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April 20-22, 2015 Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN www.BiomassConference.com

SEE YOU IN MINNEAPOLIS

2 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014


Contents »

Pellet Mill Magazine

Advertiser Index

2 2015 International Biomass Conference & Expo 14 Agra Industries 25 Airoflex Equipment 38 AMANDUS KAHL GmbH & Co. KG 29 Andritz Feed & Biofuel A/S 44 Astec, Inc. 43 BBI International Project Development 26 BRUKS Rockwood 27 Brunette Machinery 21 Calbrandt, Inc. 36 CPM Roskamp Champion 11 Dieffenbacher 10 EAD 39 Fike Corporation 18 GreCon, Inc. 41 Industrial Bulk Lubricants 20 MoistTech

Q3 2014 | VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 3

FEATURES 16 APPLIANCES The Advance Of The Austrian Pellet Boilers European manufacturers navigate bureaucratic hurdles. By Chris Hanson

22 MARKETS Changing Consumer Habits Strategies move consumers to order early and avoid perceived pellet shortages. By Carla Harper

28 INTERNATIONAL Building Demand Through Community Energy Oregon’s wood energy clusters revolve around promoting pellet heat. By Susanne Retka Schill

32 Q&A Gord’s Gold Gordon Murray is passionate about Canada’s pellet industry. By Tim Portz

34 INTERNATIONAL ‛State of Green’ Embraces Pellet Power Denmark has potential to become next export destination. By Lennart Ljungblom

30 Pellets Forum 12 Seeger Green Energy, LLC 31 Timber Products Inspection/Biomass Energy Laboratories

DEPARTMENTS

24 UniTrak

05 EDITOR’S NOTE

15 USIPA 4th Exporting Pellets Conference 19 Uzelac Industries 13 Vecoplan LLC 37 West Salem Machinery Co.

All Markets Great and Small By Tim Portz

06 INDUSTRY EVENTS 07 PELLET PERSPECTIVE

Sustainable Forests, Sustainable Biomass By Rob Davis

08 TESTING GROUNDS ON THE COVER: Dong Energy's Avedoere CHP plant in Denmark will soon fire Unit 2 with 100 percent pellets.

Preparing For New ISO Standards By Chris Wiberg

PHOTO: DONG ENERGY

09 INDUSTRIAL INSIGHT

CONTRIBUTION

10 BUSINESS BRIEFS

40 SAFETY Spark Detection: Plant’s First Line Of Defense Properly used infrared and heat detection sensors are key to avoiding catastrophic events. By Jeffrey C. Nichols

Biomass: America's 21st Century Solution By Seth Ginther

12 NEWS 42 MARKETPLACE

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 3


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Editor’s Note »

All Markets Great and Small

Tim Portz

VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR tportz@bbiinternational.com

The pellet industry is comprised of two vastly different markets: industrial and residential. Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, reminded us of this when he reframed a question about the differences between the marketplace experience for U.S. and Canadian producers in this issue's Q&A. These two markets are formed by very different forces, shaped by unique policy initiatives and require unique distribution infrastructures to serve their eventual customers. The stories included in this edition of Pellet Mill Magazine illustrate those differences but also show the very visible thread that Murray identifies as the two pillars our industry is founded upon: sustainability and greenhouse gas benefits. In his feature “‛State of Green’ Embraces Pellet Power,” Lennart Ljungblom offers an in-depth analysis of the policy and market drivers expanding wood pellet demand in Denmark. While already a significant buyer of wood pellets, Denmark’s demand thus far has been met by pellet suppliers to the east such as Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia. With aggressive policies for both woody biomass-derived heat (100 percent by 2035) and low-carbon power, it seems likely that the two ships carrying wood pellets from the U.S. berthed in Danish ports in the past year indicate the emergence of a global buyer worthy of producer attention. The remaining three features in this issue together outline the challenges the industry continues to face as it grows the residential and small commercial market. Chris Hanson’s page-16 feature continues our series on pellet burning appliances by digging into the hurdles that Austrian pellet appliance manufacturers face as they look to penetrate the North American marketplace. These appliance sales are closely watched, as Carla Harper reports in her page 22 feature, “Changing Consumer Habits.” Harper takes a long look at the challenge this particular market poses to the industry, best articulated in a quote from Rob Davis, Forest Energy Corp. president. He laments the surges that consumers introduce into the demand cycle, saying, “It’s hard to plan for periodically 1 million customers buying 2 tons each at once.” Our market is growing. It is doubling because passionate people are doing the hard work of getting appliances approved for new markets, replacing oil heat in schools in Oregon and beginning fuel switch projects in Denmark. The best news is that it seems the overall trajectory the industry is experiencing is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 5


Industry Events »

2014 Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference

Editorial PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF Tom Bryan tbryan@bbiinternational.com

JULY 27-29, 2014

VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR Tim Portzz tportz@bbiinternational.com MANAGING EDITOR Susanne Retka Schill sretkaschill@bbiinternational.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Anna Simet asimet@bbiinternational.com NEWS EDITOR Erin Vogele evoegele@bbiinternational.com

Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate Orlando, Florida The PFI Annual Conference is the annual opportunity for members of the densified biomass fuel industry to gather for three days of educational opportunities, vendor exhibits and networking. Attendees include manufacturers, retailers, industry suppliers, government officials, and more. If you would like to be added to the email distribution list for the PFI Conference, please send an email to pfimail@ pelletheat.org 703-522-6778 | www.pelletheat.org

National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo

COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann jtellmann@bbiinternational.com STAFF WRITER Chris Hanson chanson@bbiinternational.com

OCTOBER 13-15, 2014

Hyatt Minneapolis Minneapolis, Minnesota Produced by BBI International, this national event will feature the world of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals—technology scale-up, project finance, policy, national markets and more—with a core focus on the industrial, petroleum and agribusiness alliances defining the national advanced biofuels industry. With a vertically integrated program and audience, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleumderived products. 866-746-8385 | www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com

Art ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund jsatterlund@bbiinternational.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Raquel Boushee rboushee@bbiinternational.com

Publishing & Sales CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan mbryan@bbiinternational.com CEO Joe Bryan jbryan@bbiinternational.com

International Biomass Conference & Expo

VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS Matthew Spoorr mspoor@bbiinternational.com

APRIL 20-22, 2015

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Howard Brockhouse hbrockhouse@bbiinternational.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Chip Shereck k cshereck@bbiinternational.com MARKETING DIRECTOR John Nelson jnelson@bbiinternational.com CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Beaudry jbeaudry@bbiinternational.com

Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota Organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Magazine, this event brings current and future producers of bioenergy and biobased products together with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s a true one-stop shop – the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com

International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

MARKETING & TRAFFIC COORDINATOR Marla DeFoe mdefoe@bbiinternational.com

JUNE 1-4, 2015 Subscriptions to Pellet Mill Magazine are free of charge—distributed quarterly—to Biomass Magazine subscribers.To subscribe, visit www.BiomassMagazine.com or you can send your mailing address to Pellet Mill Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to (701) 746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at (866) 746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Advertising Pellet Mill Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Pellet Mill Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at (866) 746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Pellet Mill Magazine Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to sretkaschill@bbiinternational.com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota The FEW provides the global ethanol industry with cutting-edge content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-to-business environment. The FEW is the largest, longest running ethanol conference in the world—and the only event powered by Ethanol Producer Magazine. 866-746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling TM

6 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014

COPYRIGHT


Pellet Perspective »

Sustainable Forests, Sustainable Biomass BY ROB DAVIS

Renewable resources provide us the ability to create a sustainable world. Wind, sun and the heat of the earth are provided to us anew each day: the wind blows, the sun shines and the earth’s core is warm without any effort on our part. Biomass, too, is truly renewable, if it is managed well. Today a great majority of our biomass comes from trees, from our forests—private forests, public forests, large tracts and what’s left of the smaller family forests. The wise use of this renewable resource can provide us not just products and energy, but a great variety of benefits for the long term. Forests are of key importance for our water, clean air, recreation, wildlife, watersheds and fishing, camping and hiking—all benefiting the public either directly or indirectly. Well-managed forests are one of the largest, most consistent renewable resources in the world. But, this doesn’t happen naturally. And, this constant management of our forest lands in a sustainable manner doesn’t just happen. We have to perform the sustainable management. Without it, we don’t have clean water or wildlife or lumber or biomass. Without sustainable multipurpose management and policy that requires that, we won’t have many of the benefits that are possible. We will lose much of the value that this renewable resource can provide in dollars and in all other benefits. So, we advocate for the forests. We advocate for sustainable forest management and maximizing the benefits available from the forests. Proper management can also provide a major carbon sink, and through energy production, displace fossil fuel, as well as create long-term carbon emission reduction. Nonmanagement can lead to uncontrollable wildfires, insects and disease and the waste of renewable resources, more carbon in the atmosphere and loss of jobs—from lumber production to tourism. Either end of the spectrum—from management just for products to no cut at all—will ultimately lead to deterioration of our forests. A large number of these forests, especially in the West, are public lands and the responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and

the Park Service. These forests are the property of the public—that is you and me and every other citizen of the country. We have the right and the obligation to assure that they are used for the benefit of the public and are managed in a prudent manner to maximize the benefits the forest has to offer. Private lands provide the same benefits. Water and air and recreation are all impacted by these forests. But on private lands, the ability to create valuable products from a sustainably managed forest allows owners to let the land remain as a forest instead of having to subdivide and, in some instances, sell off parcels in order to pay their taxes. Management doesn’t mean exclusively harvesting or exclusively not harvesting. Managing effectively means creating and implementing a plan that best provides all potential forest benefits while assuring the sustainability and resiliency of the forest. Forests are our resources, but a fine balance must be maintained. Overuse and underuse are equally problematic. So we advocate for the forests. We advocate for sustainable forests and policy providing sound management practices that will continue to improve and sustain these forests and all of the benefits that can be derived from them. Many groups, including the Pellet Fuels Institute and others in Washington, along with state-based organizations, are already doing just that. I invite you to join our effort. Although the sun will be here tomorrow, it is not assured that the forests will be. And it is not assured that biomass from the forest will be available for energy or products whose revenues help us manage the forests. We must all do our part to ensure that forests are managed in a sustainable manner and that policies are in place that do not cause this renewable resource to diminish or to be wasted. Author: Rob Davis President, Forest Energy Corp. 928-537-1647 rdavis@forestenergy.com

