, province, city and town have the resources to create RNG. With local energy, production pricing and regulations from other jurisdictions become less relevant. Utilizing energy that is produced and or delivered locally is almost always going to be better for the environment, economy and society. According to a 2021 United Nations report, methane emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030. Our waste and how we handle it has a large impact on emissions that greatly impact air quality and contribute to climate change. RNG is both an energy commodity and an environmental asset converted from an environmental liability. Resources with multisectoral environmental benefits such as RNG deserve our support and advocacy. RNG represents an opportunity to address inevitable waste streams, improve our nation’s energy resilience, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and decarbonize the transportation sector in America. We need a diverse portfolio of solutions to make the transition to clean, domestic energy affordable, attainable and immediately actionable—RNG is an important component to get us there. Author: Lesley Dalton Director of Communications & Marketing Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas lesley@rngcoalition.com

North American Wood Fiber Pricing, Supplies and Sawmill Capex BY BROOKS MENDELL

North American wood fiber pricing Figure 1. Existing and Announced Softwood for the first half of 2022 highlighted reLumber Mills in the U.S. South. gional nuance and variability. Meanwhile, the macroeconomic environment grapples with headwinds from inflation, consumer confidence, interest rate hikes, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. Overall, demand for fiber remained strong, supporting the industry sentiment that North American forest products are well positioned for the nearterm. For example, AF&PA announced that total packaging papers and specialty packaging shipments increased 1% year to date through May, signaling robust demand within the pulp and paper sector. Trucking capacity issues were underscored by increasing fuel prices during the quarter. As one U.S. national firm with timber and mill assets in multiple regions reported, “It’s more about truckers than about loggers for us.” Around the country, many fiber buyers and sellers indicated that fuel surcharges were implemented to ease the burden of high fuel prices. However, the use of surcharges was uneven across the SOURCE: FORISK NORTH AMERICAN FOREST INDUSTRY CAPACITY DATABASE continent. U.S. Northeast prices skyrocketed to a four-year high as delivered prices in the U.S. South were flat to negative. upgrades and expansions. DR Johnson announced the reopening of Part of the fiber price stability in the South links to increased sup- the mill in Prairie City, Oregon, this summer. Our team is also watchplies of residual chips. As firms continue to add and acquire capacity, ing CLAW Forestry and their plans for a new 250 MMBF sawmill in most sawmill capacity increases in North America are happening in the Gloster, Mississippi, to startup in 2024, along with the news that Boise U.S. South due to low log costs, ample timber supplies, and proximity to Cascade reached an agreement to acquire Coastal Forest Resources plyend markets. In total, firms announced 4.5 billion board feet (BBFT) in wood mills in Havana, Florida and Chapman, Alabama. Roseburg broke new capacity to come online by 2024, an increase of 17% in the region. ground on the Weldon, North Carolina sawmill in late May. This includes seven new sawmills and two reopenings (Figure 1). Most This article includes data from the Forisk Wood Fiber Review, a quarterly publication tracking North firms plan to add capacity by expanding existing infrastructure: 26 mill America’s major wood fiber markets, and the Forisk Research Quarterly, which includes forest industry projects will add capacity to existing mills, making up 2.2 BBFT, or 50%, forecasts and analysis by sector. of the announced capacity. Forest industry firms based all over North America account for Author: Brooks Mendell the new capital investment activity in the South. PotlatchDeltic in Forisk Consulting LLC Waldo, Arkansas, and Westervelt in Moundville, Alabama, announced 770-725-8477 bmendell@forisk.com


Pellet & Power News Roundup Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. broke ground on Ozu Biomass Power Plant in early June, a 50-MW, wood pellet-fueled facility under development in Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. JAPEX is working with Maeda Corp., Yonden Business Co. Inc., and Shinko Denso Co. to develop the project. Electricity produced at the facility will be sold to Shikoku Electric Power Transmission & Distribution Co. Inc. under the country’s feedin tariff system for renewable energy. The facility will be fueled by imported wood pellets. Full-scale operations are expected to require the use of approximately 200,000 metric tons of wood pellets annually. Commercial operations are currently expected to begin in August 2024. The U.S. Industrial Pellet Association on June 28 welcomed continued support for sustainable sourcing of “primary woody biomass” by the EU Council’s General Approach for revising the Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII). Amendments to the directive that would declassify primary woody biomass as renewable energy were proposed by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee in May, but failed to gain momentum after the Transport, Regional Development, Agriculture and Development Committees all voted to continue the use of primary woody biomass, and they are now joined by the 27 member states of the EU. While the European Commission and Council do not support declassifying primary biomass, parliament has yet to establish its position on the matter. USIPA expects a plenary vote in early fall, paving the way for interinstitutional negotiations among all three branches of the EU government to begin by the end of the year. FutureMetrics LLC published a white paper focused on how inflation could impact the industrial wood pellet industry, particularly costs associated with feedstock harvesting, pellet production and transportation. The paper, authored by FutureMetrics President William Strauss, discusses how diesel fuel prices impact the cost of harvest operations and transporting raw material to the pellet mill. It also illustrates how inflationary pressures related to raw materials, labor, electricity and other expenses could impact the operating costs for a typical 500,000-metric-ton-per-year pellet plant. The paper explains that mills that can utilize rail shipping to transport wood pellets from factory to port are likely to feel less significant impacts. Facilities that ship wood pellets to port via truck are much more likely to be negatively impacted by the high price of diesel fuel, particularly for facilities that must transport wood pellets relatively long distances. In addition, the paper analyzes the impact of inflation on costs to load pellets onto a ship and transport them to Europe.


