Roller Bearing Maintenance For Optimal Pellet Production Page 18
Plant Managers on Condition Monitoring Methods Page 12
New York Schoolâ€™s Heating Fuel Finesse Page 22
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JANUARY 2017 | VOLUME 11 | ISSUE 1
05 EDITORâ€™S NOTE Strong O&M Programs Scale By Tim Portz
07 BUSINESS BRIEFS 08 BIOMASS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE 26 MARKETPLACE
11 COLUMN Biomass and the US EPA Under Trump By Bob Cleaves
12 FEATURE Big Data Pays Big
Condition monitoring plays a critical role in maintaining the overall health of a biomass power plant. By Katie Fletcher
17 COLUMN Lean Manufacturing, Wood Supply Chain Optimization By Stan Parton
18 DEPARTMENT Bearing Down
Prolonging roller bearing life is top of mind for producers looking to drive down overall operating expenses. By Tim Portz
21 COLUMN Wood is Great: The Elevator Pitch By Dave Mance III
22 DEPARTMENT North Country Knowhow
From the woods to the boiler, a New York School grows, cuts, hauls and prepares its own biomass fuel. By Anna Simet
ON THE COVER:
An operator performs a pellet press inspection. Roller bearings are the most often replaced wear part on an operating pellet press. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ, BBI INTERNATIONAL
4 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2017
EDITORIAL PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF Tom Bryan email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR Tim Portz firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR Anna Simet email@example.com SENIOR EDITOR Ron Kotrba firstname.lastname@example.org NEWS EDITOR Erin Voegele email@example.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Katie Fletcher firstname.lastname@example.org COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann email@example.com
ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund firstname.lastname@example.org GRAPHIC DESIGNER Raquel Boushee email@example.com
PUBLISHING & SALES CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org CEO Joe Bryan email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS Matthew Spoor firstname.lastname@example.org SALES & MARKETING DIRECTOR John Nelson email@example.com BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Howard Brockhouse firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Chip Shereck email@example.com ACCOUNT MANAGER Jeff Hogan firstname.lastname@example.org CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Tiller email@example.com MARKETING & ADVERTISING MANAGER Marla DeFoe firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Stacy Cook, Koda Energy
Strong O&M Programs Scale This month, the operations described in Biomass Magazine Managing Editor Anna Simet’s “North Country Knowhow” (pg. 22) and Associate Editor Katie Fletcher’s “Big Data Pays Big” (pg. 12) couldn’t be more different. Simet’s story TIM PORTZ outlines a biomass heating operation at a boarding VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT school in the Adirondacks, where the fuel supply & EXECUTIVE EDITOR chain typically consists of one person and one ma- email@example.com chine. In contrast, Fletcher’s story looks at a number of much larger operations that employ teams of people, one of them receiving and handling over 1,000 tons of municipal solid waste a day. As different as these facilities are in size, scope and personnel, they share a reliance on first perfecting, and then executing their operational plan on a daily basis. In Simet’s story, John Culpepper, director of facilities and sustainability at North Country School, has built an elegant operational plan to utilize biomass generated by thinning activities on the school’s and a neighbor’s property. Additionally, Culpepper is constantly refining his plan and experimenting with new approaches. The results have surprised even him. “We’re able to do it with small-scale equipment—just one person with a small tractor and a log loader,” he told Simet. The facilities described in Fletcher’s feature are anything but small-scale. Her story describes sprawling complexes filled with conveyors, motors, hammermills, turbines and countless other pieces of incredibly expensive capital equipment. Fletcher dug into how the teams at these facilities are increasingly relying on condition monitoring (CM) devices to, before a catastrophic failure occurs, alert them that something may be amiss. Component failure prevention is just one aspect of how facilities are using data collection and analysis in their operations. Through her interviews, Fletcher learned that plants are relying on CM to help them manage boiler efficiency, material handling efficiency, emissions control and the impact of various feedstocks on plant performance. The financial impact of CM is difficult to overstate. One of Fletcher’s sources, Kendric Wait, CEO of Eagle Valley Clean Energy, told Fletcher he believed that maintenance costs on his turbine could very well be cut in half because of a robust CM program they’ve deployed. Ours is an industry that scales well. Biomass can be deployed to heat homes or boarding schools or contribute massive amounts of baseload electric power. Large or small, biomass operations must make a commitment to sound operations and maintenance fundamentals if they are to be successful. Moreover, like Culpepper, the best operators are constantly on the lookout for new approaches that will deliver even marginal increases in overall plant efficiency.
Ben Anderson, University of Iowa Justin Price, Evergreen Engineering Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center
JANUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 5
INDUSTRY EVENTS¦ 2017 International Biomass Conference & Expo APRIL 10-12, 2017
ADVERTISER INDEX¦ 27-28 2 10
2017 International Biomass Conference & Expo 2017 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Andritz Feed & Biofuel A/S
CPM Beta Raven
CPM Global Biomass Group
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, Minnesota Organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Magazine, this event brings current and future producers of bioenergy and biobased products together with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s a true one-stop shop––the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. (866) 746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
Heating the Midwest APRIL 10, 2017
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, Minnesota
IHI Power Services Corp.
KEITH Manufacturing Company
Mole Master Services Corporation
Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Managing Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.
The Midwest relies heavily on fossil energy for heating homes and businesses. Heating the Midwest is a network of thermal biomass advocates working to increase awareness and usage of renewable biomass for heat, which has the potential to greatly reduce the region’s dependence on propane and fuel oil for thermal energy. (866)746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
Biomass Preparation, Handling & Storage Workshop APRIL 10, 2017
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, Minnesota The operation and financial success of any biomass-to-energy facility requires its operators to utilize high-quality, consistent biomass feedstocks. The Biomass Preparation, Handling & Storage Workshop agenda will allow producers to take an in-depth look at the latest innovations and strategies in biomass handling and compare it to their own. Whether producers are sourcing wood chips from a handful of trusted suppliers for a campus boiler or are a biorefinery working to gather, store and convert hundreds of thousands of tons of agricultural residues, this agenda will offer practical value. (866)746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
2017 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo JUNE 19-21, 2017
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, Minnesota
COPYRIGHT © 2017 by BBI International
Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) January 2017, Vol. 11, Issue 1. Biomass Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biomass Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.
From its inception, the mission of the 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 also the ethanol industry’s premier forum for unveiling new technologies and research findings. The program extensively covers cellulosic ethanol while remaining committed to optimizing existing grain ethanol operations. (866) 746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com
2017 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo JUNE 19-21, 2017
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, Minnesota
6 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2017
Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling
With a vertically integrated program and audience, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels including cellulosic ethanol, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products. (866) 746-8385 | www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com
Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS
SBP announces directorate changes The Sustainable Biomass Partnership has announced Dorothy Thompson is to retire as a director and chairman of the board. Thomas Dalsgaard, who has been a director of the company since 2013, succeeds Dorothy Thompson as chairman.
tiative aims to get biofuels to the market faster, through the construction of advanced biofuel production plants in Europe, and at setting a target level to the amount of sustainable biofuels used in European civil aviation. Biofuel companies taking part in the initiative include Neste, Biochemtex, Honeywell UOP, Swedish Biofuels, and Total. Airlines involved are KLM, Air France, British Airways, and Lufthansa.
