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January/February 2020

MOVING MOUNTAINS First U.S. Commercial-Scale Torrefaction Plant Under Construction PAGE 16

PLUS: New Pellet Capacity Trends in Canada PAGE 32

AND: Developer Drives California Biogas Gold Rush PAGE 24




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Jeff Serfass

Executive Director Biomass Thermal Energy Council

Patrick Serfass

Executive Director American Biogas Council

Bob Cleaves

President & CEO Biomass Power Association



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40 DESIGN & ENGINEERING The Dos and Don’ts of Boiler Design

ON THE COVER: Construction of Restoration Fuels, a commercial-scale torrefaction facility in John Day, Oregon, is wellunderway. The plant is colocated at Malheur Lumber Co. PHOTO: RESTORATION FUELS

07 EDITOR’S NOTE The Wide Umbrella of Bioenergy By Anna Simet



08 The RFS: Where Things Stand By Bob Cleaves

09 Carbon Capture Technologies: Biomass Industry’s Unique Opportunity By Jessie Stolark

10 The Science is Clear on Renewable Wood Energy By Brian Rogers



16 PROJECT DEVELOPMENT Shouldering Risk for Forest Restoration After nearly a decade of R&D, testing, collaboration and strategy, Restoration Fuels is under construction. By Anna Simet

24 PROFILE Gold Rush

Offering comprehensive service packages and choices for farmers, Maas Energy Works is a leader in California dairy digester development. By Ron Kotrba

32 MARKETS Northern Ambition

With intentions to increase its market share in Europe and Asia’s growing demand for wood pellets, the Canadian industry continues to expand. By Matt Merritt

There are many factors to consider and key steps to take when designing a commercial or institutional biomass heating project. By Bede Welford

44 FEEDSTOCK Siting a New Bioenergy Facility: Pitfalls and Preconditions

Siting a new project in an optimal wood basin is critical to ensuring that a sustainable, affordable wood supply is available throughout the plant’s operating life. By Stan Parton

48 SUPPLY CHAIN The Growing Importance of PKS in the Japanese Biomass Market The supply and availability of palm kernel shells, a major feedstock in Japan’s growing biomass energy market, are determined by a range of issues. By Rachael Levinson

50 MAINTENANCE & REPAIR Biomass Refractories: One Size Does Not Fit All Performing a process audit and understanding key wear mechanisms can drastically maximize refractory lining performance. By Jim Caprio and Brent Buchuski

52 TECHNOLOGY The Evolution of High-Velocity Thermal Spray

Initially used in specialized shop applications, high-velocity thermal spray is commonly used in the energy sector for critical equipment protection. By Marina Silva

54 DESIGN & ENGINEERING Reducing Conveyor Maintenance Time Through Better Access Improved conveyor access can significantly reduce maintenance time and prevent injuries. By Rick Felde

56 SPONSORED January/February Sponsor Spotlight

Featured in Biomass Magazine’s Sponsor Spotlight are Continental Blower, TerraSource Global and E=MC3. By Anna Simet

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The Wide Umbrella of Bioenergy



If a journalist chases a story long enough, they’ll probably get it. It’s just a matter of wearing down the person who keeps kicking the can down the road. That’s the case for a story I have been after for a while, and I’m thrilled it’s in our project design, engineering and construction issue. On page 16, you’ll find the feature I wrote on the first commercial-scale torrefaction plant to be built in the U.S., “Shouldering Risk for Forest Restoration.” I was thrilled to chat with Restoration Fuels CEO Matt Krumenauer and plant manager Joe Koerner about the project in John Day, Oregon, construction of which has been underway for about six months. I have been interested in the story for quite some time now, but Krumenauer and the development team wanted to wait until the project was further down the road to do an interview like this one—and that’s understandable. So often in this industry, preliminary hype ends up being for nothing. That’s not to say all failed projects are fluff—it’s very difficult to put together all the pieces of a bioenergy project puzzle. And even then, a whole new challenge begins—producing a consistent, quality and cost-efficient end product. That said, Restoration Fuels has been very transparent in everything it has been doing, just much quieter than your average developer of something totally new. The company was fortunate to have the resources to build without an end customer (yet), which relieves some pressure, allowing the team to really focus on optimizing operations and product quality, rather than churning it out and beating the clock to meet a looming customer contract. More on development and construction, Biomass Magazine freelance writer Matt Merritt’s feature, “Northern Ambition,” on page 32, discusses the steady growth of Canada’s wood pellet industry, along with strategy and drivers. Gordon Murray, Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s executive director, says there is a combination of things driving the consistent development of several new plants each year, most having an average capacity ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 metric tons. A lot of it is the desire to make use of residual products, he says. “And then they’re just looking at the opportunities in Europe and being able to fill that … companies in western Canada have their eyes on Asia. Japan is probably the most appealing market, just because of the way they do business there.” Speaking of Japan and Asia, on page 48, you’ll find a report, written by Rachael Levinson, biomass research manager at Hawkins Wright, which details palm kernel shells’ (PKS) potential and its likely role in Asian utilities’ growing appetite for wood pellets. As Levinson points out, many Japanese biomass power projects under development and operating have circulating fluidized bed boilers, which allow for some flexibility in the biomass fuels they can use. The abundant supply and relatively low cost of PKS in Southeast Asia has made it an attractive fuel to those power plants. Use of PKS does not come without challenges, however, one being some recent changes to Japan’s feed-in tariff sustainability criteria, and how PKS must be certified. Playing on the engineering angle of this month’s theme, the final story I will touch on is “Commercial and Institutional Biomass Projects: Dos and Don’ts,” by Viessmann’s Bede Wellford, whose advice is based on decades of experience. In the article, he walks readers through the development path, making recommendations and highlighting important factors to consider—everything from fuel, to sizing to hiring contractors. And, he offers an interesting twist at the end that I’ll let you discover. There’s a much more to read in this issue, and I hope you enjoy the variety of articles we’ve included. The versatility and wide umbrella of biomass fuel and technologies are some of my favorite things about the industry.


The RFS: Where Things Stand BY BOB CLEAVES

As we begin 2020, I thought an update of the Biomass Power Association’s pursuit of electric RINs, or eRINs, would be in order. Last year was big for us, and while we would prefer for this campaign to be over and electricity implemented in the RFS, we continue to make progress and gather momentum. For those unfamiliar with the eRIN program— when Congress passed an updated version of the RFS in 2007, known as RFS2, it included electricity from qualifying renewable fuels as part of the program. Just like corn ethanol displaces the use of gasoline in internal combustion engine vehicles, electricity made by biomass fuels displaces the need for coal or natural gas to power electric vehicles. It’s now well over a decade later, and the U.S. EPA still hasn’t administered the program, meaning biomass power generators still can’t earn credits for the renewable power they produce. Last February, we introduced the RFS Power Coalition, which includes BPA, American Biogas Council and Energy Recovery Council. Biomass, biogas and wasteto-energy are the three technologies that should receive credit for producing electricity for transportation from RFS-approved feedstocks. Our collective members not only are entitled to participate in the RFS, they could all use the RIN credits following a decade of energy incentives going almost exclusively to other technologies like wind and solar. Shortly after forming, the RFS Power Coalition filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the EPA’s 2019 renewable volume obligation for failing to include electricity. It has been 12 years since Congress made clear its intent to include electricity in the RFS2 law signed by former President George W. Bush. Despite so many years of opportunity, the EPA continues to fail to act.


Congress has repeatedly made its intentions clear. During the past two years, the RFS Power Coalition has worked with more than 50 members of Congress—some of them more than once—to send letters and make calls to the EPA to urge the agency to act immediately to implement eRINs. Last year’s Interior Appropriations bill included language “strongly encourag[ing]” the EPA to process the backlog of eRIN applications within 90 days of the bill becoming law. Since the EPA ignored Congress’ encouragement, this year’s Senate Interior Appropriations bill directs the EPA to act, using the word “shall” in place of strong encouragement thanks to the efforts of Maine Sen. Susan Collins. So, what can we expect in 2020? For starters, this is the year that our court case will be heard and decided. We will get the opportunity to argue our case orally in front of the D.C. Court of Appeals, with a judgment due next fall. EPA, if you’re reading this column, pick up the phone and call us. We need to talk.

Author: Bob Cleaves President, Biomass Power Association bob@usabiomass.org www.usabiomass.org

Carbon Capture Technologies: Biomass Industry’s Unique Opportunity BY JESSIE STOLARK

The biomass industry is at an interesting juncture. Spurred by interest and growing recognition of the role biomass can play in mitigating climate change, project developers and policy makers are putting biomass on the map, but perhaps under a name you are less familiar with—carbon capture. As an umbrella term, carbon capture refers to a broad suite of methods for capturing, geologically storing and utilizing carbon oxides, both carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide, to reduce emissions. The Carbon Capture Coalition is a nonpartisan coalition supporting the economywide deployment and adoption of carbon capture technologies to foster domestic energy production, create and preserve jobs, and reduce carbon emissions. Today, the consensus-based Coalition boasts 75 members, spanning the energy, biomass, industrial, labor and NGO sectors. The Coalition’s diversity is its core strength, bringing a unique voice to the federal energy and climate debate. The Coalition achieved a landmark victory with the passage of 45Q in 2018, an update to the tax code that provides incentives for projects that permanently store CO2, or utilize captured carbon for a variety of commercial products, including fuels, chemicals and building materials. 45Q is considered the most comprehensive global policy for carbon capture; however, a broad suite of policy mechanisms will be necessary to fully realize a commercial-scale carbon capture industry. Earlier this year, the Coalition released a Federal Policy Blueprint to guide our efforts in seeking widespread adoption and deployment of carbon capture and related technologies. The biomass industry has long understood the unique value that sustainably sourced biobased fuels, products and energy can provide to mitigate emissions and provide new, profitable opportunities for the agricultural sector. Recent reports from governing bodies and nongovernmental organizations worldwide have underscored the role that sustainable biomass can play in capping warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Indeed, without a wide variety of zero and negative emissions technologies, including biomass utilization, we will likely overshoot these temperature targets. Negative emissions, or carbon dioxide removal, is when more CO2 is removed from the atmosphere than emitted. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is one important strategy than can be deployed at existing ethanol refineries or bioenergy plants. BECCS and other negative emissions technologies are highlighted

in the 2018 International Governmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C as a necessary part of meeting mid-century emissions reduction goals. This scientific, consensus-based document could not have stated the important role of negative emissions more clearly: “…(A)ll pathways that limit global warming with limited or no overshoot project the use of carbon dioxide removal on the order of 100 to 1,000 gigatons CO2 over the 21st century.” For comparison, 1 gigaton is equal to the CO2 emissions of the entire passenger vehicle fleet in the U.S. each year. Since then, scientists and researchers, from the national academies to former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, have stepped up to say that negative emissions technologies, including biomass, have an important role to play in climate mitigation. The biomass industry has already begun capitalizing on these opportunities with several carbon capture projects deployed in the U.S., primarily through capturing CO2 and using it for geological storage through enhanced oil recovery. They include the Arkalon CO2 Compression Facility at the Arkalon Energy ethanol plant, and the Bonanza BioEnergy CCUS EOR project, both in Kansas. Two additional biomass CO2-to-EOR projects have been recently announced—the Oxy Low Carbon Ventures-Velocys project in Natchez, Mississippi, which will create jet fuel from waste biomass, and the Occidental Petroleum and White Energy ethanol joint venture in Texas. Outside of CO2-to-EOR, ADM’s Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture & Storage Project is geologically storing CO2 at its Decatur ethanol facility. Carbon capture presents a unique opportunity for the biomass industry. While the 100 to 1,000 gigatons of negative emissions needed annually to stabilize global temperatures will not be realized from the biomass industry alone, the industry clearly has an important role to play to help realize economywide deployment of negative emissions, as well as other carbon capture technologies that are critical to meeting mid-century climate goals.

