2023 Pellet Mill Magazine Issue 4

Page 1

Issue 4, 2023

IN A FLASH Player Design Builds Out Steam-Treated Pellet Capacity Page 12

PLUS Crunching the Numbers: Reviewing the 2024 Pellet Producer Map Page 18


Contents »

2023 | VOLUME 13 | ISSUE 4






12 PROJECT DEVELOPMENT Success by Design

Signs Point to a Warmer (Than Average) Winter By Anna Simet

05 EVENTS 06 A Day of Federal Advocacy By Tim Portz


Player Design has expanded from a dryer and furnace supplier to launcher of a proven steam-treated wood pellet technology. By S.J. Saunders

18 PRODUCTION Mapping it Out

Pellet Mill Magazine shares some highlights from its 2024 North American Fuel Pellet Production Map. By Anna Simet

CONTRIBUTION 24 TECHNOLOGY A Revolutionary Plant Optimization Technology

The Remedial Biomass Solution technology is designed to increase revenue for biomass and forestry product producers while reducing the cost of operations. By Bruce Bruso

Pellet Mill Magazine

Advertiser Index 26 7 23 27 11 16 15 2 21 17 20 28 22

2024 International Biomass Conference & Expo BE&E Biomass Magazine's Digital Press Package Biomass Magazine Bulk Conveyors, Inc. Evergreen Engineering KEITH Manufacturing Company KESCO, Inc. Mid-South Engineering Company MoistTech NESTEC, Inc. PAL s.r.l. U.S. Composting Council


Construction is underway at MaineFlame in Ashland, Maine, to add 30,000 tons of stream-treated pellet production. IMAGE: MAINEFLAME/PLAYER DESIGN


« Editor's Note

Signs Point to a Warmer (Than Average) Winter

EDITOR asimet@bbiinternational.com

Early predictions for this heating season point to a mild winter, with warmer and drier conditions expected across much of the northern half the U.S. and Canada, and wetter-than-average conditions for the West, Southeast and Gulf Coast. The cause: El Niño, a natural climate phenomenon that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says is “marked by warmer-thanaverage sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, which occurs on average every 2-7 years.” At this point, it seems it isn’t a question of if, but a question of how impactful it will be. The U.S. EIA’s most recent Winter Fuels Outlook Report reflects this, predicting flat or decreased household heating costs this winter, with the number of overall homes using wood as a primary heating fuel estimated to fall by 1%. “The decline of wood as a primary heating fuel is most pronounced in the Northeast, where 347,000 households are expected to use wood as a primary heating fuel, down 6% when compared to last winter,” the report says. To the contrary, it predicts households in the Midwest to remain stable, and in the West to increase by 2%. Interestingly, the EIA outlook suggests this winter will be colder than last winter, though above 10-year-average temps. But while these predictions provide precautionary guidance, they are just that—predictions. We'll revisit this once producers have crunched the numbers and tallied heating degree days this spring. In this issue of Pellet Mill Magazine, I review some of the information gleaned from our 2024 fuel pellet producer map. While the summary isn’t exhaustive, I highlighted some of the things learned while updating our data. One more thing I would like to mention that I didn’t in the feature, “Mapping it Out,” on page 18, are the new facilities that are using unconventional feedstocks—Prairie Clean Energy in Regina, Saskatchewan, using flax straw; CM Biomass’s Douglas Pellets in Georgia that uses peanut hulls; and Delta Biofuels’ plant using sugarcane bagasse. It will be interesting to see if this list continues to grow in the coming years. Our second feature story profiles Maine company Player Design, which is in the process of expanding its compressed firelog plant in Ashland, Maine, to produce steam-treated wood pellets via “flash” technology (hence the cover headline reference). Contributing writer S.J. Saunders interviewed owner and founder Tyler Player about the company’s experience, capabilities, goals and aspirations, and got the details of the project, which is currently under construction. One thing Player emphasized is a focus on being able to use every scrap of wood—something he and the company take pride in, and for producers in the U.S. heating pellet industry, is a cornerstone of their businesses. Check out “Success by Design” on page 12, and keep an eye out for the 2024 U.S. and Canada Fuel Pellet Production Map, which will be available soon.

Subscriptions to Pellet Mill Magazine are free of charge—distributed 4 times/year—to Biomass Magazine subscribers.To subscribe, visit www.BiomassMagazine.com or you can send your mailing address to Pellet Mill Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. 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 866-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Advertising Pellet Mill 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 Pellet Mill Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 866-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Pellet Mill 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.