Ovivo signs agreement with DC Water Ovivo Inc. has signed an exclusive licensing arrangement with the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority for its patented post-aerobic digestion process. Marketed under the brand name DigestivorePAD, this approach to solids management places an aerobic Executives appointed to co-chair digester after an anaerobic digester, providing European biofuel initiative increased volatile solids destruction, enhanced Henrik ErĂ¤metsĂ¤, head of aviation regulanitrogen and phosphorus removal as well as tion at Neste, and Ruben Alblas of KLM Royal improved dewatering, leading to significant opDutch Airlines have been appointed co-chairs erational savings. of the European Union initiative the European Advanced Biofuels Flightpath. The initiative Lee Enterprises Consulting adds supports the goals of the Paris Climate Agreerenewable chemicals staff ment and the EU targets set for reduction of Lee Enterprises Consulting has angreenhouse gas emissions. It was launched in nounced the addition of five new experts in 2011 by the European Commission, Airbus, its newly formed Renewable Chemicals Divileading European airlines and biofuel producsion. The consulting group, which now numers to promote the production, distribution, bers over 100 experts worldwide, has specialists storage and use of sustainably produced and in biodiesel, ethanol, emerging technologies, technically certified aviation biofuels. The inibiomass power, renewable chemicals, biogas,
anaerobic digestion, business and finance. The new additions include David Dodds, Ronald Newman, Steven Toon, Bernard Cooker and David Senyk. AST announces patent American Science and Technology has been awarded a second patent, U.S. 9,382,283 B2, related to its Organosolv pulping process. The new patent covers a system and method for oxygen-assisted delignification of lignocellulosic biomaterials and lignin recovery, which further improves the quality of the pulp produced by the AST Organosolv pulping process. Rentech adds CFO Paul Summers has been appointed as chief financial officer of Rentech Inc., replacing Jeffrey Spain. He will be responsible for overseeing the finance, treasury and accounting functions of the company. Summers served as Rentechâ€™s vice president and treasurer immediately prior to his appointment as chief financial officer and has held various finance related roles at Rentech since 2006. Prior to joining Rentech, Summers held positions at Salomon Smith Barney and Citigroup Inc., as well as Allied Capital Corp. SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, if available) to Business Briefs, Biomass Magazine, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also email information to email@example.com. Please include your name and telephone number.
Biomass CONSTRUCTION UPDATE Biomass Power
The Heat is On by Anna Simet
The Polar Vortex is back, and certain industry segments are welcoming the frigid temperatures, after consecutive soft winters. For others—including many facilities graduating to completion in this quarter’s Biomass Construction Update—the heat and power switches are on, and all systems are go. From wood chips to pellets to food waste, biomass is keeping homes and businesses around the globe warm and lit up. Coming online this quarter are Blue Sphere’s Charlotte, North Carolina, biogas plant; DONG Energy’s Avedore Power Station in Denmark; Green
Biologics’ Minnesota n-butanol plant; Highland Pellets’ facility in Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and PHG Energy’s waste gasification plant in Lebanon, Tennessee. Besides expecting several additional featured projects to come online in the new year, BCUD welcomes the addition of Phoenix Energy’s North Fork Community Power, a 2-MW plant to be built in phases, utilizing wood waste derived from forest thinning and wildfire prevention activities in California. To have your project featured in Biomass Magazine’s quarterly construction update, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Dublin Waste-to-Energy Ltd.
CITY OF LEBANON
Poolbeg, Dublin, Ireland
Covanta Energy Corp.
Municipal solid waste
Duro Dakovic steam boiler
Combined heat and power
Ireland’s renewable feed-in tariff
IPP or utility
Construction is nearing completion, with first firing of MSW expected in March.
PHOTO: PHG ENERGY
City of Lebanon, Tennesee, Waste-to-Energy Facility
Skærbæk Power Station Project Complete
B&W Vollund fluidized bed
Nameplate thermal capacity
District heat and electricity
$250,000 Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation grant
IPP or utility
Opening of the converted plant will take place in 2017. It is expected to be fully operational by the 2017-´18 heating season.
PHG Energy, Applied Chemical Technology
Waste wood, sewer sludge and scrap tires
PHG downdraft gasifier
Combined heat and power
The plant is online and operational, and the commissioning process continues.
North Fork Community Power Location
North Fork, California
Avedøre Power Station Location
Boiler type Nameplate thermal capacity
932 MJs (with Unit 2)
Combined heat and power
$4.9 million California Energy Commission EPIC grant; $900,000 in New Markets Tax Credit financing
Phase 1: June 2017
Civil works began in November, and equipment is expected to be delivered on-site imminently.
8 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2017
After the 18-month construction process, DONG has finished converting Avedøre Power Station Unit No. 1. The entire CHP plant is now able to produce heat and power based on wood pellets and straw, rather than coal and gas.
QUANTUM BIOPOWER SOUTHINGTON
PHOTO: CHIP ENERGY LLC
PHOTO: QUANTUM BIOPOWER
Quantum Biopower Southington
Chip Energy Inc.
Low solids, wet fermentation
Pellets, briquettes and logs
36,500 metric tons
Waste wood, energy crops, agricultural residue
Biogas production capacity Biogas end use
Construction of the plant is nearing completion, and start-up is on schedule to begin by the end of the year.
Waste To Energy Power Plant Charlotte
Highland Pellets Project Complete
Charlotte, North Carolina
Blue Sphere Corp.
AUSTEP/T. Ortega Gaines
Conical tank utilizing AUSTEP's (CCS) Cruise Control System
Biogas production capacity Biogas end use
The biomass conversion facility is slated for completion in June, and will be capable of producing 100 tons of fuel pellets or other value-added products per day.
As of mid-November, the plant is connected to the grid, and all three generators are now operating.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Port of South Louisiana
500,000 metric tons
tree stem and waste wood
Completed on time and under budget despite challenges brought on by well-above-average rainfall, the plant is undergoing commissioning and is expected to be producing pellets by the end of the year. Central MN Renewables LLC
Little Falls, Minnesota
Surrey Organic Biofuel Facility
Surrey, British Columbia
Advanced fermentation process
Design: Orgaworld Canada, contractor: Smith Bros & Wilson, engineer: Waste Treatment Technologies-NL
115,000 metric tons of organic waste annually
Orgaworldâ€™s Biocel, dry ADÂ
Type of RINs
Green Biologics Ltd.
Biogas production capacity
7 million-plus cubic meters
Biogas end use
Coproducts Groundbreaking date
The plant is online and producing fuel, and has already filled a customer order via tanker truck and barrels.
Construction continues on schedule, and the plant is on track to begin producing RNG early next year.
JANUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 9
PowerNews MUNCY, PA
Draft CfD administrative strike prices (ÂŁ/MWh, 2012 prices)
8NTQFKNA@K DPTHOLDMS RTOOKHDQ ENQSGDAHNL@RR HMCTRSQX
Projects deploying in 2021/'22
Project deploying in 2022/'23
Advanced conversion projects (with or without CHP)
Anaerobic digestion (with or without CHP (>5 MW)
Dedicated biomass with CHP
SOURCE: U.K. DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY
UK announces plans for next CfD auction In November, the U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy released details of the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, noting companies will complete for ÂŁ290 million ($355,83 million) worth of contracts. The application process for the next CfD allocation round is set to open in April and is open to offshore wind, advanced conversion technologies, anaerobic digestion (AD) projects of greater than 5 MW, dedicated biomass with combined-heat-
and-power, and wave, tidal, stream and geothermal projects that begin operations from 2021-â€™22 or 2022-â€™23. The auction is not open to wind, solar, or biomass conversion projects. According to the DBEIS, the CfD auction will result in enough renewable electricity to power approximately 1 million homes while reducing carbon emissions by approximately 2.5 million metric tons per year from 2021-â€™22 onward.
