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■ table of contents

Volume 6

Number 3

www.woodbioenergymag.com

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FROM THE EDITORS Back To Wood Pellets

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PRODUCT NEWS Lots Of Chipping Developments

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IN THE NEWS Rentech Enters Domestic Market

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PELLET PRODUCTION Energy And Carbon Data

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BIOENERGY CONFERENCE Wood Energy Participants Upbeat

Cover photography:

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THE ‘NEW’ LIGNETICS More Bucks For The Bang

German Pellets (Jessica Johnson) Bioenergy Conference (Jessica Johnson) Lignetics (courtesy of Lignetics)

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Wood Bioenergy / June 2014

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table of contents ■

advertising index Advertiser Index is a free service for advertisers and readers. The publisher assumes no liability for errors or omissions.

26 Co-Publisher/Adv. Sales Manager ■ David H. Ramsey Co-Publisher/Executive Editor ■ David (DK) Knight Chief Operating Officer ■ Dianne C. Sullivan Publishing Office Street Address ■ 225 Hanrick Street Montgomery, AL 36104-3317 Mailing Address ■ P.O. Box 2268 Montgomery, AL 36102-2268 Tel: 334.834.1170 ■ Fax: 334.834-4525 Editor-in-Chief ■ Rich Donnell Western Editor ■ Dan Shell Senior Associate Editor ■ David Abbott Associate Editor ■ Jessica Johnson Associate Editor ■ Jay Donnell Art Director/Production Manager ■ Cindy Sparks Ad Production Coordinator ■ Patti Campbell Circulation Director ■ Rhonda Thomas Advertising Sales North American Sales Representative Susan Windham ■ P.O. Box 2268 Montgomery AL 36102-2268 334.834.1170 ■ Fax: 334.834.4525 E-mail: susan@hattonbrown.com International Sales Murray Brett ■ Aldea De Las Cuevas 66, Buzon 60 03759 Benedoleig (Alicante) Espana +34 96 640 4165 ■ Fax: +34 96 640 4022 E-mail: murray.brett.aba@gmail.com Classified Advertising Sales Bridget DeVane ■ Tel: 334.834.1170 ■ 800.669.5613 E-mail: bdevane7@hotmail.com A Hatton-Brown Publication Other Hatton-Brown Publications:

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All advertisements for Wood Bioenergy are accepted and published by Hatton-Brown Publishers, Inc. with the understanding that the advertiser and/or advertising agency are authorized to publish the entire contents and subject matter thereof. The advertiser and/or advertising agency will defend, indemnify and hold any claims or lawsuits for libel violations or right of privacy or publicity, plagiarisms, copyright or trademark infringement and any other claims or lawsuits that may arise out of publication of such advertisement. Hatton-Brown Publishers, Inc. neither endorses nor makes any representation or guarantee as to the quality of goods and services advertised in Wood Bioenergy. Copyright ® 2014. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Printed in USA. Wood Bioenergy (ISSN 1947-5306) is published six times annually by Hatton-Brown Publishers, Inc., 225 Hanrick St., Montgomery, AL 36104. Wood Bioenergy is free to qualified readers in the United States, including owners, managers, supervisors and other key personnel. All non-qualified U.S. subscriptions and all Canadian and foreign subscriptions (U.S. funds) are $50.00 per year. Subscriber Inquiries and Back Issue Orders—TOLL-FREE: 800.669.5613. Fax 888.611.4525. Subscribe or renew online: www.woodbioenergymagazine.com and click on the "Subscribe" button. When ordering change of address, please specify both old and new. Application to mail at periodical postage prices is pending at Montgomery, Ala. and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Wood Bioenergy, P.O. Box 2419, Montgomery, AL 36102-2419 Publications Mail Agreement No. 40624074 Return Undeliverable CANADIAN Addresses To PO Box 503, RPO West Beaver Creek Richmond Hill ON L4B 4R6

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■ from the editors

Wood Pellets

Back To The Forefront W

e noted in this space in the last issue that biomass power generation projects and developments seemed to be gaining the most headlines in our magazine. We also noted that this magazine goes wherever the wood energy news takes us and we suspected that more developments in wood pellets were just around the corner. We were right. The issue in your hand wasn’t supposed to have a wood pellets theme, but to a large extent it has turned out that way. You will be reading about the Bioenergy Conference that our magazine hosted in March in Atlanta. Like with our magazine, we allow the conference to go with the wood energy flow so to speak. Two years ago it was heavy to biofuels. This time it was more about biomass power generation and wood pellets, and in particular industrial wood pellet production and export markets. At least a half dozen speakers addressed the potential worldwide market for wood pellets by 2020. Most of the focus was on Europe and in particular the United Kingdom, which indeed is currently the kingdom of wood pellets consumption. Most of our speakers were forecasting continued phenomenal growth, fed in large part by additional wood pellet production capacity in the U.S. An undercurrent of comment expressed amazement (and concern?) that the fate of the industrial wood pellet market rested in such few hands, but as some of our presenters emphasized, there’s growing solidarity in the international wood pellet industry. Speaking of Drax (we were weren’t we?), you’ll read about some of its project developments in the UK. Drax as you’ve probably read is converting at least three of its power generation units from coal to biomass fuel. Drax experienced a recent hiccup when the UK government decided not to offer its financial support to the conversion of one of those units. All the conversions, including this one, appear to be moving forward, but Drax has filed a protest anyway. Also in this issue, senior mechanical engineer Allen Wiley of Hunt, Guillot and Associates has written an interesting piece on the energy gain and net carbon dioxide emissions from wood pellet manufacturing to get to

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the heart of the net environmental benefits. Meanwhile, this issue hasn’t forgotten about the domestic wood pellet heating market, as evidenced by our feature story on Lignetics and its pellet plant in Kenbridge, Va. This is the company’s third plant. The big news, as the story points out, is that Lignetics is under new ownership and a subsequent infusion of funding means more expansion, possibly even into export markets. And speaking of acquisitions, you’ll see that Rentech has purchased New England Wood Pellet and its three pellet plants in the Northeast. Former NEWP owner and innovator extraordinaire Steve Walker was one of our keynote speakers at the Bioenergy Conference in 2012. Rentech made wood energy waves a year ago when it purchased Fulghum Fibres and a bunch of wood chip production capacity, as well as two former wood panel plants in Ontario and announced plans to convert both to pellet plants. Who knows what the emphasis will be at our next Bioenergy Conference on April 5-6, 2016. For that matter, the way things are going, who knows what our next issue of Wood Bioenergy has in store.