Industry Events »

2024 Int’l Biomass Conference & Expo EDITORIAL EDITOR Anna Simet | asimet@bbiinternational.com ONLINE NEWS EDITOR Erin Voegele | evoegele@bbiinternational.com STAFF WRITER Katie Schroeder | katie.schroeder@bbiinternational.com


March 4-6, 2024

Greater Richmond Convention Center Richmond, VA Now in its 17th year, the International Biomass Conference & Expo is expected to bring together more than 900 attendees, 160 exhibitors and 65 speakers from more than 25 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 nearterm research and development. Join us at the International Biomass Conference & Expo as we enter this new and exciting era in biomass energy. (866) 746-8385 | BiomassConference.com

VICE PRESIDENT, PRODUCTION & DESIGN Jaci Satterlund | jsatterlund@bbiinternational.com

2024 Int’l Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Raquel Boushee | rboushee@bbiinternational.com

MInneapolis, Minnesota

PUBLISHING & SALES CEO Joe Bryan | jbryan@bbiinternational.com PRESIDENT Tom Bryan | tbryan@bbiinternational.com VICE PRESIDENT, 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

JUNE 10-12, 2024 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

2024 Biodiesel Summit: Sustainable Aviation Fuel & Renewable Diesel

JUNE 10-12, 2024 MInneapolis, Minnesota The Biodiesel Summit: Sustainable Aviation Fuel & Renewable Diesel is a forum designed for biodiesel and renewable diesel producers to learn about cutting-edge process technologies, new techniques and equipment to optimize existing production, and efficiencies to save money while increasing throughput and fuel quality. Produced by Biodiesel Magazine, this world-class event features premium content from technology providers, equipment vendors, consultants, engineers and producers to advance discussion and foster an environment of collaboration and networking through engaging presentations, fruitful discussion and compelling exhibitions with one purpose, to further the biomass-based diesel sector beyond its current limitations. (866) 746-8385 | BiodieselSummit.com

2024 North American SAF Conference & Expo

SEPTEMBER 11-12, 2024 Saint Paul RiverCentre, Saint Paul, Minnesota The North American SAF Conference & Expo, produced by SAF Magazine, in collaboration with the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) will showcase the latest strategies for aviation fuel decarbonization, solutions for key industry challenges, and highlight the current opportunities for airlines, corporations and fuel producers. The North American SAF Conference & Expo is designed to promote the development and adoption of practical solutions to produce SAF and decarbonize the aviation sector. Exhibitors will connect with attendees and showcase the latest technologies and services currently offered within the industry. During two days of live sessions, attendees will learn from industry experts and gain knowledge to become better informed to guide business decisions as the SAF industry continues to expand. (866)746-8385 | www.safconference.com

Please check our website for upcoming webinars https://biomassmagazine.com/pages/podcasts/

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COPYRIGHT © 2023 by BBI International


« Column

A Day of Federal Advocacy BY TIM PORTZ

In the Dierksen Senate Office Building cafeteria, there is a photograph, dated 1949, of a group of fresh-faced Wisconsinites milking a cow on the Capitol lawn. While the haircuts and paper hats feel old-fashioned, the strategy being executed in that nearly 75-year-old photo is alive and well today, carried out unceasingly in our nation’s capital by industries and interest groups beyond imagining. It’s basic show and tell and it has served as the foundation of federal advocacy since the earliest days of our Republic. On Oct. 18, the Pellet Fuels Institute completed its first in-person day of federal advocacy since 2019, showing members of Congress and their staff who we are and telling them how we are impacted by federal policy and regulation. Four different regional advocacy teams held 35 meetings with members of congress and their legislative staff, educating them about the wood pellet industry and how it fits into the broader forest products sector in their states and districts. Some of the meetings unfolded like reunions, as members reconnected with longtime supporters of the industry and cosponsors of important legislation introduced on the industry’s behalf. Other meetings unfolded like industry speed dating, offering just a few moments to make an initial connection before adjourning and hustling on to the next. Despite their brevity, each meeting delivered tangible value to the PFI and its members, as well as members of Congress and their staff. In this era of shaped narratives, counternarratives, social media and keyboard activists, the importance of sitting across from policymakers and putting a product in their hand while looking them in the eye cannot be overstated (These wood pellets were manufactured in your district, just down the road in Shelton. Or Holland. Or Brownsville. Or Strong.) This refrain, offered 35 times during the PFI Hill Day, connected policymakers to their homes, communities and the people making lives there. It should come as no surprise that policymakers received PFI members warmly, offering appreciation for the economic impact of the plants operating in their districts. And while only the most naïve first-timer would believe that each meeting yielded a ready and willing advocate for the industry, at the very least, the narrative policymakers heard that day was the industry’s own.