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 7


« Testing Grounds

Preparing For New ISO Rules BY CHRIS WIBERG

Recently, seven new ISO standards outlining specifications and classes for various forms of solid biofuels were officially published. This may come as a surprise to many, as the development of these standards has not been highly publicized in the U.S. At first glance, these standards may even seem redundant, as they are very similar to the seven EN standards previously published covering the same materials. These seven new ISO standards will eventually replace the seven older EN standards. Moreover, there are approximately 40 additional ISO standards in various stages of development that will eventually replace all of the EN solid biofuel standards that we currently see referenced in numerous fuel supply contracts and quality management schemes. For those of us actively participating in ISO Technical Committee 238, this day has been long in coming. The work to develop ISO standards for solid biofuels began in 2007. It took time to gain momentum, but ISO standards are now being developed, covering all aspects of solid biofuels including terminology, standard specifications for various forms of biomass, chemical and physical test methods, sampling, sample preparation and, most recently, safety. Even though many exist as EN standards, the ISO process assures all nations can participate in the development so that they will be embraced worldwide as true international standards for solid biofuels. The original EN standards were published by the European Union’s standardization body (CEN) between 2005 and 2010. Once published, EU states are required to replace their national standards with the EN standard within three years, which is why we are hearing less and less about various countryspecific standards, such as the German DIN or the Austrian Önorm standards. The EN standards are now referenced in most fuel supply agreements we see coming from European power companies. They are also referenced in the Initiative Wood Pellet Buyer’s specifications and in the wood pellet quality management scheme EN-plus. We are starting to see signs of adoption of these standards in the South American and Asian markets, as well as in Canada and the United States. Despite wide acceptance, the EN standards do have some drawbacks, the most significant being, if you are not an EU member, you cannot participate

8 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014

in EN standards development, with some limited exceptions for advisory roles. This, of course, does not bode well for countries like the U.S. and Canada exporting solid biofuels that need to have a place at the table. Fortunately, this was recognized. The developers of the EN standards approached ISO in 2007 to transition standards development to the international standards body. Now under ISO Technical Committee 238, the U.S., Canada and other ISO member countries can participate in their development. If the new ISO standards are duplicating the existing EN, the question becomes, why the need to prepare? The EN standards were the product of a very large EU effort, including millions of euros invested in research, but they were far from flawless. Over the past several years of implementation, the need for numerous modifications have come to light, which are being incorporated into the ISO version. Each user needs to scan the ISO documents for modifications that affect specific operations. This can be in the form of how a method is performed, the pass/fail criteria of a class or specification, the nature of what is actually being measured and/or reported, the equipment needed to run a test, etc. Another reason to prepare is that the U.S. domestic markets have relied on ASTM standards for decades, and may not feel ready to convert to the new worldwide system. The problem with the ASTM standards is that they have not been updated in years and are largely based on other fuel types such as coal and refuse-derived fuels. Updating the ASTM standards would require substantial effort that would essentially duplicate ISO, so why not start using the ISO standards? It is still anybody’s guess as to whether the ISO standards will achieve acceptance as true worldwide standards for solid biofuels. It is clear, however, that this industry is growing rapidly worldwide. For that reason alone, it seems logical that at some point there will need to be true worldwide standards for solid biofuels. To me, the writing is on the wall and it is time to start preparing for the ISO standards. Author: Chris Wiberg Manager, Biomass Energy Laboratory 218-428-3583 cwiberg@tpinspection.com


Industrial Insight »

Biomass: America’s 21st Century Energy Solution BY SETH GINTHER

President Obama and the U.S. EPA announced the draft rule for reducing greenhouse gas emissions here in the U.S. in early June. The rule applies to coal burning power plants and requires a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. As with all EPA rules, this draft form will be open for public comment period for several months, with the final rule to be released next year. As drafted, the rule allows each state to create its own plan for complying with the federal policy and states have until June 2016 to submit their plans to EPA. The draft rule makes observations that suggest that biomass will have a strong role to play in fulfilling these new requirements because “burning biomass-derived fuels for energy recovery can yield climate benefits as compared to burning conventional fossil fuels.” Woody biomass, while not a solution on its own, is a vital component of any future energy mix here in the U.S., because it is the only sustainable renewable fuel source that can work within the U.S’s current energy system while at the same time reducing carbon emissions. Because wood pellets represent a highly densified renewable fuel that can be transported over long distances (without sacrificing low greenhouse gas footprints), wood pellets have the potential to play a key role in meeting these emission reduction targets. From an environmental standpoint, woody biomass for energy (including wood pellets) has the backing of the scientific community who has, in numerous reports and letters to Congress, attested that it is carbon beneficial. While wood pellets emit carbon, the impact is fundamentally different then the carbon emitted by fossil fuels. The difference is that carbon burned from wood was already in the atmosphere and can be reabsorbed by trees, which engage in the natural, cyclical process of photosynthesis. However, the carbon emitted from fossil fuels is removed from permanent storage in the earth and is adding new carbon into the atmosphere. While this may sound like semantics, the type of carbon that is released into the atmosphere does have significant environmental implications. In fact, the U.K. Environment Agency found that switching to bioenergy

from coal can reduce carbon emissions between 75 and 90 percent. While completely replacing coal with wood is the ideal, in the short term, cofiring wood alongside coal also has tremendous environmental benefits. Studies by the National Renewable Energy Lab, EPA and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement have found that cofiring biomass with coal reduces emissions of many toxic air pollutants such as ash, nitrogen, sulfur and mercury. Because wood pellets can burn alongside coal, in the same furnaces in the existing U.S. coal facility infrastructure, they allow for the immediate carbon savings and continuing economic viability of that coal plant infrastructure. While wind and solar are an important part of the renewable energy mix, projects are often expensive, taking years to bring to life, and these energy sources are dependent on weather. Bioenergy works to fill the gaps and provides a fuel that is easily accessible, reliable and sustainable. The EPA draft rules on cutting carbon emissions rightly recognize that the world is changing and the need to find sustainable alternative energy sources is paramount. While biomass does not propose to be the entire solution, it is the only energy source that can balance the United State's practical proposed goals of cutting carbon emissions with its innovative goals of finding reliable, domestically grown and sustainable energy sources for the future. More importantly, it can do all of this while, in many instances, preserving existing coal plant infrastructure and the jobs associated with that infrastructure. Author: Seth Ginther Executive Director U.S. Industrial Pellet Association 804-771-9540 sginther@hf-law.com

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 9


Business Briefs

PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS

Superior Industries team members Superior Industries Inc. has added Roland Duer in the position of international sales and business development manager. He will represent Superior Industries throughout Duer Latin America. Duer has more than 25 years of business experience in building relationships and developing opportunities. He most recently served as product manager and purchasing manager at Condumex Krieger Inc. The company has also appointed Kevin Krieger as territory sales manager throughout the Mountain and Northwest regions of the U.S. He most recently served as a territory manager for Fenner Dunlop. In addition, Bill Humphrey was named territory sales manager through-

out the Great Lakes and Ohio River Valley regions. He was most recently employed by Aggregates Manufacturing International. Krieger and Humphrey will work closely with dealers in Humphrey their respective regions to bring innovative conveying equipment to bulk materials producers. Brunette Machinery introduces vibrating conveyor Brunette Machinery Co. Inc. has introduced the Brunette SmartVibe Vibrating Conveyor. Unique and simple in its design, the system has no coil springs or external balance beams. Its design enables the operator to vary the feed speed of the conveyor while maintaining balance at all feed rates. The system is available in different widths and lengths, complete with size-specific screening options and metal detection.