Wood Bioenergy / June 2014

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■ in the news

Rentech Acquires New England Wood Pellet Rentech, Inc. has acquired New England Wood Pellet (NEWP), the largest producer of wood pellets for the U.S. heating market, for $34.5 million in cash in addition to cash and debt assumption. NEWP, established in 1992 by Steve Walker, operates three wood pellet facilities with a com- New England Wood Pellet operates three mills in the bined annual production Northeast U.S. capacity of more than 250,000 tons. tion and other modifications develThe facilities are in Jaffrey, NH, oped by Walker. Schuyler, NY and Despoit, NY. Wood Bioenergy magazine fea“NEWP is the leader in the tured the Deposit plant startup in the growing U.S. market for wood pelthird quarter 2011 issue. lets used in heating applications,” In 2006 NEWP constructed a says D. Hunt Ramsbottom, presi20,000 sq. ft. research, development dent and CEO of Rentech. “The and fabrication facility in Jaffrey. acquisition brings additional cash The facility employs state-of-the-art flows and profitability to our wood SolidWorks 3D design software and fiber business. In addition, advanced metal fabrication technolNEWP’s business broadens our ogy. Most of the components of the product offerings, customer base Schuyler and Deposit plants were and geographic markets.” engineered and built in this facility. NEWP has most recently been According to Rentech, NEWP owned by Walker and several pricommands an approximate 15% vate investors, according to the share of the market for heating pelNEWP web site. lets in the U.S. Northeast. The comBuilt in 1999, the Jaffrey facility pany is one of the largest suppliers has a capacity of 85,000 tons. The of wood pellets to major retailers infacility underwent significant modicluding Home Depot, Lowe’s, Tracfications and expansion in capacity tor Supply and Wal-Mart. in 2008. The plant purchases nearly Consistent with its 2013 per150,000 dry and green tons of wood formance, NEWP’s business is residues each year. forecasted to have revenues of apThe Schuyler facility began operproximately $44.8 million and opations in 2008 and incorporates erating income of approximately state-of-the-art design and engineer$4.6 million. ing innovations of Walker himself. Rentech acquired all of the equity The plant has a capacity of 85,000 interests of NEWP for $34.5 million tons/year. All manufacturing and in cash, funded from proceeds of warehousing is contained within a Blackstone/GSO’s recent $150 mil30,000 square foot building. lion investment in Rentech. Rentech NEWP’s newest venture is an will assume NEWP’s cash of $2.4 85,000 ton/year manufacturing plant million and debt of approximately located on the site of the former $13 million, for a total initial purNorbord Industries MDF manufacchase price of $45.1 million. turing plant in Deposit, NY. FollowRentech, Inc., based in Los Angeing a $14.5 million investment, the les, entered the wood fiber business plant commenced production in in May 2013 when it acquired wood June 2011 with new innovations in chips manufacturer, Fulghum Fidesign including dryer gas recirculabres, Inc., including 32 chip mills

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(26 in the U.S. and six in South America), for $112 million. Rentech also acquired a former oriented strandboard mill in Wawa, Ontario and a former particleboard mill in Atikokan, Ontario, and is converting both to wood pellet plants.

Finland’s TSE Confirms CHP Plant Turun Seudun Energiantuotanto Oy confirmed it will replace an existing power plant in Naantali, Finland (Turku region) with a new cogeneration plant fueled at least in large part by biomass. Construction will begin in spring 2015 and operations will start in autumn 2017. Cost estimate is 260 million euros. Turun Seudun Energiantuotanto Oy is owned by Fortum and Turku Energia, as well as Raisio, Kaarina and Naantali, which own smaller shares. In February Fortum said it would invest EUR 40 million in the plant. TSE’s new power plant will replace a 50-year-old coal-fired power plant. The biomass used will consist mainly of locally sourced wood chips transported from a radius of 100-150 kilometers around the plant. The annual wood chip consumption is initially expected to be about 0.7 million cubic meters and eventually as much as 1.2 million cubic meters. Upon completion, the plant will produce 900 GWh electricity and 1,650 GWh heat annually. The plant’s production capacity will be 142 MW electricity and 244 MW heat. “By investing in a new power plant in Naantali, we are pursuing growth in energy-efficient combined heat and power production in line with our strategy. The fact that the new power plant aims to utilize as much domestic biomass as possible also makes the new project an interesting one for Fortum,” says Jouni Haikarainen, vice president, Fortum Heat Div. In 2013, Fortum commissioned biomass-fired CHP plants in Järvenpää, Finland, and Jelgava, Latvia.

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■ in the news

Production was also started at the new waste-to-energy CHP plant in Klaipeda, Lithuania and test-runs began at a similar facility in Brista, Sweden. Additionally, Fortum commissioned a bio-oil plant integrated with a CHP plant in Joensuu, Finland. The total value of these invest-

ments is about EUR 550 million. Mayor of Turku Aleksi Randell comments, “Firstly, this will safeguard both the availability of the region of Turku’s most important form of heating, district heating and competitive production, as current production plants come to the end of

their service lives. Secondly, the goal of using 100% biofuel in the new plant will significantly lower the region’s carbon dioxide emissions, which has proven to be a solution in negotiations, as it is one of the city of Turku’s aims. We are on an ambitious path to reduce emissions and eventually make the city carbon neutral.”