In a handful of minutes, PFI teams made an economic argument for wood pellet manufacturing articulated at the state level, including the value of residual purchases for wood pellet production, the value of the wholesale product and the downstream impact for retailers who sell wood pellets. This was followed by an environmental argument highlighting the incredible story of waste utilization that is wood pellet manufacturing, and how wood pellet manufacturing extends the value of each harvested tree. Finally, the carbon benefits of wood pellet manufacturing and use were outlined. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the most senior U.S. Senator, took all of this in with a nod and asked simply, “Are there pieces of federal legislation that you’d like me to be aware of and support?” This last part of every Hill Day of every trade group who has ever darkened a door in a House or Senate office building is why Hill Days exist. The PFI was ready with a concise list of federal policy priorities, including general concepts like the preservation of the biomass neutrality articulated in the Farm Bill, or protecting consumer choice in home heating fuels to specific and current initiatives like the expansion of the tax credit for wood pellet-burning appliances. Only the wood pellet industry’s staunchest allies made firm commitments during the meetings. Most meetings ended with invitations to visit plants when congressmembers were back in their districts, and counter invitations to reach out to congressional offices as policy matters become more urgent. This dizzying day of advocacy was set against the backdrop of a contentious effort to name a new Speaker of the House, a budding war in the Mideast and a ticking federal shutdown clock. Attention in Washington, D.C., is hard to capture and harder yet to retain. It would be folly to think it was any different for those cow-milking Wisconsinites back in 1949. Their commitment to make a case for themselves in spite of everything else was as important for the dairy industry then as it is for the wood pellet industry today. Author: Tim Portz Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute tim@pelletheat.org www.pelletheat.org

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Pellet News Roundup


French President Emmanuel Macron in September announced plans to convert the country’s two remaining coal-fired power plants to biomass. A brief whitepaper issued by FutureMetrics LLC on Oct. 2 predicts how those conversions could boost demand for wood pellets. The whitepaper, authored by FutureMetrics President William Strauss, explains the two coal-fired facilities have a combined nameplate capacity of 1.6 GW. France aims to convert them to biomass

by 2027. The Cordemais Power Station has two coal-fired units, each with a capacity of 630 MW. Those units fire imported bituminous coal. Emile Huchet Power Station has one coal-fired unit with a capacity of 647 MW. That unit fires regionally sourced lignite coal. According to FutureMetrics, all three units are based on pulverized coal technology, which requires fuel to be pulverized into very small particles for use in the burners. For biomass-based fuels, the only suitable solid fuel that can be milled to the

The U.S. exported 1.01 million metric tons (MT) of wood pellets in August, up from both 651,698 MT in July and 819,986 MT in August 2022, according to data released by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service on Oct. 5. The U.S. exported wood pellets to nearly 20 countries in August. The U.K. was the top destination for U.S. wood pellet exports at 558,943 MT, followed by Denmark at 157,802 MT and Japan at 133,415 MT. The value of U.S. wood pellet exports reached $183.07 million in August, up from $112.86 million in July and $144.34 million in August of last year. Total wood pellet exports for the first eight months of 2023 reached 6.24 million MT at a value of $1.15 billion, compared to 8 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE ISSUE 4 2023

needed particle size in the plants’ coal mills is pellet fuel, Strauss explained. The Cordemais Power Station already utilizes port facilities to import coal, and is therefore positioned to import large quantities of pellet fuel, according to Strauss. Data sourced from an online dashboard that complements the white paper shows that the two plants would require approximately 4.78 million metric tons per year of white pellets.

5.83 million MT exported during the same period of 2022 at a value of $1 billion. Carbon Streaming Corp. will provide Microsoft with carbon removal credits from a biochar project colocated at a wood pellet production facility in Waverly, Virginia. The biochar project is being developed by Restoration Bioproducts LLC at the site of Wood Fuel Developer LLC’s 100,000-ton-per-year pellet mill. Virginia Gov. Glenn Younkin announced plans for the biochar project in August 2022, with the company announcing groundbreaking a few months later. According to information released by Youngkin’s office, Restoration Bioproducts will use pyrolysis technology to convert waste wood from the mill into


Enviva recently named Glenn Nunziata as the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. Most recently, Nunziata served as the chief financial officer of Smithfield Foods Inc. Prior to his tenure at Smithfield Foods, he held various positions of increasing responsibility at EY, most recently as a partner in assurance services. Nunziata holds a Bachelor of Science and a master’s degree in accounting from James Madison University

biochar and syngas. The company expects to invest $5.8 million into the project over three years. According to Carbon Streaming, the project is expected to deliver up to 10,000 MT of carbon dioxide removal credits per year toward Microsoft’s carbon-negative target. It is expected to produce approximately 140,000 bone dry tons of biochar over 25 years and remove more than 262,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Japan has been dramatically increasing its wood pellet imports for its feed-in-tariff (FIT) program, with wood pellet imports expected to reach an estimated 4.25 million bone-dry tons (BDT) this year, according to a report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network in August. Wood pellet imports reached an estimated 3.74 million BDT last year, up from 2.64 million BDT in 2021 and 1.72 million BDT in 2020. Wood pellet imports are currently expected to reach 4.25 million BDT this year. Approximately 54% of 2022 wood pellet imports came from Vietnam, with 31% from Canada and 7% from the U.S. In addition to imported wood pellets and domestic sources of biomass, palm kernel shells (PKS) are also used to fuel biomass power facilities. Starting in April 2024, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to introduce mandatory sustainability requirements for PKS for use in the FIT program. The report predicts that these new sustainability requirements could slow the import of PKS in the future.