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10 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014

New Hampshire Wood Energy Council launches A group of public sector and private businesses have partnered up to launch the New Hampshire Wood Energy Council, a nonprofit partnership that the group said will promote heating commercial and institutional buildings in New Hampshire with wood. Partnership to provide feedstock to Canadian pellet mill Representatives of Tolko Industries, Nazko First Nations and Pacific BioEnergy Corp. have announced an innovative partnership for the Quesnel Timber Supply Area. The agreement will provide additional fiber to PBEC’s pellet plant in Prince George. The timber will come from PBEC’s mountain salvage license in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area. Fecon redesigns rotor system Fecon Inc. has introduced the Depth Control Rotor system. The DCR system


builds on Fecon’s reversible Samurai Knife Tool. It cuts faster, delivering better fuel economy and more uniform particle size. Depth control rings work in harmony with the Samurai Knife to enable more cutting with less horsepower. Verdanté BioEnergy Services offers software solution Verdanté BioEnergy Services has announced its appointment as the exclusive U.S. distributor of MGH Systems’ Biomass Manager software. The product enables smarter, faster and easier monitoring, sharing and reporting of crucial data in biomass supply chains. SIMwood launches in Europe The Sustainable Innovative Mobilization of Wood (SIMwood) project was recently launched in Europe. The project consortium consists of 28 partners from European countries. It is funded with approximately €6 million ($8.29 million) from the European Union over four years. The initiative aims

Rotary Dryer

to break down existing social-economic, technical and ecological barriers and identify solutions for wood mobilization in 14 regions where the project is studying the optimum utilization of forest. Lignetics announces acquisition Lignetics Inc. has announced it was acquired by Taglich Private Equity LLC, Management and Gladstone Capital Corp., which provided subordinated debt and equity financing, along with Texas Capital Bank, which provided senior debt in support of the transaction. Lignetics manufactures and distributes wood pellets from three U.S. production facilities. The transaction is expected to give Lignetics the capital base to pursue expansion plants. Grainger offers NCC dust collector sequential timer controls W.W. Grainger Inc. has announced it now offers dust collector sequential timer controls from Ametek National Controls Corp. The NCC models included are DNC-T2003

m rgy Syste Heat Ene

through DNC-2032 output sequencers that are used either for pulse-jet type dust collectors or pneumatic conveying systems in either continuous or on-demand cleaning applications.

BTEC recognizes Wallowa Resources The Biomass Thermal Energy Council announced that Wallowa Resources has become a new participant in the Biomass Green Heat Registered Site program. The Enterprise, Ore., nonprofit organization installed two pellet boilers that meet 85 percent of its heating needs and replace 20,000 gallons of heating oil.

SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, if available) to Business Briefs, Pellet Mill Magazine, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also email information to evoegele@bbiinternational.com. Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.

PelletPress

Biomass Pelletizing & Energy Systems Pellet Plants | Dryers | Furnaces | Steam Boilers | Thermal Oil Heaters | Cogeneration Dieffenbacher USA, Inc. 2000 McFarland 400 Blvd. | Alpahretta, GA 30004 Phone: (770) 226-6394 | mail@dieffenbacheratl.com

www.dieffenbacher.com Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 11


Pellet News Viridis adds equipment to Nova Scotia mill The government of Nova Scotia has awarded Viridis Energy a CA$517,500 ($469,000) grant to purchase new equipment for its Scotia Atlantic Biomass Co. Ltd. subsidiary, located in Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia. Viridis is expected to use the funding to purchase a truck dumper with a 6,200-cubic-foot hopper and an Intalogix weigh scale, which is designed to improve the unloading of fiber, increase the types of trucks and sources that can be utilized, and increase the amount of fiber delivered per truck load by up to 40 percent. The company also plans to purchase a destoner. Michele Rebiere, chief financial officer of Viridis, said the company desires to convey a message to the market that it’s continuing to expand in Nova Scotia. “We want as much fiber and feedstock as we can get,” she said. “By purchasing that equipment, we are really trying to encourage more suppliers, even if they don’t have the right trucks and type of equipment to deliver. It really broadens our ability to attract fiber from just about anybody. The only bottleneck [in expanding] is ensuring that we get additional material.”

Proposed plant under development in Georgia

NEW DEVELOPMENT: Viridis Energy is purchasing new equipment for its 120,000-ton-per-year pellet mill in Nova Scotia. PHOTO: VIRIDIS ENERGY

South Carolina-based Geechee Energy LLC has announced plans to build a 360,000-metric-ton-per-year pellet plant near Millen, Ga. The proposed Ogeechee River Pellet Mill project is scheduled to break ground this year and is expected to be operational in early 2016. Once operational, the plant will take in mill residue, forest residue and roundwood logs as feedstock. The mill will primarily sell its product into the European market. A small percentage of production, however, is expected to be sold domestically. Geechee Energy has an announced an agreement with the Jenkins County Development Authority in Georgia to purchase property for the project. The company is considering a 75 to 100 acre parcel of land north of Millen that is adjacent to both highway and rail transportation. While the Ogeechee River Pellet Mill is the company’s first pellet project, it may expand its operations in the future.

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Pellet News » Study highlights GHG savings of transatlantic pellet trade

Thermogen switches technology providers for Maine plant

A new study led by a researcher from the University of Georgia has determined that the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of a unit of electricity in the U.K. using imported wood pellets is at least 50 percent lower than the GHG intensity of grid electricity derived from fossil fuels. SOURCE: DWIVEDI, PUNEET, ET AL., “POTENTIAL GREENHOUSE GAS BENEFITS OF Notably, the results TRANSATLANTIC WOOD PELLET TRADE.” ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS of the study contradict the general belief that The analysis addressed 930 difthe use of wood pellets from 10- to 15-year-old pine planta- ferent scenarios and considered three tions in the southern U.S. do not pro- types of wood feedstocks, two forest vide GHG savings in Europe. Rather, management choices, 31 plantation rothe GHG savings were shown to be tation ages and five power plant capaciat least 50 percent, even at lower rota- ties. GHG emissions associated with seven supply chain stems were used. tion ages.

Thermogen Industries, an entity of Cate Street Capital that is developing a black pellet manufacturing facility in Millinocket, Maine, announced a switch in technology providers in March. The facility previously planned to use Scotland-based Rotawave’s microwave torrefaction technology, but will now employ Zilkha Biomass Energy’s steam-exploded Zilkha Black Pellet process. Thermogen spokesmen Scott Tranchemontagne said that the Zilkha technology will allow the company to ramp up production faster. “With Rotawave, we were only be able to start production at 100,000 metric tons per year, and with Zilkha, we’ll produce essentially the exact same product, but triple our production from the get-go,” he said. In April, the Finance Authority of Maine approved a $16 million taxable bond for the project, reducing its initial commitment approved in October by $9 million. Thermogen Project Manager Damon Frecker said Thermogen is disappointed with FAME’s decision to reduce the loan guarantee, but indicated the company is still pressing forward.

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vecoplanllc.com Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 13


« Pellet News Biomass perceptions Benefits outweigh risks (net)

Benefits strongly outweigh risks

Benefits somewhat outweigh risks

Risks outweigh benefits (net)

Risks somewhat outweigh benefits

Risks strongly outweigh benefits

Not sure at all

2014

29%

13%

16%

9%

6%

3%

61%

2012

30%

13%

17%

12%

8%

4%

58%

2011

30%

14%

17%

12%

7%

6%

57%

2009

28%

12%

16%

12%

8%

4%

60%

SOURCE: THE HARRIS POLL

Poll finds US adults are unfamiliar with biomass A recently released Harris Poll addresses public perception of a variety of energy technologies, including biomass energy. The results show that many U.S. adults are unfamiliar with biomass energy and its benefits. Within its results, the company called biomass the “biggest question mark” on the survey, as 61 percent of adults surveyed said they were not at all sure of its risks or benefits. Approximately 29 percent, however, said they feel the benefits of biomass outweigh its risks. Only 9 percent of those polled said they believe the risks of biomass outweigh its benefits.

Historical data from 2009, 2011 and 2012 indicates public perceptions of biomass have remained largely unchanged in recent years. On a regional basis, respondents from the West region of the U.S. were most likely to find biomass beneficial, with 35 percent of respondents saying the benefits of biomass outweigh the risks. Gen X (ages 37-48) and Echo Boomers (ages 18-36) were more likely to indicate that the benefits of biomass outweigh the risk than members of older generational cohorts.

UK opens biomass fuel registration

Biomass fuel suppliers serving the U.K. thermal market are now able to register their fuels as sustainable by applying to the government’s Biomass Suppliers List. The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change said the list will ensure biomass supported under the Renewable Heat Incentive is sustainable. Beginning this fall, biomass fuels used under the RHI must meet certain greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction thresholds. Producers and traders of woodfuel who wish to access the growing RHI market can apply for free to the BSL. Small and microenterprises will be able to use a new simple carbon calculator developed to make the process as easy as possible for small businesses. Larger enterprises will be able to use the U.K. Solid and Gaseous Biomass and Biogas Carbon Calculator to calculate the GHG emissions associated with their fuel. Individuals and businesses that self-supply their fuel are also encouraged to register as self-supplier.


Pellet News » Pinnacle to develop new mill in British Columbia Pinnacle Renewable Energy has begun development of its seventh pellet mill facility in British Columbia, a proposed $39 million project with a production capacity of 250,000 metric tons per year. When complete, the facility will bring the pellet producer’s total capacity up to 1.5 million metric tons. The new mill will be built adjacent to the Lavington sawmill operated by Tolko Industries Ltd. The companies recently learned that the Agricultural Land Commission has approved the nonfarm use of agricultural land to allow for construction of the proposed plant on the site. Once operational, the plant would source fiber from around the region. The Tolko sawmill, however, would be the anchor supplier. “We have strong expectations that the project will proceed,” Reitsma said, “but we have a couple of more hurdles to meet.” There are zoning requirements on the land that must be addressed, plus a couple

Proposed Plants Existing Plants

more steps in the environmental permitting process. Reitsma said he expects to have a better idea by August on when construction on the facility will be able to begin.