DTEES Starts Up Stockton Plant DTE Energy Services, Inc. (DTEES) began commercial operations at its biomass power plant at Port of Stockton (Calif.). The plant, known as Stockton Biomass, is a conversion of a shuttered coalfired power plant. It is selling its renewable power to PG&E Co. to help it meet its renewable energy requirement. The plant will use about 320,000 tons of woody biomass fuel annually to generate 45 MW—enough electricity to meet the needs of 45,000 homes. The fuel primarily is derived from urban wood waste, tree trimmings and agricultural processes. The plant began operation in 1989 as a coal-fired power plant and ceased operation in April 2009. DTEES purchased it in June 2010 with plans to convert the plant to biomass. At its peak, the construction project employed 100. DTEES replaced the boilers and employed the best available control technologies to minimize air emissions. DTEES, a subsidiary of DTE Energy, is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich. It has completed similar biomass conversions in Cassville, Wis. and Bakersfield, Calif. The company also operates biomass power plants in Woodland, Calif. and Mobile, Ala.

Vega Biofuels Plans Torrefaction Pilot Vega Biofuels, Inc. reports it has entered into a joint venture agreement to build and operate a pilot torrefaction facility in Allendale, SC

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■ in the news

that will manufacture the company’s bio-coal and biochar products. Vega Biofuels (Vega) and its partners, including Agri-Tech Producers, LLC (ATP), will operate under the name ATP-SC, LLC and will produce various torrefied products. The venture plans to build additional plants. Columbia, SC based ATP manufactures and sells torrefaction equipment. ATP has licensed and commercialized the torrefaction technology originally developed by North Carolina State University. ATP selected Kusters Zima Corp. (KZC) as its equipment design and manufacturing partner. Vega’s renewable energy product “bio-coal” is made from plant or wood biomass, primarily wood, using torrefaction technology. The bio-coal will be shipped to European power generating companies from the Port of Savannah. With ATP’s help, Vega is also planning to

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build a bio-coal manufacturing plant in south Georgia. In addition to manufacturing bio-coal, the company will also produce a product called biochar for use in various agricultural productivity applications to increase the quality of the soil. “ATP’s technology and knowhow, and the pilot plant’s great site and supply arrangements are a tremendous boost for implementing Vega’s business plan,” states Michael Molen, Chairman/CEO of Vega Biofuels. “We are now on a very fast track to manufacture and deliver our bio-coal and biochar products to our clients. I’m also proud to announce that testing on our bio-coal samples has been completed and accepted by our EU clients and our plan now is to begin shipping product to Europe from the Allendale plant by the first quarter of next year, if not sooner.” In addition to bio-coal, the company announced plans to manufac-

ture and market its biochar product to agricultural industries, including the fast growing hemp industry. Vega Biofuels earlier announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire the Legal Hemp and Marijuana Div. of Colorado based Biochar Now, LLC.

UK Final Listing Draws Criticism UK’s Dept. of Energy and Climate Change confirmed eight largescale renewable energy projects that will receive support through “contracts for difference (CfD)” payments, part of the government’s Electricity Market Reform program. Included are two biomass conversion projects—RWE’s Lynemouth 420 MW power station at Ashington, Northumberland, and the Drax 645 MW Unit 1 at Selby, North Yorkshire; as well as a 299 MW dedicated biomass with combined heat

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in the news ■

Teesside project by MGT Power at Middlesbrough. However, what was left off the final list has caused some negative reaction. “Whilst we are pleased to have been offered an Investment Contract for our third unit conversion (Unit 1), we are disappointed by today’s decision on the ineligibility of our second unit (Unit 3),” says Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of Drax. “Nothing has changed, as far as our plans are concerned, between being deemed eligible in December and now. We have, therefore, commenced legal proceedings to challenge the decision. Sustainable biomass provides a very reliable, flexible and cost effective renewable power source for the UK consumer. The performance of our first converted unit (Unit 2), which was converted last year to burn sustainable biomass in place of coal, continues to be strong.”

She said Drax is committed to its strategy of transforming into a predominantly biomass fueled generator, initially through the conversion of three of six generating units, with a fourth unit conversion under evaluation. The government stated, “More renewable electricity projects applied to the process than we can afford.” The government received 57 applications initially. In December, the government reduced the list to 16 projects that provisionally scored above the minimum threshold evaluation criteria. Included on that list were the two Drax conversions. The government decision does not mean the Drax unit conversion project won’t go forward. Drax has become a world leader in the renewable energy movement, especially for wood biomass and in particular as a market for wood pellets. One estimate is that

Drax will consume 7.5 million tons of wood pellets by 2016. Originally built, owned and operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), Drax Power Station was constructed and commissioned in two stages. Stage one (units 1, 2 and 3) was completed in 1974, and stage two (units 4, 5 and 6) was completed in 1986. Each of the units has a capacity of 660 MW when burning coal, giving a total capacity of just under 4,000 MW, making Drax the largest power station in the UK. In 1988, Drax states it became the first power station to invest in the retrofit of flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) equipment, making Drax the cleanest coal-fired power station in the UK. In 1990, the electricity industry of England and Wales was privatized under the Electricity Act 1989. Three generating companies and 12 regional electricity companies

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■ in the news

were created. As a result, Drax Power Station came under the ownership of National Power, one of the newly formed generating companies. Over the years that followed privatization, the map of the industry changed dramatically. One significant change was the emergence of vertically integrated companies, combining generation, distribution and supply interests. In certain cases, it became necessary for generation assets to be divested, and so in 1999 Drax Power Station was acquired by the U.S.-based AES Corp. for £1.87 billion. A partial refinancing of Drax was completed in 2000, with £400 million of senior bonds being issued by AES Drax Holdings, and £267 million of subordinated debt issued by AES Drax Energy. Increased competition, over-capacity and new trading arrangements contributed to a significant drop in