Author: Jessie Stolark Public Policy & Member Relations Manager, Carbon Capture Coalition jstolark@carboncapturecoalition.com www.carboncapturecoalition.com


The Science is Clear on Renewable Wood Energy BY BRIAN ROGERS

“Keep all trees in the ground and stop using wood! Wood biomass is murdering forests!” These are just a few of the lines we’ve heard over the past few months from opponents of renewable wood energy and the forest products industry. Big, emotionally charged claims catch people’s attention easier than soberly reciting peer-reviewed academic articles or spreadsheets of data from government agencies. That explains the tactics we witness almost daily now from antiforestry activists taking aim at the industry. Whether it’s the Dogwood Alliance, the Partnership for Policy Integrity, the Southern Environmental Law Center, Bill McKibben’s 350. org or others, they’ve all upped the rhetorical ante. They believe that if they can be the loudest voice in the room, they can convince everybody—government regulators, elected officials, fellow environmentalists and more— that their distortions are true. But as the old saying goes, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. And over the past year, the facts have been piling up in favor of bioenergy, as international authorities and university scientists settle the debate once and for all: Renewable wood biomass energy is a key part of solving climate change. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the gold standard for climate science research—continues to embrace renewable wood energy as critical in all strategies to mitigate climate change. In August, the IPCC again doubled down on this recommendation and specifically highlighted bioenergy and sustainable forest management as critically needed in its report “Climate Change and Land.” Renewable wood bioenergy, when sustainably sourced to replace fossil fuels like coal, significantly reduces net carbon emissions while helping provide a renewable source of baseload heat and power. Recognition of the needed role bioenergy plays has also gone beyond the IPCC in recent months. First, in September, more than 100 leading university scientists signed on to a letter, published by the National Association of University Forest Resource Programs, that confirms bioenergy decreases carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels. They specifically note, “The long-term benefits of forest biomass energy are well-established in science literature.” Next, a major report from researchers at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service confirmed what bioenergy and forestry experts have been saying all along, that renewable wood energy grows forests to expand the carbon sink and reduces emissions compared to fossil fuels. The report, published in the academic journal Annual Review of Resource Economics in October, directly dispels the false claims of anti-forestry activists who argue that bioenergy production contributes to “deforestation” and releases more carbon 10 BIOMASS MAGAZINE |JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020

than coal. The report found that the wood energy industry actually strengthens forests on the ground by providing private landowners economic incentives to plant and grow more trees. The researchers examined studies of different demand scenarios for bioenergy—high and low demand—and found that when wood pellets are in high demand, thousands more square kilometers of forests are preserved. The researchers also found that the absence of demand for wood bioenergy would actually result in deforestation up to 5,791 square miles, roughly the size of Connecticut. The report analyzed a host of existing data on carbon emissions, finding that wood bioenergy produces “considerably lower” carbon emissions than coal-based electricity, with savings ranging from 77 to 99 percent. This echoes previous research from the University of Illinois, which found that wood bioenergy reduces carbon emissions compared to coal by 74 to 85 percent on a lifecycle basis. The science could not be clearer, and it’s leading to international breakthroughs in the fight to reduce emissions and displace dirty coal energy. For instance, in October, CNN profiled how Drax Power Station, once “the biggest polluter in western Europe has made a near-complete switch to renewable energy,” thanks to renewable wood energy. Just 6 percent of the power station’s energy production now comes from coal, a dramatic change in a short time frame. Drax’s rapid embrace of low-carbon bioenergy shows the promise of this technology, that it is a cost-effective means of embracing renewable energy, and that it decreases emissions and helps countries meet their carbon reduction goals in line with recommendations from the IPCC and leading scientists around the world. When extreme activist groups attack renewable wood energy, they’re not doing so on the facts. Future Forests + Jobs’ mission is to expose these groups when they rely on false claims by pushing back with the science, which is overwhelming in its conclusion that wood bioenergy is a critical tool in the fight against climate change. Thanks to the hard work of university scientists and the United Nations IPCC, the case for bioenergy has been made even stronger in 2019. The ball is now in the activists’ court. Will they accept the latest science or continue to dodge and distract from the facts? While we remain hopeful that these activists will see the light, don’t be surprised if their rhetoric gets even more extreme in 2020. Author: Brian Rogers Spokesman, Future Forests + Jobs brogers@futureforestsandjobs.com www.futureforestsandjobs.com



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PFI hosts fly-in on Capitol Hill

On Oct. 30, members of the Pellet Fuels Institute held a Washington, D.C., fly-in, meeting with selected senators, representatives and their staff. In one day, PFI members were able to meet with 16 different John Shimek, Hearth & Home Technologies; Adam Martin, Martin Sales & senators and 20 representatives. Service; Kenny Lisle, Energex Corp.; The primary objective of Joe O’Brien, Eastford Wood Fibre; the fly-in was to ask for support Sean Michanczyk Dean’s Stove and Spa; Bruce Lisle, Energex Corp.; John for provisions of the Biomass Utter, Lignietics; Billy Hoskins, Easy Thermal Utilization Act to Heat be included in an anticipated green energy tax package being developed by House Democrats. A draft of the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now Act, released in mid-November, included a tax credit for 30 percent of the installed cost of a residential wood pellet appliance.


Carbon Capture Coalition hires Stolark

The Carbon Capture Coalition announced the hiring of its first full-time staff member as the 70-plus member industry, labor and NGO coalition continues to expand its operations and increase the impact of its efforts to advance carbon capture policies and Stolark commercial deployment. Jessie Stolark will serve as the Carbon Capture Coalition’s public policy and member relations manager. Based in Washington, D.C., Stolark will support the coalition’s growing and successful national policy and legislative work. She will be responsible for policy research, member outreach, policymaker and constituency engagement, and related communications. Stolark joins the coalition from Third Way, where she has been a policy advisor managing the climate and energy program’s carbon capture and industrial decarbonization portfolio. In that role, she provided advice and counsel on carbon capture policy and served as that organization’s principal liaison to the Carbon Capture Coalition.


Previously, Stolark served as a policy associate at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. She holds a master’s degree in applied geosciences from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and environmental science from Bryn Mawr College. She currently serves on the board of the Women’s Council for Energy and Environment.

US Gain purchases digesters at 2 Wisconsin dairy farms

U.S. Gain, developer, procurer and distributor of renewable natural gas (RNG), announced the purchase of an- S&S Jerseyland Dairy erobic digesters at two Wisconsin dairy farms, S&S Jerseyland Dairy LLC and Dallmann East River Dairy LLC, to expedite RNG development for the transportation and energy markets. At both dairy farms, U.S. Gain is coordinating installation of biogas clean-up equipment to strip the impurities from the biogas

so it can be injected into the natural gas pipeline system. Next, U.S. Gain will pursue RNG certification through the U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board so it can distribute through private natural gas fueling stations, its own Gain Clean Fuel network and other nontransportation outlets.

Xebec, Asja reach construction milestone on Genoa Landfill site

Xebec Adsorption Inc., global provider of clean energy solutions, and renewable energy project developer and operator Asja Ambiente Italia SpA are in the final construction phase of a 11.2MW landfill gas to renewable natural gas plant in Genoa, Italy. Completion is scheduled for the end of 2019. Asja is a major player in international power generation using landfill gas generated at municipal solid waste landfill sites. With this project, Asja is converting its Genoa landfill site installation to produce biomethane instead of electricity. Xebec’s pressure swing adsorption system was chosen for its lower initial investment costs, low operating and maintenance costs, flexible and stable performance, combined with high durability and reliability. Expected benefits from the transition of electricity production to biomethContinued on page 14

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Continued from page 13

ane are plant efficiency improvements, reduction of emission points from five to two, less waste production, greening of the gas supply and a longer period for monetizing the biogas.

Vecoplan expands its VHZ series of wood shredders

In response to market demands, Vecoplan has designed and built the VHZ 1600, a smaller and more compact design of the VHZ series shredVecoplan’s VHZ 1600 ders. Wood processing companies can use this robust shredding solution to process chipboard, bark, cardboard, softwood, hardwood and solid wood leftovers, turning them into wood chips and material suitable for making briquettes. The patented ESC Drive is installed in the compact units. With a motor output of 55 to 90 kilowatts, this asynchronous motor, with its powerful frequency converter, is energy-efficient, inexpensive and economical in operation. Compared with competing products, it allows users to save up to 25 percent in energy, due to its improved efficiency. The belt drive features sophisticated slip-

page control plus extraneous material detection and fast reversing and restarting capabilities.

Sweet launches enclosed belt conveyor

Sweet continues its legacy of quality with the announcement of its new enclosed belt Sweet’s enclosed belt conveyor conveyor. The EBC expands on Sweet’s current offering of conveyors, which includes Flite-Veyor flat-bottom drag conveyors, Flite-Veyor round-bottom conveyors, formed channel-belt conveyors, and quick-key spool belt conveyors. The fully enclosed belt conveyor, design patent-pending, features an auxiliary belt alignment roller, idler access doors, heavyduty liners, a self-cleaning tail and built-in sensor ports. The hip roof allows snow and rain to easily slide off. Available with 24-inch to 60-inch belts, the EBC is designed for capacities up to 72,000 BPH. The conveyor features a heavy-duty, 45-degree CEMA C6 idler that is sealed for life and easy to maintain. U.S. prime G140 galvanized steel and a snub pulley are standard, and several options are available for customization.



EIA: Densified biomass fuel sales hit 900,000 tons in August

The U.S. EIA recently released data showing U.S. manufactures produced 820,000 tons of densified biomass fuel in August, with sales reaching 900,000 tons, at an average price of $168.63 per ton for domestic sales. The data was released as part of the November edition of the EIA’s Monthly Densified Biomass Fuels Report. The EIA collected data from 84 operating manufacturers that had a total production capacity of 11.91 million tons per year, and collectively had the equivalent of 2,293 full-time employees. In August, respondents purchased 1.66 million tons of raw biomass feedstock, produced 820,000 tons of densified biomass fuel and sold 900,000 tons of densified biomass fuel. Production included 195,382 tons of heating pellets and 625,896 tons of utility pellets. Domestic sales of densified biomass fuel in August reached 217,741 tons at an average price of $168.63 per ton. Exports in August reached 684,425 tons, at an average price of $173.59 per ton.

Inventories of premium/standard fell to 225,365 tons in August, down from 245,453 tons in July. Inventories of utility pellets remained relatively flat at 333,683 tons, compared to 333,181 tons in July.

HBPA supports new legislation to fund wood heater changeouts

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is strongly supporting the Wood Heaters Emissions Reduction Act of 2019. The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 11, by Peter Welch, D-Vt., with Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., as the lead Republican. An identical bill was introduced in the Senate (S. 2274) by Tom Carper, D-Del. with Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, as the lead Republican. WHERA would authorize the U.S. EPA to develop a grant program to provide local, state, and regional jurisdictions with federal funds to replace older wood-burning appliances with newer, cleaner-burning and more efficient options.

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Shouldering Risk for FOREST

Restoration Backed by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities, construction of Restoration Fuels, a commercial-scale torrefaction facility in John Day, Oregon, is well underway. BY ANNA SIMET





A triple-pass rotary drum dryer was repurposed for use as the plant’s torrefaction kiln. PHOTO: RESTORATION FUELS


IMI Industrial supplied the plant’s belt dryer and inlet hopper. The dryer can process up to 37 tons of chipped wood an hour, or up to 149,000 tons of wood per year. PHOTO: RESTORATION FUELS

n a rural county that’s four times the size of Rhode Island but home to only one stop light, it isn’t often that something incredibly exciting happens. In fact, the last significant commercial investment in the city of John Day, Oregon— considered the main economic center of Grant County with the largest population at about 1,700—was likely back in the early 1980s, when Malheur Lumber Co. was built. Ironically, that same operation has a significant role in an $18.5 million project underway—the first commercial-scale torrefaction plant in the U.S., construction of which is on track to be complete by spring.

Though development of this project has been ongoing for nearly a decade— the result of significant contributions by not only the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities, but also involvement of many private companies, research organizations, utilities, landowners and project developers—those at the forefront have believed in working quietly toward the end goal, rather than making noise and sensationalizing the first-of-its-kind project. That’s not to say Restoration Fuels hasn’t been forthcoming about everything they are doing, and hope to accomplish. “We just haven’t wanted to get too

Moisture Meters for Biomass Applications

far ahead of ourselves,” says CEO Matt Krumenauer. “Things change, projects don’t move forward. And we’ve had some delays—permitting and other things that have happened during construction. We’ve been reluctant to actively seek too much attention, set expectations too high, or get the community overly excited. At the same time, we’ve tried to be as transparent as possible.” Krumenauer has been involved in the project from its inception, which he said began as part of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities’ mission of using markets as effective tools for maintaining sustainable, working forests.

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Torrefaction kiln product collection equipment is installed PHOTO: RESTORATION FUELS

Working Forests, New Markets

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities is a nonprofit corporation established in 2006 at the request of the U.S. and Canadian governments. The organization works collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities. “We believe that markets are one of the more effective tools for maintaining sustainable, working forests,” says Krumenauer, who, besides CEO of Restoration Fuels, serves as the endowment’s vice president of spe-

cial projects. “Over the past decade, the endowment has made investments in a whole range of areas and technologies— it did some Fuels for Schools projects and some smaller district heating systems in rural communities, as well as work in gasification and biochar, traditional power generation—a whole range of things. Almost like a funnel, investing small amounts of money in many different things to see what’s viable and what we could learn. About four or five years ago, we really began to focus on torrefaction.” That was for two main reasons, according to Krumenauer. “First, the technology was at a place where it was pretty

much ready for commercialization, meaning there weren’t a lot of outstanding technological challenges that couldn’t be overcome—compared to liquid biofuels, which is just too big of a technical and financial challenge for an organization like the endowment to handle. So from a technical and financial perspective, it was an area appropriate for the endowment to dive into.” At the time, Krumenauer says, it seemed like there would be a potential growing market for it. “Especially domestically, with various types of regulations like the Clean Power Plan and states moving away from coal, and potential op-

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The warm water system for the belt dryer enables warm air to be blown on the wood chips as they move on the belted conveyor.

A new electrostatic precipitator ensures best available emissions control.



portunities for utilities to maintain some of those existing coal assets and convert them to biomass. So, what we did is put together a two-part strategy, the first part of which was to bring together the nascent industry and various research institutions and companies interested in this, and attempt to get everyone to collaborate, share information and work together on a precommercial level to see if we could accelerate commercialization and, ultimately, market adoption.” What resulted was formation of the Consortium for Advanced Wood-to-Energy Solutions, done so jointly with the USDA Forest Service. That effort was funded 50-50 by the endowment and the Forest Service. “We engaged seven different research institutions, a couple dozen different private companies including landowners and technology and project developers to identify what was needed to bring torrefaction into commercialscale production and acceptance,” Krumenauer says. “We developed a work plan that identified a series of tasks—things like life cycle assessments, safety analyses, techno-economic analyses, a utility testing program, and looking at integrating existing torrefaction technology into existing manufacturing platforms like pellet mills. That work plan was implemented over about a three-year period, and rather than research work, we really tried to focus on

how to accelerate commercialization— practical activities that may be able to take it to commercial scale.” The second part of the strategy was investment in commercial-scale facilities, taking what was learned from the consortium and applying it to prove production through quality, cost and, ultimately, enable utilities to pursue conversion to torrefied material. At that point, the plan changed and the original vision of supporting two facilities didn’t move forward. “The endowment ended up partnering with Portland General Electric, to support its biomass testing—we saw that as a very critical piece, if we wanted to see the market grow,” Krumenauer says. PGE’s 550-MW Boardman facility was built in the late 1970s, but despite its young age, Oregon’s decision to phase out coal left the utility with the decision to switch fuels or close by 2020. Other fuels and emissions control upgrades were ruled out as uneconomic, but PGE explored biomass for several years. “After many years of trying to make it happen, if PGE wasn’t able to complete a full-scale torrefied biomass test burn, that would set the industry back,” Krumenauer says. “So, we put effort into forming Oregon Torrefaction, and fairly quickly got a few different facilities producing and delivering material to the Boardman facility so


a series of tests could be done, including the 100-percent effort completed in early 2017.” In the wake of the test burn, it became known PGE wouldn’t decide about the long-term conversion of Boardman in the near future. “We regrouped after that and again looked at the mission to determine how we could continue development of markets to support forest health restoration if the Boardman plant wasn’t going to be a market,” Krumenauer says. “We did a lot of business planning and analysis, and in 2018, the board of the endowment approved to move forward with Restoration Fuels, which is a full-scale torrefaction facility integrated with the Malheur Lumber Co.” Malheur Lumber—the only remaining mill in a county that was once home to several several—nearly closed in 2012, but ironically, was able to stay on its feet and grow from a major boost in regional forest restoration efforts.