Drax announced the appointment of Miguel Veiga-Pestana to the new executive committee role of chief sustainability officer. Prior to Drax, VeigaPestana held the executive committee role of chief sustainability officer and head of corporate affairs at the British multinational consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser. He has also been chief communications officer at the executive leadViega-Pestana ership level for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and worked for 11 years at Unilever, where he was vice president of global external affairs and sustainability. A coalition of environmental groups is working to prevent U.S. wood pellet producers from accessing the 48C Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credit, a tax credit established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and expanded with a $10 billion investment under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Manufacturers and other entities that invest in qualifying advanced energy projects are able to apply for the tax credit, which equals 30% of qualified investment costs for projects that meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements, and 6% for projects that don’t meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements. Qualifying projects are those that re-equip, expand or establish an industrial or manufacturing facility to produce or recycle specified advanced energy property; install technology in an industrial or manufacturing facility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20%; or re-equip, expand or establish an industrial facility to process, refine or recycle critical materials. The U.S. Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service, in partnership with DOE, earlier this year announced up to $4 billion in a first round of the 48C tax credit. Concept papers were due Aug. 3. Enviva is among the companies pursuing the tax credit. During a second quarter earnings call held Aug. 3, Enviva


PELLET NEWS ROUNDUP » Chief Financial Officer Shai Even confirmed the company has applied for the 48C tax credit in relation to the company’s wood pellet plants under development in Epes, Alabama, and Bond, Mississippi. The Epes plant is under construction and expected to be operational in mid-2024. Enviva is working to finalize an EPC contract for the Bond facility with an expected in-service date in 2026. The coalition of environmental groups on Sept. 27 sent a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urging the Biden administration to prevent Enviva and other wood pellet producers from accessing the benefits of the 48C tax credit. Within the letter, the groups make the often-debunked claim that biomass energy is more carbon intensive than fossil-based energy sources. The USDA Forest Service is making nearly $50 million in grant funding available to support wood energy projects. The Wood Innovations Grant Program aims to expand and stimulate U.S. wood products markets and wood energy markets to support forest management. Focus areas include mass timber, renewable wood energy, and technological development that supports hazardous fuel reduction and sustainable forest management. The Forest Service expects to award up to $20 million, with

individual awards ranging from $10,000 to $300,000. Applications for the program are due Dec. 15. The Community Wood Grant Program provides grants to install thermally led community wood energy systems or to build innovative wood product manufacturing facilities. The agency noted that the program places extra emphasis on assisting sawmills in economically challenged areas to retool or add advanced technology. It expects to award up to $6 million under the Community Wood Grant Program, with individual awards ranging from $10,000 to $1 million. Applications are due Dec. 15. The Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Program aims to provide support for facilities that purchase and process byproducts of ecosystem restoration projects, including applications to establish, reopen, retrofit, expand or improve a sawmill or other wood-processing facility in close proximity to federal or Indian lands that need ecosystem restoration and will generate byproducts. The program focuses on areas of unnaturally severe fire or insect or disease infestation. The Forest Service expects to offer up to $23.3 million under the program, with individual awards ranging from $50,000 to $1 million. Applications are due Dec. 1.

Core Industries will build a wood pellet processing and storage facility at its port in Mobile County, Alabama. IMAGE: CORE INDUSTRIES

Core Industries has entered into an agreement with CM Biomass to construct a wood pellet processing and storage facility in Mobile, Alabama, according to information released in July by the Mobile Chamber and Industrial Development Authority. 10 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE ISSUE 4 2023

As part of the agreement, Core Industries will receive, store and load wood pellets for shipment. The company plans to invest $8.75 million to construct two 27,600-square-foot warehouses at its existing location in Theodore, Alabama. CM Biomass operates a wood pellet plant in Jackson, Alabama, and recently ac-

quired a facility a pellet mill in Washington County, Alabama. According to the Mobile Chamber, the new processing facility in Theodore will allow CM Biomass to enhance the distribution and logistics capabilities for those pellet plants.



Project Development »

Tyler Player, owner of Player Design Inc., discusses the company’s journey from a dryer and furnace supplier to launcher of a proven steam-treated wood pellet technology. BY S.J. SAUNDERS


any of the well-known and respected companies in the wood pellet industry have built their businesses on trust, solid work and a good reputation. That fits the bill for Player Design, which has underscored these traits over the past 15-plus years, since Tyler Player founded the company in 2008. Initially focused on supplying drum dryers and biomass furnaces, PDI quickly established a foothold in the wood products industry. Over time, the company's expertise and success in executing projects propelled its growth, evolving into a portfolio that now includes 60-plus installations around the world, and a cutting-edge technology soon to debut at commercial scale. Right now, the largest ongoing customer project of PDI’s is a 340,000-ton-per-year pellet plant currently under construction in Jeanerette, Louisiana, that will use bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane production, as feedstock. PDI will provide full EPC services to the $100 million plant, with the contract including the delivery of two 17-foot by 70-foot PDI dryers, each featuring a 100 MMBtu/hour furnace. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to participate in something innovative and new,” says Player, a mechanical engineer by Construction of the expansion project at MaineFlame is slated to be complete by the end of the year. IMAGE: PLAYER DESIGN