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wholesale electricity prices, which hit an all-time low in 2002. Many companies experienced financial problems, and Drax Power Station’s major customer went into administration, triggering financial difficulties for Drax. Following a series of standstill agreements with its creditors, the AES Corp. and Drax parted company in August 2003. During the restructuring, a number of bids were received from companies wishing to take a stake in the ownership of Drax, but creditors voted overwhelmingly to retain their interest in Drax. In December 2003, the restructuring was completed and Drax came under the ownership of a number of financial institutions. Late in 2005, Drax underwent a refinancing and shares in Drax Group plc were listed on the London Stock Exchange for the first time. In July 2012, Drax announced that it had the mandate, means and

expertise to transform the business into a predominantly biomass-fueled generator through burning sustainable biomass in place of coal. Drax announced plans to convert three of its six generating units to burn biomass. The first of the three units was successfully converted in April 2013, and the new biomass receipt, storage and distribution systems to support the converted units were officially launched in December 2013. Upstream, the company has a presence in the U.S. wood pellet supply chain, and Drax Biomass International is also developing two wood pellet plants of 450,000 tons production capacity each, one in Louisiana and one in Mississippi, and a port facility in Louisiana to facilitate the export of wood pellets. Another project that didn’t make the government’s final eight listing was the Eggborough Power biomass conversion of three units at

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■ in the news

Yorkshire. Eggborough has since questioned its ability to continue operations. Eggborough Chief Executive Neil O’Hara commented, “To avoid the likelihood of becoming uneconomic to run beyond 2015, Eggborough must convert to biomass. This

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is based on what we know about market conditions and policies—we can’t and won’t base business decisions affecting the station and workforce on hypotheticals. “We’ve spent two years and millions of pounds planning the conversion, worth upwards of three quar-

ters of a billion pounds to the region. This would double our onsite workforce and boost jobs through our supply partners.” O’Hara said the project would have commenced in January and was one of the most advanced on the (government) shortlist, meeting key criteria including cost-competitiveness, quick delivery and contribution to supply-security. “Unfortunately, in December 2013,” O’Hara said, “government modified its scoring system to spread funding across different types of power generation, reducing funding for biomass conversion. Although many successful projects were costlier and nowhere near ‘shovel ready,’ Eggborough didn’t make the list.” He said as a result Eggborough was forced to announce that Unit 2 would cease operating in September 2014. “Without support and certainty from government, we can’t justify the investment to keep it running. We will continue appealing to government on Eggborough’s behalf.” In March, RES announced it was ceasing work on its biomass power station project at the Port of Blyth in Northumberland following the the withdrawal of a key project partner in late 2013 due to ongoing uncertainty in UK energy policy. “The government’s inconsistent support for dedicated biomass energy over the last two years—as well as increased uncertainty over the UK’s energy policy under the government’s Electricity Market Reform process—has critically undermined the investment case for the North Blyth Biomass Power Station,” the company stated. RES’ Chief Operating Officer for the UK Gordon MacDougall stated, “It’s bitterly disappointing for RES that we are unable to bring this exciting project forward, and deliver the significant boost it would have represented for the Blyth and Northumberland economy. However, the gradual erosion of support for dedicated biomass leaves us with no other option.”

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in the news ■

RES has called upon the government to clarify its support for renewable energy as a vital part of the UK energy mix, in order to ensure that independent generators and major investors alike have the certainty needed to continue investing in UK infrastructure. RWE Supply & Trading confirmed that all activities to support the Lynemouth conversion project are continuing, including contracts for the engineering of the conversion and arrangements with local ports and rail companies for movement of biomass supplies to the station.

credit incentive programs. In February the state Supreme Court had upheld the company’s permit for the project, turning back an appeal by several environmental groups. The expansion project, slated for completion in April 2012, was delayed by court appeals and

had been scheduled to be online by this year or 2015. Hagan reportedly said that power produced by Port Townsend Paper’s cogeneration plant would have cost electricity customers “on the order of twice” what they would pay for natural gas. ➤ 45

Pinnacle Plans Seventh Mill Tolko and Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group announced that the Agricultural Land Commission has approved the non-farm use of agricultural land to allow for the construction of the proposed Lavington (British Columbia) pellet plant project. The proposed $39 million, 250,000 tonnes pellet plant would be adjacent Tolko’s Lavington mill. The plant will procure sawdust from the Tolko mill. This would be Pinnacle’s seventh pellet mill and bring its total capacity to 1.5 million tonnes annually.

Port Townsend Nixes Cogen Project Port Townsend Paper Corp. appears to be not pursuing a proposed 24 MW cogeneration project at Port Townsend, Wash. Company President Roger Hagan told the Peninsula Daily News that the company’s construction permit will not be extended beyond the 18month June deadline for the improvements and said the project was not financially viable. According to the report, Hagan attributed the decision to environmental challenges that delayed the project, a strong market for cheap natural gas compared with biomass and the expiration of federal tax-