Northern Wood Power celebrates milestone -#1(39 HR NMD NE SGD VNQKCR KD@CHMF RTOOKHDQR NE SDBGMNKNFHDR RXRSDLR @MC RDQUHBDR QDK@SHMF SN DPTHOLDMSENQSGDAHNL@RRODKKDSHMF HMCTRSQX 6D NEEDQ RHMFKD L@BGHMDR ENQ SGDOQNCTBSHNMNERNKHC@MCKHPTHCAHNETDK @MCV@RSDODKKDSR 6DG@UDSGD@AHKHSXSN L@MTE@BSTQD@MCRTOOKXD@BG@MCDUDQX JDXOQNBDRRHMFL@BGHMDHMSGDODKKDSOQN
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10 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2017
The Northern Wood Power biomass unit at Eversource Energyâ€™s Schiller Station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, celebrated its 10th year of operations in late 2016. Northern Wood Power began operating in December 2006, permanently replacing a 50-MW, coal-burning boiler with one designed to burn wood chips and other clean wood byproducts. The bioenergy system has eliminated the need to burn more than 130,000 tons of coal annually. Over the past 10 years, repowering Schillerâ€™s coal-burning boiler to burn wood has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 3.5 million tons. Over the same time period, more than 3.1 billion kWh of
renewable energy have been generated and the system has added more than $400 million to the regional economy. â€œIn addition to ensuring a cleaner environment for our customers and all residents of New Hampshire and the region, Northern Wood Power has had a very positive impact on the local economy,â€? said Bill Smagula, vice president of generation at Eversource. â€œSince opening, Northern Wood Power has accepted more than 5 million tons of locally sourced wood fuel, at a value of more than $157 million dollars. The projectâ€™s success is a tribute to all the great effort put forth by our employees and the work of our local foresters.â€?
Biomass and the US EPA Under Trump BY BOB CLEAVES
In a few weeks, the past two years of election gamesmanship will end with the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Since Election Day, the media and Washington insiders have been placing their bets on what the coming Trump administration will look like, and the policies it will implement, along with the Republican-controlled House and Senate. While much about the coming administration remains unknown, Trump’s nominee for the U.S. EPA, Scott Pruitt, may shed light on where federal biomass policy is headed. Pruitt, currently serving as the attorney general for Oklahoma, is a vocal opponent of federal regulatory power. A climate change skeptic, he joined a lawsuit by Republican state attorneys general to overturn the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and joined a separate lawsuit to overturn EPA regulations to limit methane from the oil and gas sector. After taking office in 2010, Pruitt established a Federalism Unit to “more effectively combat unwarranted regulation and systematic overreach by federal agencies, boards and offices.” Based on his past actions and stated preference for stronger state power, it seems likely that Pruitt, if confirmed by the Senate as EPA administrator, will weaken the agency’s federal authority by strengthening state authority to regulate on environmental issues. So how would that affect biomass? Interestingly, despite plenty of media and expert analysis lamenting the new direction that Pruitt will likely take in environmental regulation, a federalist approach to biomass doesn’t diverge too far from the agency’s current approach. While the Clean Power Plan is unlikely to move forward, the plan very much left up to the states, including whether and how to include biomass in state implementation plans to reduce carbon emissions. The agency just released in December a final version of the draft model rule, which would have gone into effect for states that did not submit an implementation plan. The model rule again—and, somewhat confusingly—reiterated that the incorporation of biomass would be left up to the states. Given a likely growing state authority on environmental regulation, we are cautiously optimistic for stronger support
for biomass power. On the state and local levels, the nonpower benefits of biomass power become even more pronounced than they often are by looking at the full national power supply. Because of the current state of the power market, with fossil fuels like natural gas costing a fraction of wood fuels, we are seeing what happens when a state faces a potential reduction of power from biomass. In 2016, California and Maine both passed measures to keep biomass power facilities online. California’s tree mortality crisis—with 100 million dead trees on federal, private and state lands—caused many in the state, including some unexpected biomass supporters, to acknowledge the crucial role of biomass in taking on hazardous fuels. In Maine, legislators realized the importance in the wood product supply chain of biomass, which accounts for as much as a third of the livelihood of some loggers. Many other states have implemented highly-supportive biomass power policies. Oregon has declared biomass carbon neutral. Every state with a renewable portfolio standard—some 37 states plus Washington, D.C.—recognizes the role of biomass. Minnesota, South Carolina and New Hampshire were all leaders in building models for the inclusion of biomass in their state implementation plans for the Clean Power Plan. A decentralized EPA may be a change for some, but the biomass industry is well prepared to face these changes. As an Oklahoma state senator, EPA Administrator nominee Administrator-nominee Scott Pruitt sponsored a successful resolution supporting the development and promotion of “alternative energy” sources, including biomass. If the Senate confirms his nomination, we expect that his EPA won’t have any problems with continued state support for biomass. Author: Bob Cleaves President, Biomass Power Association email@example.com www.biomasspowerassociation.com
JANUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 11
Big Data PAYS BIG Condition monitoring advantages biomass power producers by reducing critical equipment failure while maximizing uptime and profits. BY KATIE FLETCHER
o matter the end product, process economies are critical to stay competitive, and, therefore, so is attaining cost-effective plant maintenance. Condition monitoring (CM) plays a vital role in predictive maintenance by allowing a producer to actively prevent breakdowns and optimize production processes. CM is typically seen as a specific equipment-based predictive maintenance tool—vibrations analysis of a boiler fan motor, for example—but there is also operations-based CM, which can be used to determine the overall health of the system. “We monitor individual components of the plant, and then we look at many of them together to monitor the entire process of the plant, to see trends in the plant and what’s happening with the overall machine,” says Kendric Wait, a representative of biomass power generation company Eagle Valley Clean Energy. Power producers invest in ways to identify and eliminate potential reliability issues throughout a plant’s operations—from the initial delivery of raw material to the renewable power sent to the grid. “Anywhere you don’t have redundancy of a single supply line in the process is a critical point,” Wait says. Eagle Valley’s 11.5-MW plant in Gypsum, Colorado, has a few redundant systems, but the bulk of the plant is a single supply line. Any single component that fails could easily interrupt the entire process and whether it’s a $5,000 gearbox or a very expensive turbine, it’s all critical to the process, Wait emphasizes. Although producers acknowledge best practices haven’t necessarily been established, biomass power plants throughout North America are taking similar approaches when it comes to predictive maintenance. No matter
12 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2017
the age, size or sophistication of a plant, there are key process components every producer should monitor to some degree.