Enviva Inc., the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets, held a ceremonial gathering at its newly opened terminal at the Port of Pascagoula, Mississippi, on June 15 to commemorate the first shipment of sustainably sourced biomass to international power and heat producers, with a majority of the port’s future shipments slated for Japan. Approximately 18,000 metric tons of wood pellets produced at Enviva’s newest plant in Lucedale, Mississippi, were loaded onto the UBC Sacramento at the Port of Pascagoula, destined for the ports of Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, and Fort-de-France, Martinique. Through collaboration with the Jackson County Port Authority, Enviva now owns and operates the deep-water marine terminal in the Bayou Casotte Harbor. It serves as the shipment point for pellets manufactured throughout the Gulf region, via Enviva’s newly opened Lucedale, Mississippi, plant and forthcoming plants in Epes, Alabama, and Bond, Mississippi. Since 2019, Enviva has invested over $60 million to build the terminal at the Port of Pascagoula, which can receive product by rail, barge and truck, as well as support Panamax-sized vessels. The facility currently has two wood pellet storage domes, each with 45,000 metric tons of storage capacity. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released the June edition of its Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report, which contains data for March. The EIA collected data from 80 operating manufacturers of densified biomass fuel to complete the report. Collectively, respondents purchased 1.72 million tons of raw biomass feedstock in March and produced approximately 920,000 tons of densified biomass fuel, with sales reaching 880,000 tons. Domestic sales of densified biomass fuel in March 2022 totaled 70,000 tons and averaged $196.95 per ton, with production at 140,682 tons and inventory at 249,000 tons. Exports in March 2022 were 810,000 tons and averaged $183.84 per ton, with production at 779,786 tons and inventories reaching 347,147 tons. The next edition was due to be released July 20. CHAR Technologies Ltd. announced the City of Saint-Félicien, Québec, has received CA$2.8 million in government funding to support the company’s waste heat recovery system at the forest biomass cogeneration plant in Saint-Félicien. The waste heat recovery system is a first step in a larger, staged approach toward CHAR’s proposed and proprietary high-temperature pyrolysis system. The project would produce both biocarbon and renewable natural gas.


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering Ltd. has launched full-scale operation of a compact CO2 capture system ordered in November 2021 by Taihei Dengyo Kaisha Ltd. It is the first system of its kind to go into commercial operation, according to MHIENG. The compact CO2 capture system was installed at a 7-MW biomass power plant operated by Taihei Dengyo in Seifu Shinto, a suburb of Hiroshima City, Japan. The system has the capacity to capture 0.3 metric tons per day and is based on a highly versatile, standardized design that requires an installation space

of five meters long and two meters wide. CO2 captured from the plant’s flue gas will be used for growing vegetables in on-site greenhouses. The biomass power plant where the system was installed was delivered by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Power IDS Ltd. in October 2019. As a next step, MHIENG will perform a demonstration test of operational support services for the plant, using a proprietary remote monitoring system.


Denmark-based Orsted A/S is planning to establish carbon capture at its wood chip-fired Asaes Power Station in Kalundborg in Zealand, Denmark, and the Avedore Power Station’s straw-fired boiler in the Greater Copenhagen area. The technology and logistics for handling and storing carbon from

the two combined-heat-and-power plants are in place, Orsted reported, and if financial support is obtained from the current tender for carbon capture and storage, the company can be ready to capture and store 400,000 metric tons of carbon as early as 2025.





Experts from FLAMEX, Fagus GreCon and CV Technology share some new and improved technologies for fire and explosion prevention and mitigation. BY KATIE SCHROEDER


ire and explosion protection are key in any industry with dust, and the biomass industry is no exception. The wide variety of fire prevention and mitigation tools available to producers are constantly evolving. Eric Peterson, CEO of Fagus GreCon Inc. in the U.S. and Canada, explains that there are three components needed to start a fire. First, there must be oxygen present; second, there must be a fuel source— generally this tends to be the product needing protection—and finally, an ignition source. “What our equipment is designed to do is detect that ignition source and extinguish it,” Peterson says.

Fagus GreCon

Fagus GreCon has two recently developed technologies that are utilizing advanced intelligence to improve accuracy. The first of these technologies is the DLD 1/9 Spark Detector, which was released last year. Peterson explains 10 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | ISSUE 3, 2022

that while past spark detectors operated solely in fully lit or completely dark environments, this new spark detector has the ability to adjust to ambient light. While old detectors set up in air ducts might go off due to a hole in the duct letting in light, this detector is able to recognize a new environment and avoid potential false alarms. “Not only do we want to detect, [but also] we don’t want to detect things that may not actually be sparks,” Peterson says. GreCon’s additional new technology, the Intelligent Extinguishment Module, is set to release in Q4 2022. Peterson explains that the module is integrated into the extinguishment system and communicates with the command console, letting it know when the extinguishment system needs maintenance. The module can also be installed with a heating device in colder climates to allow for a “built-in temperature, cross-monitoring system” to help the extinguish-

ment system avoid freezing in the winter. “This will tell them that they have some wear on their nozzles or valves that’ll need to be replaced, so it’ll communicate that to the console, providing operators with notices like ‘Hey, you’re not getting the right water pressure,’ or ‘Your nozzle needs to be replaced, it’s a little worn and not spraying appropriately,’” Peterson says.

Both of these technologies require access to electricity, and the extinguishment system requires water access for installation. The number of spark detectors needed per application varies depending on each customer’s needs. Peterson outlines several of the statistics related to industrial fires and what causes them. There are over 30,000 industrial and manufacturing fires every year in the U.S. and Canada, he explains,

and many of those are started due to dust. The ignition source varies depending on the industry, which is why flame detectors or high temperature detectors are key to catching the situation before anything starts on fire. Problem spots in plants often include the dust collector, grinders, dryers and silos. “Obviously, when you’re collecting dust ... there’s a lot of ignition material that can catch on fire,” Peterson says.

“So, making sure you’re protecting that is also important.”


New technology from special hazard fire protection company, FLAMEX Inc. gives clients the ability to protect areas where a sprinkler system may not be an option. The company’s MX One Fire Protection Turbine has the ability to spray 1,000 gallons of water per minute BIOMASSMAGAZINE.COM 11

Fagus GreCon is set to release its Intelligent Extinguishment Module later this year. PHOTO: FAGUS GRECON

at an 80-meter distance. The turbine can also cover the area in a fine spray at 500 gallons per minute. Ed Pridgen, FLAMEX vice president, explains that this technology can either be stationary, placed on a stand in an area the client would like to protect, or mounted on a trailer or fire truck, ready to be driven to the scene. The MX One also has the capacity to be linked to a flame detector and automated. “We can automatically operate, so if a detector were to pick up a fire, we send a signal to the control panel, open up the deluge valve that would deliver the water to the base of it, and at that point, a signal would also be sent to the control panel of the MX One, telling it what position the MX One needs to be in and what type of spray scenario it needs to have,” Pridgen says. The price for a stand-alone MX One turbine with remote control ranges from $140,000 to $160,000. If a client wants to automate the unit utilizing flame detectors and a control panel, it will add $40,000 to $50,000. The turbine is effective anywhere from an industrial setting or outdoor lumber yard to a rail yard or airport, and, if needed, can lay down a layer of foam instead of spraying water, Pridgen explains. The turbine has a 360-degree protection area, with an 12 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | ISSUE 3, 2022



upward tilt of 43 degrees and a downward tilt of 19 degrees. The number of turbines needed by a client depends on the asset they are trying to protect. “For example, let’s say you have a large building the size of a football field and you position the MX One at a common point, covering the building with flame detectors,” Pridgen says. “And say in section one, [the] flame detector goes into alarm. The MX One will actually align itself to protect that particular coordinate of the building, and if the fire spreads, then the actual single MX One can oscillate between the two points and protect the entire building.” Pridgen describes the installation requirements for the technology. “It’s requires a six-inch line, a water supply line to the connection point of the MX One if this is a stationary unit,” he says. “If it’s a mobile unit, then the minimum requirements are either three two-and-a-half-inch fire hoses connected to a fire hydrant, or a single four-inch fire hose connected to a fire hydrant. So, that’s the water supply side. The electrical supply side is 480 volts, three-phase at 60 amps.”