Maine pellet producer plans expansion Corinth Wood Pellets in Corinth, Maine, is investing $7 million in a planned expansion project. Operating since 2007, the 70,000-ton-per-year plant was sold in December to the E.J. Carrier Inc., a trucking and forest products company. The facility has been working closely with Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s administration and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development in pursuit of its expansive goals, and the DECD is providing the company with an incentive package to aid in the expansion. According to the DECD, the expansion project is expected to create 18 new jobs. “The incentive package, presented by DECD, will give us the ability to purchase the equipment needed to increase production and hire more people,” said Ken Carle, chief financial officer of Corinth Pellets.


« Appliances

CSA Certified: Florian Haslinger displays Hargassner’s boiler unit at the robust trade show anchoring the co-located European Pellet Conference and World Sustainable Energy Days.

AUSTRIAN PELLET APPLIANCES ON PARADE: Each February, the Austrian pellet appliance industry comes together in Wels, Austria, for the European Pellet Conference, co-located with World Sustainable Energy Days. Attendees receive European market updates and access to a massive trade show that features virtually every major appliance manufacturer in Austria. Many also joined a tour of OkoFen’s manufacturing facility. PHOTOS: TIM PORTZ, BBI INTERNATIONAL

16 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014


Appliances »

NETWORKERS: OkoFen CEO Stefan Ortner, left, and Maine Energy System’s Harry “Dutch” Dresser catch up in between sessions.

PUBLIC VIEW: A KWB Pelletfire Plus model awaits the browsing public on the tradeshow floor.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Burner assemblies await further assembly into pellet boilers at the OkoFen manufacturing facility near Putzleinsdorf, Austria. Tours were offered before the pellet conference.

PELLET POWER: OkoFen founder Herbert Ortner’s car is quite possibly the first to be pellet powered. The batteries are recharged at Ortner’s home, where a Stirling engine prototype is connected to the home pellet boiler.

The Advance Of The Austrian Pellet Boilers Europeans describe the challenges of introducing technology to North America. BY CHRIS HANSON

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 17


« Appliances

A

ustria is a biomass boiler manufacturing powerhouse. More than a quarter of the modern biomass boilers installed in the European Union are manufactured in the country’s northern state of Upper Austria, according to the Upper Austrian Energy Association. The country also boasts some of the greatest densities of small-scale heating systems in the world. Eyeing new opportunities, several Austrian pellet boiler manufacturers are looking at the U.S. market, but face the challenge of developing a product for a different market with different policies, more than 3,500 miles away. OkoFen was the first Austrian company to enter the U.S. market with its Pellematic boiler product line and first to navigate the bureaucratic hurdles for international pellet boiler manufacturers. The first step is to get approval from UL Standards, explains Stefan Ortner, OkoFen CEO. “Four years ago, there were no standards for pellet boilers. So, we had to test to standards that were designed more for furnaces. There was a lot of discussion with the testers on what makes sense.” The biggest challenge, however, was getting certification from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Ortner says. To become certified in the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Certification Program, the ASME estimates the process takes roughly six months. OkoFen outsourced that hurdle, Ortner explains. “We decided to proactively get the pressure vessel manufactured in the United States to get in on the market faster. We found suppliers that could produce our vessel and shipped other parts from Europe to complete final assembly in Maine at Maine Energy Systems. In the long run, we think it makes sense that the products are manufactured in North America, but the volume is not enough now. It’s really the certification that forced us.” An added benefit of the units being assembled in North America is that it allows OkoFen the opportunity to converse with politicians and prove wood pellet heating is a benefit to the local economy in terms of production and manufacturing jobs, he says. “It helps quite a lot with things.”

Working The Sidelines While OkoFen is establishing itself in northern New England, Austrian pellet boiler producers Hargassner and KWB await north of the border in Canada for more favorable conditions to enter the U.S. market. To make the U.S. a more attractive market for European pellet boiler producers, the country could accept European standards and norms, explains Florian Haslinger, area sales manager for Hargassner. “This would help a lot, especially with the ASME. The pressure vessel standard is a huge topic for us, because we have all tested our pressure vessels in Europe according to the EN 303-5 standard. The [European] standard is not accepted everywhere in the U.S.” Other U.S. standards for electrical systems are an understandable concern, Haslinger says. “I do understand the electrical standards, [Canadian Standards Association] and UL standards are for pure safety concerns for electrical issues. But the pressure vessel [standard] is not clear. We developed and designed a state-of-the-art pressure vessel and now it’s just hard for us to do the ASME certification.” By having certain standards being accepted in some places, but not others, it complicates or eliminates grant funding opportunities and removes a degree of market protection, Haslinger explains. “The solution for that would be to accept the European pressure vessel standard.” Hargassner Canada East is the distribution channel for the Hargassner company that began operation last year to complete the certification process. After becoming UL certified, the company was allowed to sell within the area, Haslinger explains, adding that the distribution partner provides full service for the boilers. “He’s importing the boilers, assembling the boilers, commissioning the boilers and maintaining and servicing the boilers after sale within the distribution network,” he says. Although Canada does not accept the European standard, the solution was to allow the boilers to operate within a certain pressure, Haslinger says. “In Canada, we can run the unit at 15 psi, and this is basically fine.”


Appliances »

GAINING ACCEPTANCE: While Canada does not accept EU pressure vessel standards, it has approved Hargassner boilers running at 15 psi. Hargassner Canada East distributes and services Hargassner boilers in Canada. PHOTO: HARGASSNER

After completing market research more than four years ago, KWB saw potential in the eastern Canadian and U.S. markets. It makes a lot of sense to replace oil boilers, which are prevalent on the East Coast, with biomass boilers because of the high costs of fuel oil. The existing oil storage area can be used to store pellets or woodchips, says Harald Krasser, area sales manager for KWB. In mid-May, KWB was close to finalizing a business partnership in Canada for its boiler systems. “We think for a company of our size, it’s very hard to open our own office in North America, in Canada or the U.S.,” Krasser says. “It’s quite an investment and we don’t have a lot of experience on the market and not a whole lot of experience with all kinds of U.S. standards, such as production, safety, housing, pressure vessel standards. All these things we know very well in Europe,

but sometimes in Europe it’s different from country to country. This is something we can’t learn just quickly, and that is why we are looking for business partners.” Once the partnership is established, which is expected soon, KWB will have its 100 kW Multifire boiler modified to meet North American standards. “We have to exchange some electrical components and some of the pressure parts will be done in Canada,” Krasser says. The partner will help modify the boiler to meet local standards, he adds. “The whole confirmation process for North American standards takes several months and is very difficult. In my opinion, it can only be done by local experts. I think we in Austria would not be able to do that on our own.” Like Haslinger, Krasser also feels the EN 303-5 standard acceptance issue is hindering pellet boiler growth. “This standard includes

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 19


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NEXT UP: Austrian boiler manufacturer, KWB expects to finalize a business partnership in Canada this summer and modify its Multifire boiler to meet North American standards. PHOTO: KWB

safety instructions and testing guidelines. This is how all the European countries work, and with this standard, hundreds of thousands of biomass boilers are used without any accidents. If I could wish anything, it would be to accept this standard.” Product liability is another concept that makes some business developers and manufacturers uneasy about moving into the U.S. market, Krasser adds. “There are some companies that I know of that have constructed a very extended legal structure, such as founding a company that is legally disconnected from another company to minimize the risk of a product liability case.” For instance, if someone ignores labeled warnings and deliberately misuses a boiler, or an installer incorrectly installs a boiler unit, it seems that in the North America legal system, the person could still sue the manufacturer, Krasser says. “It’s only my opinion though. I’m no law expert, but it’s just what I learned.”

US Market Potential For OkoFen, the trouble of jumping through the bureaucratic hoops was worth it. “In 2009, we went on a tour organized by the Austrian agency in the Northeast United States and Quebec, and we still believe that the potential for pellet boilers will be as big as in Europe. It takes a while, and I think the biggest barrier is the availability for bulk pellets,” Ortner says. Maine Energy Systems was the only entity offering bulk pellet delivery services when OkoFen began its U.S. efforts. The lack of service providers creates a barrier for growth within the U.S. market, Ortner explains. “There are no more than 10 or 12 trucks in North America that are really designed to deliver wood pellets. This is the biggest barrier and slows down the process, but we have seen good growth and for us it is already worth it. I’m sure within the next four to five years, there will be a quite a big market, unless policy changes or the price of fuel oil drops dramatically,” he adds.