Basic human senses compliment technology-based data acquisition efforts. Biomass plants, such as Eagle Valley, utilize plant staff as one way of monitoring, with regular walkthroughs of the plant—looking, hearing, smelling, striving to identify any problems that may arise. It’s the interaction between humans and machines through user interface technology where biomass plant processes are recorded and stored. Software packages developed for CM purposes can be individualized to track and trend what’s desired, and there are a number of platforms available for users to understand, diagnose and control process conditions in real time. Usually, producers follow a combination of engineering guidelines, OEM recommendations and what works best based on experience when it comes to predictive maintenance. A computerized distributed control system is used at the power plant serving the University of Iowa. The plant also uses a data historian called PI that stores historical operating data. “This is very useful for event root cause analysis, troubleshooting and operations monitoring,” says Ben Anderson, power plant manager. Atlantic Power Corp.’s biomass power plants deploy a real-time enterprise data historian called eDNA, which collects, archives, displays, analyzes and reports on continuously streaming time-series data. “We can develop tools within eDNA to help monitor plant efficiencies and optimize various parameters, so that we know what our optimal performance is, and then we adjust our operation to meet that,”
says Sean Gillespie, general manager with Atlantic Power. “We monitor both short-term and long-term trends to evaluate the impact of our changes on plant output and emissions, and are constantly fine-tuning operations to meet production and environmental targets with the least amount of wood burnt possible.” Atlantic Power owns four biomass power plants—two in the U.S., and two in Canada. The past three years, Gillespie says, all the biomass plant managers and some of their teams have gathered with key support staff and members of engineering, environmental, and health and safety teams at a biomass summit. “We’ll have two- to three-day meetings where we’ll share best practices between sites, share challenges, identify opportunities, and look for guidance from our peers on what we can do to address problems and optimize plant performance,” Gillespie says. “We also make sure that we do a review and reconciliation of our preventative maintenance plans, so that we’re not doing too much maintenance at any one site, but we’re making sure all the required mainte-
ENERGY CONTROL CENTER: The University of Iowa’s biomass cofired power plant has 24/7 coverage from four shifts of four operators. The plant also has an operations day staff and engineering staff, who help review big picture data to determine trends. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
nance is done consistently between assets and in compliance with all required regulatory requirements.” Another biomass power producer with years of operational experience is Minnesotabased Great River Energy’s Elk River Energy Recovery Station. This retrofitted waste-to-energy plant converts up to 1,050 tons of refusederived fuel per day into as much as 30 MW of energy. The plant deploys Emerson’s 1500DST DeltaV system to monitor and control the plant, consisting of three boilers, three turbines, fuel handling and baghouse. Mark Holt, senior engineer, says a bulk of the monitoring they do is tied into that system. As an engineering and technology company, Emerson offers a number of equipment condition monitoring including online vibration monitoring, motor diagnostics, infrared thermography, laser alignment and balancing and oil analysis. Eagle Valley’s biomass plant in Colorado is fairly new, commissioned in 2012, and just recently restarted operations in February, due to a fire that put the plant out of commission in
late 2014. In this day and age, Wait says, when smaller plants are built under full EPC contracts, it makes sense to rely upon the engineering staff ’s monitoring recommendations. The primary system deployed at Wait’s plant was developed by Wellons. “Equipment might be slightly newer, different than your operational staff ’s experience,” Wait adds. “I think in a new plant today, the monitoring systems typically outpace the experience of the operating personnel.”
Track and Trend
Since CM is based on trending, it requires that baseline conditions be defined so there is a reference point for comparing and interpreting the obtained data. Overall, plant processes should stay within a standard deviation, and if a change occurs in the trend, it should be linked to some process or mechanical variable. “Almost all of the parameters that are monitored electronically have some sort of expected range of operation, and if the parameter goes outside
of that range, the computer system will signal an alarm,” Wait says. He shares that his staff takes the time to understand why there was an alarm, what the parameter values are, and then troubleshoots the issue. Holt adds that, in addition to alarms, certain components are designed to shut down or trip to prevent further damage to the equipment if something goes awry. According to Holt, plant monitoring is all about creating a better user interface to understand what the alarms and numbers mean, so it can be easily interpreted and used to make improvements. According to Justin Price, principal with Evergreen Engineering, the real trick is knowing what to measure, how it’s trended and how you’re going to use that data. “If you’re measuring the wrong thing, then you might be going after the wrong key performance indicators (KPIs),” he says. The staff running UI’s power plant measure several KPIs associated with safety, maintenance costs, operational efficiencies, the percentage of renewable energy and more. One
JANUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 13
¦POWER example is boiler efficiency monitoring. “We look for any significant changes based on a simple calculation of total fuel into the boiler (measured from a mix of meters in the plant) and steam out of the boiler (measured with steam flow meters),” Anderson says. “This gives us a baseline, and can help identify if a fuel has lower-than-expected Btu per pound, or if there are other issues within the boiler. This is especially useful for fuel transitions, say from woodchips to energy pellets.” Around 15 to 20 percent of biomass materials, including oat hulls, woodchips and pelletized miscanthus, are cofired with coal at the plant. The UI staff calculates the percentage of renewable energy generated by monitoring the total amount of million Btu from renewable sources and comparing that to the campus’s total energy usage (including purchased power). This percentage and why it’s higher or lower, as well as operating plans, are communicated at morning kickoff meetings, Anderson shares. Variations could be attributed to a number of factors—like truck unload issues, plugged systems, etc., he says, but the ultimate goal is to understand how the operating plan affects the percentage of renewable generation, and have everyone aware that their actions can help with achieving the targets.
Most biomass plants collect fuel from a variety of suppliers. Since UI introduces a few different types of biomass into its plant, the added variability leaves opportunity for issues to arise. “I think the power plant has done a nice job of more closely monitoring our systems, as we’re changing out fuels or increasing fuels, so we have enough data to go back and say introducing this fuel at this percentage might have caused this issue in the handling system or might have caused this spike in NOx emissions,” says Ingrid Anderson, UI environmental compliance specialist. Gillespie recalls the wet spring in Georgia around Atlantic Power’s Piedmont plant— when wet, biomass fuel can wreak havoc on efficiencies. “It’s important to carefully monitor moisture content to the fuel coming in, and then you adjust your operating parameters to mitigate the risk of NOx exceedances or poor performance,” he says. “Moisture content is evaluated once or more per shift, and then we have fuel managers at all of our sites whose job it is to go out and procure the best quality fuel possible.” Eagle Valley is the only utility-scale biomass power plant in the state of Colorado, so the facility developed its own biomass fuel market. “You get what’s available, or what suppliers are offering—whether it’s a certain species or cer-
tain kind of beetle-kill wood,” Wait says. Fuel is secured from a dozen different locations for the plant, and the staff also monitors the fuel yard multiple times a day, both through computer monitoring and visual inspections. Monitoring air emissions is also important at biomass power plants. UI just received a plantwide applicability limit (PAL) permit, which establishes a facility-wide cap on emissions for several different pollutants across campus. Ingrid says this gives them a lot of flexibility operationally, but the tradeoff is they do more emissions monitoring by keeping track of monthly data on all sources to comply with the permit. The Elk River Energy Recovery Station has monitors installed on the high-speed AVP Anhydro rotary atomizers in the exhaust gas scrubbers, which are commonly used in power plant scrubbers to reduce airborne pollutants before they reach the baghouse. Emerson worked with the plant to implement what’s called the CSI 9420 Machinery Health Transmitter for predictive monitoring of these atomizers. Various parameters are measured on the instruments mounted on the atomizers at the energy recovery station, including overall vibration velocity, maximum waveform and speed.