CV Technology

CV Technology is a manufacturer of explosion protection equipment including explosion vents, isolation, suppression and prevention systems. Its recently patented Interceptor QV, a clean air isolation device, gives operators an opportunity to protect low-dust air flow areas from explosions. “A prime example is the clean air exhaust from the dust collector, so it’s pretty common in facilities that they want to return the air back to buildings or occupied areas for energy savings,” says Jason Krbec, sales and engineering manager at CV Technology. He calls it a “set it and forget it” device that keeps any dust collector explosions from propagating down the airline into the area to which the clean air is returning. The QV Interceptor is unique in that it is the first device on the market to utilize flameless technology to isolate an explosion passively, according to Krbec. He explains that the technology uses a flame arresting medium—in this case, a stainless-steel mesh cartridge— that allows air to pass through without obstruction, but absorbs the energy and

The Flamex MX One Fire Protection Turbine system has a 360-degree operating range and enables the highly precise, targeted use of water mist from up to 80 meters distance. PHOTO: FLAMEX

contains the heat from any flames. The device is set up inside the pipeline, and unlike many other explosion isolation devices, it does not have a minimum distance requirement since its presence is static in the pipeline.

Once bolted inline, the QV Interceptor works on demand, with no external electrical requirements. The device also has some optional features and benefits, such as a sensor that can send the control panel a notification when it has been ex-


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The core feature of CV Technology’s Interceptor-QV is the stainless-steel mesh cartridge, which is based on the flameless Quench Tubes the company has been applying for over 25 years.

There are two primary benefits of installing an Interceptor QV in a biomass facility, Krbec explains. One is reduced down time due to the fact that the technology requires little maintenance, and the other is that the technology is 30 to 40% less expensive than traditional explosion isolation technologies. “I’ll just say combustible dust is a growing issue, especially in biomass where they’re handling wood materials or biochar,” Krbec adds. “As materials get finer and finer in powders, they become easier to ignite and have increased combustibility characteristics. Explosion protection is dual-purpose: on the one side it protects your employees, on the other side it protects your process. So, there are two reasons as to why it becomes really critical.”


posed to a flame, and a dust monitor to notify operators when the stainless-steel mesh needs to be cleaned, a task that can be accomplished in-house. “The desire is to have a passive device that can go in the clean air ex-

haust, and that’s where the thought came from,” Krbec says. “We wanted to come up with a better solution that’s not as intrusive, and could be more cost-effective and economical for our clients.”

Author: Katie Schroeder kschroeder@bbiinternational.com www.biomassmagazine.com

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Coming off a season with inventory levels the highest they have been in several years, an impending pellet shortfall in Europe has some U.S. heating pellet producers eyeing a challenging opportunity. At the same time, utilities, fuel manufacturers and trade organization leaders abroad are working to navigate a storm of impactful market forces. BY ANNA SIMET


igh supply chain and energy costs, lingering pandemic effects and Russia’s attack on the Ukraine continues to have profound impacts across the globe. In the context of the wood pellet industry, it has led to a projected shortfall of pellet fuel in the United Kingdom and other European countries. While stakeholders there look elsewhere to secure additional supply, it may have some U.S. producers investigating the potential option of sending product overseas, as a below-average heating


season has left an above-average stock of inventory. Although select, large producers may be able to seize the opportunity to send product to Europe, there are a slate of hurdles involved for others, according to Todd Bush, CM Biomass, Head of North America. “There are lots of difficulties in getting pellets into Europe,” he says. “This isn’t just for selling into the premium market, but for industrial as well,” Bush says. Broadly speaking, the shortfall is largely a ripple effect of the Sustainable Biomass



Partnership revoking certification from Russian volumes—meaning industrial players cannot take any from Russian manufacturers—as well as the country’s disqualification from the United Kingdom’s ENplus program. “In order to get RHI incentives in the U.K., you must have that certification,” Bush explains. “So, lots of materials coming from Russia are no longer applicable, and this will lead to a shortfall in the coming 12-month period. While some of that volume might be some replaced from Portugal, no matter what, we will see a displacement effect. Approximately 1.5 million tons have been removed from the market with the exclusion of Russia.” As for what this means for producers in the U.S. and Canada, where many came off of the heating season with higher-than-average amounts of inventory and have not traditionally accessed the European market, it really comes down to the price of pellets. “It has increased in Europe dramatically,” Bush says. “For U.S. producers selling into the domestic market, right now, [in Europe] the range of prices are where they usually are at the height of the season in a normal year. So, it does open up opportunities.” However, that does not mean that it is simple, by any stretch of the imagination.

“If you look at much of the stock left over from the winter in the U.S., it is in 40-lb bags on non-heat-treated pallets, with U.S. writing, not labeled for European sale,” Bush says. “Even if you can get them to Europe, to make it legal, you’ll have to swap out the pallet, as you cannot import nonheat-treated pallets to Europe. You can sell that product in bags with U.S writing and without the ENplus certification, but this all leads to a discount. You’re not going to get the same price as a 15-kilogram ENplus bag of pellets. No matter what, it’s going to be at a discount.” If a producer is able to aggregate volumes to send over in a bulk container, it may be bagged in European bags and split among different consumers, Bush says, but it still will play into a discount not being ENplus certified. “But not as much as a 40-lb, U.S.-labeled bag,” he says. However, Bush notes, container prices are soaring, and containers themselves are difficult to acquire. “You’re lucky if you can even get a container,” he says. “The ports are congested, the trade lanes are full, and it’s not like you can tap into that market easily. If you look at aggregating a minimum of 10,000 tons to make it anywhere near cost-effective—realistically, it’s more like 25,000 tons and may-

be aggregating with another producer so you can sell directly to storage—that isn’t possible without SBP certification.” All of these are stages, he notes, that a producer could navigate through if they really desired to break into the European market. “You may initially do bags at a big discount, then later in a bulk container once you aggregate, at a slightly less discount, then maybe get ENplus certified to really put into place a lesser discount, and way in the future, maybe get SBP certified and play in the industrial markets as well as the premium.” Getting ENplus certified is a large, fixed cost for pellets, with a small variable cost, Bush says. “If pellets go into the industrial market, then producers don’t need to pay the per-ton fee for ENplus certification, which is about 15 euros per ton.” He says CM Biomass owns a few pellet plants—one of which is in Texas and is ENplus certified—but approximately 99% of its production goes into the industrial market. “So, we don’t have to pay the ENplus fee on that,” he says. “But another U.S. producer, if they send 10% of their volume into the industrial market and 90% into the premium market, they have to pay that certification fee on all of their production. For