« Project Development

‘I really like the people in this industry. They’re very hardworking, very earnest, and quite an honest, solid group of people.’ —Tyler Player, Player Design

trade. “At PDI, pushing the boundaries and exploring uncharted territory is part of our DNA. We thrive on taking on challenging projects.” A Maine native, Player has found plenty of work close to home, including but not limited to serving as the EPC contractor for FE Wood Natural Energy, a 37,000ton pellet plant in Sanford, Maine, as well as MaineFlame, which Player owns. An excerpt from MaineFlame’s website says it all: “Each Maine Flame firelog is carefully made in our rehabilitated sawmill by the fine folks of Ashland, Maine, using nothing but discarded tree debris from tree harvesting operations, the sweat off our backs, and some pretty serious high-tech machinery.” Located in Ashland at the site of a repurposed lumber mill, Player opened MaineFlame in 2020. The $6 million investment was intended to serve as a showcase for PDI's machinery, with its initial purpose being the production of compressed/ extruded firelogs. However, the company is expanding its focus with a venture that began after a collaboration exploring black


pellet technology with Active Energy Group—an England-based company that for many years had a proposed black pellet plant in Lumberton, North Carolina. Now, MaineFlame is in the midst of a $7 million expansion to add 30,000 annual tons of steam-treated—different than steam-exploded—wood pellet capacity to its product line. Successful trials of the state-of-the-art technology were completed at the Ashland site in 2021-’22, which Player says became known throughout the pellet industry and generated new business partnerships for the product both home and abroad. In regard to proof of concept and the testing phase, Tyler highlights the importance of relying on existing research and leveraging established technologies.

Player Design installed a wood pellet drying system for a client in Corinth, Maine. IMAGE: PLAYER DESIGN

tensive testing over a one-year period. “This rigorous process provided us with a high level of confidence in the technology's effectiveness,” Player says. While acknowledging that there is an element of faith involved in venturing into uncharted territory, PDI's extensive knowledge in the field and the machine's successful track record in similar environments make them optimistic about the outcome. Player says that PDI's approach to technology implementation focuses on finding machinery that has been extensively used in similar or even harsher conditions. Testing, Technology and “This ensures that the equipment is tried the Market and tested, reducing the need for custom PDI imported a test reactor from the designs or risky experimentation,” he says. supplier of the reactor they will be using for Construction is underway at Mainecommercial production, and performed ex- Flame, and the steam-treated wood technol-

Player Design was contracted as an EPC supplier of the drying and energy system for a 200,000-metric-ton-per-year wood pellet plant in Quebec. IMAGE: PLAYER DESIGN

See us at

Booth #713



Wood Pellet Production Lignetics of Maine: Strong, 47,900 MT

Maine Wood Pellets Company: Athens, 99,800 MT Northeast Pellets: Ashland, 7,300 MT T&D Wood Energy: Sanford, 33,600


MaineFlame: (Under Construction) Ashland, 30,000 MT

Project Development »

ogy is set to be fully functional by the fourth quarter of this year, with implementation expected to continue into the early months of the next year. What sets this technology apart from others, Player says, is its ability to utilize forest slash, which is typically discarded in the sawmill industry. “Steam pressurizes the reactor, and the wood is held under that high steam pressure for a period of time,” Player explains. “Then, the pressure is released, allowing the condensate inside the reactor to ‘flash’ back into steam at lower atmospheric pressures. Steam treatment of wood substantially reduces the amount of wastewater generation caused during a typical steam explosion process.” Previously, flash has been used at biomass power plants, but scarcity and logistical challenges have limited its application. PDI aimed to solve this problem by finding an alternative use for flash. Player emphasizes that though the company has worked on black pellet technology with a client before, this technology at the Ashland plant is not steam explosion.

Regarding the slow adoption of black or steam-exploded pellet technology—despite the attention it has garnered over the past decade—Player attributes it to scalability issues. Many existing technologies are limited to small-scale operations, he says, rendering them impractical for widespread adoption. However, PDI's background in supplying machinery to the wood pellet industry puts them in a unique position to overcome this challenge—and they’re ready to assist clients. “Our machinery, while new to the black pellet application, is proven and scalable,” Player says. “Our investment in this technology is based on our understanding that the machinery we utilize has been running effectively in other industries for an extended period. This mitigates the risks typically associated with the simultaneous implementation of innovative technology and operational processes.” As for the market for steam exploded pellets, Tyler emphasizes their target audience: mid-sized industrial facilities in North America that are currently using coal or

seeking alternative energy sources. The water-resistant nature of the pellets makes them suitable for direct integration into existing material handling systems, requiring minimal modifications. Player exudes enthusiasm about using waste materials to their full potential. “Our real goal is 100% use of every tree,” he says. The utilization of flash in the production of black pellets is meaningful toward achieving this goal, coupled with a focus on sourcing feedstock from local sawmills—specifically, residuals and waste streams not utilized in lumber production.” With a solid portfolio, longevity in the industry and ambitions to continue to innovate, Player says the icing on the cake regarding working in the biomass and pellet space are the individuals who have worked to make it what it is today. “I really like the people in the industry,” he adds. “They’re very hardworking, very earnest, and quite an honest, solid group of people.” Contact: Anna Simet asimet@bbiinternational.com