June 2014 / Wood Bioenergy

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■ wood energy conference

Wood Bioenergy

Power Play

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wood energy conference ■

ATLANTA, Ga. duction in greenhouse gases, 20% target in renewable orty-one speakers, 75 exhibitor companies and 325 energy and 20% increase in energy efficiency. bioenergy enthusiasts participated in the Bioenergy In a global market environment, Holley noted, U.S. Fuels & Products Conference & Expo held March producers, especially in the South, are in good position 18-19 in the Grand Ballroom North of the Omni Hotel to take advantage. Plum Creek has holdings of 3.8 milat CNN Center in downtown Atlanta. lion acres in the South. “The U.S. South is the lowest Held every other year, the event is hosted by Wood cost fiber producer in the world on a delivered basis,” Bioenergy magazine. The conference featured eight he said, noting that timberland in the region is sustainkeynote speakers as well as breakout sessions on New ably managed in a stable business and political climate. Technologies, Products, Fiber Supply, Fire Safety From Holley said the influx of bioenergy will not disrupt Plant to Port, Process Improvements, Industrial Wood the current fiber marketplace. Instead, it is replacing dePellets, Air Emissions, Support & Access, and Dust Ismand that has disappeared as pulp and paper mills have sues & Control. closed. He said that since 1998 in the Southern U.S., 23 Wood pellets, biomass power generation and woody pulp and paper plants have closed accompanied by a feedstock dominated the discussions. demand reduction of more than 24 million tons. How“What stands out to me this year compared to the conever, the volume of timber in the U.S. South has inference in 2012 is that the participants this time are comcreased by 28%. Total current pulpwood consumption mitted to the wood energy industries,” said Rich Donnell, in the U.S. south is 140 million tons, Holley said, and conference co-chairman and editor-in-chief of Wood Bionew pellet production will increase pulpwood consumpenergy magazine. “In 2012 there were quite a few ‘tiretion 15%, or more than 20 million tons, by 2020. kickers’ walking around and many of them backed away. Holley addressed the biogenic carbon debate, noting This is not an easy industry. There are a lot of variables and there’s a lot of speculation because it’s still emerging. But the people here seem to be ‘real’ players.” At the end of the event, organizers announced the dates for the 2016 event as April 5-6, again to be held at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center. Rick Holley, president and CEO of Plum Creek Timber, led off the first morning keynote general session describing how one of the nation’s largest timIndustrial wood pellets was a popular topic. berland owners continues to step up as a participant in the fiber supply chain for “If we are going to win on policy, we have to win on new bioenergy markets. Plum Creek owns almost 7 carbon messaging. The science is clear. Trees and million acres across 28 states that produce up to 18 milforests are part of the natural carbon cycle, absorbing lion tons of wood fiber through around 3,000 loads of carbon dioxide as they grow, and releasing it back to logs each day. the atmosphere as they decay. As long as total U.S. forOf the three segments of wood bioenergy utilization, est stocks are healthy and growing, the use of forest Holley said wood pellet markets provide more immediproducts is carbon beneficial. This means that the carate opportunity as compared to biofuels and domestic bon balance in forests will be maintained when forest biomass power. He said liquid fuels will be much biomass is used for energy.” slower to develop until they scale up to meet meaningPlum Creek provides bioenergy customers compreful demand, and that “power is a wild card…depending hensive fiber supply chain management, Holley said. upon future U.S. policy.” “We have invested heavily in our own fiber supply chain. Holley said in 2013 20 million tons of fiber were reWe have our own fiber, certified to the SFI standard, but quired to produce 10 million tons of industrial pellets also have the intellectual capital to help new market enmostly in Europe. But by 2020, industrial wood pellet trants navigate and solve for their fiber supply chain demand could reach 38 million tons, the vast majority needs.” He said Plum Creek is the first timber company in Europe. He spoke briefly about the European to be independently third party audited on all lands. Union’s renewable energy targets by 2020 of 20% re“We think the bioenergy future is bright, but public

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Rick Holley

Alicia Cramer

Bill Gaston

policy is critical,” Holley said. “The forests in this country aren’t the problem: they’re the solution and a great way to produce more opportunity and jobs.” RISI Bioenergy Analyst Seth Walker gave a wideranging presentation on the major segments of the wood bioenergy industries. He pointed to the success of the industrial pellet producers, and referred to “the big four,” Enviva, Green Circle, Georgia Biomass and Fram Renewable Fuels, joined in 2013 by Westervelt and German Pellets. According to Walker and RISI, U.S. wood pellet exports flirted with 3 million tonnes in 2013, with the United Kingdom receiving the vast majority of it. Walker added that Italian and German heating markets continue to grow and will demand more wood pellets. He said Green Circle made the first bulk shipment from the U.S. to Korea in 2013. He also said that non-industrial European markets and emerging Asian markets made up nearly 25% of Canada’s exports in 2013. Walker said that North American wood pellet production (for export and domestic markets) is expected to rise from close to 7 million tonnes in 2013 to 14.5 million tonnes in 2018. U.S. wood pellet production for industrial export markets will skyrocket from just under 3 million tonnes in 2013 to nearly 8 million tonnes in 2018. Canada’s pellet production will go from 2 million tonnes in 2013 to above 4 million in 2018.

Booths were busy between conference sessions.

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John Campbell

Seth Walker

He noted the domestic pellet market capacity growth responded to strong demand growth in 2005-2008. Primarily due to lower natural gas prices, domestic market growth slowed in 2010 to present. Excess domestic supply has kept wood pellet prices/revenues subdued. Addressing U.S. biomass power generation, Walker said despite new capacity coming online, actual generation fell during 2010-2012 before rising in 2013, and will show a gradual climb from less than 12 million MWh in 2013 to 16 million MWh by 2018. Alicia Cramer, president of Westervelt Renewable Energy, reviewed the history and timeline of the 130year-old Westervelt Company, based in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and pointed to 2010 when the company diversified and launched a renewable energy business platform with a cogeneration project at its sawmill in Moundville, Ala. It increased its commitment to renewable energy with a new wood pellet plant in Aliceville, Ala. in 2013. She showed a pellet market production and consumption map which forecasts 11 million tonnes of North America production in 2020 and 23.8 million tonnes of consumption in Western Europe. Cramer said Westervelt plans to add to its wood pellet production capacity, which started up with an announced 250,000 tonnes annual production and is expandable by at least double that amount.