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good reason, U.S. producers have not traditionally gotten ENplus certified. The idea is to try to get them [U.S. producers] to adopt ENplus like CANplus in Canada, but the Pellet Fuels Institute has already established a standards program in the U.S. Both sides have what they view as relevant arguments.” Despite the challenges that some producers will face, there will be creative mobilization of pellet volumes that haven’t traditionally gone into the European market, in Bush’s opinion. “We’re taking some out of St. Lawrence, and there are some out of the East Coast and Canada already, but a lot of these are supply chains that we had in the past, and were kind of reactivated. That’s easy for us to do because we’re a trader that does 3.5 million tons per year and we know how, but it’s difficult for some to figure out how to get product to Europe. They should choose a trusted partner who can handle that part of it for them.” As CM Biomass is also an active buyer, Bush says there is price gouging occurring. “We can probably pay you what you would get paid in a normal, good winter or a little less, but you’re not going to get rich off of 5,000 tons of pellets going overseas,” he says. Conversely, Bush he says, supply chains costs are extremely high, so higher

Major Industrial Pellet Exporting Regions, Annual Metric Tons


pricing at plants is reflecting that, even with high pellet fuel prices in Europe. The Russia/Ukraine conflict has led to high pellet prices for multiple reasons, mainly because the shortage of pellets and other fuels going into Europe and high electricity prices. Therefore, nontraditional export avenues for domestic futures in the U.S. and Canada will likely open up, but it will be complicated, Bush concludes. “So, how does a guy whose never done export figure out how to load an ocean-going ves-

sel, the world around demurrage, freight costs, bunker fuel and all that? It is like entering a different world. They’re very good at trucks, but this is very different.” While getting rid of some excess inventory may be alluring, smaller producers will likely want to hold onto inventory, according to William Strauss, president of consulting firm FutureMetrics Inc. He defines small producers as regional mills supplying heating pellet markets, typically making 120,000 tons per year or less. “As far as


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Ports, Cargo & Congestion U.S. port congestion has been front and center for the container sector for well over a year, and while North American ports still remain heavily congested, there are small signs of improvement, according to Eleanor Hadland, senior analyst of ports and terminals at Drewry. In a mid-June webcast update, Hadland said that on the West Coast, the average call duration (terminal time, pre-berth waiting, etc.) peaked at over seven days in October 2021, more than 300% higher than average in 2019. On the East Coast, it peaked just above three days, 161% higher than the 2019 average. Port volumes have risen steeply from mid-2020, remaining high, she said. Meanwhile, European terminal time peaked at 1.4 days in Dec. 2021, 0.6 days higher than 2019 average, much less congested than the U.S. As for how chaotic the container currently market is, for the past two

years, the dominant driver of freight rates, and subsequently carrier profits, has been container system inefficiencies, disruptions and port congestion. “These factors are now embedded into the market and have renegaded other supply, demand and cost factors into the margin, Hadland said. “Ultimately, carriers’ ability to charge customers extremely high freight rates will be dictated by the longevity of the line supply chain bottleneck, which sadly remains highly unpredictable. For as long as these chronic inefficiencies continue, the market will continue to be strapped.” Hadland added that some carriers have said port congestion will start to ease in the second half of 2022, but nobody has actually predicted when it will end. “There will probably be another 12 months of lengthy delays and high freight rates…we do expect gradual improvements before then.”




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U.S. [heating] pellet producers stepping up, it is possible if the users in the EU area ignore the need for ENplus certification for heating pellets,” Strauss says. “But many smaller U.S. heating pellet producers do not even use the PFI mark, so there are challenges with certification of quality.” Certifications aside, Strauss says FutureMetrics sees demand for heating pellets in the U.S. increasing substantially. “High heating oil and propane prices are driving demand for new pellet stoves and boilers,” he tells Biomass Magazine. “Installers we know are very busy. For lower-income people, with food prices where they are, this coming winter will be tough decisions on food versus heating oil or propane. So, it is my opinion that aggregating slack capacity for many small producers is not feasible for economic, logistical, and security of domestic pellet supply reasons.” As for industrial pellets, users would have to overlook lack of SBP certification, Strauss says, but that is unlikely to happen, as industrial pellets are used to lower CO2 emissions in the power generations sector and need the credentials showing they are sourced sustainably.

Global Markets

As for the volume removed from the industrial market, Russian, Ukraine and Belarus collectively exported nearly 3.4 million metric tons (MT) of wood pellets in 2021, according to FutureMetrics Inc. data. “Much of that will not be exported in 2022,” Strauss says. Russia exported more than 870,000 MT to Denmark alone last year, where Orsted, the country’s largest energy company, operates three combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plants that use wood pellets as fuel. This includes the Studstrup CHP plant, one of the largest biomass-fueled power stations in the world. In late April, Orsted CEO Mads Nipper told the Financial Times that due to the global shortage of wood pellets, a result of Russian’s invasion of the Ukraine and global supply chain challenges, the company was likely to use coal instead later in the year. “However much we hate it, we are very likely going to see a temporary increase in our coal use, compared to the trajectory that we have been in,” Nipper told the Financial Times. “Biomass is hard to get right now because everyone is looking for fuel.” Other large-scale, pellet-using utilities including Drax, Orsted, EPH and others have shifted to or are still working on plans to alleviate any shortfalls caused by ceasing use of Russian volumes in the midst of a tight market, a condition already present prior to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, for a number of reasons. “Fundamentally, growth in global pellet manufacturing and supply capacity has failed to keep pace with demand growth,” says Fiona Matthews, biomass consultant at Hawkins Wright. “Furthermore, planned new capacity has been delayed due to construction and COVID-related issues.” According to Hawkins Wright data, from 2020-’21, global industrial pellet demand grew by 18.4%, with production only growing 8.4%. That is in comparison with 2019-’20, when demand grew by 8.8% and production was nearly matched, at 8.7%. “Additionally, the build-to-suit model for large industrial mills (i.e., lack of merchant capacity) means that the market has been