Moving into Malheur

Malheur Lumber planned to close due to shortage of timber supply from neighboring public lands, said parent company Ochoco Lumber, in August 2012. Shortly thereafter, the Malheur National Forest announced the awarding of a 10-year stewardship contract worth up to $69 million to Iron Triangle LLC of


John Day, which would secure the fiber stream the mill so desperately needed. At the time, and up until construction of Restoration Fuels, a 20,000-ton-per-year pellet mill operated on-site, sending product to many local bulk customers. Ochoco Lumber and Malheur have been involved with Restoration Fuels from the very beginning. “They have worked very closely with us to host the facility and take a risk,” Krumenauer says. “I think they have a similar vision—that if we can create a market for some of the

small-diameter material, it can make the overall economics, viability, and stability of timber sales, restoration work, and the industry all work a little bit better. We’ve been pretty lucky to have them. We essentially tried to integrate into their existing facilities, setting the torrefaction facility around and within the existing pellet mill infrastructure. They did cease wood pellet operations when construction began earlier this year, but the design is to still maintain that capability once the new system gets up and running.” Building into an existing operation has benefits, but does not come without challenges. “There have been some cost savings—there is a lot of infrastructure at existing mill sites that you don’t have to replicate, like a log yards, chipping facilities, scales and utility connections,” Krumenauer says. “But there are also some challenges in that you have to size and locate things appropriately, and when integrating a new operation or product line within an existing one, there are some operational and procedural changes, adjustments and flexibilities you need to have on both ends.” Overseeing the operations at Restoration Fuels will be Plant Manager Joe Koerner, who ended up in the role after being in the right place, at just the right time. Previously, Koerner had been employed at a Boardman, Oregon, facility that recovered carbon black out of tires. “Our

product was tied to the energy sector, and when the energy sector took a dive price-wise, it undermined our economic model,” he says. “We mothballed the operation and were getting ready to sell it when Matt [Krumenauer] approached us and asked, ‘We know you can cook tires, but do you think you could cook wood?’” Koerner’s company participated in the Boardman torrefaction test trials in 2016, producing about 20 percent of the material used. “Because the facility I was at was on its way out and was sold after the trials, I was left doing some independent contracting,” Koerner tells Biomass Magazine. “The thought of working in a timber-related industry was pretty attractive to me, so when Matt informed me that they were building a plant in John Day and asked me to run it, I said yes. I was very lucky that’s how it happened, and that Matt had faith in me.” Koerner explains there are three main unit operations at the facility—a dryer, a boiler and the torrefier.

The Process

The wood chip dryer, which uses energy derived from a Hurst wood-fired boiler via hot water sent through a conventional tube and shell heat exchanger and stored in an insulated hot water tank, blows warm air through the chips as they move on the belted conveyor. After the drying process, moisture content will be


Boiler Extras The boiler installed at Restoration Fuels is a 1,200-horsepower hybrid boiler with a reciprocating grate Hurst Boiler Chief Engineer Bruce Coffee tells Biomass Magazine. “It will burn wood materials or other biomass fuels up to 50 percent moisture content, and at full bore, will produce about 40,000 pounds of steam per hour,” he says. At a previous location, the boiler was used to produce biodiesel from soybeans. “It was originally built in 2006, so it is still young in boiler age,” Coffee says. “It’s being updated with new controls and refractory and should be able to keep pace with a brand new one.” With state-of-the-art air emissions controls, it will be one of the cleanest boilers in the state, working alongside a couple of smaller wood-fired boilers, Coffee says. The mill and new project, located in a picturesque Rocky Mountain setting, are among the largest employers for many miles, Coffee adds. “The town seems to be more about fishing and hiking than manufacturing, so it will be of utmost importance to be clean and quiet in operation.” reduced from about 50% to 10%, and energy density of the dry chips is in the range of 8,500 Btu per pound. “We’re using a state-of-the-art, low-temperature belt dryer, designed by IMI Industrial, for a couple of reasons,” Koerner says. “The emissions from the belt dryer will be significantly cleaner than traditional wooddrying equipment, but we also don’t want to drive off any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) other than water—we only want to dry it. We want to keep the VOCs there because they end up as fuel in the second stage of the process, which is torrefaction.” The torrefaction process uses a triplepass rotary drum design. The wood chips enter the rotating drum, with steam first injected to warm the drum to torrefaction temperature (about 570 degrees F), and then the wood chips are fed continuously for torrefaction. The steam is initially heated with propane in a local furnace. “As the torrefaction process proceeds, all the gases generated are burned, and used to reheat the system, as well as heat the medium for our dryer as well,” Koerner explains.

The torrefied chips—water-resistant with grindability similar to coal—are now at a higher energy density of about 9,500 Btu per pound, with a moisture content of about 5%. Depending on what a customer desires, the torrefaction process can be tuned to yield higher or lower energy densities. “Once we’ve finished cooking the wood, we cool it and densify it—densification will either be through pelletizing or briquetting,” Koerner says. The overall process ensures oxygen is minimized not only to allow torrefaction to occur, but to make best use of the energy content of the generated “torr gas,” with very little wasted energy. “We’re trying to take advantage of all the fuel that’s in the wood,” Koerner reiterates. He explains that a Hurst wood-fired boiler was chosen not only to provide the steam the torrefaction operation needs, but the lumber mill as well. And because it’s a newer, state-ofthe-art boiler, he adds, it also helps clean up the air emissions from the site. Once product is ready for shipment, it will be sent to customers in bulk via truck, train or ocean-going ship vessels, depending on the customer.


Looking at Logistics

There is no rail access at the mill site, so Restoration Fuels will use a storage depot and transfer shipment to the port or the end customer. “That’s a bit down the road, though,” Krumenauer says. “Since we self-funded the project, we were able to start construction—and go into operations—without an offtake contract. We built the facility at risk to be able to prove the overall market.” Through 2020, Krumenauer estimates the plant will run at about a quarter of its estimated 100,000-ton-per-year capacity. “Initial customers might order large-scale sample volumes that could be in the thousands or 10,000-ton range,” he says. “We’ve talked with a number of Japanese and European utilities and we continue to maintain contact with folks in the U.S., but we haven’t committed a volume to any one customer. We have to get up and running first, and ensure we’re producing quality material before we commit to a contract. We hope to be able to get there by the end of 2020, so Joe and his operations team have a lot of work to do.”


Wood chips, before and after the torrefaction process. The torrefied chips are water-resistant with grindability similar to coal, and have a higher energy density of approximately 9,500 Btu per pound. PHOTO: RESTORATION FUELS

About halfway through construction, Krumenauer and Koerner say there have been challenges so far, but nothing insurmountable or completely unexpected. “Going through the environmental process takes time and we knew that, so we set optimistic goals to get them in place,” Koerner says. “The agency was more than willing to work with us and help us get what we needed, it just took a little longer.” New processes are difficult because of exactly what they are, Krumenauer adds. “We can’t look to another torrefaction facility to find out what the emission factors are,” he points out. “We did choose off-the-shelf technology and brand new pollution control equipment, but we had to work closely with regulators for them to get comfortable with it.” Integrating into an existing facility has its benefits, but Koerner also points out the difficulties. “Their infrastructure and staff have been very helpful to us, but it’s also challenging because we can’t interrupt the existing operations,” he says. “When you’re doing electrical tie-ins and things like that, you have to take things offline, so we have had to do a lot of coordinating with the mill.” Staffing has been another challenge—the plant is in an extremely rural area, making it difficult to obtain needed skill sets such as card-carrying electricians and millwrights. “We’re doing much better now than we were six months ago,” Krumenauer says. “There have been some some fairly significant construction projects happening in the region—

when the technology companies build a couple billion dollars’ worth of data centers, it takes a lot of the skilled labor, and we have trouble competing with those types of construction projects.” As for the abundant West Coast wood resource that—in theory—could


be utilized for bioenergy purposes, but has complicated logistics and is very different from the Southeast where greater economies of scale make sense, Krumenauer says Restoration Fuels is a good example of how an entity like the endowment can take a risk to demonstrate. “We want to show that this can be done on a smaller scale, in order to address feedstock availability first,” he adds. “If we can do this—demonstrate this model of matching facilities with restoration plans and forest plans in areas where there’s a market need—it will be a pretty significant win for the endowment’s mission, and the forest service and the broader industry. I can’t think of anything better to do—a lot of us think we were put here to accomplish this.” Author: Anna Simet Editor, Biomass Magazine asimet@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4961





GOLD RUSH Daryl Maas followed his dreams to California, where he is filling an important niche helping mitigate climate change and dairy farmers mine the lucrative rewards of cow manure. BY RON KOTRBA


Covered lagoon designs of dairy digesters, such as this one provided by Maas Energy Works of Redding, California, are a preferred approach over mixed plug-flow designs in warmer climates like California. PHOTO: MAAS ENERGY WORKS




aryl Maas was raised among the Dutch dairy farms of Northwest Washington. After joining the military and serving his country, Maas came home to the place he knew so well to further serveâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but in a vastly different capacity. This time, he was to help those same dairy farmers around whom he was raised. Searching for a post-military career in his hometown, his radar picked up on dairy digesters and he never looked back. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My brother Kevin went to graduate school, so we put a business plan together,â&#x20AC;? Maas says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We started looking at funding, talking with good friends we grew up with who were now running their parentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; farms, and we began investigating technologies.â&#x20AC;? The brothers Maas launched Farm Power Northwest in 2007. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was the CEO, and Kevin was the CFO,â&#x20AC;? Maas says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We raised local money and our first project came online in 2009â&#x20AC;&#x201D;just a few miles from where we grew up.â&#x20AC;? And so, it began. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Farm Power Northwest grew, and then I moved to California and started seeing big opportunities there,â&#x20AC;? Maas says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My brother wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t interested in moving to Califor-


nia or expanding. We were building in Washington and Oregonâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;we built five digesters in the region at that point. Farm Power Northwest was our day jobs, but I began exploring the Maas California market. It was a much more interesting market to me. There are more dairy cows there than any other state. And California has a lot of incentives for renewables that could be interwoven into the mix. I began spending my evenings and weekends learning more, doing some consulting, and bit by bit as more opportunities arose, it became my day job.â&#x20AC;? As a result, Maas, like so many before him, was drawn to the bounty of the Golden State, neither seeking the glitter of Hollywood nor the sweet nectar in the citrus groves spanning the vast countryside. Maas knew there was gold in dairy manure, particularly in the mitigating effects dairy digesters have on climate change while helping grow renew-

able energy production, and the financial rewards of both. Rewards that could be shared amongst those with whom he had such a deep kinshipâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;dairy farmers. He set out on his own, sans brother Kevin, and created Maas Energy Works. Founded in 2010, Maas Energy Works initially had one employee on the payrollâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Daryl Maas. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My office was half of my master bedroom,â&#x20AC;? he says. Today, Maas Energy Works employs 26 full-time workers plus contractors. The company has 22 operating digesters online with another 41 in development. When asked to share what those numbers mean to him, Maas says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s colossal. When we first started, I was going to build one. I would tell investors the big, grand vision was seven digesters in seven years. I thought that would never happen. Now weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re building seven every year. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to picture.â&#x20AC;? The beauty of Maas Energy Worksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; offerings for dairy farmers is, he offers choices: producer- or developer-owned digesters. If a dairy farm chooses the former, then Maas Energy Works handles all design work, financial projections, grant financing, grid interconnections, regulatory permits, procurement,

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and construction management. When the project is online, Maas Energy Works operates the site for the dairy farm, with 24/7 monitoring and operations support. If a dairy farmer would rather not own a digester, they can sit back and collect the cash in a guaranteed annual rate per cow as Maas Energy Works develops, builds and operates the facility at no cost to them. The popularity of producer- or developer-owned dairy digester projects goes in cycles, according to Maas. “Early on, when I first got into the California market, most farmers didn’t want to own a digester,” he says. “They thought it wouldn’t work. So, early on, the developer would own them. But in recent years, as digesters became more profitable and popular, a majority of new farmers want to own the digesters themselves. They see neighbors and extended family members with them. We believe the farmer ought to have a choice. Some developers want to own everything—the farmer could invest in it, but not own the entire thing. We think it’s important to give them the option, and many now are 100 percent owned by farmers.”