Dan Shell, left, interviewed BM&M’s Andy Turner

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Astec Industries President Malcolm Swan$210 million plant will commence in 2016. son focused on key considerations for ecoStephen Hall, senior project manager for nomical operation with a modular pellet ReEnergy Holdings, gave a report on biomass plant. According to Swanson, with volumes power generation and the company’s recent for new-generation pellet plants starting at project converting a coal-fired power plant at just below a half-million tons/year, “IncreFort Drum, NY into a 60 MW biomass-powmental costs can really add up at such large ered facility. volumes.” Hall noted there are 121 biomass power Addressing the benefits of a quick startup, generation facilities nationwide, representing he said that if your startup is two months more than 3,000 MW, with another 18 faciliquicker, and if you’re making $10/ton on ties with 550 MW under construction, and 54 your pellets, at 450,000 TPY annual producfacilities with more than 2,200 MW being tion, an additional $750,000 is made for those William Strauss planned. He said 20 plants with 374 MW two months, in addition to a $300,000 savhave closed or been idled. ings in the extra two month startup activity Biomass power generation alone is a $1 that’s not required, for a total additional profit billion industry that employs more than of $1.05 million. 15,000 plus many indirect jobs—roughly five He also said, when operating a 450,000 jobs for every megawatt, Hall said. Overall, tons/year pellet plant with a $30/ton fiber costs the industry represents 12% of U.S. power caand $10/ton profit: pacity. —Saving $1/ton on fiber equals $936,000 ReEnergy operates 325 MW of renewable in annual savings. energy generation from numerous facilities —Buying wood at 3% less moisture on avmostly in the Northeast and one in North Carerage equals roughly $2 million in extra olina. At Fort Drum, ReEnergy purchased the profit. plant in 2011 and in a $34 million retrofit con—Transportation costs are critical, and verted the operation from coal to biomass. choosing a site just 10 miles closer to the port Wolf’s Steve Nelson ReEnergy is the first company solely dedestination means up to $500,000 more in voted to electricity production to be certified profit at 12 cents/mile. by SFI, Hall said. In addition, ReEnergy has Swanson focused on the Astec modular launched a program allowing loggers to gain pellet plant newly installed at Hazlehurst access to chipping equipment and secure Wood Pellets in Georgia. The plant, which long-term agreements to provide fuel to has an initial 150,000 tons per year capacity, ReEnergy. started production in January. Phase 2 of the Bill Gaston of Gaston’s Tree Service and project includes the integration of two more Wood Resource Recovery in Gainesville, Fla. production lines, increasing site capacity to spoke from the raw material supplier point of 450,000 tons per year. view. A participant in the tree service and deJohn Campbell, managing director of Rollbris disposal business since 1971, Gaston encast Energy, spoke about biomass power gentered the renewable energy field and became eration projects. His company developed the a primary supplier to the new Gainesville Renew 55 MW biomass power plant known as newable Energy Center biomass power plant. Brad Carr of IES Piedmont Green Power in Barnesville, Ga. The company today operates numerous wood The $200 million plant at full load consumes approxirecycling and grinding yards and in fact delivered the mately 500,000 tons of fuel per year. It procures a comfirst load of fuel to the Gainesville plant. bination of urban wood waste from the Atlanta area and In addition, Gaston’s business manufactures chips, logging residue in the region. which his trucking arm moves to the Jacksonville port Why build a biomass power plant? Campbell asked. for export shipment to China. He cited low risk/moderate return for investors; exterAs part of a two part session on Industrial Wood Pelnal stakeholder benefit; and key benefits including lets, international trade analyst Alberto Goetzl with the baseload power, inexpensive power, fuel diversification U.S. International Trade Commission spoke on internaand local economic development. tional trade in wood fuel pellets, noting that wood pellet As to the outlook in the Southeast, Campbell pointed exports from the U.S. in 2013 accounted for $374 milto increasing coal-fired power plant retirements, the lion, or 4%, out of $9 billion total of U.S. forest prodneed for base load fuel diversification, ongoing pressure ucts exports. He said U.S. wood pellet exports in 2013 for renewable power, and PSC mandates. were 2.9 million tonnes. Campbell confirmed that Rollcast is developing a simGoetzl said the world’s wood pellet production and ilar sized biomass plant in LaGrange, Ga., called Greenconsumption has been variously estimated at between way Renewable Power. Commercial operation of the 19-25 million tonnes, with the EU accounting for 75-

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80% of global wood pellet consumption in 2013. The U.S. and Canada are the world’s top two pellet exporters, followed by Latvia and Russia, all feeding primarily to the EU. The top pellet importing countries are the UK, Denmark, Italy, Belgium

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and Sweden. In the U.S., the top pellet export states are Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Virginia. Addressing pellet exports by U.S. port in 2013, Goetzl put Panama City, Fla. in the lead, followed by Savannah, Ga.; NorfolkNewport News, Va.; Mobile, Ala.;

Brunswick, Ga.; and a drop-off to Port Arthur, Tex. According to Goetzl, the main global driver for the industrial pellet market is the EU’s commitment to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, plus improvements in energy efficiency—and biomass is expected to provide a large share of sustainable fuels as EU member states develop strategies to meet the emissions reduction goals. While the U.S. has enjoyed great early success in meeting EU fuel pellet needs, other countries are also ramping up shipments to the EU. Goetzl noted Brazil recently began exporting and reporting its shipments to trade officials. Seth Ginther, executive director of the U.S. Industrial Pellet Assn., reported that U.S. pellets exports in 2013 exceeded expectations at 3 million tonnes. He said 2012 was the first year that the U.S. overtook Canada in exports to the EU. And that in 2012 total worldwide exports to the EU were 4.36 million tonnes, but by 2020 that figure could range between 25 million tonnes and 70 million tonnes. Ginther addressed the energy policy drivers in the UK, including subsidies through Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) or Contracts for Difference (CFD), and a Carbon Price Floor that makes coal-fired electricity generation uneconomic within a few years unless generators install CCS (carbon capture and storage) technologies or convert to biomass. “Even if there is a change in policy on the ROC, the carbon price floor still incentivizes biomass,” he said, adding that UK criteria for certified content and processes is a victory for U.S. pellet makers. “We now have long awaited market certainty in the UK.” Addressing coal to biomass conversion in the UK, Ginther said Drax Power continues its plan to convert at least three of its six 660 MW units from coal to biomass. He pointed to RWE’s 400 MW Lynemouth plant conversion. And said Eggborough Power planned to