U.S. Domestic Heating Pellet Inventory


Top 10 States for Russian Pellet Imports, 2021 (Metric Tons)




heavily reliant on Russia for spot volumes, which have now disappeared,” Matthew says. Though it is estimated current biomass spot market prices are around $300 per metric ton, there is such a lack of spot volume that trading data is largely nonexistent. Finally, Matthews adds, the sudden shift in energy market fundamentals—high fossil fuel prices—has created incremental demand for pellets, exacerbating the supply-demand imbalance. Rocketing energy prices have prompted more households in Europe to switch to pellet heating, and an additional demand of around 2.5 million tons is expected for 2022, reports proPellets Austria. In Austria—and largely representative of those across Europe—pellet prices are at a record level, increasing more than 53% compared to a year prior with no signs of relief in the near future. The organization reported that, in order to ensure the supply

of pellets in the long term, the Austrian pellet industry is currently building 11 new pellet plants, as well as demanding a stockpiling obligation, speedy adoption of the Renewable Heat Act and an action plan to mobilize thinning residue. “The international energy markets are in a state of upheaval, not least due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and this is also affecting the domestic pellet market,” says Christian Rakos, managing director of proPellets Austria and president of the World Bioenergy Association, in statements released in May. “The pellet industry is investing hundreds of millions of euros so that the supply is secured in the long term, but we also need the support of the relevant political decision-makers.” A June survey completed by proPellets Austria resulted in an average price of bulk wood pellets was up 66% compared to last year. However, despite that increase, they

still offer an 82.7% price advantage compared to extra light heating oil and 18.3% compared to natural gas. As for bagged pellets, they are up 52.8% compared to last year. In a blog on its website, Scotland pellet manufacturer Puffin Wood Fuels recently provided its pellet users a snapshot to the challenges it has been facing, after keeping prices static for the past couple of years. Producers across the globe will likely find commonalities with these hurdles—the 25,000-metric-ton-per-year producer reports that energy and power prices have tripled, packaging manufacturing has doubled, haulage and fuel prices are up 40% in 2022, pallet prices have doubled, and due to the banning of red diesel in manufacturing (a U.K. law that went into effect in April) fuel bills have increased 200%. Mark Lebus, chairman of the UK Pellet Council, tells Biomass Magazine the U.K. has been facing an immediate 200,000-ton shortfall in the domestic heating market and that new supply chain avenues are being explored. He notes that one of the main challenges right now is storage, as shipping volumes are higher than normal. With extremely tight markets, supply chain bottlenecks, inflation and ripple effects of the ongoing war, strategy, creativity and flexibility will be required from pellet supply chain stakeholders. As for whether global pellet supply is forecast to become closer to being able to satisfy demand, it likely won’t be in the near future, according to Matthews. “Economic forces will have an effect over time—high prices are a strong driver of new pellet mill investments,” she says. “But we are not yet seeing sufficient new supply capacity at an advanced stage in the project pipeline to fully address the imbalance.” Author: Anna Simet asimet@bbiinteriational.com 701-738-4961





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Despite its environmental benefits, one significant challenge that comes with biomass combustion is soot and dust buildup BY ASAËL HERVET-BINOIS

umans have burned solid biomass, or plant-based materials, since the discovery of fire. Fast-forward to today, gas and oil are now the go-to fuel sources, contributing to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. In the midst of current efforts to reduce carbon emissions, many are turning to biomass again as a potential solution to minimize the global human carbon footprint. This article explores how automated solutions, particularly systems that use solenoid soot-blowing valves immerged in a pressurized tank, can overcome these issues, improving the soot-cleaning blowing process compared to standalone valve solutions.

Biomass as a Sustainable Fuel Source

Biomass is a sustainable, carbon-neutral fuel since burning the plant-based waste only releases the carbon that was captured during the plant’s life cycle—carbon that would have been released via biodegradation anyway. This fact is a crucial difference between biomass fuel and hydrocarbon fuels like natural gas and oil, which are now being burned and released into the atmosphere in high quantities after being underground for millions of years. A sustainable source of biomass is agricultural waste. Crop harvests generate significant volumes of plant material, such as stalks and stems, that are not used in the food industry and discarded as waste. Eventually, this waste biodegrades and releases all the carbon the plant absorbed in its lifetime back into the atmosphere. This plant waste can be processed into feedstock for biomass pellets, which can be used as the main fuel

An example of a solution provided by Emerson to equip an 8-MW (27 MMBtu) biomass boiler. It consists of ASCO Series 355 tanks with immerged ASCO Series 353 valves. PHOTO: EMERSON

for a boiler or steam generator for comfort heating, industrial processes or electric power generation. Despite these benefits, using biomass as fuel requires understanding the carbon cycle. Cutting down every tree for biomass supply would result in deforestation, for example, throwing off the carbon balance and creating many additional problems. For every plant that is burned, a new one must grow in order to keep the balance. In short, although biomass is a sustainable fuel source that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of heating industries, we must use it wisely.

The Challenges of Burning Biomass

Using biomass instead of conventional fuels like coal, diesel and natural gas is challenging. One obstacle to overcome is modifying burning equipment to accommodate solid fuels. Another problem, particularly in biomass-fueled boilers, is soot and dust buildup. More problematic than the soot produced by conventional fuels, this soot is “stickier” because it forms as a solid residue with a high moisture content. Soot accumulates in the fire tubes, reduces heat transfer and decreases boiler and heating equipment performance over time, thus increasing costs, lowering efficiency and causing the same amount of fuel to produce less heat.

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).


allowing the orifices at the bottom of the tank to match the boiler’s door or wall orifices, facilitating soot-blowing system installation. Standalone valve solutions can usually be replaced with a tank solution with smaller and less immerged valves. In some cases, biomass boiler manufacturers can replace standalone 1.5-inch size valves (DN40) with a tank containing one-inch immerged valves (DN40), achieving higher performance levels and significantly reducing air consumption and installation costs.

One soot removal method is to simply stop the boiler, wait for it to cool and then manually clean each tube with a long brush. Unfortunately, this option takes time and typically requires a downtime period of one or two days, halting plant processes, raising costs and hindering production throughput. For industrial applications with high heat output requirements, however, this cleaning process can be a necessary evil each month.