Maas Energy Works provides 24/7 monitoring and operations support for the digesters it develops. PHOTO: MAAS ENERGY WORKS

Maas says a lot has changed in the world of dairy digesters since he began. “The first expansion round was based on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s 1603 Program through which projects

could get large grants based on the capital costs of the project,” he says. “In the beginning, there was a burst to build, and the more expensive, the better—because it would mean a bigger grant. Once that

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went away, it was healthy because it encouraged people to build digesters as economically as possible.” This transition is what drove Maas Energy Works to the covered lagoon design vs. mixed plug-flow designs. “In California, we realized how simple and awesome a covered lagoon design would be—it’s the preferred method in warmer climates,” Maas says. “The operation of a covered lagoon is reliable, simple and cheaper to build. That was our first big transition.” The company makes small improvements in its designs every year. “But honestly,” Maas says, “not a lot of good can come out of building complex, patented digesters. We think the real unique aspect we offer is execution. The renewable energy industry is so full of pie in the sky. We believe the best approach is to keep costs down, support the projects well, operate them reliably, and avoid

mistakes. We focus on a simple, reliable design, we build on schedule, deploy them and keep them running. California is littered with digesters that have big, public openings, and then they are shut down three years later. That’s common. The key we bring to the table is reliable execution—not so much new, patented designs.” For the first four years in the business, Maas was not the one-stop-shop he and Maas Energy Works are today for womb-to-tomb dairy digester project development and operation. “Back then, we hired a single contractor to design and build the turnkey system—we didn’t know anything,” Maas says humbly. “The banks wouldn’t lend us money, we had no experience or science background— nothing that the bank would recognize. So, we hired one contractor and paid them a fee to build the entire system. I quickly realized that, to be successful, we


had to do it ourselves.” After years of immersion studying the complex world of carbon credits, utility tariffs, designbuild-operation and business nuances, Maas says, “After about 2013, we were delivering complete projects more or less ourselves. We still hired construction contractors, but we controlled the whole process, which is critical. This helped us truly understand how digesters get built, particularly in California, which is so difficult for permitting. Beginning to end—that’s what we provide now. Not an amazing, patented design, but a team that knows the entire process and can deliver the project through the end in this difficult state.” The company has also transitioned from purchasing preassembled, turbocharged Siemens genset packages from vendors to assembling the gensets itself in Redding, California, where it shares a fabrication shop with its sister company,

Electric Innovations Inc. “It’s critical to build the equipment ourselves so we’re not reliant on outside work,” Maas says. Between Electric Innovations and Maas Energy Works, the two separate companies employ roughly 50 people. But many of the dairy digester projects in California have moved from electrical generation toward feeding the pipeline with biogas, thanks to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the ability to generate significant carbon credit cash as a result. “We still do some electrical generation, but it’s a minority of our work now,” he says. Pixley Biogas with Calgren Renewable Fuels was Maas’ first project in California. Little did he know then, in the early 2010s, what his early work there— helping the ethanol plant build a small digester to offset maybe up to 4 percent of its natural gas usage—would become. “A lot came from that,” Maas says. This

Maas Energy Works shares a fabrication shop with sister company Electric Innovations, where it builds its own engines and assembles its own gensets for digesters that intend to produce electricity from biogas. PHOTO: MAAS ENERGY WORKS

parlayed into a giant cluster project that, perhaps when history looks back on the achievements of Daryl Maas, may very well be viewed as his magnum opus.

Dreams Realized

Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels in Pixley, California, says his company’s earliest digester “is

a big, old concrete box.” Designed by DVO, Schlyer says it is a modified plugflow as opposed to a stirred tank design. “We’ve operated that for quite some time, so it wasn’t a big leap for us to get involved in manure digesters.” The emerging cluster concept between Maas and Schlyer started taking shape in 2016. The idea was to secure as






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many dairy farmers with adjoining land surrounding the ethanol plant to agree to position digesters on their property and pipe the biogas to a central location—the Calgren Renewable Fuels ethanol plant—where a biogas cleanup plant and interconnection to the utility pipeline would be located. The area dairymen were being approached left and right by potential digester developers for quite some time. “They were skeptical,” Schlyer says. “They were offered promises, promises, promises and got nothing but failed approaches. Daryl had credibility. He had already done a handful of projects. And we had credibility as we were running the ethanol plant at the same time. The combination allowed us to get to a critical mass. The investor said, ‘If we get six to sign up, that would be great.’ We ended up with nine, which expanded to 12 dairies and 11 digesters in Phase 1. That will be complete by the end of [2019]. Then Phase 2 will be ready to go. If you build it, they will come. It’ll be about double the size. When we’re done, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have close to 25 different dairies. But we’ll see.”

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Schlyer says a main driver for the rush to dairy digesters in California was the Air Resources Board’s expansion under the Compliance Offset Protocol Livestock Projects, which had previously relegated carbon credits to the cap-and-trade system. “Then they decided to expand it to the LCFS,” he says. “That was huge. We’re talking $18 vs. a couple hundred dollars. Then it all started to come together. As soon as we got approval, we were off and running.” The way the livestock protocol works, Schlyer explains, “is we get the most for a milking cow that’s in a freestall barn,” he says. “The cow’s manure is washed down in a wet manure management system. That generates the biggest credit for us. So, in Phase 1, we get credit for the equivalent of 38,000 wet cows, but the actual number of animals is over 70,000, which includes both cows and heifers. Milk cows eat more, so you get a bigger credit for their manure. So, the way the livestock protocol works is, you get the biggest credit for capturing the most amount of manure [that would otherwise go uncaptured].” After dairy farmers were sold broken promises early on, Schlyer says


he and Maas had to push hard to get participants onboard. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We thought what would make the most sense early on is to get a bunch to sign up and we would bear all the costs, and write them a monthly check for their manure,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The amount depends on the value of what we get out of it in terms of incentives. In Phase 2, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a number of folks interested in doing their own projects, so theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d just be hooking up to our pipeline, having us clean the gas, and then weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d share the benefits in a very different way. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d have a lot of capex involved. So, we started out with a fairly consistent program in which we essentially treated all participants the same, and it morphed into a situation where weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll do very different deals with different folks, depending on what makes the most sense for them and us.â&#x20AC;? The Calgren Dairy Fuels digester pipeline cluster is now injecting renewable compressed natural gas into the SoCalGas Utility Pipeline, Maas proudly says. Today the cluster features 22 miles of pipe on 12 dairies. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the initial phase,â&#x20AC;? Maas says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As we expand into Phase 2, the mileage will grow.â&#x20AC;? Maas says heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s working on developing a feasible â&#x20AC;&#x153;virtual pipelineâ&#x20AC;? too, for smaller dairy farms that may not have adjoining land through which the physical, private pipeline can cross. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are a lot of small dairies and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d love to get involved with them,â&#x20AC;? he says. Maas envisions nearly a dozen similar dairy digester pipeline clusters in California, eventually. Although Maas can speculate whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on the bright horizon for his successful startup, he says the immediate future is booked, wrapping up the dozens of projects currently in development. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot,â&#x20AC;? he says. He adds that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interested in probing the idea of establishing an electric vehicle charging station. â&#x20AC;&#x153;California makes it possible to generate power at one location and nominate that power to be used at

another location and claim the credit.â&#x20AC;? This is a concept similar to directed biogas. Big things happen when visionaries like Maas and Schlyer come together, as evidenced by the Calgren Dairy Fuels digester pipeline cluster. But they couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have done it without the vendors and contractors upon which they relied. To name a few of those partners, Maas says the gas clean up equipment uses Vilter compressors by Emerson, and membranes by Air Liquide. Hartman Engineering performed most of the civil work for the digester ponds. Environmental Fabrics provided liner and cover work. Provost & Pritchard did some of the early pipeline work. And, of course, Maas Energy Worksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; sister company Electric Innovations played a great role too. In addition, several other individuals and companies helped make this dream of Maas and Schlyerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a reality. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no secret that Calgren Renewable Fuels is beyond cutting edge in its approach to bioenergy. It operates a true biorefinery in Pixley, California, making ethanol, cattle feed, biogas and a recently commissioned biodiesel production facility onsite. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lyleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an institution,â&#x20AC;? Maas says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been a very early advocate for what we do, and he is a great client.â&#x20AC;? The respect goes both ways. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Daryl and his team do a bang-up job,â&#x20AC;? Schlyer says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One thing we like about Daryl is, he gets things done. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s huge in this business, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s neededâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got to push to get something done.â&#x20AC;? Author: Ron Kotrba Senior Editor, Biomass Magazine 218-745-8347 rkotrba@bbiinternational.com







AMBITION The steady build-out of Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s industrial wood pellet industry continues, driven by multiple motivations. BY MATT MERRITT



Skeena Bioenergy, a 75,000-metric-ton-per-year plant located adjacent to the company's sawmill, is one of several Canadian pellet plants that came online in 2019.




Leonard, New Brunswick, that is nearing full capacity; and the 210,000 MTPY Granule 777 facility in Chapais, Quebec. One of several plants currently under construction with expectations of commissioning in 2020 is La Granaudière in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Quebec. Backed by $27.2 million in financial assistance from the Quebec government, La Granaudière broke ground in September, says CEO Yves Crit. Nearly all production of the 200,000 MTPY plant will be shipped to Europe via the Port of Quebecâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;La Granaudière has a long-term offtake contract with BelgianFrench energy multinational Engieâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; with about 1 percent of production being sold into the local heating market, Crits says. The plant has a timber supply agreement with the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks for fiber supply. Startup for the plant is currently on track for September, according to Crits, and it will directly employ roughly 50 people. The ongoing boom in construction is filling energy needs across the oceans both east and west, Murray says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a combination of things driving this. A lot of it is the desire to make use of residual products. And then theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re

anadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wood pellet industry is reaping the benefits of simultaneous growth in both supply and global demand, with nearly 400,000 metric tons (MT) of new production capacity online in 2019 and another 400,000 expected this year. Combined with the 400,000 MT of capacity added in 2018, Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wood pellet industry has added over one million tons of capacity in just three years, all underpinned by strong demand from important export markets in Europe and Japan. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It seems every year there are two or three new plants of a scale anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 metric tons that are getting built,â&#x20AC;? says Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. Murray has presided over Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wood pellet trade association as the economies throughout the world continue to include Canadian pellets in their decarbonization efforts. The past year saw three different facilities complete construction and commissioning activitiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Skeena Bioenergy Ltd., a 75,000 metric ton-per-year (MTPY) pellet mill colocated with a sawmill in Terrace, British Columbia; Grand River Pellet, a 100,000 MTPY plant in St.

just looking at the opportunities in Europe and being able to fill that.â&#x20AC;? In Western Canada, Murray adds, many companies have their eyes on Asia. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Japan is probably the most appealing market just because of the way they do business there.â&#x20AC;? Japan stands in stark contrast to South Korea, Asiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first wood pellet buyer of significance who show little appetite for long-term offtake agreements, instead favoring spot buying strategies and tender agreements that offer North American producersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; little financial certainty to invest in new production capacity. The willingness of Japanese pellet buyers to execute long-term offtake agreements has created a platform of certainty upon which this new production capacity is being built.

Filling Asiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sustainable Energy Needs

Asia as a major source of pellet demand is a relatively new phenomenon, Murray says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For a long time, Europe was where everything was concentrated. And European growth has been quite rapid. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only in the last four or five years really that the Asian markets have started to show serious growth.â&#x20AC;?








Trade data from the U.N. Comtrade database supports Murrayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s remarks, demonstrating marked growth over the past four years. In 2014, Canadian producers shipped just 90,000 MT of product to Japan. The numbers have increased steadily since then. In 2015, nearly 150,000 MT were delivered, and in 2016, the number eclipsed 250,000 MT. Export volumes nearly doubled the following year, with 2017 showing nearly 425,000 MT imported into the country from Canada. In 2018, Japan purchased 665,000 MT of wood pellets from producers in the country. Wood pellet demand in Japan was 1 million MT in 2018. By 2023, it is expected to exceed 5 million MT, thanks in part to 18 new pellet-fired power plants under construction today, according to consultant group Hawkins Wright. While producers and their financial partners are reluctant to bank on South Korean volumes, data from the same U.N. Comtrade set shows that over this same time period, the country remains an important trade partner for WPACâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s members. The year-over-year numbers, however, reveal the intermittency that had kept capacity investment at bay. In 2014, South Korea imported nearly 350,000 MT of



Canadian pellets only to see a drop below 100,000 MT in 2015. The number plummeted even further in 2016, with volumes at just 36,000 MT, essentially three or four handy-sized cargo vessels worth. In 2017, volumes surged back to 150,000 MT and dropped to just 40,000 MT in 2018. South Korea already has 3.4 million MT of demand, with three new pelletfired power plants on the way. According

to Hawkins Wright, the Asian market is expected to overtake Europe sometime in the mid-2020s. While the raw demand numbers are eye-popping, the up-anddown nature of the South Korean market fails to generate the kind of excitement or corresponding investment of the more modest, but more predictable growth of Japanese volumes.