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FIRST UP: OkoFen was the first Austrian company to enter the U.S. market with its Pellematic boiler line. Part of the boiler is manufactured in the U.S., to meet ASME pressure vessel standards. PHOTO: OKOFEN

“You need government support to start the market. In the beginning, you really need to spread the word out and government support helps a lot,” Ortner says. Future market growth, particularly in the Northeast, will likely spread state by state. “One of the next states that we really hope picks up will be Massachusetts,” he says. “I think if that comes on, it could be a good market because Massachusetts is a wealthy state and there are a lot of houses not on gas.” After speaking with competitors, Haslinger agrees the more promising markets lie within the New England states. “You will not find a system in the South and maybe a few in Washington, but only because I think British Columbia is pretty popular for biomass heating.” Author: Chris Hanson Staff Writer, Pellet Mill Magazine 701-738-4970 chanson@ bbiinternational.com

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PRODUCTION CHALLENGE: Every year, pellet producers are challenged to match supply with anticipated demand, wanting to avoid price-depressing oversupply. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ, BBI INTERNATIONAL

22 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014


MARKET »

Changing Consumer Habits Pellet producers consider new strategies to avoid perceived shortages and level demand surges. BY CARLA HARPER

F

or pellet industry veterans, the winter of 2014 was a deja vu moment. Just like in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina and again in 2008 when crude oil jumped to $150 a barrel, a consumer rush to stock up on pellets caused a hiccup in some production and delivery schedules. Media and blogs picked up on disgruntled pellet hunter stories. Some consumers panicked when shelves at local stores were empty. Cold, disgruntled shoppers took to Craigslist, WoodPellets.Com, and other Internet sites on a quest for a pallet of bagged pellets. “When it gets cold, many pellet users get scared and go looking to stock up,” says long-time industry expert Rob Davis, president of Forest Energy Corp., Show Low, Ariz. “If too many do that at the same time, the immediate demand causes a perceived shortage. But there’s no capacity shortage.”

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 23


« MARKET

DISTRIBUTION HICCUPS: It happened in 2014, just like 2005 and 2008: the capacity was there, the pellets were there, but the pellets weren’t in the right place at the right time. PHOTO: KOLBY HOAGLAND, BBI INTERNATIONAL

While a true shortage did not occur this winter or during other peak events over the past decade, for those manufacturers serving the residential market, Pellet Mill Magazine has outlined a few market factors and marketing tips to consider. For the near term, it’s mostly good news for those stalwart manufacturers who weathered their own storms in this business.

3 Market Considerations Most would agree with Jase Locke, Bliss Industries LCC in Oklahoma and a member of Pellet Fuels Institute’s promotions committee, who says, “It’s all about supply and demand.” While residential pellet heating demand, including eventual expansion of bulk delivery systems as well as furnaces, will probably continue to grow, don’t count on those consumers breaking the “wait and

see what the weather and fuel prices do” habit in the near future without some marketing effort on the part of industry. Two other major market factors are also influencing the pellet industry. The East, especially south of the Mason Dixon line, and the Midwest will continue to benefit for some time from European, and even Asian, demand for “green” fuel. This spring, Wood Resources International LLC

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INFORMING CONSUMERS: The Pellet Fuels Institute has a new brochure available for producers and distributors to promote pellet heating.

reported North American wood pellet exports to Europe reached 4.7 million tons in 2013, with the Southern states shipping 63 percent. The overseas demand is not limited to industrial pellets. Residential stoves and furnaces are popular and high-grade American pellets and stove technology are also being exported. For example, Greenwood, a high-tech pellet furnace that exceeds even the strict Washington state emissions standards, has found a growing market in the United Kingdom as well as New Zealand. In the West, a new and potential gold mine of opportunity seems to be emerging with the booming natural gas production industry. Brandon Kramer, a former cellulosic ethanol producer, opened Rapid City, S.D.based Deadwood Biofuels LLC in 2010 with retail pellet intentions. His primary source of raw material is the thousands of acres of beetle-killed ponderosa pine found across the western landscape. Deadwood relies mostly on material from state and private land. By 2012, almost all of his 50,000 ton annual capacity was shipped to oil and gas producers. It’s an overall win for Kramer and any other pellet manufacturers within 1,000 miles of an oil field, he claims. “It’s a year round outlet for 100 percent of our production, minus the cost of packaging.” Jennifer Hedrick, executive director of PFI, confirms that more of her mem-

bers are finding an oil and gas market emerging. The much-maligned hydraulic fracking for oil and gas requires some form of absorbent in the clean-up process around drilling operations. According to Kramer, the oil industry has discovered wood pellets cost half the price and are a more effective absorbent than fly ash (a byproduct of coal combustion).

Price Correction Due Even with the recent European hunger for wood as an alternative energy source, pellets are typically a single digit margin affair. The industry has struggled financially for five of the past six years. The cause, in part, was an oversupply, which depressed prices. It started after the 2005 Katrina event and worsened with the 2008 run-up of oil prices. To stay in business, manufacturers must annually develop a delicate algorithm of supply and demand. “Pellets are due a price correction, and when it corrects, pellet fuel will stay at home more,” says Darryl Rose, vice president, sales and marketing for Pennsylvania-based Energex American Inc. There is an increase in demand, but it can be exaggerated. “Europe is driving the market, but we’ve not had a significant residential pellet shortage. We’ve not

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 25


« MARKET

Too many consumers stocking up at the same time causes a perceived shortage from the immediate demand. But there’s no capacity shortage. —Rob Davis

seen a massive increase in stove sales, which would indicate an internal reason for a shortage,” Rose says. For Davis, the challenge is leveling out demand. “The answer is to whittle out the surges, but it’s hard to do,” he says. “It’s hard to plan for periodically 1 million customers buying 2 tons each at once.” Pellet manufacturers can proactively help lessen the demand surges for residential pellets by using several tactics and keeping several things in mind.

Incentivize The Customer People tend to listen to three kinds of information: valuable, unusual and threatening. Pick one, but here’s a hint: They act more quickly on threatening information if it’s coupled with a call to action. To motivate a pellet consumer to act, an advertisement might say: “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts another cold, late winter. Order your pellets by July 15. We’ll lock in your price and ensure you get pellets in December and March.” This “get in early” pitch can be operationalized in several ways: • Ramp up summer production and launch buy-early initiatives. • Use old-fashioned customer service to get in touch with distributors and


MARKET » outline the early buying offer. Send them a flyer or brochure that can be printed or placed online for in-store promotions. • Work with small retailers to conduct a mail campaign to a loyal customer database with a “very special offer.” • Invest in a simple Pay Per Click campaign online or buy a few banner ads at likely sites. • Promote guaranteed fuel programs for preferred customers who pay now and can pick up when needed. One model to consider, at www.woodpellets.com, offers a flexible buying plan, much like what fuel oil and propane dealers use. Some of the benefits listed are “convenient low monthly payments; flexible—you choose the amount and duration, personalized—you decide how to fund the plan, no special fees or charges,” and more. When rumors of shortages begin to circulate, call PFI for help in getting a press release out and distributing other materials. Immediately counter the isolated parking lot incidents and empty shelves with facts about the benefits and availability of pellets.

Sell The Benefits Americans still like a dependable, “Made in America” product—they just need to be reminded. And, pellets have clear benefits that can be sold. “They are a less expensive fuel, eco-friendly, clean and natural,” says Bob Smith, Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Poly Tech University. Additionally, Davis points out, “Pellet prices remain relatively stable, even during high demand.” Davis highlights a practice his company and many others employ, “We restocked our more remote customer base first. This meant a lag in trucks reaching Denver, but there are more stores in Denver than in Cuba, N.M.”

fuel oil or propane. New England Wood Pellets, just purchased by Rentech Inc., offers bulk delivery. Maine Energy Systems, another industry leader, offers bulk delivery as well as savings plans. “Bulk delivery is the future—pellet tanks instead of propane tanks—but we are not there yet,” Davis says. “It requires a density of users to buy a truck and keep it busy.” Dan Bihn, a Colorado-based biomass consultant and author of “Where Wood Works,” points to Europe as a place where bulk delivery works, but only because of combined factors such as the high cost of fuel, technology availability and closely situated housing and towns. “We should not put money and time into biomass projects that don’t make sense, for example, where natural gas is cheap and readily available or where forest resources are distant,” says Bihn. To help producers with their marketing efforts, the PFI promotions committee has released a brochure about the benefits of buying pellets early to accompany an existing brochure on bulk delivery. A PDF version can be found on the PFI website at www.pelletheat.org. For those businesses that have survived the past decade, new markets are opening. The demand for energy is not going away. A demand for diverse sources is growing. Pellet producers would do well to identify the best niche within the pellet market place and focus energy there. If it is residential, the low-cost marketing tactics described here could be implemented. Your customers will be back next year, especially if you work with distributors and retailers to invite them. Author: Carla Harper Writer, Marketing Consultant, West65 Inc. carla@west65inc.com

Target Bulk Delivery Bulk delivery is feasible in the Northeast because the high concentration of consumers without access to natural gas look to pellets as an alternative to costly Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 27


ÂŤ State Initiatives

COMMUNITY POWER: Bruce Daucsavage and a local John Day resident examine the new pellet boiler during the Grant Union Junior/Senior High School open house. PHOTO: WISEWOOD, INC.

28 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014


State Initiatives »

Building Demand Through Community Energy Oregon promotes wood energy clusters, creating demand to support forest restoration.

BY SUSANNE RETKA SCHILL

T

oday, Bruce Daucsavage has more wood fiber than he knows what to do with. But, it was only a couple of years ago that after running out of timber supply from the nearby national forest for the third time in the past decade, Daucsavage, president of Malheur Lumber Co., decided to close the last sawmill in Grant County located in John Day, Ore. “Those were dark days,” he recalls. A week after his announcement, he was called into Sen. Ron Wyden’s office where 50 people wanted to hear what it would take to keep the mill going. There were state and federal officials, foresters, environmentalists. That was 2012. The closing of Malheur Lumber threatened to halt progress in a collaborative effort begun in 2006 to bring together often-at-odds groups with very different ideas on how to manage the Malheur National Forest. After several devastating forest fires, foresters and environmental groups were beginning to agree that forests need to be managed differently to reduce fire hazards and foster healthier forests. The closing of several mills during the recession meant local and state governments were interested in saving jobs and stimulating economic development. For Malheur Lumber, staying in business meant stabilizing wood supply so it could continue to manufacture the pine boards needed by its long-time customers in the window manufacturing business.