POWER¦ Monitoring Evolution
CM programs for a biomass plant’s rotating equipment can include those supplied by the vendor. For example, Eagle Valley’s turbine condition monitoring system from Siemens, as part of its purchase order, monitors performance and around 50 to 60 operational parameters on the turbine itself, according to Wait. “We monitor those constantly and record trends daily to have a daily snapshot on turbine performance,” he says. “The plant operator who’s on shift is monitoring and Siemens is monitoring, and then Siemens will come in on a regular basis and evaluate various components in the plant and on the turbine itself and give us a recommendation.” According to Wait, Siemens suggests if they’re doing real-time monitoring and maintenance of the equipment, turbine equipment life on its major rebuild interval can extend to double what it would be if not monitoring. “I think that’s a good indication that your maintenance costs can be roughly cut in half with in-depth monitoring,” Wait says. UI uses GE’s Bently Nevada vibration monitoring system on its turbine generators, vibration analysis and oil analysis on rotating equipment, and thermography on electrical equipment.
Automation has become the industry standard for modern plants. According to Wait, Eagle Valley paid for an automated plant, but unfortunately didn’t get automation in a number of areas their contract requires. The company expected and needs automation because it only employs 13 people. “We don’t have the plant staff to walk around and see things and measure temperatures locally, as you might have in an old plant that may not have those automated monitoring systems,” Wait says. Aging plants make upgrades when possible. “We just installed a new continuous emissions monitoring system for our environmental emissions,” Ingrid Anderson says of UI’s power plant. “There are still some systems we use that are less automated, so the plant has been looking at what opportunities there are for upgrading.” Minnesota’s Elk River Energy Recovery Station was retrofitted in 1989, but the power plant began commercial operation with coal and oil dating back to 1950. Over the years, they’ve updated much of the instrumentation for monitoring. Holt says at the plant they conduct mostly in-house condition monitoring, but in some cases, such as for vibration monitoring for their fans and turbines, they have
third-party contractors who come in on a periodic basis and do a vibration route. Virtually, every component and process at a biomass power facility can be monitored to some degree, but the key is what will help a producer meet targets and improve the plant’s bottom line. Whether being used as an equipment-specific predictive maintenance tool, or, generally, to improve a plant’s overall operations, CM can save a biomass power producer time and money by circumventing unscheduled downtime. UI power plant staff has used fan vibrations data and bearing temperatures to determine if and when repairs would be needed to rotating equipment. “This specifically has saved us a few times on the secondary air fan motor for the circulating fluidized-bed boiler,” Ben Anderson says. “We were able to shut down prior to a catastrophic failure.” At Great River Energy’s WTE facility, Holt adds, “The condition monitoring we do to monitor the fuel conveyer system gives us the ability to shut down the system before a failure happens.” Author: Katie Fletcher Associate Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4920 firstname.lastname@example.org
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PROTECTING THE WORLD’S PROCESSES AGAINST EXPLOSION
Grant supports Kentucky pellet project
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A proposed 75,000-ton-per-year pellet project in Harlan County, Kentucky, is expected to benefit from a $2.52 million grant. The funds will be used to leverage an additional $10.5 million in private investment from Harlan Wood products LLC. The project is to be located at a previously reclaimed abandoned mine lands site in Yancey, Kentucky. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin recently announced that the Harlan County Industrial Development Authority Inc. received preliminary approval from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement for the grant. While Harlan Wood Products will provide the investment to purchase and install
the equipment used in the manufacturing process, the Harlan County Industrial Development Authority will use the $2.52 million to insure that the site has the necessary water, natural gas and electric, foundation work and shell facility to house the equipment and access road upgrades. Pellets produced at the facility are expected to be exported to Europe, primarily Italy and Denmark, for sale into the residential and commercial markets. Feedstock for the plant is expected to consist of cull timber and branches greater than 4 inches in diameter that remain from area logging operations, as well as sawdust from nearby wood processing facilities.
Colombo Energy achieves qualification under Pellet Fuels Institute Standards Program Greenwood, South Carolina-based Colombo Energy has qualified under the Pellet Fuel Instituteâ€™s Standards Program, a thirdparty accreditation program providing specifications for residential and commercial-grade pellet fuel. To date, 17 pellet manufacturing companies have qualified under the standards program, with a combined 29 pellet production facilities. â€œIt is now becoming more likely than not that a pellet fuels customer is purchas-
ing pellets from a qualified producer,â€? said Chris Amey, chairman of the PFI board of directors. â€œThe Quality Mark on the bag lets a consumer know that they are purchasing fuel from an independently evaluated pellet producer. If youâ€™re not sure, ask your retailer about how to identify the Quality Mark on pellet bags. We welcome Colombo Energy into the PFI Standards Program and look forward to many more PFI Standards Program members.â€?
Lean Manufacturing, Wood Supply Chain Optimization BY STAN PARTON
Lean manufacturing, a management philosophy for minimizing manufacturing costs through waste and inefficiency elimination and quality improvement, focuses on—as is often said—making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. One of the foundations of lean manufacturing is the Japanese concept of kaizen, meaning to strive for continuous, daily improvement. Continuous improvement is a wide-ranging concept that requires meticulous attention to detail and nimble operating procedures to be sustainable. For the wood pellet and the larger bioenergy industry, which is diverse and susceptible to the effects of myriad market variables, lean manufacturing can bring tangible value to the supply chain and increase profits.
Opportunities for Improvement
The wood fiber supply chain involves much more than moving raw materials from point A to point B; it is a complex system that is constantly affected by a number of variables between point A and point B. While no silver bullet for eliminating unforeseen challenges along the way exists—from waste to inefficiencies to unnecessary costs—wood pellet manufacturers can take steps to optimize their feedstock supply chains, reduce costs and mitigate risks. Quality data, like the actual transaction data collected from scale tickets at wood-consuming manufacturing facilities by Forest2Market, is what elevates a kaizen-driven strategy from mediocrity. Improvement cycles must begin with a concrete process, and such a process must begin by using high-quality data (Garbage in, garbage out applies here: Incorrect or low-quality input will always produce flawed or contradictory output). Without access to reliable data at the outset of an optimization project, attempts at process improvements will be inadequate, and the solutions will result in diminishing returns.