In late November 2018, Pinnacle commenced operations at its 125,000 MTPY pellet plant in Smithers, British Columbia. The operation is 70 percent owned by Pinnacle and 30 percent by West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. PHOTO: PINNACLE RENEWABLE ENERGY

Pinnacle Renewable Energy began operations at its 400,000-MTPY pellet plant in Entwistle, Alberta, in 2018. PHOTO: WPAC

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New Capacity, More Fiber

Another large-scale plant currently under construction is Northern Pellet LP in High Level, Alberta. Pinnacle Renewable Energy is building Northern Pellet LP in Alberta in a joint venture with Tolko. That plant, with a capacity of 200,000 MTPY, is expected to start commissioning sometime in the third or fourth quarter of 2020. Robert McCurdy, CEO of Pinnacle, says demand growth in Asia was the primary driver for its decision to build. “Globally, the pellet market has been growing 18 to 20 percent per year, but if you look at the Japanese market, it’s growing faster than that,” he says. “So you have both global demand and you’ve got very fast-growing demand in Japan.” Murray says South Korea mixes pellets with coal in many of its plants, while Japan is more focused on dedicated biomass-powered facilities. That means the quality standards are much higher,

‘Globally, the pellet market has been growing 18 to 20 percent per year, but if you look at the Japanese market, it’s growing faster than that.’ –Rob McCurdy, Pinnacle Renewable Energy

something Canadian producers are able to accommodate in a way that Canada’s competitors in Asia may struggle with. It also means the Japanese need the kind of certainty of supply that long-term contracts can deliver. “They like to sign on to long-term agreements because their project financing requires demonstration



that they have long-term supply,” Murray says. These long-term contracts provide risk mitigation both ways. For financiers of new power stations or cofiring operations in Japan, long-term contracts assure guaranteed volumes at prices with fixed-pricing agreements while simultaneously guaranteeing a long-term market


Port terminals in British Columbia offer Canadian producers efficient export options to serve their Asian buyers. Here, wood pellets are loaded at a pellet terminal in North Vancouver. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ

Biomass Processing Systems

to recoup the investment of building new capacity to serve those markets.” Pinnacle has offtake agreements in place, McCurdy adds, but rather than tie them to one plant, those agreements are fulfilled by the larger pool of pellet facilities. As for competition, Canada currently has unique access to Japan, thanks to logistics. “The Americans haven’t really competed in Japan because there isn’t any West Coast export out of the United States,” Murray said. “All the exports come out of the south or the Southeast.” Another part of the dynamic in Canada has been a rise in the available feedstock for pellets, primarily sawmill residuals. The paper industry has long been a customer for that material, Murray says, but paper is facing challenges today. That is freeing up more feedstock for the pellet industry. “The pulp and paper industry is buying less residuals, and so many of the Quebec sawmill companies are looking to get into the pellet industry to have a market for their residuals,” Murray says. McCurdy says finding a market for sawmill residuals is what led Pinnacle’s partner, Tolko, to pellets. “On the feedstock side, the sawdust and shavings at that Tolko mill used to be just burned to atmosphere.” Now, government regulations do not allow that. “That led to the opportunity to have a good, reliable feedstock to make pellets,” he adds.

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During the next two years, utilities in the European Union and U.K. expect to increase industrial wood pellet consumption by about 5 million MTPY. Beyond that, demand is expected to plateau in Europe with the expiration of renewable energy support. That could limit new investment aimed at Europe. However, Asian demand is increasing and will more than make up for a slowing market in Europe. By Hawkins


La Granaudière broke ground on its 200,000 MTPY plant in Saint-Michel-des-Saints in mid-2018. Construction is on track to be complete in the fall, according to CEO Yves Crits.

Wright projections, Asia, the EU and U.K. will combine for 13.2 million tons of new pellet demand by 2023. All of these efforts are aimed at cleaner, renewable energy, and reducing carbon emissions, but utilities, energy producers and governments aren’t the only stakeholders involved. More and more, the public is taking an increased interest in energy and emissions. “More and more people are becoming aware of the consequences of pollution,” McCurdy says. “Pellets fill more than just our energy needs. They help meet our environmental goals as well.” As for whether this trend of rapid demand for energy pellets will continue in the long-term, McCurdy says, “The short answer is yes. I believe [growth] will continue. There’s still a lot of coal being burned to generate electricity in the world, and I see more and more people wanting to reduce greenhouse gases. I see the demand continuing.” That idea is evident in Japan, Murray says. Japan’s commitment to environmental stewardship helps make them an attractive business partner for Canadian companies. “They have a keen sense of corporate social responsibility, wanting to make sure that what they’re using is sustainably produced and high quality,” he says. Continued growth depends on continued support for biomass as a renewable energy solution to our world’s prob-

lems, Murray concludes. “That support comes in the form of favorable policies worldwide and general public awareness about the benefits of biomass power,” he says. “We’ve got to be ever-vigilant

to tell a good story and back it up with performance.” Author: Matt Merritt Freelance Writer mattmerritt@1blockpr.com

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A Viessmann Pyrot (Vitoflex 300 RF 150) at the College of the Atlantic PHOTO: VIESSMANN

Commercial and Institutional Biomass Projects: DOS AND DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;TS There are many important factors to consider and key steps to take when pursuing an on-site biomass heating project. BY BEDE W. WELLFORD CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).



f you’re reading this, you may have already been thinking about a biomass heating system for your facility. The first step should be clarifying your reasons for such an investment, and developing a clear understanding of the project’s objectives. These may include facility economics (fuel cost savings), environmental drivers (reducing carbon footprint), investment in local community (via locally sourced wood fuel), or some combination of these and similar motivations. Local and state incentives, such as New Hampshire’s and Massachusetts’ thermal renewable energy certificates, may also play a role in your strategy. The following viewpoints will primarily focus on biomass thermal heating systems; specifically hot water biomass boilers. It should be noted that cogeneration and “trigeneration,” including cooling, are options, particularly for larger facilities and loads. However, this would require another article and additional expertise to address the various options, load matching considerations, etc., as would process applications that require or already use steam.

Factors to Consider

Once the decision is made to investigate the feasibility of a biomass boiler project or move forward, the first questions to ask are: What will you burn? What fuels are available? What are the implications of that fuel selection for the project? Many of the system decisions will flow naturally from the fuel choice. Pellets are simple to store and retrieve but cost more than chips. Dry chips are available in some areas and may allow for some system economies vs. forest chips. When it comes to forest chips, qualify the supplier—in general, they must screen the chips to be suitable for use in modern automatic equipment. Somewhere along the way, usually early in the process, identify an internal management champion for the project. Encourage this person, or persons, to take ownership and become a clearinghouse for ideas, questions and plans. Another factor for consideration is how will the heat be distributed. Whether a building or campus, hot water is the most

DESIGN & ENGINEERING¦ efficient option. In a retrofit, if the existing system is steam, the feasibility of conversion to hot water should be evaluated. Understand up front that many biomass projects that require or incorporate such a conversion die on the design floor due to cost. Planners are encouraged to look at hot water conversion as a separate item from the biomass boiler. In most commercial and institutional settings, hot water will pay for itself over a longer period provided a correct path, but short-term paybacks are not realistic. The next task is to size the biomass system and any ancillary systems with respect to the known heating design load. In this determination, include the need for backup or redundancy. For systems that will combine biomass with fossil fuel boilers, it is common to find an economic sweet spot with the biomass supplying less than the design load. You may have heard of the 60/90 rule, which holds that sizing the biomass boiler at 60% of the design load will offset 90% of fossil fuel use. The exact ratio varies with load profiles (I have worked with projects where the ratio of biomass capacity ranges from 60% to 100%), but in general, this approach has merit. Fossil fuel backup or trim generally has a far lower cost per Btu; the inescapable fact of the matter is that it costs more to move wood fuel through the system, beginning with storage and retrieval, moving it through the firebox and finishing with ash removal. It is vastly different from hooking up a pipe for fuel oil, natural gas or propane. Another sizing consideration is the need for regular maintenance (cleaning) of the biomass boiler. The nature of the fuel means that even with automatic de-ashing and pneumatic tube cleaning (soot blowers), you will be looking at shutdown for cleaning every 600 to 800 hours. In a system where the biomass boiler is sized at 75% of the load, size the fossil fuel backup at 100% so that it can carry the facility in the dead of winter when the biomass boiler is being cleaned. I note that we also have systems without fossil fuel back up or trim, and they generally employ multiple biomass boilers, often a smaller boiler used early and late in

the swing seasons, and a larger boiler for the midwinter design load.

Dos and Don’ts

Do utilize a buffer tank or thermal storage. This should be installed between the biomass boiler and the building or system loop, sized at 10 to 20 liters per kilowatt of output capacity of the largest biomass boiler. We use buffer tanks for three purposes: to anticipate load (think morning warm-up when the fire may be out), to store heat at shutdown (think a typical school operating schedule where the load goes to zero in the afternoon, but the fire is still burning), and to modulate the boiler firing rate as loads decrease during the day. Some control systems use the buffer to optimize combustion under a wide range of conditions. Understand that efficient wood combustion has a maximum turndown ratio of 4:1. Our approach is to use automatic ignition with a buffer tank to allow for efficient use when loads go lower than 25% of boiler rated output. All systems can benefit from the lead and lag capabilities inherent in thermal storage. The only exception to this recommendation is for process applications where there is a relatively constant and consistent load. Another sizing consideration is for the fuel bunker or silo. How often will you want a fuel delivery? How much lead time will the fuel supplier require? Are there cost considerations attached to the delivery capacity? A good example is a pellet silo. I advise commercial clients, almost regardless of the boiler size, to install a silo that will hold between 30 and 40 tons of pellets. The largest pellet delivery trucks have a 25-ton capacity, so it is desirable to have that room available in the silo with reserve of at least a few days in order to take advantage of full truckload delivery rates. Do identify qualified trusted boiler suppliers. Insist on ASME H-stamped pressure vessels to comply with codes and manage liability. Safety certification to UL2523, the only ANSI safety (fire, mechanical and electrical) standard for biomass boiler packages, is a plus. This certification may be provided by UL, ETL (Intertek), BIOMASSMAGAZINE.COM 41

Two Viessmann Vitoflex 300 biomass boilers were installed at the Plymouth State University Athletic Center. They have a combined gross output of 3.4 million Btu per hour and use over 250 tons of wood pellets each year for space and hot water heating. PHOTO: VIESSMANN

CSA or any number of ANSI-accredited agencies. Last year, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council issued an efficiency and emissions test protocol with a goal to eventually have an ANSI standard for performance—this process will certainly take time. Meanwhile, particularly for Europeandesigned products, ask for the certified test results in accordance with EN 303-5, currently the only internationally recognized performance standard. For the products being considered, request references for where they have been installed and operating, and ask who provides the supply chain for factory support and parts. Do identify qualified designers, contractors and subcontractors. I have had the pleasure of working with experienced biomass design engineers and designbuild contractors on numerous biomass projects. I have also worked with general contractors (and subs like electricians) who have never installed a biomass boiler, but have solid reputations and stepped up to understand what is necessary for success.

There is no magic formula, but insist on quality, and you shouldn’t be disappointed. Two specific design recommendations include: For hydronics, tie the buffer tank into the loop via closely spaced tees and tie the fossil fuel back up in the same way, downstream of the buffer tank connection. For controls, use outside air temperature setback on the building loop, but not on the buffer tank. Do specify factory commissioning and start-up services. We use this process as a final quality control point for the product and its installation, and generally bundle the operator training into the visit, which may take several days for a chip system. Completed sign off from our technician and the operator or owner is then the start date for the warranty period. Do understand the ongoing maintenance and operational requirements of the system. I have heard promoters describe the maintenance as “no more than the oil boiler,” which is nonsense. It is not onerous, but understand that it does involve


some additional attention, even with the most refined and automatic systems. Identify an internal champion in facility management to take responsibility for the system. Be prepared to touch your boiler on a regular basis, and insist on factory training for the operators. Finally, as for the “don’ts,” I will not provide any. Experienced educators and coaches know that negative feedback is not useful. “Don’t do that” is not helpful input for the learner; focusing on what not to do leaves one paralyzed. “If I don’t do that, what do I do?” Instead, stay positive and pay attention to the “dos.” If you follow this path, you won’t have to worry about the “don’ts,” and you will be able to move deliberately through the phases of the project with confidence. Author: Bede W. Wellford Sustainable and Renewable Business Development Manager, Viessmann Manufacturing Co. (U.S.) Inc. weffb@viessman.com 207-956-2799

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Siting a New Bioenergy Facility: Pitfalls and Preconditions Siting a new project in an optimal wood basin is critical to ensuring that a sustainable, affordable wood supply is available throughout its life. BY STAN PARTON

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




art of Forest2Market’s business is tracking emerging industries that use wood raw material feedstocks. We began serving bioenergy markets in 2006, and as biofuel and biochemical markets have advanced, we added these technologies to our practice. Through our work in this sector, we have developed several unique analytical methodologies to help project developers better understand qualified feedstocks, the wood supply chain and the economic and biological sustainability of wood-derived feedstocks. We have also uncovered major project development pitfalls that could potentially consume capital and sink new projects before they even get off the ground. Understanding the feedstock supply chain is a critical first step for biobased projects before moving to the site selection phase. At a minimum, developers must have fact-based answers to a series of critical questions: • What are the market drivers of supply? • Where should I site my plant to assure long-term sustainability? • What is the competitive demand in the market and how easily can that demand be displaced? • How much excess supply exists? • How do I track sustainability? • How do I hedge feedstock price volatility? • How do I make my debt or equity partners comfortable with supply chain risks? From this exercise and analysis, developers can create a list of essential criteria so that each potential project location can be thoroughly and objectively vetted and ranked. While governmental economic incentives are helpful inducements in determining prospective site locations, an approach that places these considerations

ahead of objective feedstock considerations and assessment could jeopardize the success of a project in the long run. It can be tempting to take advantage of economic incentives, but reality is that Site screening heat maps provide quantitative comparisons of feedstock costs com- Example: potential supply areas. pose an enormous SOURCE: FOREST2MARKET part of the overall operating cost of a facility—upward of 70 percent in many cases. ness to their regions. However, committee Siting a new project in an optimal wood members are simply not qualified to offer basin is therefore critical to ensuring that a unbiased assessments of the wood basin, sustainable and affordable wood supply is infrastructure, supply and demand, and available throughout the life of the project. many other factors that contribute to the The following are the some of the costliest success or failure of a wood-consuming manufacturing facility. Ultimately, the cost pitfalls to avoid when siting a facility. Relying solely on local suppliers for of factors such as low inventory and high market information. Wood markets are competition from other facilities in the prodictated by local supply and local demand, curement zone could significantly outweigh yet this does not position local suppliers to the money saved on a land deal. Equating the number of trees with accurately assess the market. The view held by each local supplier is limited to the op- the availability of wood fiber. A heavily portunities surrounding only his or her sup- forested area can create the illusion that a ply, not the supply available throughout the region enjoys ample feedstock supply. Howentire marketplace. New biobased project ever, it is important to realize that not all developers must be aware that existing for- visible trees are available for harvest. Quesest products companies are the most reli- tions about who owns the trees or whether able buyers in the wood fiber supply chain; the trees are in harvestable areas must be pulp and paper mills alone are part of a answered to accurately assess the available $10 billion industry that receives 9.5 mil- wood fiber supply. The age class and species lion truckloads of logs and chips each year. density of the forest must also be considSuppliers tend to give precedence to these ered when assessing supply over a 20-year established and reliable buyers even as new period. Assuming wood costs will rise or opportunities emerge. Accepting “free land” from eco- fall based on the historical trend line. nomic development committees. If The cost of wood depends on demand and there is no such thing as a free lunch, there the age classes of trees available to meet is most certainly no such thing as free land. that demand. For example, stumpage prices Economic development committees have can temporarily spike when new demand a vested interest in attracting new busi- enters the market and pressures current for-



‘Wood markets are dictated by local supply and local demand, yet this does not position local suppliers to accurately assess the market.’ –Stan Parton, Forest2Market est resources. Pulp and paper mills, OSB mills, bioenergy and biochemical manufacturers compete for the wood-derived feedstock available in a supply region. The higher profit margins that some facilities enjoy compared to other facilities allow them to absorb higher feedstock costs and still remain profitable for sustained periods of time. Savvy biobased project developers must cultivate a strong understanding of market competitors and establish some elasticity in their supply chains to allow for price fluctuations. “Ballparking” feedstock prices without a dependable forecast. To produce an accurate forecast, the starting price (weighted average market price at a precise moment in time) should be based on the highest-quality transactional data available. By starting the process with a specific price based on the actual market, the forecast will deliver a greater level of accuracy. Cost curves that are based on actual market data will incorporate the true quantity and price of delivered loads of wood fiber within a unique supply basin. Combining the cost curves of all facilities within a supply region yields the market supply curve, which results in a supply curve that accurately reflects the sum of current harvests and excess inventory. Project developers who know with a high degree of confidence what they will pay for wood supply over the next 24, 36 or 48 months can better optimize wood procurement—both volume and price—man-

age inventory more effectively, and align facility feedstock and output with raw material price trends.