Within a year, contracts on a 10-year stewardship plan for forest restoration were signed, and now, a year and a half into the contract, Daucsavage is looking for ways to utilize the abundant fiber supply. “Our forest stewardship contract, a $69 million 10-year agreement, is being looked at as a model of forest management nationally,” Daucsavage says. The concept is controversial, he adds. Only about 30 percent of industry nationwide supports the concept, and local governments are wary. While county governments get a percentage of timber sales in the old system, under the relatively new stewardship contracts they lose that. For Grant County, though, saving jobs and seeing its unemployment rate cut in half counterbalanced any loss in timber shares, he adds. Ensuring a fiber supply is only one part of the challenge. Forest restoration means finding markets for large quantities of wood not suited for boards, but pellets weren’t necessarily the obvious solution. In the Northwest, pellet producers rely solely upon sawmill residuals for feedstock and Malheur Lumber’s pellet mill was the first designed to handle small-diameter wood. Integrated into the sawmill, the pellet mill used the chipping and drying systems from the main plant. Debarking wasn’t an issue, Daucsavage explains, as the sawmill’s equipment can handle logs down to 3 to 6 inches in di-

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« State Initiatives uncertain. Bear Mountain Forest Products helped with the project design and the initial marketing efforts. “We took baby steps,” Daucsavage explains. The $6.2 million pellet mill started out at a 12,000-tons-per-year production level. Now, with plentiful fiber, Daucsavage says the company is investing $800,000 to expand drying capacity and boost the annual pellet production to 18,000 ton. At the same time, the company is planning a $3 million to $4 million investment for a 40 percent expansion of the sawmill. Once that’s in place, and more is learned about pellet marketing, the company will evaluate further pellet expansion. READY TO GROW: With a stable and plentiful feedstock assured via the long-term forest Andrew Haden was the project manstewardship contract, Malheur Pellet Mill is planning to expand. ager for the pellet mill project, which at PHOTO: ANDREW HADEN the start was handled by a spinoff of Bear ameter. Logs under 6 inches, though, aren’t The pellet mill was built before the Mountain Forest Products, A3 Energy suitable for their main product—dried pine stewardship contract was in place, when Partners. He has since founded Wisewood boards used by window manufacturers. the stability of fiber supplies was still Inc. to continue his work on wood energy clusters. The pellet mill project served as a catalyst for the installation of four pellet energy projects in the area that are now serving as a model for a regional cluster approach, he says. Jointly owned by Grant County and the U.S. Forest Service, Grant County Regional Airport became Malheur Pellet Mill’s first customer to heat a 14,000-square-foot building with bulk pellets. “At a cost of $325,000, the biomass system was not an economic slam dunk for the new, efficient building,” Haden says. “At an annual cost of biomass of just over $5,000 and a calculated heating savings of about $7,500 per year over fossil fuels, the simple payback is almost 30 years. However, the airport conSilver Sponsors International Conference struction was funded by state and federal for the Pellets Market grants, some of which were specific to biomass.” The second project made economic October 14–15, 2014 Bronze Sponsor sense even without grants. Blue Mountain Berlin Congress Center (bcc) Hospital utilized oil-fired heating and hot Berlin, Germany water systems in its 50,000-square-foot facility. The project landed a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the pellet boiler conversion, which brought the simple payback on the $450,000 investment to about five years, Haden reports. www.pelletsforum.de Two area schools—Grant Union Ju-

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30 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014


State Initiatives » nior/Senior High School and Prairie City Schools—also developed economically sound projects. The 12,000-square-foot Grant Union is seeing a savings of $50,000 per year for heating, putting the simple payback for the project at about 10 years. Nearby Prairie City Schools replaced its five aging fossil fuel boilers, only three of which still functioned to heat its threebuilding campus, with a single pellet boiler to provide steam and hot water. The school experienced a $65,000 reduction in heating costs in the first year of operation, putting its simple payback at about 10 years as well. Funding for the school biomass projects was done with interest-free loans through Qualified Zone Academy Bonds. The bank that administers the loan receives a tax credit in lieu of interest, Haden explains, and Malheur Lumber provided the required 10 percent local match by offering a long-term discount on fair market price for pellets that amounted to a $50,000 credit over five years. Getting bulk clients has helped Malheur Pellets get established. About 30 percent of its pellet production is going to nine facilities, Daucsavage reports. In addition, pellets are sold to retailers as far east as Boise, Idaho and south to Lake Tahoe, Nev., although not as far west, due to competition from well-established Oregon pellet producers. The company is also exploring alternative markets for pellets outside of thermal heating applications. He adds that he would love to expand into exports to Southeast Asia, “but we need to be larger. I need to talk to some of the other producers of pellets and see if we can get a consortium together to meet the needs.” A cooperative effort would help build the needed volume, as well as aid in getting a port facility established. “We could never do it on our own,” he says. As Daucsavage considers the future for Malheur Pellets, Haden is on to his next project. Building on the cluster approach for installing multiple pellet boilers in John Day, the team at Wisewood is developing a project for Burns, Ore., on the south edge side of the Malheur forest. Haden is exploring a different financing approach. Instead of each individual school or insti-

tution owning its own boiler, Wisewood is in the process of assembling multiple projects into a single financing package. The goal is to access the Federal New Markets Tax Credit program, available to economically distressed census tracts. “Due to the complexity of the NMTC program, there is a natural threshold in terms of scale in order to overcome relatively large transaction costs associated with this method of financing,” he explains. Wisewood is looking at adapting the district heat concept, creating a new entity to install, maintain and operate multiple boilers, with some heating multiple buildings. Individual energy users will sign a long-term heat contract, paying for the system and its upkeep over a period of years. “This arrangement takes away the often burdensome upfront cost barrier from the customer,” Haden says. The biomass systems being designed in Burns will utilize local hog fuel rather than pellets, he adds.

“However, the approach to financing the cluster of projects could be easily applied to pellet boiler installations.” The projects around Malheur National Forest are prime examples of several wood energy cluster projects being developed in Oregon to promote forest restoration and promote economic development. New partnerships and feasibility studies are underway around Bend and in Wallowa County in the northeast, says Matt Krumenauer, with Oregon’s Department of Energy. His office and the U.S. Forest Service work together to support the wood energy clusters. “In 2009, we had three facilities using biomass, now we have 19. People are able to see these facilities now, and it’s really making a difference.” Author: Susanne Retka Schill Managing Editor, Pellet Mill Magazine 701-738-4922 sretkaschill@bbiinternational.com

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Q&A Gord’s Gold

Canada’s most passionate advocate for wood pellets, Gordon Murray, identifies the opportunities and challenges awaiting his members in a rapidly expanding global marketplace. Vast forest resources, a strong wood products industry and maritime access to both Asian and European pellet markets have Canadian producers ideally situated for strong industry growth. As the executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, Gordon Murray necessarily maintains a high degree of global visibility. His constituents’ pellets find their way into British power stations, Italian bungalows and South Korean test burns. This market momentum has carried Murray into the heart of a global dialogue about the role of wood pellets in a future with a mandate for lowcarbon heat and power.

sustainably and great care is taken with the forest practice. From a domestic market point of view, you’ve got a much greater population. In the northeast United States, where there is not a very large natural gas distribution network and a lot of the homes have historically relied on heating oil, that population has really enabled the wood pellet industry to make inroads. We haven’t got the same kind of population density. Pellet export numbers in both Canada and the United States are in a period of robust growth. What are the unique challenges for an industry during a boom?

How long have you worked as executive director and how did you come to this role?

One thing is that the scale of the customers is so large. You take one customer offline for any reason and you’ve got all of this product sitting around. It can distort the market in a hurry. The other thing is liquidity. The bigger the industry grows, the more we have to make sure that everyone’s pellets are made to a consistent set of standards, which we’ve got now through the Initiative of Wood Pellet Buyers group of utilities and pellet producing associations. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got consistent grades and consistent sustainability standards so that the product can be easily traded.

I started as the executive director in 2009. I was working as a corporate finance advisor and was working on selling a sawmill. I ended up selling this sawmill to a wood pellet company that was a member of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. [The association] asked me to come in three or four days a month to help them with some organizational things on a consulting basis and then the gentleman who was the executive director at the time, John Swan, resigned in 2009. I took over in a caretaking role and just grew into it after that.

Your members in western Canada are ideally located to serve Asian markets like Japan and South Korea, yet demand from those markets lags behind the market potential that you and many industry observers believe is there. Can you share your thoughts and observations on the emerging Asian marketplace?