Supply Chain Optimization
At a high level, the Kaizen process seeks to convert data into intelligence, intelligence into action, and action into advantage. The methodology for optimizing the wood fiber supply chain begins by analyzing and defining a wood-consuming business’s goals. Once this determination has been made, the process should follow a path towards improvement: 1) identify market position and set goals; 2) uncover inefficiencies, issues and their root causes; 3) develop and implement strategic solutions; 4) measure the results; 5) repeat the process. It should be noted that, just as kaizen represents the continuous practice of improvement, a supply chain optimization process like the one Forest2Market uses is designed to be both flexible and cyclical as well. Its nimbleness allows for the analysis of any num-
ber of custom criteria including geography, species type, facility type and facility consumption, just to name a few. In step one of the process, relying on accurate, reliable transaction data—down to the penny, in fact—should be the basis for identifying a true market position. Once this position is known, the bioenergy or biomass facility can then move through the improvement process with confidence. Step two takes the analysis even further, by breaking out individual components such as freight costs, fiber costs and total overhead and comparing them to the market. From this vantage point, the process will begin to uncover true problem areas and inefficiencies within the supply chain. Step three provides the framework for implementing a set of solutions for the problem areas—strategies for sifting out systemic noise—including developing the evaluation criteria for measuring success. Step four measures the results of improvements made. In this final phase of the process, it is simply a matter of interpreting the results and gauging the success of the supply chain optimization cycle. One optimization tool that we frequently use to help our subscribers reduce their costs is a cost curve. In one instance, a client cost curve showed the effect of a single high-cost supplier on the procurement costs of a wood-consuming mill. This supplier delivered 21,600 tons of wood to this mill annually. Once these loads were identified in the data as coming from a single supplier, the mill could then renegotiate the contract. By renegotiating that contract using a Forest2Market index to identify the current market average price, the mill saved more than $100,000. Wood pellet manufacturers that leverage the principles of lean manufacturing to optimize their feedstock supply chains are inherently advantaged within the market. These organizations remain agile and are able to quickly adapt to changing market dynamics because they are constantly setting goals, analyzing performance and measuring results. The proper set of tools can help organizations using wood raw materials to implement a similar process of improvement— one that is customizable to each business and uniquely designed for the forest products industry. With superior data and a precise set of tools, reducing procurement system noise and optimizing the supply chain becomes a manageable and measurable task. Author: Stan Parton Bioenergy Practice Manager, Forest2Market email@example.com 704-540-1440
JANUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 17
THE INDUSTRY WORKHORSE: Roller assemblies consist of a roll pin, two roller bearings and roller shell. Prolonging the lifespan of each of these components must be the focus of a sound operations and maintenance (O&M) program. PHOTO: ANDRITZ
BEARING DOWN Producers seeking to drive down overall operating expenses must find ways to prolong roller and roller bearing life. BY TIM PORTZ
18 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2017
elletizing woody biomass is hard on equipment. This reality is widely accepted by pellet producers, pellet press manufacturers and lubricant providers. The friction and heat generated inside an operating pellet press begin wearing down dies, roller shells, roller bearings and roll pins almost immediately. While the average lifespan of these wear parts varies from plant to plant, their replacement and refurbishment represent a significant portion of producer operations and maintenance (O&M) budgets across the industry. A roller assembly is made up of a number of parts, including a roller shell, a roll pin, a number of seals and O-rings and roller bearings. One roller assembly has two bearings, each with a price tag of nearly $500. With two, and sometimes three roller assemblies in each press, producers have thousands of dollars’ worth of bearings installed in each press. “Roll bearings are the single biggest issue in any pellet plant,” says Jase Locke, an aftermarket account manager at Andritz. “Everyone who has a pellet press is trying to figure out how to prolong that roll bearing life.” Roller bearings, Locke explains, enable the roller shell to turn around the roll pin. The friction generated at the intersection of the pellet die and the roller shell is transferred to the bearing, protecting even more expensive components like the roll pin from early failure. As the industry matures and grows, best practices for prolonging the lifetime of these wear parts have begun to emerge, and producers are putting a number of different approaches to work, calling upon press manufacturers and other players for more. “What we are seeing today in the industry are these new, larger mills popping up, and you might have a plant manager or a maintenance manager with some experience, but the actual operators—the folks doing the work—are all green, they’re fresh, they’re new,” says Travis Fetzer, an aftermarket coordinator for Andritz. “They don’t recognize the sounds of a pellet press that isn’t running properly.” While new facilities may not have the tenure that established facilities have, they do know the financial impact of premature failure of these expensive components, and they are increasingly looking to press manufacturers and lubricant providers for ideas.
Holger Streetz, international operations manager for Bathan AG, a Swiss manufacturer of lubricants, suggests that producers involve more than just their pellet press OEMs in efforts to drive down operating expenses of these assets. “I think everyone is beginning to cook their own meals,” Streetz says. “I do think that producers are trying to improve their own maintenance processes and bring more of their roll maintenance in house.” The lubricants offered by Bathan AG include tiny ceramic particles, and initial results are incredibly promising. Streetz points to one of Bathan AG’s first pellet customers, a producer in Switzerland, as proof of the product’s potential. “Our Swiss customer is achieving 10,000 hours of use out of a set of bearings,” Streetz says. “That’s 10 times what you would normally expect from a bearing. This is our best case scenario.” Whether or not producers are ready to invest in the type of highly specialized lubricants offered by Bathan AG, attention to lubrication programs is vitally important to their maintenance program. “You need to follow your OEM guidelines, whatever they prescribe in their manual, for the amount and types of grease to use,” Fetzer explains. “Giving a bearing too much grease is just as bad as giving a bearing, not enough grease. It is very important to follow the guidelines.” Attention to lubricants is aimed at protecting components from early failure, most notably the roll pin. Fetzer explains that almost half of the cost of a new roller assembly is in the pin. The case-hardened steel and precision machining that are required to manufacture the pin make it an expensive item to replace. After the pin, producers should focus on bearings. Roller shell wear is an inevitability. Producers should strive to protect those roll pins and achieve the upper range of expected bearing life. “If you are just replacing the shell and your bearings are all okay, you’re really only looking at about 20 percent of the cost of a new assembly,” Fetzer says. “It’s a significant cost savings.”
Fetzer identifies two innovations he sees gaining traction with producers—one of them already well-deployed, and the other is on the horizon. The first is auto-roll adjust. Auto-roll adjust takes the guess work and manual adjustment of the distance between the roller and the die out of the hands of the producer. This prevents the roll from being set too close to the die, unnecessarily increasing the load on roller assembly. Fetzer says that this technology is widely deployed across Europe, and he expects it to gain traction with North American producers soon. “The next step is putting sensors into rolls,” Fetzer says. For now, pellet producers must rely on manual, walk-by inspections of pellet presses to gauge how the machine is running. In some ways, much of the diagnostic work is guesswork. Precise data about the temperature inside an operating press, or the speed at which a roller is turning, is currently unknown to producers. Roll assemblies with built-in sensors would be a game-changer. “If you can detect that a roll is beginning to
slip or turn at an improper speed, or if you can sense that the bearings are starting to get overheated, a potential failure, you can stop the machine, pull it out and avoid that catastrophic failure,” Fetzer says. The moment a pellet press is brought online, the components that make it operate begin to wear. Their replacement costs producers not only money, but perhaps more importantly, precious operational time. “When your pellet press is offline because you are performing maintenance on a roller bearing, you aren’t making pellets,” Streetz says. The point is easy enough to understand, but stakeholders agree there is tremendous opportunity across the industry to prolong wear-part life, drive replacement and refurbishment costs to the bottom line, and, most importantly, keep those presses up and making saleable product. Author: Tim Portz Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org 701-738-4969
As the industry surges forward with new demand from European and Asian power producers, interest in reducing the operating expense of pellet presses is at an all-time high. JANUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 19
ThermalNews Study analyzes GHG impact of pellet heating The Northern Forest Center recently released a study that analyzed the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission impacts of heating buildings with state-of-the-art wood pellet boilers. According to the study, on day one, using wood pellets for heat in the Northern Forest reduces GHG emissions by more than 50 percent compared to oil and natural gas. At the 50-year mark, GHG emissions from pellets drops to 62 percent less than oil, 67 percent less than natural gas and
GHG emission data
Grams of CO2 56 percent less than propane. The study per kWh found heating with oil produces 357 grams Wood pellets 135 of GHG per kilowatt-hour (kWh) with no Propane 304 reduction over time, whereas heating with 357 pellets produces 165 grams per kWh initially Heating oil 403 and drops to 135 grams per kWh by year 50. Natural gas * Figures for propane and natural gas include accounting for â€œNow we can say unequivocally that distibution loss and associated methane release. heating with high-efficiency wood pel- SOURCE: NORTHERN FOREST CENTER let boilers in the Northern Forest reduces greenhouse gas and helps us fight climate cal, renewable wood pellets to heat, weâ€™re change,â€? said Rob Riley, president of the reducing greenhouse gases emissions and Northern Forest Center. â€œWhen we use lo- supporting our regionâ€™s forest economy.â€?