Preconditions for Feedstock Efficiencies

Because supply agreements cannot regulate the delivered volume of feedstock, the onus is on project developers to understand and manage the interplay of factors affecting feedstock availability and cost within individual supply basins. No two supply basins are alike, which is why the U.S. South is the current focal point of wood pellet production while other regions are less so. As noted above, bioenergy project success will chiefly be determined by whether a company builds into its business plans—from the outset—a thorough understanding of the specific supply basin in which it will be operating. Essential guidelines and preconditions include the following. Right-size the plant to the supply basin. There are two options here: Choose the size of the facility, then find a supply basin that will support the facility, or find a supply basin and then right-size the plant to the available supply in the area. In the case of the U.S. South, pellet capacity is increasing as new facilities continue to come online to take advantage of plentiful pine resources. Design facilities with flexible receiving capacities. Design facilities that are large enough to weigh and unload the required amounts of feedstock. The facil-


ity should also have inventory capacity large enough to accommodate the normal market ebb and flow of material due to weather interruptions. As noted above, establishing supply chain elasticity is imperative in an evolving, competitive market. Control for price risk. Price risk is a reality over the course of a 20-plus year project. However, proactive project developers can control price risk by indexing supply agreements to documented market prices. Just as companies manage the risk associated with variability in operational costs by indexing them to the producer price index, projects that manage feedstock price risk this way will be more bankable. The global wood fiber supply chain is complex, and the economic cycles and seasonal patterns that govern supply and demand for wood fiber must be primary considerations. As the housing market recovers, pulp and paper demand increases and bioenergy markets continue to develop, competition for wood fiber will intensify in certain supply basins. The single biggest factor determining the success of a wood bioenergy plant will arise from how well project developers understand the nature and characteristics of the forest resources and industries within its supply basin. The responsibility is on them to locate their projects in areas that ensure a sustainable and affordable feedstock supply, which will ultimately drive a successful project.

Author: Stan Parton Manager, Bioenergy & Biochemical Practice Forest2market Inc. stan.parton@forest2market.com www.forest2market.com

Refractory Solutions For 3 Steps To Success…

1 PPerform e a Process Audit with yourr URC representative i • What’s happening in your unit?

2 UUnderstand n the 4 Key Wear Mechanisms • Alkali Attack • Abrasion/Erosion • Thermal Cycling • Hot Strength

What wear mechanisms are present in your process ?

3 Design/Install a Prescriptive Refractory Lining • There is NO “one size fits all”! • URC has numerous products to supply a cost effective lining based on your wear mechanisms For more details contact Brent Buchcuski:

906.221.7004 • BrentB@URC4U.com



The Growing Importance of PKS in the

Japanese Biomass Market BY RACHAEL LEVINSON


he Japanese biomass market maintained its momentum in 2019 with new power projects starting up and projects in the pipeline progressing. From 2023 onward, however, a significant uptick in demand is expected, calling for a focus on the biomass supplyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s origin. In Japan, palm kernel shells (PKS) are a major feedstock in the growing market, and their availability will become increasingly important. A lot of the Japanese projects, both under development and operating, have circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boilers, which allow for flexibility in the biomass fuels they can use. The abundant supply and relatively low cost of PKS in Southeast Asia, a waste product of the palm oil industry, has made it an attractive fuel to those power plants. The introduction of government support in 2012 has driven up

demand, with Japanese PKS imports nearly tripling since 2015, to 1.3 million metric tons (MT) in 2018. Imports appear to have exceeded 1.4 million MT in 2019, although official data is yet to be released. Looking ahead, greater demand is expected. Hawkins Wright research shows that almost 60 percent of planned, dedicated biomass power plants in Japan over 20 MW intend to use some PKS. Even more projects intend to use an unspecified form of woody biomass, which could potentially include PKS. However, we foresee little expansion of PKS use in South Korea. The sole company currently using PKS is GS Energy, at its Dangjin Unit 1 power plant. Furthermore, changes made last year to the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s renewable portfolio standard scheme mean that PKS now earns less financial support than other biomass fuels, mak-

ing it less economical. Korea imports around 360,000 MT per year of PKS, a level that has been fairly steady year-on-year since cofiring at the Dangjin coal-fired unit began in 2015. For most Japanese plants planning to use PKS, it is only a minority fuel source, with most relying on wood pellets for 50 to 85 percent of their biomass supply. Many have chosen to lock in long-term pellet contracts for the majority of their fuel portfolio because of the need to partner with reliable, bankable suppliers. In particular, this is the case for projects raising funds through project financing, as they must demonstrate security of fuel supply to potential investors. These projects are expected to purchase their remaining biomass volumes on the spot market, whether in the form of PKS, wood pellets or wood chips.

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


SUPPLY CHAIN ¦ In recent years, Hawkins Wright has seen increasing evidence of the commoditization of PKS. The involvement of Japanese trading houses is helping provide secure, bankable counterparties for PKS trades, allowing more projects to sign long-term offtake contracts for the fuel. Japanese buyers are seeking to diversify their supply sources. In addition to more upstream investment in new pellet mills in emerging markets such as southeast Asia and eastern Russia, we are hearing of more interest in long-term PKS contracts. The availability of PKS could be a determining factor behind wood pellet consumption in the region. Reduced PKS availability or higher prices would likely increase demand for wood pellets. On the flip side, increased PKS supply could decrease spot pellet demand. A wide price differential between the two fuels may also drive Japanese power projects to sell their higher-priced pellet volumes and replace them with cheaper PKS. The supply of PKS and its availability for export are determined by a range of regional issues, including weather conditions, palm oil demand, local use and logistics. Until now, PKS supply has greatly surpassed exports, but uncertainty surrounds how much could be available for export if demand rises to expected levels.

Another important factor concerning availability of PKS is the regulatory sustainability requirements. Only a small portion of PKS is certified to be sustainable, so the introduction of stringent requirements by the Japanese government would severely limit supply. We estimate, based on data from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, that around one-fifth of the PKS produced in Malaysia and Indonesia between July 2018 and June 2019 was from RSPO-certified palm oil plantations. Japan’s Ministry for Energy, Trade and Industry’s biomass sustainability working group has recently proposed changes to the way agricultural byproducts are treated under the country’s feed-in tariff. It proposes that byproducts must be certified from the point in the supply chain where they are generated. This means that PKS must be certified from when it is separated from the fresh fruit bunch at the palm oil-processing mill. From this point onward in the supply chain, certified PKS must be kept separate from noncertified fuel—mass balance reporting is not permitted. METI has evaluated the compliance of third-party certifications, including Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification, International Sustainability and Carbon Certification and Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil, against its criteria. It concluded that, in addition to the

currently accepted RSPO certification, RSB, or Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, certification should also be accepted. Biomass power plants using agricultural byproducts will have three years from the end of fiscal year 2018-’19 before the new sustainability rules are enforced—i.e., until March 2022. The Japanese biomass market—particularly its relative fuel flexibility compared to the wood pellet-dominated European market— will create an interesting trading environment as demand grows in the coming years. Those players who keep well-informed of developments in all fuel types will be best placed to capitalize on this opportunity. For a more detailed analysis of the PKS market, including demand forecasts, estimates of PKS resources, cost drivers and price forecasts, contact Hawkins Wright. Author: Rachael Levinson Biomass Research Manager, Hawkins Wright rachael@hawkinswright.com www.hawkinswright.com

Your Provider of Processing Material Handling Equipment AGI Tramco manufactures premier bulk material handling equipment primarily for grain, oilseed and biomass processing industries. To learn more about AGI Tramco conveyors and bulk handling equipment visit aggrowth.com/tramco.



BIOMASS REFRACTORIES: ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL Performing a process audit and understanding wear mechanisms can drastically maximize lining performance. BY JIM CAPRIO AND BRENT BUCHCUSKI


ue to its versatility, value, overall economic impact and abundancy, biomass is becoming an increasingly popular fuel option for numerous processes. To better manage a biomass refractory lining system, we believe there are three key fundamentals: • Variability, as biomass fuels and their effect on a refractory lining vary widely from one application to another. • Understanding the four key wear mechanisms. • Audit and design—installing a prescriptive lining based on a process audit that focuses on the key wear mechanisms to maximize performance and minimize overall costs.

Wear Mechanisms

Due to the different options of biomass fuels, and the various operating parameters of the units, it is important to understand the wear mechanisms of each biomass application. Alkali attack. Relative to traditional fossil fuels, most biomass fuels contain high levels of alkalis (sodium, calcium and potassium). At temperatures as low as 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, these corrosive compounds can disrupt refractories in two ways—slag corrosion, or expansive alumina reactions. For slag corrosion, the alkalis can combine with the silica and calcium in the refractory, forming a viscous slag at high temperatures that will deteriorate the lining. The alkalies in the fuel can also react with the excess alumina in the refractory, causing a shift from alpha to beta alumina. The beta transformation is very expansive,

causing crack propagation in the lining. Alkali cup tests serve to approximate the potential reactions. Comparative cup test can help predict a cost-effective solution. Abrasion and erosion. Depending on the type of biomass fuel and ash hardness after combustion, various parts of the unit can be subjected to abrasion and erosion. To test and rank the abrasion resistance of different refractories, the ASTM C704 test is commonly used. Using a prescribed amount and type of silicon carbide grit, the refractory sample (heated to 1,500 F then cooled to room temperature) is eroded at a 90-degree angle. The subsequent hole is measured by its size in cubic centimeters (CC), with a smaller hole (and lower CC loss) indicating better abrasion resistance. Thermal Cycling. Refractory materials are designed to be run at high temperatures with minimal thermal cycling. However, some units, and certainly some sections of many designs, are subjected to thermal cycling. Some refractories are more resistant to thermal shock and cycling than others. A popular test to determine thermal shock resistance is the prism spall test. Two-inch cubes of the refractory in question are heated to 2,200 F and then thermally quenched in water, to complete one cycle. After each cycle, the cube is examined for excess cracking. If the cube is not fractured in half, another cycle is run. This is done for up to 30 cycles. This data can then be compared to other refractory samples tested using the same method.

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


Alkali cup tests serve to predict potential alkali reactions based on fuel sources, and this data can be applied to make a prescriptive product recommendation.



High-Temperature Strength. Most refractory castables are exceptionally strong at room temperature. The true test of a refractory, however, is strength at operating temperature. The most common method to test high-temperature strength is the Hot Modulus of Rupture (HMOR) procedure. The test performs a three-point modulus of rupture test on a refractory sample at furnace temperatures, often ranging from 1,500 to 2,800 F. The hot strength (psi) can then be compared to other refractory types. This test is critical with cement-bonded products, as higher amounts of calcium oxide in the refractory can cause a loss of strength at elevated temperatures, resulting in fluxing and premature wear.

Case Histories

The following are two examples where audit results, understanding wear mechanisms and installing a prescriptive lining pay off.


Midwest Gasification Unit

Audit results: The wood chip fuel will introduce excessive sodium and potassium, potentially causing fluxing and matrix disruption. The auger shaft area will be exposed to thermal shock and abrasion. Products used: UNI-PUMP 55 ALK R has an excellent rating in various cup slag tests and is very conducive to the desired installation method. UNI-PUMP RF-FS-6 in the auger shaft shows shock data in greater than 30 cycles and excellent abrasion data.