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« Production

Mapping It Out Pellet Mill Magazine shares some highlights from its recently completed 2024 North American Fuel Pellet Production Map. BY ANNA SIMET


hen the first North American Fuel Pellet Production Map was released over a decade ago, U.S production capacity sat around 8.6 million metric tons (MT) per year. At the time, there was no government agency tracking data, and it wasn’t uncommon for plants to be unwilling to share information with us, particularly production numbers (quite a few “undisclosed” in that category). Much has changed over the past 10 years, which has seen the rise and demise of dozens of plants, periods of rapid growth and lulls, and the im18 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE ISSUE 4 2023

pressive buildout out of the export industry’s production capacity and necessary infrastructure. As aforementioned, the U.S.’s 8.6 million MT of production capacity in 2013 jumped approximately 51% to over 13 million MT just five years later, in 2015. (Figure 1) Five years beyond that, operational capacity now tops 15.2 million MT, with an additional 1.6 million MT under construction. Canada’s growth trajectory has been much more modest. In 2013, production capacity totaled 3.2 million MT, rising 15% to just under

3.7 million MT by 2018, and to approximately 4.7 million MT by late 2023. At press time, Pellet Mill Magazine was unaware of any Canadian capacity under active construction. New and Acquired Plants Several new plants have come online over the past 18-plus months and are new to the map. This includes several with ownership by CM Biomass, which in June reported that its U.S. production capacity had reached 1 million tons, boosting the company to rank among the top wood pellet manufacturers in the world.

Plants new to the map include the following six facilities (though this is not an exhaustive list). Douglas Pellets. In Pearson, Georgia, the 150,000-metric-ton (MT) plant takes in peanut hulls from local farmers. CM believes it is the first independent, dedicated plant in the world to turn peanut hulls into pellet fuel. Ideal Pellets. In Oglethorpe, Georgia, Ideal Pellets is located at the site of Southern Wood Suppliers chip mill. The plant’s capacity is approximately 112,000 MT. Brookhaven Pellets. Colocated with Rex Lumber in Brookhaven, Mississippi, CM Bio-

mass reports the plant’s capacity is 75,000 MT. Effingham Pellets. Effingham Pellets in Effingham, South Carolina, is neighbors with Charles Ingram Lumber Co., which, according to construction permit documents, supplies the plant with dried wood shavings. The plant’s nameplate production capacity is currently 37,500 MT, but CM Biomass operations manager Todd Bush confirms with Pellet Mill Magazine that the plant is currently expanding to double its output to 75,000 MT. Jackson Pellets. In August 2022, CM Biomass broke ground on Jackson Pellets. The

$21 million plant came online this past March, now producing 150,000 MT of wood pellets annually. Fruitdale Pellets. In late 2022, CM purchased the assets of Taruma Fruitdale, in Fruitdale, Alabama, a fire log and pellet plant that came online about a year prior. The plant’s capacity is 30,000 MT. Outside of CM Biomass, Enviva’s plant in Lucedale, Mississippi, became fully operational last fall. The $215 million plant has a permitted production capacity of 750,000 MT and is part of the company’s “Pascagoula Cluster,” which BIOMASSMAGAZINE.COM 19

« Production includes Enviva’s Lucedale, Mississippi, plant as well as Enviva’s forthcoming plants in Epes, Alabama, and Bond, Mississippi. (see proposed plants). In late 2022, Enviva opened its Port of Pascagoula export terminal, which will serve as the shipment point for these plants. As for acquisitions, Lignetics has continued its steady buildout with acquisitions of several facilities. These include Fiber ByProducts in White Pigeon, Michigan (103,400 MT), the former Trae Fuels plant in Bumpass, Virginia, (180,900), and PA Wood Pellets in Ulysses, Pennsylvania. Some time ago, the company also acquired Forest Energy Corp. and its three plants in Show Low, Arizona (72,600 MT), Calpella, California (34,90 MT), and Columbia City, Oregon (37,200 MT). The company reports that its total U.S. fuel pellet production capacity now exceeds over 1 million tons annually. Under Construction, Expansions and Proposed Peak Renewables is a relatively new company to the wood pellet industry, but they’re making moves and will soon bring some production online. Corey Woolard at Peak Renewables tells Pellet Mill Magazine that the company has purchased Canfor Corp.’s, Chetwynd, B.C., pellet plant, which earlier this year Can-


for announced would be closing in Q2 2023. Woolard says that as of late September, the 110,000-MT plant was not yet operating, but that Peak was in the process of developing a restart plan. Woolard confirms that construction at the company’s Dothan, Alabama, site (150,000 MT) is progressing well. A third site in Fort Nelson, B.C., is under evaluation, according to Woodland. Roughly 220 miles southeast of Peak’s Dothan plant, Enviva’s Epes, Alabama, facility

is on track to begin operations in mid-2024, according to the company’s most recent financial report. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in late June and construction is well underway, according to Enviva. Enviva also has a 1.1-million-MT plant proposed in Bond, Mississippi. The company reported in early August that all necessary permits have been granted, and that it expected to have a signed EPC agreement during Q4 2023. The plant, with an expected in-service date of