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Exhibitors seemed more secure with their involvement in the emerging wood energy industry.

convert four 500 MW units, though this project is not as certain. The Netherlands has ambitious plans under its Energy Plan of 2013. Renewal of co-firing subsiding will create a market for 3.5 million tonnes per year, and could require seven new wood pellet manufacturing facilities, with the U.S. likely getting its fair share. Italy has been mostly residential, but U.S. producers are beginning to sell on the spot market there. Meanwhile, in Denmark, DONG and Vattenfall plan largely to replace coal-fired CHP with biomass. Belgium is increasing biopower operations. In Germany, withdrawal from nuclear leaves an energy gap that needs to be filled with low carbon sources, Ginther said. Asian markets could demand 5 million tonnes by 2020. William Strauss, president of FutureMetrics and moderator of the Industrial Wood Pellets session, addressed the future of the industrial pellet market and said it could encompass 27 million tonnes per year by 2020, or 74,000 tonnes per day—more than a shipload per day. Europe alone could account for 20 million TPY. Strauss said the current industrial pellet production in North America is about 6 million tonnes per year. He said there’s an international capacity gap of 22 million tonnes per year, and possibly more given emerging markets, that has to be filled in the next six years. He noted that Drax will require 7.5 million tonnes per year by 2015-2016. He also addressed production and market costs scenarios noting that at an FOB price of $170 per metric tonne, a UK utility has an EBITD revenue margin of 11.67%, or $33.63 per tonne, given a $288.19 revenue per tonne. “So the pellet producer must keep costs in line,” Strauss said. The producer’s EBITDA per metric tonne is $24.83, given the FOB price of $170. The demand for industrial pellets is significant, Strauss said, but there is a hard ceiling on what the buyers can pay that is set by policy. He pointed to feedstock availability (volume and pricing), modern equipment and operations technologies, and the importance of understanding and controlling transportation and logistics costs. “Careful

analysis of every step in the supply chain is critical.” Numerous equipment supplier representatives also made presentations. Andrew Johnson, vice president of TSI Inc., spoke about torrefaction and the company’s part commercial-part test system running at twotonne/hour in South Dakota. It’s being tested with a variety of materials to obtain baseline data and energy balances. He said the TSI system torrefies from 450° F up to 750° F, working with a variety of feedstocks and chip size. It operates at 0% oxygen. An excellent two-part session was held on Fire Safety: From Plant to Port. Also, representatives from Clariant, Matros, Scheuch, Nestec, PRD Tech and TSI addressed air emissions technologies in wood bioenergy. Dirk Koltze, executive vice president of Büttner (Siempelkamp), spoke about the company’s dryer island technologies for pellet and biomass plants, emphasizing the importance of matching the correct technologies with the specific fuel types. Giordano Checchi, principal of Sunomi LLC, looked at “alternative” products such as briquettes and pucks and the technologies involved in their manufacture, noting that “briquettes and pucks are not made by extrusion.” He also addressed target markets, ranging from residential heating to district heating of entire villages or communities to process heating for industrial manufacturing facilities to serving as fuel for large power plants including traditional co-firing plants. “Pucks burn better, longer and at higher temperatures than loose chips or wood dust,” Checchi said, adding that pucks burn at a rate close to the burning rate of coal. The bioenergy conference immediately preceded the Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference & Expo. The close-coupled conferences format will continue in 2016, according to Donnell, who added that 53% of the exhibitors participated in both conferences. “You always look at other locations, but Atlanta is really perfect for this event,” co-chairman Donnell commented. “Also, everybody we spoke with was very receptive to moving the next conference a little further into spring with the April 5-6 dates.”

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Lignetics

Expanding Horizons By David Abbott KENBRIDGE, Va. n March, Ken Tucker, president and CEO of Lignetics, Inc., announced that the wood pellets manufacturer has been acquired by Taglich Private Equity LLC, with financing from Gladstone Capital Corp. and Texas Capital Bank. The investment is intended to allow Lignetics to pursue its plans for continued growth. “They (Taglich) have multiple companies in their portfolio, but this is the only one in this industry, manufacturing pellets,” Tucker says. “Operationally, nothing has changed. Everyone is still in the same role.” Lignetics General Manager of Operations, John Utter, who came on board in 2003, reiterates that Lignetics will continue to function the same as before. With the access to new investment capital, Lignetics

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aims to extend its reach in the domestic residential heating market, as well as potentially explore some offshore opportunities. Part of the plan is aggressive expansion by way of buying other facilities. “They bought it to grow the business, not to buy these three plants and call it good,” Tucker adds. “We want to grow our footprint in New England, especially.”

Operations A privately held American company that started in Idaho in 1983, Lignetics, Inc. has been producing wood pellets for home heating since before it was cool. In the time since, the company has expanded its operations to include three production facilities. Lignetics of Virginia, which opened in 2009, is the newest of the three plants—with the original at company headquarters in Kootenai, Idaho, and the second plant is in Linn, West

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Lignetics expects to continue impressive growth pattern.

Hamer bagging line produces 9,500 bags per day.