Midwest Municipal Waste-to-Energy Unit

Audit results: The extremely variable fuel could introduce alkalis, and more importantly, chlorides that would severely disrupt any cement-bonded refractory. High strength is required, as the walls are routinely cleaned and scraped. Products used: UNI-SHOT RF-60CF is a no-cement, gel-bonded system that shows excellent resistance to alkalis and chlorides. In addition, the “CF” products have good hot strengths in the operating temperature range to tolerate the cleaning process. The CF system is also easier to install and more cost-effective than competitive no-cement colloidal silica systems. In summary, refractory linings in biomass units are subject to a variety of wear mechanisms. To expect optimal performance and results, a process audit should be conducted to consider the four key wear mechanisms and help design a prescriptive lining best-suited for a specific project. Authors: Jim Caprio Vice President, Customer & Product Development, United Refractories Co. jimc@urc4u.com Brent Buchcuski Midwest Regional Sales Manager, United Refractories Co. brentb@urc4u.com


All inquiries please contact: ct:

Oliver Wadsworth (North America Sales) Email: ow@johnkingchains.com Tel: 843-998-1767

John King Chains Limited New Climax Works, Lancaster Business Park, Sherburn-in-Elmet LS25 6NS UK Tel: (44) 1977 681 910, Fax: (44) 1977 681 899 Email: general@johnkingchains.co.uk Website: www.johnkingchains.com



n 1995, high-velocity thermal spray (HVTS) was an established technology in a highly controlled shop application environment. It was used for specialized applications in aircraft components, valves and other similar equipment. Users of the technology started to ask whether it could be effectively applied in the field, to existing fixed assets in-situ. Field technology was also present at the time; however, it was a different class of technology. Twin wire arc spray or thermal spray aluminum are both low-velocity thermal spray technologies that are not able to produce reliable coatings to serve in critical erosion and corrosion environments in fixed assets such as process vessels, towers, columns or power boilers. The existing HVTS equipment and technology couldn’t be taken into the field effectively or economically.

Solution Identified

In 1995, a handful of engineers addressed that problem and took HVTS technology into the field. It was successfully deployed in the downstream oil and gas industry, originally in South Africa. In the late 1990s, the technology went global, being adopted by multinational energy corporations. HVTS, also known as the high-velocity alloy cladding, has continued to evolve. Atomizing the wire in a supersonic gas stream was the first piece of the puzzle. This technical development delivered a surface technology that worked well with commonly used welding materials in high-temperature corrosion environments, such as in the pulp and paper and coal power sectors of the time.

New Hurdles

THE EVOLUTION of High-Velocity Thermal Spray High-velocity thermal spray was initially used in specialized shop applications but is now widely deployed in the energy sector for critical equipment protection. BY MARINA SILVA CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).


At that stage, IGS was exploring the wider utilization of the technology into other industry sectors such as the upstream oil and gas industry. It was soon discovered that spraying off-the-shelf alloy feedstock materials using a highvelocity process produced particles that oxidized in flight, creating an applied microstructure with permeability pathways for corrosion. While this wasn’t an issue for high-temperature erosion applications, it was a fundamental problem for environments with corrosive media, e.g., chlorine or sulfur, among other corrosive substances.

Material Development

IGS undertook significant research and development work in the early 2000s, developing new HVTS feedstock materials that would control alloy integrity during the application process. This way, the applied microstructure would be fit for the service environment of the asset. The R&D project focused on the permeability of the applied HVTS microstructures, assessing the resistance of the applied materials to permeation by aggressive and corrosive fluids, the shape of the deposited particles being sprayed and controlling residual stresses. Following development of bespoke feedstock alloys, HVTS would no longer be a shop-only solution when longterm reliability was essential. It has now become a surface technology that could be effectively deployed as a lasting

corrosion barrier in the field, during shutdowns and turnarounds, reducing critical path and ensuring lasting reliability in the most arduous operating environments.

Lab vs. Field

Another important piece of the puzzle was to design the application equipment in such a way that an appropriate corrosion barrier could be produced in a field environment. For assets such as process vessels, towers and columns, organic coatings started to gain acceptance, but the results were varied and, at times, inconsistent. Complex curing mechanisms, strict application procedures and propensity to mechanical damage made operators look for more reliable, robust, longer-lasting solutions, while avoiding the costs and time typically associated with in-situ weld metal overlay. To minimize turnaround time and extend asset life, upstream and downstream operators adopted the HVTS technology, successfully deployed across the globe.

Success Where Others Have Failed

As the adaptation of this technology continued to grow, oil and gasâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;both upstream and downstreamâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;petrochemical, biomass

and waste-to-energy plant operators began to recognize it as an optimum erosion and corrosion barrier to protect their fixed assetsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; parent metal. An example at a Swedish biomass power plant illustrates the performance of this solution: The IGS Europe s.r.o. operations team performed a HVTS application in the No. 5 steam boiler at Eon Värme Sverige AB Ă&#x2026;byverket in Ă&#x2013;rebro, Sweden, during a fall 2017 maintenance period. AP5 is a 170-MW, biomass-fired circulating fluidized bed boiler built in 1988 by GĂśtaverken-Generator, currently Valmet Technologies Inc. In preparation for a future change in fuel composition, Ă&#x2026;byverket wanted to upgrade the existing surface protection system that was previously installed. The first annual inspection of the IGS HVTS application was conducted in August 2018. The result was as expected; there was no degradation or thickness loss of the applied thermal spray cladding.

Future of High-Velocity Alloy Cladding

The development of this technology is still ongoing, especially in new areas such as the waste-to-energy and petrochemical markets. Developing new processes, experimenting with new sources of fuel and utilizing

Protecting boiler Waterwalls with HVTS PHOTO: INTEGRATED GLOBAL SERVICES

waste as a fuel source is an important next step in the global sustainability movement. New materials and technologies, however, present a unique challenge for designers and operators in terms of unexpected and accelerated erosion and corrosion. Proven and robust surface protection solutions, which can be deployed in the field within turnaround schedules, are therefore seen as a welcome alternative to repeated equipment replacement. Author: Marina Silva International Marketing Manager, IGS Inc. marina.silva@integratedglobal.com www.integratedglobal.com


GUARANTEED TO PERFORM ENGINEERED TO LAST MATERIAL HANDLING SOLUTIONS for the biomass, biofuels, resource recovery, power generation, pulp and paper industries.

Over 40 Years of Experience 763.576.9040


Inspection doors and track-mounted components facilitate maintenance for extended equipment life. PHOTO: MARTIN ENGINEERING


Improved conveyor access can significantly reduce maintenance time and prevent injuries.


irtually every vehicle on the road today is designed with a hood that can be easily opened for access to the engine so mechanics can perform routine service, or diagnose and address problems that arise during its lifespan. Conveyor systems should be designed in the same way, with convenient points along the length of the belt to allow technicians to inspect its condition, perform service as needed and help prevent

BY JERAD HEITZLER catastrophic failure. Unfortunately, this type of access is often overlooked when conveyor systems are being engineeredâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that is, until a pressing need arises, which increases the difficulty of ongoing inspections that could have allowed technicians to observe and service critical components before a crisis develops. As a result, costs go up and productivity goes down. Conveyor manufacturers have responded to the need for increased accessibility by de-

veloping components and accessories specially designed to reduce labor time, while improving safety during service. Innovative equipment designs such as slide-out cradle frames, belt cleaner assemblies, idler assemblies, and sealed heavy-duty inspection doors offer better access for safer and more efficient maintenance, resulting in fewer injuries, reduced labor time and a lower total cost of operation.

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


DESIGN & ENGINEERING¦ “This is a cascading issue,” says Daniel Marshall, product engineer at Martin Engineering. “Insufficient access leads to poor maintenance practices, resulting in emergency outages and diminishing the operation’s productivity and safety. From an ownership and management perspective, downtime and injuries affect profitability through loss of production, capital expenditures for new equipment and ongoing insurance implications.” In the past, managers often decided against the expense of adding safer and easier access points to a conveyor system beyond what is required by code. However, over the conveyor’s lifetime, safety professionals estimate that poor access adds as much as 65 percent to maintenance and cleaning costs. When designing proper access into a bulk materials handling system, there are three easily achieved goals: • Easy to see. If equipment cannot be seen, neither can the problems. • Easy to reach. Equipment maintenance is likely to be postponed if it is awkward or dangerous to access. • Easy to replace. Broken equipment is likely to remain that way if it is complicated and time-consuming to service.

Loading Zone Innovations

“Many conveyor transfer points still have an antiquated roller system tasked with absorbing impact and centering the cargo,” Marshall continues. “These components often break and seize, causing friction and a potential fire hazard. To replace them, several workers must remove the skirtboard and break the plane of the conveyor to reach across the stringer with heavy tools to assess and repair equipment.” To reduce maintenance time and labor, improve safety and extend equipment life, operators should consider track-mounted impact cradles and belt support cradles. Located under the skirtboard and mounted with rugged steel assemblies, the cradles feature large, impact-absorbing, ultra-high-molecular-weight polymer “box bars” engineered with smooth surfaces that the belt can slide across with little friction or belt wear. These assemblies can be pulled out by a single worker, safely from outside the conveyor. Using only a single tool, the box bars can be simply removed and flipped in a matter of minutes to double the service life. Along the cargo path in the settling zone and beyond, retractable idlers support the belt

and maintain the trough angle. Exposed to the punishing environment, gritty dust and extreme weather, rollers can seize over time. Often set closely together in the loading zone to avoid belt sag, slide-out/slide-in roller frames permit workers to perform idler service outside of the belt plane without the need to raise the belt or remove adjacent idlers.

Discharge Zone Maintenance

“Wear parts such as belt cleaner blades need to be monitored, serviced or changed regularly to prevent carryback from causing dust and spillage along the belt path,” Marshall says. “However, blade adjustments and changes can require several hours of downtime.” Primary cleaners, located on the underside of the head pulley, are mounted on rotating assemblies designed to retain the proper tension between the blade and the belt. Secondary cleaners are located behind the head pulley and raised slightly above the belt line for tension. Specially designed units can slide in and out by simply pulling a lever and releasing a pin. This allows blade maintenance to be performed outside of the system by a single worker in under an hour.

Inspection Doors

A tight seal is the key to preventing fugitive dust from leaving any chute. Current setups often require workers to crouch or crawl under the system, or even enter a confined space to inspect it or perform maintenance, which can result in serious injuries. Inspection of the system needs to be fast, easy and safe. Small inspection doors, either solid or grated, can allow several observation points. Larger doors can offer access points with ample space for service of specific wear parts.

Case Study

A coal plant in eastern China had belt damage, spillage and dust issues at two conveyor transfer points with outdated equipment in the loading zones. Raw coal ore was loaded onto the 40-inch-wide belts traveling 500 feet per minute. The first chute had a 16.5-foothigh drop chute that loaded into a 40-footlong loading zone. The second chute had a similar drop, discharging into an 85-foot-long loading zone. Suffering from an old design, the belts were supported by impact idlers and a troughed roller system, neither of which were equipped

to cope with new production demands. Equipment failures happened regularly, and without proper accessibility for routine maintenance, long periods of downtime were common. Belt sag created gaps between the belt and rollers, causing fugitive dust emissions throughout the facility. Inadequate impact control led to spillage becoming entrapped between the belt and tail pulley, damaging them both. Excessive downtime, costs for cleanup and equipment replacement seriously impacted profitability. Managers sought a solution that better protected the belt, sealed the chute from dust and spillage, and offered easier inspection and ongoing maintenance. Technicians from Martin Engineering China were invited to perform an on-site assessment and suggest an affordable solution. After offering a detailed proposal, the team installed modern equipment that addressed the issues on both conveyors. The first chute was equipped with a track-mounted impact cradle to improve loading and protect the belt and tail pulley. In addition, slider cradles for smoother centering were installed, along with a full-length apron seal to prevent dust and spillage from escaping. A comparable solution was installed in the longer chute, with added cradle support down the entire length. Both chutes featured nonpowered dust bag systems to collect emissions. Since installation, spillage around the loading zones is under control. Dust emissions have been drastically reduced. Operators report that a considerable drop in equipment failure rates has resulted in a substantial increase in productivity. Contributing to the success was workers’ ability to easily inspect and service components by sliding them out and servicing them outside of the conveyor. “Access is a common element for both safety and productivity across all industries,” concludes Marshall. “By adding easy access and monitoring in the design phase, equipment can be better maintained using less labor, leading to reduced downtime. This is reflected in the cost of operation, offering a better overall return on investment.” Author: Jerad Heitzler Foundations Training Manager, Martin Engineering www.martin-eng.com 309-852-2384



SPONSOR Biomass Magazine's



This month's Sponsor Spotlight details Continental Blower's efforts in the biogas and RNG industry, TerraSource Global's Jeffrey Radar TubeFeeder technology for fiber storage and reclaim, and E=MC3's progress toward developing a high-quality, high-energy wood chip for cogeneration facilities.


¦SPONSORED Turning Air into a Tool With well over 100 years of experience and 40,000-plus global installations for hundreds of applications, Continental Blower LLC is armed with the knowledge, skill and motivation to serve the growing North American biogas market. The company’s natural segue into the sector stemmed from its extensive work in Europe’s now-mature biogas industry. To date, Continental Blower has provided thousands of landfill gas and biogas blowers and exhausters in the U.S. and Canada. “The industry here is beginning to scale up, just as it did in Europe,” explains Dan Mirizio, Continental Blower founder and manager. Specific applications include landfill gas extraction to flare or gas-to-energy, and renewable energy from landfills or digesters at wastewater treatment plants and dairy farms. “We’re seeing more opportunity in the industrial and municipal sectors—for example, manufacturers in the food and beverage industry that have in-house or on-site waste water treatment facilities, and are collaborating with emerging companies creating new technologies,” says

Peter Cerimeli, Continental Blower managing director. “This is moving the biomass sector, which we have a wealth of experience in, to a whole new level.” Continental Blower offers a simple design, enabling smooth operation and pulse-free air and gas, says Mirizio. “This makes the blower very reliable under some of the harshest conditions. In addition, our large product breadth across various sizes and stages, in conjunction with standardized customization, allows for extensive design flexibility.” Importantly, the company prides itself on its responsiveness to customers, points out Mike Malfitano, biogas market manager. “We answer the phone,” he says. “Our focus is on blowers, we respond to quotes or requests for quotations within a day. Here, you can always get someone to help you, whether it’s making a selection or simply increasing your blower knowledge for your specific needs.” In response to growing demand, Continental Blower—currently involved in several notable biogas and renewable natural gas projects under construction in North America— plans to make itself accessible at numerous upcoming biogas and related trade shows, including the Value of Biogas West 2020 in

Vancouver, British Columbia, on Jan. 14, and the Global Waste Management Symposium in Indian Wells, California, Feb. 23-26. In the meantime, Cerimeli adds, the company is working on enhancing its offerings to help support industry needs. “We’re developing solutions for higher flow and higher pressure, in conjunction with enhancing our seal design to help support these higher-performance characteristics,” he says. Mirizio and Malfitano highlight Continental Blower’s stocking program—homing in on components and blower models of blowers that fall into the sweet spot of the biogas market. “When blowers go down, we have complete blowers and spare parts of various sizes on hand,” Mirizio says. And, the company offers quick shipment for new projects. “The blower tends to require the longest lead time, so we’ve managed to stock certain components that align with the performance range for many biogas projects,” Mirizio says. “There are so many different applications,” he adds. “Often, the blower is the heart of the process. Without it, the process doesn’t work.”