Wood, pellet stove change-out program benefits Vermont residents A new wood and pellet stove changeout program recently launched in Vermont. The program aims to help residents update existing systems with cleaner, more efficient models. Owners of old stoves that are not U.S. EPA certifiedâ€”generally manufactured pri-
or to 1988â€”may qualify for up to $1,500 of the price of a new stove. Those participating in the program must purchase the appliance from a participating stove retailer. For pellet or cord wood stoves emitting 1.5 grams of particulate per hour or less, a $1,500 incentive is available, and $1,000 for
2 grams per hour or less. Cord wood stoves at 2.5 grams of particulate per hour or less qualify for a $750 rebate, and $500 for those at 3 grams per hour or less.
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Wood is Great: The Elevator Pitch BY DAVE MANCE III
The world can often seem too complicated for its own good. It’s a big reason some people, such as I, live in a rural place, where things are simpler to some degree. Through this lens, I sort of hate having to write columns periodically on why burning wood for heat is good, because of course it’s good. We all know this. I don’t have to tell you that cutting your own firewood, or buying a load of logs from the local logger, or a pallet of pellets that were produced in the same region, and using that fuel to keep your family warm is a million times better than buying an imported fossil fuel product. You already know that the new wood chip boiler in your local public school has saved the taxpayers in your region hundreds of thousands of dollars. But unfortunately, just knowing it is not enough. People like you and me need to champion wood, lest we lose the culture and the infrastructure that has built up around its use. And if we’re going to be good advocates, we need to hone our elevator pitches on why it’s a superior fuel. I’m a sucker for a long, meditative essay on the soulfulness of work and fire as much as the next rural geek, but much of the world has no time for meditative essays. People want things quantified and scientized, and there are plenty of misguided environmental activists and PR people from the fossil fuel industry who are filling the numbers vacuum with fuzzy math. In light of all this, I was happy to read this new study on greenhouse gas emissions and state-of-the-art wood pellet boilers. The report was commissioned by the Northern Forest Center and conducted by The Spatial Informatics Group-Natural Assets Laboratory us-
ing data specific to the region’s forest composition and harvest practices, and the pellet sourcing and manufacturing of nine northern forest pellet mills. You can read the detailed methodology here. Here’s the elevator pitch: On day one, using wood pellets for heat reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 54 percent compared to oil and 59 percent to natural gas. After 50 years, greenhouse gas emissions from pellets drop to 62 percent less than oil, 67 percent less than natural gas, and 56 percent less than propane. Here’s one more for you from the Northern Forest Center website that’s handy to have in your back pocket: Every dollar we spend on regionally produced wood pellets stays in the northern forest economy, creating jobs in forestry, logging, pellet manufacturing, and trucking. In contrast, 78 cents of every dollar we spend on imported fossil fuel (currently $6 billion annually) leaves the region; much of it leaves the country. Know a Hillary supporter who’s extra motivated these days to do something to fight climate change? They could instantly cut their greenhouse gas emissions in half by switching from oil to wood pellet heat. Know a Trump supporter who’s into creating jobs and skeptical that climate change is even a problem? Remind them that only 20 cents of every dollar spent on oil benefits the economy in the Northeast, while one hundred percent of every dollar spent on wood heat helps make the rural Northeast great again. Author: Dave Mance III Editor, Northern Woodlands 802-439-6292 www.northernwoodlands.org
JANUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 21
HOMEGROWN FUEL: North Country School keeps its facilities warm utilizing biomass harvested from its own woodlots. PHOTO: NORTH COUNTRY SCHOOLS
NORTH COUNTRY KNOWHOW Acclimated to the brutal winter conditions in its Adirondack Mountain location, a New York boarding school is mastering its heating fuel logistics. BY ANNA SIMET
estled in the High Peaks Region of the 6 million-acre Adirondack Park near Lake Placid, New York, North Country School is home to around 75 students from all over the world during the school year, and also hosts a summer boarding camp. At 220 feet in the Adirondacks, winters are long, cold and snowy, but as luck would have it, the school is surrounded by the very fuel it uses to keep its residents warm. Not only that, but it owns and manages its own woodlot, drastically cutting fuel purchasing and transportation costs. John Culpepper has worn many different hats at the school over the years, and as the director of facilities and sustainability, a title he has held the past 12 years, he is now responsible for running the energy plant. Over a decade ago, he began looking at replacements for the facility’s 12 No. 2 fuel oil burners, and biomass ultimately won out. “Given that we have a large campus with lots of timber, and 22 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2017
lots of contiguous land that we manage, going that direction made a lot of sense,” he said. Being a nonprofit organization running on very thin margins, the ability to be able to accurately predict fuel costs is a tremendous benefit, according to Culpepper. The first system installed at the school— construction of which began in 1938—included two cordwood gasifiers manufactured by Garn and Econoburn, and was fired up about eight years ago. It was followed by a 1.4 MMBtu-per-hour, Advanced Climate Technologies centralized wood chip and pellet boiler, an initiative largely funded by a $250,000 NYSERDA and Recovery Act grant, and installed by Sunwood Biomass. “That boiler heats all of our old school building and domestic water,” Culpepper says. “It’s a rambling, 32,000 square-foot building, and poorly insulated.” The cordwood gasifiers consume 40 cords of wood per year, and the chip/pellet boiler consumes an additional 100 cords, all of
which is sourced from the school’s campus, as well as 100 tons of pellets per heating season, fuel that is purchased from and delivered by pellet manufacturer Curran Renewables near Massena, New York. And, pellet stoves are used to heat a couple additional buildings. Soon, Culpepper says, the last of the 12 oil burners will be replaced with an Evoworld pellet and chip boiler, with the help of a New York State and Northern Forest Center grant. The ultimate goal is to source 100 percent of the school’s fuel from its own woodlot, and Culpepper says things are headed in that direction, due in part to the unique fuel prep system he’s been able to work out.