Are there aspects of the Canadian pellet industry that are different from the pellet industry in the U.S.? There is probably more that unites us than divides us. Both the U.S. and Canadian wood pellets—despite the criticisms and misinformation of environmental NGOs (nongovernmental organizations)—are made very PHOTO: TYLER MEADE PHOTOGRAPHY, KAMLOOPS, BC

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Gordon Murray

Q&A »

INTERVIEW BY TIM PORTZ

The Korean market is taking a while to develop. It’s been a little bit frustrating. Initially, it seemed like there were a lot of speculators out trying to make deals with everybody and most of these guys had nothing to back them up. There was a lot of activity that led to nothing and people got quite frustrated. But you know, the renewable portfolio standard system that they have in Korea is supposed to ramp up from 2 percent in 2012 to 10 percent in 2022. As the amount of renewable energy increases, and with wood pellets being a very affordable type of renewable energy, we are starting to see the demand grow. You identified fiber security and fiber cost as one of your top priorities for 2014. How is this a challenge for producers currently, and what kind of remedies make the most sense? That’s one area where the U.S. and Canadian industries differ. In the U.S., you have a large proportion of private land so you have an open market for fiber. In Canada, 95 percent of our forests are owned by the government and they are allocated through license and tenure systems. These licenses have been issued over the years to the primary forest users like the sawmill sector or the pulp sector. We come along as a pellet industry late in the game, so we don’t have any ability to get license access to this Crown timber because it has all been allocated to the sawmills, basically. We end up having to buy the low-grade timber from the sawmills. There are so few forest companies that have vast control over huge regions of the forest that it ends up not being a free market situation. We end up being beholden to the primary forest companies that essentially get to dictate the price and terms of the fiber.

How does the Wood Pellet Association of Canada plan to shape the conversation around sustainability standards as they are developed? We think that sustainability, along with the greenhouse gas benefits, are the two pillars that our industry is founded on. If our industry is ever found to not be sustainable, we won’t have an industry for very long. We’re aggressively participating in the Sustainable Biomass Partnership’s development of those standards. In addition, we’re members of the Back Biomass campaign that is headquartered in London and focused on promoting biomass sustainability in the U.K. market. We are also a part of Bridging with Biomass that is headquartered in Brussels and targeted at the European Commission, European Parliament and the NGOs in Europe. Essentially, this is all to explain the realities of how we go about managing the forests and to dispel the myths that are perpetuated by NGOs about unsustainable practices. Coal-to-biomass conversions aren’t limited to the United Kingdom, of course. Do you expect that the coal phase-out in Ontario will begin to be implemented across other Canadian provinces? Are you optimistic that there may be more Atikokan’s in Canada’s future? The 100 percent coal phase-out is unique to Ontario. Atikokan is a pretty small plant and I think it is only going to run at 15 to 20 percent. I believe it is just a peaking plant. Nevertheless, I think there are going to be a lot of eyes on it in North America. We’re optimistic that other coal companies will be looking to that as a model and even other jurisdictions throughout North America will

be looking to see what is actually possible. They’ve been cofiring for 15 years or more in Europe, but it just seems that in North America, we can’t possibly learn anything from what the Europeans do. We have to do everything ourselves here before we can actually believe that it will work. In recent presentations, you’ve identified the home heating market as a significant opportunity for Canadian pellet producers. What about the home heating market most excites you and your membership? It’s funny how it falls under a lot of people’s radar, but if you look at Europe right now, the home heating market at 10 million tons exceeds the power market at 9 million tons. But it’s made up of thousands of small customers each buying 4 or 5 tons a year, instead of a single power utility that might buy a million tons a year. There is the opportunity for diversity. When you look at in the northeast U.S., Maine Energy Systems is one company I like to point out that has been a real pioneer there. They’ve brought in the European OkoFen boilers and created a huge bulk delivery industry in the Northeast. That’s what we’ve got to get to in Canada. We’ve started to some extent in Quebec with ResoMass that’s got the Quebec distributorship for the OkoFen boilers, but we’ve just got to educate the homeowners, commercial businesses and institutions about the benefits, the convenience and the low cost of wood pellets. We’ve got such a cold country, we could sell millions and millions of tons if we do our homework properly. Editor's note: See the online version of this article for the full-length interview with Gordon Murray.

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 33


« International

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International »

‛State of Green’ Embraces Pellet Power

Denmark’s district heat systems are expected to use 100 percent biomass by 2035 BY LENNART LJUNGBLOM

T

he first two ships loaded with U.S. pellets slipped into Denmark’s port this past year. What are the prospects that Denmark’s power industry will join the United Kingdom’s in turning to the United States to fill its growing demand for biomass-based power and heat? Denmark is moving ahead toward its goal of minimizing fossil fuels. For many years, pellets, wood chips and straw have been used in heat and power plants as well as in medium-sized industrial boilers and private homes. The only large domestic biomass resource is straw and most wood chips and wood pellets are imported. In 2012, Denmark used around 1.9 million metric tons of pellets—a figure expected to increase by another 1 million tons of mostly industrial quality during the coming three years. Some of the announced big coal-to-gas conversion proj-

Total Renewable Energy Consumed by Fuel 2012

ects will not choose pellets, but are expected to go for wood chips. Denmark is a small country, the size of West Virginia, with 5.5 million people, a population much like Maryland. The Copenhagen metropolitan area holds around 2 million inhabitants. By tradition, agriculture is important in Denmark, but the country also holds an important position in the renewable industry with several leading manufacturers. The country’s highly developed and efficient energy sector is based on combined-heat-and-power (CHP) systems wherever possible, plus about 60 percent of the population is served by district heat. One must remember, however, that Denmark also is a gas- and oil- producing country. Every day, 100,000 barrels of oil-equivalent gas and oil production from the North Sea are landed, and natural gas is used for heat. Total Primary Energy Consumed by Source 2012

SOURCE: DANISH ENERGY AGENCY: ENERGY STATISTICS 2012

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« International

GREEN HEAT: At the Avedoere CHP plant in Copenhagen, Dong Energy is increasing biomass utilization from 80 to 100 percent pellets in Unit 2 while Unit 1 will continue to use coal. PHOTO: DONG ENERGY

Denmark has accepted the goal of limiting global heating to 2 degrees Celsius, and despite its own oil production, is replacing oil, coal and gas with biomass, adopting the slogan “State of Green.” In 2012, 52 percent of Danish district heat was supplied by woody biomass, with the goal of reaching 100 percent by 2035.

Sustainability is very important in Denmark, with an ongoing debate about the degree of sustainability of imported wood pellets. When the attempt to develop a common biomass standard for the European Union was not successful, industry adopted its own. Several large EU importers formed the Sustainable Biomass Partnership, including Dong, Vattenfall and Drax. All

25 Years of Solid Biomass Fuel Consumed in Denmark

SOURCE: DANISH ENERGY AGENCY: ENERGY STATISTICS 2012

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International » large utilities are not within the SBP, however, and Eon, GDF Suez, Eggborough and RWE, say they will launch a sustainable biomass standard and certificate in 2014. Parts of the emerging sustainability standards are not controversial, including the approach to ensure full transparency and the use of existing global forest management schemes from the Forest Stewardship Council and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. Regulations regarding the use of different types of forest land and virgin forests, however, are most controversial. The energy market in Denmark is regulated. Development is driven by a framework of CO2 quotas, taxes and pricing structures for heat and electricity. At present, all political bits and pieces are not fully in place, so some of the announced big biomass conversion projects are still in limbo, waiting for the final go-ahead. A suggested new tax on biomass was dropped as late as April 4, indicating a solution may be on the way. Roughly 4 percent of Denmark’s total energy consumption is supplied in wood pellets. The market is well-developed and wood pellets are widely used, in everything from small boilers and stoves in private homes to large CHP plants. Consumption of wood pellets increased five-fold between 2001 and 2012, bringing total Danish consumption above 1.9 million metric tons in 2012. The rise is largely attributed to increased use in large facilities, which in 2012 used approximately 1.3 million metric tons of wood pellets, replacing nearly 1 million metric tons of coal.

ing up pellet unloading to 800 tons per hour. This, together with a new conveyor belt, will make it possible to increase pellet use during the next winter season to almost 900,000 tons. A long-term heat supply agreement with the local district heating companies is running until 2027. For the time being, Avedoere Unit 1 will continue burning coal. The second big user of pellets in Copenhagen is the Amager plant, sold last year by the Swedish utility Vattenfall to Hofor (formerly Copenhagen Energy). Unit 1 of

this plant reopened after retrofitting in 2009, using around 380,000 tons of wood and straw pellets annually. The Amager power station includes two CHP units with a combined electric generation capacity of 314 MW and a combined heat capacity of 583 MW. This spring, Hofor announced plans to replace coal with wood chips at the second Amager unit in 2020. Pellets to the Avedoere and Amager plants are supplied by bulk ships and barges to the plants’ port facilities. Amager’s east harbor

Power And Heat Today Two existing power plants and one under construction provide heat for the Copenhagen district heat system and electricity to the Nordic grid. The largest Danish wood pellet user is Dong Energy. Its Avedoere Unit 2 CHP plant uses around 800,000 tons annually, of which 700,000 tons are used during the seven-month long winter season. Dong is now installing a fourth hammermill to expand the pelletburning capacity in Unit 2 by 80 to 100 percent. A new biomass crane was installed in the plant’s port facility last summer, speedQ3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 37