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Innovation in Material Reclaim Efficiency Fuel preparation is vital for efficient combustion, a critical component to the overall profitability of biomass energy plants. Many factors must be accounted for to ensure quality fuel preparation, such as controlling dust, removing foreign and oversized particles, and ensuring appropriate material storage and high-quality homogenization. TerraSource Globalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Jeffrey Rader TubeFeeder system uses innovative technology to thoroughly and cost-effectively handle all of these challenges, making it an integral component for reclaiming biofuel from silos or storage piles at the most efficient biomass facilities. TubeFeeders offer full homogenization at a uniform rate of fuel, while maintaining substantially lower power consumption compared to alternative solutions. Over 100 TubeFeeders are installed worldwide, primarily in pulp and paper and bioenergy operations. However, TubeFeeder technology is also a viable reclaiming option for several other applications beyond forest products, including coal, cement, pellets and many others. With the increasing demand for sustainable bioenergy,

the TubeFeeders have gained a reputation for being the optimal solution for companies operating in this market. A TubeFeeder is composed of an outside tube with uniform slots spread along the length of the machine, which is key to controlled combustion. Pile height is not an issue, as TubeFeeders are easily adaptable to desired height and silo volume. Conveying occurs by gravity flow through the slots, which helps diminish the required operational power by at least 70 percent compared to conventional systems. Each slot is furnished with an activator. The intelligent design employed in the tube and screw configuration constitutes a closedforces system, meaning no thrust forces into the structure are generated. As the tube rotates, material is reclaimed into it. Material being conveyed inside the tube is protected from the static pressure exerted by the remaining material in the pile/or silo. Tube rotation is controlled by variable frequency drive, and the typical span is one to six revolutions per minute (rpm), allowing for uniform material reclaiming and blending along its length. A screw auger operates inside the tube at a fixed rpm, conveying fuel to the outlet end. Capacity is proportional to the tube rotation speed, with a 15 to 100 percent repeatable rate

within a selected capacity window. Tube rotation depends on travelling direction, thereby ensuring consistent operation regardless of travel direction. The whole unit traverses on rails across the base of square silos or in round silos on a swivel around the center. Overall, biomass facilities can expect major performance and operational advantages by choosing the TubeFeeder as the critical component of their storage and reclaim solution, including lower operational costs due to energy-efficient design; thorough homogenization of fuel and a uniform feed rate, leading to excellent boiler control and efficiency; reduced cost in structural and electrical infrastructure, and minimized downtime for maintenance and wear-part replacement. SUBMITTED BY TERRASOURCE GLOBAL









ÂŚSPONSORED Phytosanitized Wood Chips for CHP Exponential growth in demand for renewable energy sources such as biomass is derivative of global warming, climate change initiatives enacted across the European Union to reverse GHG emissions and reduce the global carbon footprint. Simultaneous to this expanding need, Maine experienced a calamitous loss of an equivalent 75 percent of its historic paper manufacturing base. The convergence of significant circumstances put the EU and Maine in the perfect storm of demand and supply. In April 2015, E=MC3 was formed for the sole purpose of designing, developing and delivering a high-quality design mixture of biomass, with high energy values, high density properties to compete with ocean freight costs equivalent to wood pellets, and a below-market rate cost per gigajoule (GJ) delivered to cogeneration facilities. A bankable, certificated and sustainable wood fiber supply originates from a select few landowners, each with more than of 1 million acres of managed forests. All fiber

is low value and derived only from forest residuals, slash, trimmings and mill shavings. Between the ports of Searsport, Maine, and St. Johns, New Brunswick, the bankable fiber supply for biomass to the EU exceeds 1 million metric tons annually. Additional sources of fiber are under negotiations in Connecticut and would be shipped out of the Port of New Haven. All 28 EU Members require an import treatment to sanitize any wood fiber originating from North America. Fumigation procedures have evolved dramatically since 2015, when the EU mandated the phasing out of chemical fumigant on board vessels. Methyl bromide and phosphine applications are either fully outlawed or will be terminated soon. The internationally recognized treatment for wood fiber imports to the EU is heat treatment, or phytosanitation, where all fiber must be heated to its core to a minimum temperature of 56 degrees Celsius (C) for a period of no less than 30 minutes. E=MC3 wood chips will be produced at 60 degrees C for a minimum of 45 minutes to be ahead of anticipated requirement changes in the EU.


To make this biomass product effectively marketable, several key cost components were scrutinized to identify cost containment tasks while implementing lowcarbon and efficient logistical operations and procedures. Traditional fiber harvest costs, inland transportation costs and ocean freight costs are the key variables to the supply chain success. These three cost centers are dramatically mitigated by: sourcing only low-value fiber as mentioned above; collecting and transporting up to 70 percent of that fiber to the processing plant by rail (from and to St. John, Quebec, and Millinocket, Maine, direct to the E=MC3 fiber hub yard at the Port of Searsport); establishing a meaningful alliance with a vessel owner-operator with the capacity to dedicate vessels for the E=MC3 program; and by bundling and handling the fiber in a highly compacted or densified medium. As a result of the above cost containment measures, E=MC3 biomass is a low-cost supplementary alternative to wood pellets. By getting ahead of the curve with woody biomass cogeneration or combined-

heat-and-power (CHP), operators can substantiate their commitment to sourcing renewable energy products at the lowest carbon footprint cost available. A quick review of woody biomass versus wood pellets includes the following points: â&#x20AC;˘ To produce 1 million metric tons (MT) of wood pellets requires roughly 2.2 million MT U.S. tons of wood chips. â&#x20AC;˘ Production of 1 million MT of wood pellets requires approximately 21 acres of forest clearing per day. â&#x20AC;˘ Wood pellets produce about 17 GJ of energy per MT while the E=MC3 material is roughly 13 GJ per MT. â&#x20AC;˘ The carbon footprint to process wood pellets is approximately three times the cost to phytosanitize wood chip residual. â&#x20AC;˘ A 2020 forward looking FOB-NWE price for wood pellets from Northeast U.S. and Canada is projected to be approximately $160.00 per MT, or $9.41 per GJ, and for phytosanitized biomass wood chips, approximately $82 per MT, or $6.30 per GJ. Our ocean freight owner operator will execute agreements direct with buyers to mitigate or remove any risk mark-ups, and


thereby hold prices down. Stowage and ocean loading density is equivalent to wood pellets, so the ocean freight is no longer the upset factor in this supply chain. High-energy, high-density, baled woody biomass does not require outside buildings or storage structures. The E=MC3 material can be stored at the origination port for extended periods, waiting for will-calls or to provide a long-term, high-volume supply solutions for biomass that: do not degrade when moving; creates no dust particulate in handling or loading; has no off-gassing characteristics; eliminates combustible pile scenarios and the requirement for high-cost pellet storage facilities; extends life-cycle of the biomass, and is delivered in unitized quantities and sizes applicable to metric transportation requirements. The above is a snapshot of the benefits to investigating how E=MC3 woody biomass can become an essential part of any CHP plantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s long-term environmental planning. E=MC3 is not a replacement product for wood pellets, however. Rather, it is a supplementary alternative to any CHP plantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s need for sustainable suppliesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the

addition of the E=MC3 technology to the procurement mix will enhance the environmental credentials of the CHP plant, as well as bottom line margins by blending a lowcost product with pellets. Several major CHP plants have begun the process of evaluating E=MC3 as a viable woody biomass source. E=MC3 is especially attractive to those CHP plants with their own receiving dock located at their plants. Currently, two major inland wood fiber production, processing and distribution yards are exploring the opportunity to import E=MC3 to their facilities for subsequent inland distribution to plants in remote locations. EMC3 will present all of the above at the upcoming 2020 International Biomass Conference & Expo in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 3-5. SUBMITTED BY E=MC3



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Biomass Magazine Marketplace

BBI Project Development Erin P.B. Zasada

John D. Schroeder


Warren & Baerg Manufacturing Inc.


Benetech specializes in integrating the right technologies for solutions that reduce dust, prevent spillage and improve material flow. Our goal is to ensure best practices that deliver safe and efficient storage, transfer and processing of all bulk materials. Technologies include dust suppression, dust collection, engineered transfer systems, washdown systems, conveyor components and more. 2245 Sequoia Dr., Suite 300, Aurora, IL, 60506 630.844.1300 www.benetechglobal.com

TAPPI International Bioenergy and Bioproducts Conference (IBBC)

IBBC attracts bio professionals from around the world eager to learn new technologies and process improvements that advance the bioeconomy using renewable biomass assets from the pulp and paper industry. IBBC is co-located with TAPPI’s PEERS Conference providing multiple learning opportunities. Lisa Stephens TAPPI Division Manager 770-209-7313 www.tappi-ibbc.org


BBI Project Development

BBI’s technical experts provide feasibility studies and project development for new biomass power facilities as well as pellet mill facilities. In many countries power generation through anaerobic digestion addresses waste management and power needs and its application continues to expand. BBI’s experts are able to perform engineering studies, perform technology assessments and evaluate the economic impacts of these projects. 866-746-8385 service@bbiinternational.com www.bbiprojectdevelopment. com

Warren & Baerg Manufacturing, Inc.

Warren & Berg Manufacturing Inc. manufactures bale d-stringing, grinding and metering/surge systems for biomass applications. If densification is needed, our cubing systems compress different baled materials, cardboard, plastic, wood, and sludge into high-density cubes for fuel. Our systems include conveyors: drag chain, chain belt, slider bed, roller chain, flat belt, trough belt, and bottom drag. We provide magnetic systems for metal removal, engineering services and plant design. 39950 Road 108 Dinuba, CA 93618 559-591-6790 www.warrenbaerg.com

Biomass Magazine Marketplace

Process and Storage Solutions

NETZSCH Pumps North America Erin P.B. Zasada

John D. Schroeder

All THINGS Biomass


1 4t h A n n u a l

March 15:17 2021 JACKSONVILLE, FL

NETZSCH Pumps North America, LLC

NEMO® B.Max® features maximum mixing and conveying capabilities for biosubstrates. The pump housing has a large rectangular hopper and removable chamfered force-feed chamber, and a coupling rod with patented, horizontally positioned auger, that optimally feed product to the pumping elements. Conveying support positioning on the hopper housing allows for maximum mixing of the substrate. 119 Pickering Way Exton, PA 19341-1393 USA (610) 363-8010 www.pumps.netzsch.com

International Biomass Conference & Expo

Now in its 14th year, the International Biomass Conference & Expo provides relevant content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic businessto-business environment. In addition to abundant networking opportunities, the largest biomass conference in the world is renowned for its outstanding programming—powered by Biomass Magazine–that maintains a strong focus on commercial-scale biomass production, new technology, and near-term research and development. 866-746-8385 www.biomassconference.com service@bbiinternational.com



Contact Us Today (866) 746-8385, service@bbiinternaonal.com

Process and Storage Solutions

Process and Storage Solutions provides consulting, process design, engineering, equipment procurement, installation and site supervision services for the wood and renewables, animal feed, aquatic and pet food, and coffee industries. Since its founding in 2006 by Mike Ramczyk and Donald Land, PASS has established itself as a highly specialized process design and equipment sales firm. PASS serves its clients from offices in Appleton, Wisconsin and Rainsville, Alabama. Process and Storage Solutions Rainsville, Alabama 866-354-PASS (72277) donald@processandstorage.com

Pellet Mill Magazine

Pellet Mill Magazine delivers discerning, data-driven content— features, technical contributions and expert commentary—to professionals in the densified biomass fuel industry. As a bimonthly supplement to Biomass Magazine, Pellet Mill Magazine covers a broad range of issues affecting wood pellet industry stakeholders, from production technology, plant management and domestic and international sales to pellet standards, policy and environmental regulation. 866-746-8385 www.biomassmagazine.com/ pellet-mill-magazine service@bbiinternational.com


NEW THINKING. NOW HAPPENING. What if the problem is the waste, not the energy?

Check us out at Booth #602 President Brian Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor of AirBurners will be speaking at the 2020 BioMass Conference. Check event agenda for times.

The PGFireBoxÂŽ quickly, cleanly, and cost-effectively eliminates wood and vegetative waste â&#x20AC;&#x201C; including whole logs and root balls â&#x20AC;&#x201C; while producing electric and thermal energy perfect for heating drying kilns. Does away with hauling and grinding and reduces handling; no pre-processing required. The PGFireBox System does not require any permanent structures and is easily relocated if necessary. ĂŽ@ @ `%0)7° -6 962)67@'31` -6 962)67@'31

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Profile for BBI International

2020 January/February Biomass Magazine  

The Project Design, Engineering and Construction Issue.

2020 January/February Biomass Magazine  

The Project Design, Engineering and Construction Issue.