Automated Solutions to Clean Biomass Soot

A more efficient solution is to clean the fire tubes with compressed air, a method that requires installing special solenoid valves for dust and soot blowing. These valves are designed to create a high peak pressure and provide an optimal flow factor to blow the soot out of the system. Valves are connected to a compressed air system and, when opened, pulse air into the tubes. This method automates the cleaning process: operators no longer have to clean each tube, preventing downtime. Instead, a programmable logic controller (PLC) handles the cleaning by orchestrating the solenoid valves. However, keep in mind that not all solutions will perform the same way when it comes to automation. Typically, when implementing a biomass cleaning system in the field, standalone solenoid valves must be strategically installed at optimal positions, allowing the most tubes to be cleaned. But this method has some limits, requiring you to connect each valve to the compressed air system. The connection layout also limits the pulse pressure. Fortunately, a more practical, powerful solution exists. Solenoid soot-blowing valves, immerged in a pressurized aluminum tank, are also available and capable of containing a high amount of compressed air at-the-ready for the valves. After the solenoid valve receives an electric signal, it quickly opens and delivers a higher peak of air pressure to the orifices connected to the boilers, creating a blast of air and cleaning the tubes better and more efficiently than standalone valves. These tank assemblies can be customized,

Author: Asaël Hervet-Binois Combustion Product Marketing Manager, Emerson asael.hervet-binois@emerson.com www.emersonautomationexperts.com

Connection to the boiler’s orifices at the bottom of the ASCO Series 355 tanks with ASCO Series 353 valves PHOTO: EMERSON

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iomass is commonly stored in bulk outdoor piles near the power generation facility. These mounds of material are especially prone to self-heating as they naturally decompose. The decomposition process is accelerated as moisture is introduced from rain and humidity, generating even more heat. As most biomass materials are good insulators, the internal pile heat generated is not allowed to escape and cool, thus increasing temperatures and spreading to a larger internal area. Eventually, the material begins to smolder. Smoldering and flameless fires are more easily ignited than flaming fires and more challenging to extinguish. Early detection is critical if a bulk biomass pile fire is to be avoided. Unfortunately, detecting early stage fire formation within a bulk pile fire is difficult. For example, a pile’s surface temperature may be ambient while the internal temperature could be more than 200 degrees Celcius. Traditional methods using linear heat detection cable can be used, but are susceptible to damage during material transport and are generally not recommended. Spot measurements are also used but do not detect gradient effects. Monitoring the temperature trends over time is generally more helpful in detecting the early onset of heating, when mitigation measures can be deployed before the situation becomes dangerous.

Infrared (IR) Cameras for Early Fire Detection

IR cameras operate on the heat transfer principle of radiation. The infrared camera has a focal plane array of detector elements that sense infrared light from object surfaces. The radiation captured by the infrared cam-

Biomass pile thermal image with area regions of interest IMAGE: MoviTHERM

era detector is digitized, converted to data and displayed as a viewable image. Calibrated IR cameras can report temperature measurements from specific spots, lines and areas on live or recorded images. IR cameras are the first to alert before a fire develops. They “see” a warming up of material early in the fire development process before forming smoke particles or flames. These warming materials appear as hot spots in a thermal image and are quantified with regions of interest (ROIs) like spots, lines or areas that report temperature values. Applying multiple ROIs to an image and setting temperature thresholds per ROI allows monitoring and alarming at multiple locations within the camera’s field of view. When the threshold condition of an ROI is satisfied, alarms trigger notifications to the appropriate personnel.

What is IoT (Internet of Things)?

The internet of things (IoT) refers to interconnected sensors, instruments and other devices networked into software applications that use predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). These connected networks create systems that monitor, collect, exchange, analyze and deliver valuable insights into a system or process. IoT revolutionizes automation by using cloud computing to simplify integration and enhance process control.

Thermal Imaging and IoT Early Fire Detection

Fire safety for biomass storage is an area that realizes the benefits of thermal imaging when combined with IoT. By connecting infrared cameras that alert at the earliest stages of development, potential fires can more

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).


readily be detected and prevented. Safety alerts are sent to hundreds of people quickly and effectively with IoT. Communication options include voice calls, texts and emails to targeted recipients to establish quick and effective awareness. Another advantage is scalability. Facility managers can connect multiple locations to a central monitoring and alarming dashboard. Understanding the situation at all facilities improves the oversight and management of multiple systems from a single control point. IoT EFD systems can improve emergency planning by using algorithms and analytics to help prepare better emergency and evacuation plans quickly. For example, analytics can consider factors such as the number of people in the facility, facility maps, location of the fire and the rate at which the fire is spreading to develop better evacuation plans. Analytics-based evacuation plans can prevent congestion by guiding workers to different locations for optimum evacuation routing. IoT early fire detection (EFD) systems are less expensive to install and maintain than traditional detection systems. As the EFD application resides in the cloud, there is no need for a dedicated facility computer server. Any potential for operating system software conflicts is eliminated, as access to the application only requires an internet connection. Users access the EFD system anywhere and anytime with any internet-connected device. And with the appropriate credentials, control and alarm settings can be modified remotely to optimize performance. Another key advantage to a cloud-based EFD system is the ability to share dashboards and map views. For example, sharing a live map view with first responders allows for scene assessment before arriving on-site, saving time and optimizing safety. These maps identify the alarm sensor location, monitored area, alarm conditions, facility entry and exit points.

IR Camera IoT Early Fire Detection

IR Camera IoT EFD systems for biomass monitoring can integrate multiple detection technologies to track temperatures and detect smoke particles at critical loca-

A sample map view display from an IoT early fire detection application PHOTO: MoviTHERM

tions. The most common detection sensors for biomass monitoring EFD include: infrared cameras for quantitative and qualitative monitoring of hot spots; visible cameras for identification of smoke or flame; and aspirating smoke detectors for detection of smoke particles. Correct sensor selection and placement for biomass monitoring are critical to ensure optimum detection performance. For example, infrared cameras require a direct line of sight to the area of interest to provide detection. Critical areas obscured from the camera’s field of view could be monitored by smoke detectors, thereby augmenting the camera’s detection. For outdoor or high airflow installations, infrared sensors are best for detection, as dilution effects may limit the performance of smoke detectors. Another critical consideration for biomass EFD is the early warning notification to individuals responsible for material handling. Before EFD, material handlers unknowingly spread hot materials, increasing the size of the fire hazard. With EFD and early alert notifications, informed heavy machine operators can avoid problem spots and prevent spreading potential fire hazards.