« International which has said it will continue production at the mill. The third contributor to the heat and power for the Copenhagen metropolitan area is under construction—a spectacular waste-fed CHP plant. The futuristic Amager Bakke facility will burn waste materials for heat and power, while providing new recreational features—a year-round open ski slope built on the roof of the plant and a climbing wall. CHP PLUS: The futuristic Amager Bakke CHP plant, now under construction, will sport a climbing wall and ski slope, shown in this artists’ rendering. PHOTO: HOFOR

port has 10 berths. Denmark’s two big power producers initially built pellet facilities in Koege. Dong closed its 160,000 ton-per-year plant in 2007 in favor of buying pellets on the market. Vattenfall sold its 110,000 ton-peryear plant to Blue Point Pellets A/S last year,

Pellet Suppliers

Denmark relies upon imported biomass to fuel its power and heat systems. Domestic production of wood pellets constitutes only about 100,000 tons, or 5 percent of total supply, with little indication of greater domestic production in the future. The lack of supply and expensive raw materials are the biggest limiting factors. The main countries currently supplying Denmark

include Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia. Import statistics are unclear, however, and information is often mixed and thus to be treated with care. A number of companies are competing for the mid- and small-scale markets. Swedish Ekman Group is a leading supplier, having overtaken Vapo A/S and Statoil’s distribution nets in Denmark. In October, Ekman received 39,500 tons of pellets from the U.S. on the bulk carrier Orient Tiger and early this year, another 57,500 tons arrived on a ship from the United States. The Fredericia Bulk Terminal handles Panamax ships and with five cranes, can unload 30,000 tons in 72 hours. They are also equipped with a screening unit and bagging service. Other companies actively supplying pellets to Denmark are German Pellets, Graanul Invest, Neova and Verdo/Flexheat and Copenhagen Merchants.

Future Projects Dong Energy has two biomass conversion projects in development in Denmark, one at Skaerbaek Heat and Power Station in Kolding and one at Studstrup Heat and

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International » Power station in Aarhus. Negotiations regarding heat contracts are ongoing and final decisions have yet to be made. “We expect that Studstrup will start in the autumn 2016 and Skaerbaeck in 2017,” reports Carsten Birkeland Kjaer, communication manager at Dong Energy. The 389 MW Unit 3 in Studstrup is using coal today with a blend of up to 15 percent straw, running until 2015 under a prolonged offset heat agreement with Affald Varme Aarhus. The plant will be converted to 100 percent pellets with a yearly expected consumption of 525,000 to 600,000 tons. Studstrup has its own port facilities with a depth of 11.2 meters. In Skaerbaek, a new wood chip-fed CHP unit will be built to replace the existing gas CHP plant. But first, a new agreement must be signed with a local energy distributing company. Additional investments will be required for a harbor upgrade, storage buildings, a new boiler and integration with the existing units. A decision for the investment is expected in June. In Odense, Denmark’s third-largest city, Vattenfall operates the coal-based CHP plant, Fynsverket. Unit 8, with an electric capacity of 35 MW and heating at 110 MW, is replacing 100,000 tons of coal per year with straw. But, the main Unit 7 still uses 650,000 tons of coal annually. Vattenfall has said it does not currently find further biomass conversions to be economical, but that will be re-evaluated in 2018. The CHP plants in Aalborg and Esbjerg owned by Vattenfall and Dong, respectively, have not been tapped for conversion to biomass. Not far away from Fynsverket, in Aabenraa close to the German border, Vattenfall acquired Dong’s remaining share in April to become the sole owner of the Ensted transit coal port. With a water depth of 18 meters, the port can receive the largest ocean freighters. Dong has activated a transit port located in Stigsnaes, where ocean freighters with coal or pellets can be transloaded to barges for further transport. Wood pellets are also used in smaller plants in cities such as Herning (70,000 tons per year), Lemvig and Skive. Since 2009 in Skive, pellets fuel a fluidized-bed gasifier to

be converted to electricity and heat in three gas engines, producing 11 MW thermal heat and 3.2 MW electrical power. In the city of Randers, Verdo Energi has a CHP plant, importing wood chips produced from old rubber trees in West Africa via the Aarhus port. The company also runs two pellet production mills in the UK. Biomass CHP isn’t the only renewable energy development gaining steam in Denmark. The Maabjerg energy concept is integrating big-scale biogas with CHP and second-generation cellulosic ethanol. So far, the biogas and CHP units have been built and

negotiations are underway for financing the ethanol plant. Dong Energy is part owner of Inbicon, which has a biorefinery at Kalundborg demonstrating its cellulosic ethanol process. In addition, Dong announced in February a new collaboration with Finnish Neste Oil to produce renewable diesel and aviation fuel from agricultural residues. Author: Lennart Ljungblom Bioenergy Writer, Stockholm, Sweden lennart.ljungblom@mac.com + 46 - 70 739 01 05

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« Safety

Spark Detection: Plant’s First Line Of Defense Understanding the best application of infrared and heat detection sensors is important for effective control systems. BY JEFFREY C. NICHOLS

T

he National Fire Protection Association defines combustible dust as “A finely divided combustible particulate solid that presents a flash fire hazard or explosion hazard when suspended in air or the process-specific oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations.” (NFPA 654, the Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions, 2013) The key to preventing a catastrophic event is to install effective prevention technology for detecting all sparks and embers in the incipient stage in the process, and ex40 PELLET MILL MAGAZINE | Q3 2014

tinguishing or diverting sparks before they ignite the transported material and dust. Spark detection and extinguishing systems include detectors, control consoles and countermeasures like extinguishment or diverter gates. If a spark occurs, the detector signals the control console, which records the event and triggers programmed countermeasures and interlocks, all within milliseconds. Typically, the control console activates atomized extinguishment for a programmed time to extinguish the hazard without affecting production.

Two general categories of spark detectors are sensors that detect spark energy in the visible and invisible near infrared range, and those that detect heat radiation, called blackbody or hot particle detectors. Standard spark detectors are preferred for most applications to detect visible spark energy in the near infrared (IR) range and are effective for identifying ignition sources in the incipient stage. They detect the infrared energy emitted by a spark, and can detect sparks and embers through material flow. A visible spark in the near infrared range can also be detected at much greater distance than heat.


Safety » Black-body heat detectors do not detect sparks or embers until they reach a minimum temperature in close proximity to the sensor. Heat radiation becomes harder to detect the farther the detector is from the source. Systems based only on heat detectors rely upon the theory that only particles above a certain temperature are dangerous and may miss sparks that when combined with proper conditions for combustion farther downstream may still result in a fire or explosion. Because of this, the NFPA specifies in its Standard 664, paragraph A.8.6.2.2: “The spark extinguishing system should activate every time a single spark is detected.” Industry expert, Vahid Ebadat of Chilworth Technology Inc., a firm that investigates explosions, concurs, saying, “…the ‘bottom-line’ response to this question would be a suggestion to consider the above-quoted guidance from NFPA 664, and detect and extinguish every single spark” (see http://pbs.canon-experts. com/2011/08/). Transitions and low-pressure pneumatic conveying systems with ambient air temperatures use standard IR spark detectors, flush mounted on opposite sides of the duct to detect sparks and embers through the material stream. For dryers or high-pressure conveying, IR spark detectors should be used containing features like the GreCon FM 3/8 that uses stainless steel clad fiber-optic cables to connect to the duct cross-sectional viewing area. Using fiber-optic cables protects the sensor electronics from the radiant heat of the transport or conveyor from a material dryer or other heat source. Transitions where ambient light is present require a black-body radiation detector similar to the GreCon DLD 1/8 day light sensor. Black-body detectors are best suited for applications where there is ambient light present, such as drop chute transitions onto or from belt conveyors with detectors viewing through the cascading material on opposite sides of the chute. Multiple detectors versus one single detector provide redundancy and greatly reduce the material masking effect. Never mount a detector with a lens protruding into the material flow. Depending on the type and size of material, this exposes the

lens to abrasion that wears through the lens. These conditions affect the sensor’s ability to function properly and make the system unreliable over the long-term. A better way to achieve the required visibility, while reducing the exposure of the sensors to wear and tear, is to use sensors with flat lenses and mount them flush on opposite sides of the transport duct where the material flow helps keep the lenses clean. Using IR detectors on either side of a duct has the benefit of ensuring redundant detection from different viewing angles throughout the cross-sectional area of the duct or transition.

Plant Application A large biomass processing plant will use spark detectors in key locations. The wood pellet mill shown in the accompanying schematic has detectors at the output of the dryer, the hammermill, pellet press and cooler, as well as the conveying systems between each production process, and all dust collection systems. Control systems include atomized water extinguishment systems and fire dumps to remove burning materials. Other countermeasures can be interlocked, including deluge, abort gates, equipment shutdown or programmable logic controller actions. Advanced multimicroprocessor control consoles can monitor and raise alarms on various hazardous conditions. Other instruments can detect smoke, rate of heat rise, combustion gas and flames. These advanced control consoles can also trigger multiple combinations of countermeasures from multiple detection zones and be set up for complex special configurations, if required. When evaluating systems, industry professionals recognize Factory Mutual Approved equipment for the extensive testing that ensures it will reliably deliver on its promise. FM Approval certifies compliance with recognized standards. Awareness is the key to fire and explosion prevention, and understanding spark detection technologies is the key to protecting material transport systems. Author: Jeffrey C. Nichols Managing Partner, Industrial Fire Prevention LLC 770-266-7223 info@IndustrialFirePrevention.com

Q3 2014 | PELLET MILL MAGAZINE 41


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Q3 2014 Pellet Mill Magazine