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Enviva's Lucedale, Mississippi, plant is the latest of the company's facilities to come online and its second operating plant in the state. IMAGE: ENVIVA

capacity from 90,700 to 181,400. Both plants were acquired as part of Mohegan Renewable Energy, a transaction CM Biomass completed in early 2022. Somerset Pellet Fuel in Somerset, Kentucky, has increased production. Cameron Merrick, director of operations, confirms a recent capacity expansion from 50,000 to 80,000 MT. The company utilizes excess sawdust and wood fibers from its hardwood flooring and wood product manufacturing operations. In Canada, JD Irving’s Grand River Pellets in Saint Leonard, New Brunswick—which only came online in 2019—has already completed a $30 million expansion from approx. 140,000 to 220,000 MT. Output from the plant, which is colocated with the largest of the company’s sawmills, is sent to Danish customers via the Port of Belledune.

mid-2025 to 2026, will add another 1.1 million MT of capacity to Enviva’s portfolio. Out West, there are several proposed plants. In California, Golden State Natural Resources has proposed two plants in California—a 700,000-MT plant near Nubieber in Lassen County, and a 300,000-MT plant near Jamestown in Tuolumne County. The company’s proposals include utilizing the Port of Stockton as its shipping point. Previous requests for story interviews have not been granted, but during a recent open meeting it was indicated that a conditional use permit had been submitted for the Lassen facility, and submission for the Tuolumne facility permit was upcoming, once a preliminary grading plan had been developed. In Washington state, Drax is making plans to build a 450,000-MT plant in Longview, along with a port location. The company announced a final investment decision in December of last year, and said the $250 million investment is earmarked for commissioning in 2025. As for expansions, CM Biomass has a couple underway. Its Crossville, Alabama, plant is expanding from 120,000 to 150,000 MT, and its Quitman, Mississippi, plant is doubling its BIOMASSMAGAZINE.COM 21

« Production

Grand River Pellets in Saint Leonard, New Brunswick, completed an expansion from 140,000 MT to 220,000 MT. IMAGE: GRAND RIVER PELLETS

Closures, Restarts, Odds & Ends Maeder Brothers Inc., a pellet plant and sawmill operation in Weidman, Michigan, has ceased operations. The plant’s assets went up for auction in mid-July. That removes approximately 13,600 MT from Michigan’s production capacity, which now totals about 157,000 MT from the three remaining plants—Vulcan Wood Products, Michigan Wood Fuels and Fiber By-Products. Aurora Energy Solutions, which purchased Superior Pellet Fuel (26,000 MT) in North Pole, Alaska, in June 2020, faced a challenging year. Susan Shopper, general manager, says that over the past year, the operation faced raw material and labor shortages, and therefore it wasn’t economical to operate. However, the company hopes to resume pellet production. The wood pellet plant in Allendale, South Carolina—formerly Thunderbolt Biomass— is no longer idle. New owner IP Biomass has reopened the plant, and reported production (32,000 MT) to the U.S. EIA for the first time in July. Crunching the Numbers With the total operational capacity of approximately 15.27 million MT and an additional 1.62 million additional MT under construction, U.S. wood pellet production is poised to reach nearly 17 million MT in 2024. An additional 3.1 million MT is proposed. As for Canada, while Pellet Mill Magazine is not aware of any capacity under construction, there is 910,000 MT proposed. If it were to come to fruition, it would raise the country’s production to approx. 5.6 million MT. Author: Anna Simet asimet@bbiinternational.com

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*HW <RXU 0HVVDJH 2XW 1RZ 4XLFNO\ 5HDFK ,QGXVWU\ &RQWDFWV ( $ 6 , /< 7 5 $ & . < 2 8 5 3 ( 5 ) 2 5 0 $ 1 & ( Interested in Advertising? Contact us at 866-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com ONLINE | PRINT | DIGITAL | WEBINARS | EVENTS | VIDEOS | MAPS | DIRECTORY


The RBS technology can convert an existing pellet or wood chip operation into a continuous flow torrefaction process, enabling a net calorific value of 20-plus in the final product. IMAGE: CBA ENVIRONMENTAL