Unique Fuel Prep
Culpepper has tried many different methods of cutting and preparing fuel from the school’s wood lot. “Currently, I hire someone locally, and they cut log links—about 40 cords—and they skid the logs up to a landing,”
THERMAL¦ he says. “My staff then cuts the wood into 28inch sections, splits it, and stacks it in a big firewood barn. Once it’s dry, and it takes about six to eight months, it’s moved down to the two residences that burn that cordwood.” Culpepper has been using both pellets and chips in the ACT boiler since it came online, but has been experimenting with increasing chip usage, which is mainly hinged on the method of preparing them for the system, and their availability without interruption. Through trial and error, he’s adopted an unconventional method that, at least for now, is penciling out nicely. “The past couple of years, I’ve hired a local guy to cut small-diameter trees, with 3- to 6-inch diameter stems, and cut them 12 feet long,” he explains. “He then piles them into large windrows, and in 6 to 8 months they are dry enough so we can run them through a chipper and burn them that way. It’s relatively unique, and I don’t know of anyone else doing this.” Though it remains experimental, Culpepper has invested in a large chip storage facility—12 feet wide, by 11 feet high, by about 40 feet long—that has been completely filled with chips, an accompaniment to the existing 20-ton silo that sits outside of the ACT plant. This winter, the plan is to increase the use of chips in the ACT boiler. Right now, the ratio is at about 50-50. “The big plant is down right now [Nov. 21], as we’re replacing the burn rings in the plant, but when it comes back online, I hope to be using 100 percent chips. If you can maintain temperature with chips, we’ll continue doing that, unless we get to a point where we’re not able to, or we can’t load it fast enough.” Culpepper says he initially predicted it wouldn’t be economically viable to cut and prepare these small-diameter stems, but he’s happy to admit that, so far, he was wrong. “There’s a lot of work involved, but we’re able to do it with small-scale equipment—just one person with a small tractor and a log loader, so the investment up front is not a lot. So far, based on the limited data that I have, it is [economically viable].” Besides the 220 acres of land the school owns and manages, it manages another 130 acres nearby, land owned by a neighbor who took an interest in what the school was doing. “They asked us to thin their land, create trails, and do a lot of thinning for the past few years,” Culpepper says, adding that the reach-in rate is such that no replanting is needed. “We have done lots of baseline studies to determine what sustainable harvest is, here on this campus,” he says. “We have good information, and we’ve been doing this long enough so that we’re confident that we’re not taking more stems than what are naturally regenerating. In
PITCHING IN: Students play an active role in helping collect and prepare the school's wood fuel, including moving and stacking poles. PHOTO: NORTH COUNTRY SCHOOL
fact, what we’re seeing in the areas where we first started doing this, is an overall improvement in the health of the forest—better spacing, better stem quality, and a higher level of diversity.” The school’s land is American Tree Farm certified, which Culpepper says has proved to be the best fit for the institution. “We have a robust forest management plan, written by a professional forester who knows our campus very well, and he is giving us really good guidance,” he says. All fuel is drawn from less than a mile from where the chip plant is, and Culpepper estimates that when and if the school is able to transition to all wood chips, it will increase its usage from around 9,000 poles per year to 11,000 to 13,000 poles, depending on the species and diameter. “It sounds like a ridiculous amount of work, but it seems to be viable,” he reiterates. Another unique aspect of the school and its fuel scenario is that many students are involved and have the opportunity to help cut and process small-diameter trees, and are frequently involved in moving cordwood from the storage barn to the residences. “They’re involved in a lot of different ways,” Culpepper says. Despite all of the benefits, there are some challenges, especially when focusing in wood chip usage. “The cordwood boilers run very, very well—never any problems with them,” Culpepper says. “Chips are more problematic—they take work, thought and real estate.” In this case, the biggest hurdle is getting the chips from the chip facility to the ACT
plant, which is about 300 meters away. “When it’s heavy snow, or raining, it’s a challenge to get dry chips from one location to another,” Culpepper says. “I’m still working that piece out, but I have thought of lots of different possible ways of doing that, from building a vault in front of the facility, where we could take our truck, dump it into the vault, and auger them into the fuel storage bin that contains a flexible auger. Currently, we’re moving chips from the barn into the facility with a Bobcat Toolcat, a skid-steer, all-wheel-drive utility vehicle with an 80-inch snow bucket on it. It can pick up quite a bit of chips, but it’s a bit of a chore, getting chips from storage into the plant. I’m working on a simpler, easier system for that.” But no matter the relatively minor challenge, it’s all well worth the effort, Culpepper says, again highlighting the ability to be able to accurately predict annual fuel expenditures and figure it into an annual budget. “Fuel oil goes up and down, all over the place. At $3 per gallon, we’re saving over $50,000 a year. At $5 per gallon, over $80,000.” And, if the school is able to use 100 percent chips, Culpepper adds, the savings and return will be even better. “We’re still collecting data, but we’ve been able to stabilize our fuel costs, we’re able to pretty closely predict what our average expenditure is going to be year to year. The savings is great, but the ability to be able to forecast is a bonus.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine email@example.com 701-738-4961
JANUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 23
BiogasNews EPA releases 2017 RFS RVOs
RFS volume requirements (million gallons) 2017
Cellulosic biofuel Biomass-based diesel Advanced biofuel Renewable fuel
Volume (billion gallons)
Volume (billion gallons)
SOURCE: U.S. EPA
On Nov. 23, the U.S. EPA released its final rule to set 2017 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), along with 2018 RVOs for biomassbased diesel. The RVO for conventional fuel has been increased to meet the 15 billion gallon congressional target for conventional fuels. Overall renewable fuel volumes grow by 1.2 billion gallons from 2016 to 2017, a 6 percent increase. Those in the biofuels industry have applauded the agency for increasing the RVOs in its final rule. Renewable compressed natural gas and renewable liquefied natural gas are eligible to meet the cellulosic volume requirements. In 2015, these biogas-based biofuels accounted for a respective 81.49 million and 58.37 million of the 142.31 million cellulosic renewable identification numbers (RINs) that were generated. During the first 10 months of 2016, biogas-based fuels also accounted for the majority of cellulosic RIN production.
Landfill gas-to-energy project breaks ground in Ohio Rumpke, a provider of waste and recycling services, is partnering with Energy Developments (EDL) to construct a 4.8-MW landfill gas-to-electric generating facility at the Brown County Landfill in Georgetown, Ohio. Power generated at the site will be supplied to American Municipal Power. Rumpke and EDL broke ground on the project in early November. The plant is expected to be operational by April 2017. Once complete, the facility is expected to generate enough electricity to power 3,000 homes. “Rumpke has been on the forefront of landfill gas to energy projects,” said Bill Rumpke Jr., president and CEO of Rumpke. “We started harvesting landfill gas at our site in Colerain Township in 1986 and today it remains one of the world’s largest landfill gasto-direct energy pipeline systems. The Brown County system will be our third recovery system, and we are excited to see it come online.” 24 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2017
BIOGASÂŚ California project proposes to add AD facility to landfill
A SITE UPGRADE: The Tajiguas Landfill has been selected as the site for a proposed materials recovery facility and biogas plant. PHOTO: COUNTY OF SANTA BARBARA PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
In California, the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Works, in collaboration with the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Solvang and Buellton, hopes to modify current waste management operations at the Tajiguas Landfill by adding a materials recovery facility (MRF) and dry fermentation anaerobic digestion (AD) facility. The proposed MRF would sort MSW into recyclables, organics and residue and have a design capacity of up to 800 tons per day of MSW or up to ap-
proximately 250,000 tons per year. As much as 90,000 tons per year (290 tons per day) of recyclable material would be recovered and sold for reuse. The adjacent 63,600-square-foot AD facility would be capable of processing up to 73,600 tons of material per year, made up of organics recovered from the MRF as well as other source separated organic wastes brought to the project site. The AD facility would use a dry AD process developed by the German Company BEKON.
Ameresco completes 16-MW LFGTE project in Illinois In late October, Ameresco Inc. announced the completion of a 16-MW landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) project at the Orchard Hills Generating Station near Rockford, Illinois. Ameresco contracted the Rockford LFGTE project in July 2014. The engineering,
procurement and construction contract for the project included comprehensive design, engineer-procure, permit and construction services. Ameresco is also operating the project for Hoosier Energy. According to the company, the LFGTE project is the fourth biogas-fueled project the
company is operating for Hoosier Energy. The facility turns landfill gas into electricity. It is powered by six 620 Jenbacher engines and capable of producing enough electricity to power more than 8,000 homes that use 1,200 kWh of electricity per month.
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