It is important to note that IR camera IoT EFD systems do not replace existing detection and response protocols. Instead, the system functions as an early warning system, detecting areas in the facility where ignition may occur. New detection methods for heat, smoke and fire are continually developing. Many new detection devices include wireless capabilities that make integrating IoT EFD a straightforward exercise. Beyond alarms and notifications, IoT EFD systems can provide automation controls like initiating and directing an extinguishing system. Because IoT EFD systems leverage cloud computing, they require less hardware with a reduced installation burden. Available communication technology can be added to existing detectors, making retrofitting existing systems easy. By warning earlier on the pathway to ignition, managers of facilities that store biomass can avert costly and potentially life-threatening fires before they are permitted to start and spread. Author: David C. Bursell MoviTHERM, Vice President of Business Development www.movitherm.com info@movitherm.com


UNLOCKING BIOFERTILIZER AS ADDITIONAL REVENUE SOURCE When considering opportunities to produce and sell digestate, there are legal Issues for renewable natural gas project developers to consider. BY CHRIS PETERSON


lobal supply chain disruptions continue to wreak havoc on the price of conventional chemical fertilizers, including the raw materials used for fertilizer production such as ammonia, nitrogen, nitrates, phosphates, potash and sulphates. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has exacerbated matters, driving prices up even further. It is no wonder farmers are looking beyond traditional sources to fertilize crops. Such alternatives include biofertilizers, like those produced from the digestate byproduct left over from the anaerobic digestion of livestock waste and other organic materials. The market for biofertilizer is expected to nearly double over the next decade, reaching over $4 billion in total revenues on a compound annual growth rate ranging from 11 to 15% For developers of renewable natural gas (RNG) projects, demand for digestate may be another source of revenue, as long as the rights to the digestate are clearly defined in

the developers’ agreement with the feedstock suppliers. Biofertilizers are substances containing micro-organisms that add nutrients to crops through nitrogen and Peterson phosphorus fixation, and assist in restoring the soil’s natural nutrient cycle. Biofertilizers are also more climate friendly, as their use reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Use of biofertilizers such as those produced from livestock waste digestate may also provide farmers with additional revenue from the generation and sale of carbon credits.

Voluntary Carbon Markets for Farmers

With large corporations seeking to reduce their carbon footprints and achieve net zero carbon emissions, demand has increased for carbon credits that allow such corpora-

tions to offset some of their emissions. Each carbon credit represents one ton of CO2 that was not released into the atmosphere. Farmers can generate these carbon credits by voluntarily participating in a carbon market and by instituting certain approved farming practices to reduce the farm’s carbon emissions. These practices may include planting cover crops, reducing tillage to increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil, and substituting synthetic fertilizers with organic matter soil amendments to reduce volatility and nitrous oxide emissions. Some of the voluntary carbon markets currently available to farmers include Indigo Carbon, Gradable Carbon, Nori Carbon Removal Marketplace, Nutrien Carbon Program and TruCarbon. Each market has specific requirements for farmers to generate a carbon credit. Once the credit is generated under the terms of the specific carbon market, the farmer is able to sell the credit. Understanding the voluntary carbon market may assist biofertilizer producers in

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).


BIOGAS/RNG¦ any arrangement that makes sense, including splitting the resulting digestate or entering into a joint venture to process and commercialize it into biofertilizer. In the event a portion of the resulting digestate is returned to the farmer for use as a fertilizer, the parties should also make sure the rights to certain environmental incentives are transferred to the farmer with the digestate. As previously noted, farmers may have an interest in generating carbon credits by substituting some or all of their synthetic fertilizer with the digestate biofertilizer. And because feedstock supply agreements often assign all right and title to the feedstock and all environmental incentives associated with the feedstock (including the resulting digestate) to the RNG developer, the parties will want to make it clear that the farmer retains title to any environmental incentives resulting from the farmer’s use of the digestate on row crops. Proper equipment and adequate funding must also be obtained to process the digestate

into a usable form (for example, processing into pellets or granules for sale and easy storage). The entire process includes dewatering of the digestate into an ideal dry matter content, composting and granulation. Specialized equipment is necessary at each stage of the process. With proper planning, alignment with farmers on title to digestate and environmental incentives, documentation of such title in commercial agreements, and an adequate source of funding, RNG developers can generate additional revenue by processing the digestate byproduct left over from the anaerobic digestion process into saleable biofertilizer, at a time when the price of fertilizer is skyrocketing and demand from farmers continues to rise. Author: Chris Peterson Attorney, Husch Blackwell LLP Chris.peterson@huschblackwell.com 417-268-4057

marketing their product and maximizing its value. For RNG developers considering producing biofertilizer from digestate, this extra incentive for farmers should increase the value of biofertilizer production. RNG projects may therefore result in both the creation of green energy and a commercially viable, environmentally superior source of fertilizer.

Title to Digestate, Environmental Incentives

Just because an RNG project produces a valuable byproduct does not necessarily mean the RNG developer has the right to retain and utilize the digestate in whatever way it sees fit. Feedstock supply agreements should clearly indicate which party has title to the digestate, because the farmer may have interest in using dried fiber as bedding for cows or to otherwise utilize digestate as fertilizer on crops, which may conflict with a developer’s desire to process and commercialize the digestate into biofertilizer. The parties are, of course, free to agree to BIOMASSMAGAZINE.COM 29





naerobic digestion is an increasingly popular way to dispose of animal and food waste. The big advantage is obvious: the ability to generate a gaseous biofuel that can offset natural gas usage. But, many people operating anaerobic digesters inadvertently leave money on the table by failing to understand that the process generates not just one profitable product, but two. The bugs that turn organic material into methane in a digester never close the deal completely, leaving behind a digestate residue full of organic materials that they couldn’t process. The digestate contains a good deal of water in addition to those organics. Many facilities treat this material as a waste, often sending it to landfills where operators will charge tipping fees of anywhere from $40 to $70 per ton, depending on location. The traditional justification for treating the digestate as a waste is that while the organic material may indeed have some sort of theoretical value, the presence of pathogens and its high moisture content make it impractical to capitalize on its value. Yet, there is another way—a profitable way—to handle digestate and turn it into a second profit center. Proper treatment

can turn the digestate into a salable product that can be used as a fertilizer or a solid biofuel. There are certain tricks to process digestate effectively, but the challenges have been overcome and many operators are happily making money selling what they used to throw away. The key is proper drying, which accomplishes two important goals. First, it drives off most of the water, reducing the moisture content of the digestate. The digestate could have as much as 70% moisture content coming in and is dried to about 10%. The water content adds no value to the end product, so why not get rid of as much of it as possible? Second, provided the drying temperature is high enough, the product qualifies as a Class A fertilizer under applicable USDA standards. One company that is an active supplier of rotary dryers in this kind of service is Uzelac Industries of Greendale, Wisconsin. Uzelac shared some of the financial details of a typical installation. One particular project involved a dryer to process digestate from the anaerobic digestion of poultry manure. The system was designed to process a little over 30,000 tons per year and to operate on a one shift, five-day-perweek schedule. At an installed capital cost of about $4 million and operating costs of about

$400,000 year, the system will generate over 19,000 tons of fertilizer that can be sold at a net cost of $145 per ton. Doing the math, that leads to a calculated simple return on investment of about 1.7 years, a figure that ought to make most lenders quite comfortable. Add-on controls for particulate matter and volatile organic compounds are sometimes necessary, depending on location of a processing system and the characteristics of the waste stream. However, since these systems are often associated with agricultural operations and environmental regulations in rural areas that are typically less stringent than they are in big cities, add-on control requirements frequently do not come into play. Whether or not add-on controls are necessary, permitting with the regulatory authority is almost always required before the system can be installed. One may think of this kind of post-processing as a form of recycling, which is always a good thing. The bonus for the operator is that it’s a form of recycling that is good for the planet and the pocketbook. Author: Rich Trzupek Principal Consultant, Trinity Consultants, Inc. rtrzupek@trinityconsultants.com

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).