A Revolutionary Plant Optimization Technology The patented Remedial Biomass Solution technology is designed to significantly increase revenue for biomass and forestry product producers, while reducing the cost of operations. BY BRUCE BRUSO Every wood pellet plant in North America struggles to balance the increased cost of production with limitations on throughput due to air permit ceiling levels. But what if pellet producers could reduce the cost of production while increasing capacity with existing nameplate equipment, and generate additional revenue? Optimization of pellet production can reduce CO2-e (CO2 equivalent) emissions by 50%, pro-

ducing the hottest, cleanest wood pellet in the world. CBA Environmental Services has focused on providing low-carbon solutions to power generation, mining and industrial manufacturing operations for the past 26 years, and it was just over a year ago when the Hegins, Pennsylvaniabased company expanded its patented technology—the Remedial Biomass Solution—from the

fossil fuel power generation and mineral mining world to the biomass industry. RBS is a drop-in chemical/thermal biomass energy carbon capture and storage plus utilization (BECCS+U) technology. An easy-to-deploy, modular, prepelletizing biomass enhancement process, RBS uses patented chemical treatment of wet, green waste wood and agro-waste. It can be immediately fitted to any existing pellet,

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Pellet Mill Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s). 24 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE ISSUE 4 2023

Technology » chip or building construction or packaging materials production line, and will generate increased throughput (from 25% to 50%) and incremental tons while staying under air permit discharge limits. Increased efficiency and reduced electrical demand will be realized by the entire operation (up to 41%). The evaporative load of any dryer island will be reduced by up to 50%, no matter what type of dryer configuration. Additionally, CO2 and CO2-e emissions post-RBS treatment will be reduced by 50% while increasing the calorific value, green hydrogen content, durability index and reduction in fines, and elimination of spontaneous combustion risk. CBA views the biomass industry as four main verticals: pellet production (industrial and residential), power generation, pulp and paper, and building construction materials and liquid fuels. RBS adds three key value-add packages to all these biomass industry verticals, which are the following: Plant optimization. This includes increased throughput, higher efficiency gain, reduced electrical demand, reduced emissions control costs and loading rates. Product enhancement. Higher calorific and green hydrogen values, higher durability and strength, reduced fines, elimination of spontaneous combustion risks, and devolatilized and decarbonized products that burn cleaner and hotter while eliminating transportation and handling issues. Environmental, sustainable and financial benefits. RBS is a BECCS+U precombustion process that is an approved industrial process under the IRS 45Q Carbon Capture Utilization & Sequestration (CCUS) tax code, and 45Q Amendment under the Inflation Reduction Act. This allows RBS users and partners to realize additional revenue over a 12-year period as a financial reward for reducing the life cycle analysis of inherent CO2 and CO2-e compounds that exist in biomass and forestry products and residuals. Additional pollutants of concern, like formaldehyde, volatiles, semivolatiles and per- and polyfluorinated substances (forever chemicals) are eliminated from biomass and forestry end use products, allowing buyers of biomass and forestry products to qualify for Buy Green Initiatives with public, private and government agencies. Proven Technology, More Benefits The RBS technology has been independently vetted and tested in comprehensive programs in-

To showcase its Remedial Biomass Solution technology, CBA Environmental operates a commercial-scale, continuous-flow pilot plant at its corporate campus in Pennsylvania. IMAGE: CBA ENVIRONMENTAL

volving the Electric Power Research Institute, the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, USDA, U.S. EPA, U.S. DOE and Penn College’s Plastic Innovation Research Center. When it comes to life cycle analysis (LCA) validation, testing programs have repeatedly validated empirical data demonstrating a verifiable, complete LCA. This is a very important component linked to the financial benefits of the RBS technology. The combination of approximately $52 per ton in available CCUS credit, and an average of $32 per ton in operational and throughput savings, equates to approx. $84 per ton value-add realization, which is a substantial leverage benefit in a market where costs continue to escalate and stakeholders demand higher returns. CBA believes the RBS approach stomps out any skepticism from environmental groups on the clarity and science behind true and transparent biomass decarbonization at the point of production and final use. This is particularly useful, given recent rumblings of environmental groups that are challenging the use of the 48C credit by pellet manufacturers. Additionally, as an added benefit, there is no restriction from the IRS and U.S. Treasury in stacking both the 45Q and 48C credits in applicable projects utilizing a “Qualified Industrial Process” under the definition of the applicable tax code. Additionally, CBA has initiated and witnessed firsthand the precise CEMS data and

has been involved in multiple independent comparative combustion tests of both biomass and solid fossil fuels. The bottom line with the RBS technology is that when employed as a pretreatment step on either woody biomass or solid fossil fuels, the result is a carbon intensity that is slightly less than natural gas. That is a compelling status to attain. The RBS technology can convert an existing pellet mill or wood chip operation into a continuous flow torrefaction process enabling net calorific value (gigajoule per metric ton) of 20-plus in the final product without the use of pyrolysis or gasification, and generate a 50%plus reduction in GHGs, CO2 and CO2-e compounds. The RBS process also enables the production of other biomass solid fuel products and high-strength bioplastics and biopolymers utilizing pulp and paper forestry residuals. CBA operates a commercial-scale, continuous-flow BECCS+U RBS pilot plant at its corporate campus in Pennsylvania. CBA frequently conducts pilot testing for customers across the multiple verticals of the biomass industry, and encourages the biomass industry to reach out and schedule a visit. Author: Bruce Bruso President and CEO, Environmental Services Inc. bbruso@cbaenvironmental.com


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