Keys to Maximum Explosion Protection Proper selection and expert installation of explosion protection equipment is critical to asset and personnel protection. However, the pursuit of safety should never end there, as system reliability is largely dependent on maintenance and repair, according to Jeramy Slaunwhite, explosion safety engineer at REMBE Inc. As for how often a plant should undergo inspection or maintenance to ensure equipment performs as required, the official guiding standard should begin with manufacturer’s recommendations, Slaunwhite says. “For passive systems such as explosion vents, a minimum annual visual inspection for leaks, bolt tightness and damage is recommended. For equipment with moving parts such as isolation flap valves, it’s a good idea to inspect new installations monthly for wear and product buildup. After a couple inspections, the intervals could go to three and then six months— provided no issues are found—and then a minimum deeper, annual inspection to check seals and locking mechanisms.” With every inspection and maintenance activity, Slaunwhite notes, the date and findings should be documented to build a continuous maintenance and condition profile. “This is also beneficial in the case of an incident, to prove diligence and reliability of the protection systems,” he says. Accessibility can prove critical to maintenance and inspections, according to Slaunwhite “In many industrial environments, the expression

‘Out of sight, out of mind,’ is very relevant with respect to limited maintenance resources,” he says. “When planning protection equipment installations, it is beneficial to consider accessibility. This can be strategically locating equipment, or at least within sight and reach with a mobile lift. Explosion vents used with vent ducts are often completely hidden; an access door in the duct can provide easy access to perform maintenance inspections.” The notion that fires are somewhat routine in wood processing facilities builds a level of complacency around explosions, from Slaunwhite’s perspective. “In wood processing and handling, the amount of fine dust in the material stream and accumulations in the handling systems can widely vary over time, seasonally or based on material conditions,” he says. “This can result in downplayed sense of awareness for the possibility of larger explosions and explosion propagation between connected equipment.” A comprehensive explosion safety concept should consider all operating conditions and scenarios, Slaunwhite says, including abnormal and upset conditions, as it is often during these times that serious events occur. REMBE is a strong advocate for both prevention and protection, Slaunwhite emphasizes. “As such, we’re continuing to expand on our early fire detection technology, including the REMBE HOTSPOT, smart infrared thermography designed for harsh industrial environments, and the REMBE GSME gas detection sensors for the precursors of combustion to react before a flame is present,” he adds. “We want to help customers be proactive to identify and manage hotspots, embers and upset thermal events before a flame is present, but also realize that prevention is rarely 100% reliable, so protection strategies are also needed to manage the amplified consequences of explosions.”

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Consulting. Engineering. Products. Service.

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Koch Engineered Solutions

A Unique Solution to Tail Gas Flaring for RNG plants Traditional biogas flare systems such as the John Zink Hamworthy Combustion ZTOF Enclosed Flare and the ZEF Elevated (Open) Flare have long been utilized to destroy the methane and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the gas that is produced by landfills and digesters. Through the Bycroft combustion process, these compounds are converted into water vapor and carbon dioxide, which is better for the environment. Over the years, the biogas industry has evolved into capturing this energy for beneficial uses rather than simply flaring it off. More recently, these gas plants have started upgrading biogas to renewable natural gas (RNG). A variety of technologies are used in RNG plants to purify biogas by removing carbon dioxide and other contaminants, resulting in RNG that meets stringent pipeline specifications. The gases removed from biogas to produce the purified RNG product gas are commonly referred to as a tail gas stream. The tail gas stream is comprised of low-heating value gases (approximately 1% to 15% methane), which are not combustible on their own, but still present the potential to harm the environment if not properly destroyed. Sending the tail gas to a typical biogas flare system may require substantial amounts of supplemental fuel, which impacts operating costs. Therefore, it is important to minimize the overall supplemental fuel requirements. Aside from minimizing operating costs, reducing supplemental fuel consumption specifically for RNG projects can provide additional value by reducing the project’s carbon intensity score. A recent project utilizing a JZHC ZBRID Hybrid Thermal Oxidizer instead of a traditional biogas flare resulted in a reduction of supplemental fuel by more than 50% to destroy the tail gas. The resulting reduction in supplemental fuel requirements has saved the operator an approximate *$250,000 per year by utilizing a ZBRID over a traditional biogas flare. These scenarios are where our clients realize the benefit of a ZBRID Hybrid Thermal Oxidizer. Designed specifically for the


biogas industry, the ZBRID Hybrid Thermal Oxidizer utilizes a balanced approach to incorporating design innovations to minimize supplemental fuel while being a cost-effective alternative to traditional thermal oxidizers. This leads to substantial operational savings and reduction in capital expenditures. Specialty flare systems offer a valuable alternative to more traditional equipment, and each project application should be evaluated individually to ensure the right technology is selected. John Zink Hamworthy Combustion, a Koch Engineered Solutions company, has been a long-standing technology provider in the biogas industry with installations dating back to the 1970s. This includes elevated and enclosed biogas flares, as well as specialty equipment including gas conditioning equipment, ultra-low emission enclosed flares, high/low pressure flares, leachate evaporators and many others. *Site savings are estimates based on $5/MMBtu natural gas price and the plant operating continuously.

Contact: Alex Bycroft Commercial Development Manager, RNG & Biogas Systems Alex.Bycroft@KES.global



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Produced by Carbon Capture Magazine and BBI International, the National Carbon Capture Conference & Expo is a two-day event designed specifically for companies and organizations advancing technologies and policy that support the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from all sources, including fossil fuel-based power plants, ethanol production facilities and industrial processes, as well as directly from the atmosphere. Content will focus on research, data, trends and information on all aspects of CCUS with the goal of helping attendees build knowledge, connect with others, and better understand the market and carbon utilization. 866-746-8385 service@bbiinternational.com www.nationalcarboncaptureconference.com

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