Va. Along with wood pellets for won’t form a good pellet. The residential home heating, the Idaho blend may typically start with five location makes Pres-to-Logs brand scoops of green material to two fire logs, fire starters and bedding scoops dry, and after sample tests products. Both the Virginia and the operator will adjust as needed West Virginia plants manufacture to achieve the optimal ratio, at residential heating pellets and aniwhich point the batch is ready to mal bedding pellets, and both have run through the dryer. recently begun producing barbecue From there the front-end loader Ken Tucker, left, and John Utter have great pellets for wood pellet grills and will dump the sawdust into the inexpectations for Lignetics. smokers. feed bin, where the material goes While the bedding product uses through a shaker screen to separate only untreated natural pine sawdust, the residential peloversize particles, rocks, slab wood and foreign material. let line is 100% hardwood, using several species Along the conveyor the material also passes through a sourced from lumber mills and flooring plants within a series of several magnets to remove any metals. 100-mile radius, mostly to the south of the plant. The Sawdust drops from the shaker screen to a weigh belt region, encompassing southern Virginia and northern below. Once it is weighed, the sawdust mix is carried to North Carolina, is rich in quality hardwood timber. the inlet of the tumble dryer via a screw conveyor. At this point the green sawdust mix is introduced into the hot gas stream to begin the drying process. After passLignetics Of Virginia ing through the rotary dryer the sawdust passes through Much of the machinery at the Kenbridge plant was a rock catcher to remove any small pebbles that could fabricated in-house either at this location or at one of have passed through the earlier screening process. The the other two. A Peerless truck tipper dumps trailer dry sawdust is then conveyed through a series of ducts loads of sawdust onto a concrete slab at the receiving to the primary cyclone for separation of the air from the station. The tipper operator then uses a Caterpillar sawdust. The sawdust is then fed into a Sprout hammerfront-end loader to carry sawdust into the appropriate mill for sizing. Once sized, the sawdust continues piles based on species. Various hardwood species are through a series of ducts and conveyors until ultimately generally mixed together, with poplar and pine having reaching the pellet mills. separate piles. The plant uses byproducts from its own processes to The material is mixed together outside to get the run the burner, supplying heat for the dryer. This inright moisture content, with dry and green dust blended cludes fines that fall out during the screening process. together before going to the dryer. A sample from each Burner temperature ranges from 1,000-1,200°. The sinload goes to the control room for moisture and ash testgle-pass dryer system has flighting in the internal framing with a moisture analyzer. Moisture percentage of ining, functioning like a tumble dryer to ensure all coming raw material can range between upper 30s to material is moving as heat is applied. Sawdust moves mid-50s. This lets the operator know the appropriate continuously through the system. It takes about 15 minfeed rate setting for the dryer drum in order to form utes for material to move through from start to finish, quality pellets. Material that is either too wet or too dry with an exit temperature of 110 to 160°. When finished,

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Pasco robot puts 50 bags on a pallet.

sawdust will be down to about 8-14% moisture. The plant uses a Grecon spark detection and extinguishment system to sound alarms and put out any sawdust that may ignite during the drying process. Ducts and conveyors from the dryer feed two Andritz pellet machines, used to make both fuel pellets and animal bedding pellets (separately). The dryer operator controls the infeed rate at a steady flow, but the process is continuous, and almost immediate. Heat and pressure form sawdust into pellets inside the die. While the pellet machine spins, it is steadily dropping pellets down to coolers beneath, which draw air over the fresh pellets to remove heat and moisture. At timed intervals, the cooler releases the pellets to an auger system that feeds into a Rotex rotary screener for the initial screening process. Once screened the pellets are then conveyed to one of six storage silos. The silos feed a Hamer bagging machine, which automatically measures and fills 40-pound bags. On average the plant produces and bags 190 tons of fuel pellets in every 24-hour period of operation—about 9,500 bags a day. That comes to 47,500 bags a week, or 2,470,000 bags a year of fuel pellets. The plant routinely pulls bags to check weight, on a separate scale, to ensure accuracy and proper sealing of the bag. From the Hamer line, sealed bags move up a conveyor to be stacked by a Pasco automated packaging system. The system utilizes a robotic arm to stack on a pallet, 50 bags per pallet. At 40 lbs. per bag, each pallet carries a ton. Each finished pallet then moves to an automatic Highlight Industries stretch wrap machine. A forklift driver moves and stacks the pallets in a warehouse where it awaits delivery. The Virginia location has the capacity to store more than 25,000 tons of finished product in three separate warehouses.

Marketplace Lignetics currently doesn’t export; since its beginning the company has serviced primarily the domestic residential heating market. Aimed at this market, the Idaho location services the market west of the Mississippi while the West Virginia and Virginia locations service the eastern market. Retailers and specialty stove shop owners typically send trucks to pick up their orders, so transportation is not a concern for the plant. Lignetics uses several different bags depending on the order’s destination. Some customers require a private label bag while others utilize one of two Lignetics labels, Lignetics brand or Pres-to-Log brand. Lignetics customers include companies such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Tractor Supply and Ace Hardware along with numerous independent and specialty stove shops. On the animal bedding side, only Tractor Supply has its own unique bag; all others use Lignetics brand EZ Equine package.

Teamwork GSI silos support around-the-clock production.

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“The Virginia plant has enjoyed steady growth since it opened,” Utter says. “Last year especially, I think everyone in the industry experienced a spike.” In early March the plant had just gone to a five-day week with 24-hour days, but that is only

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temporary. It will soon return to its usual 24/7 operation. “We need to run around the clock to meet commitments to customers,” Utter says. When production is on a fiveday schedule, the crew can per-

form maintenance on weekends, but when it goes back to the 24/7 grind, it’s more of a challenge. The employee roster includes three full-time maintenance people who do as much as they can

while the machines are still running. For example, while roller bearings on the pellet machines are automatically greased, maintenance checks the greasers periodically to ensure grease rates are at the proper levels. When a situation necessitates shutting down production—say if a belt breaks—then everybody works together to get it done as quickly as possible in order to minimize downtime. Lignetics employs 18 here, with two administrative personnel in the office and the rest in the plant, on three shifts. One runs the receiving and infeed station, one runs the pellet machines, one oversees the bag filling line, and others drive forklifts. “It doesn’t take a lot of people, so everybody’s a key employee,” Utter notes. “Nobody has a more important job than others. It all has to work in tandem, seamlessly.”

PFI Accreditation Lignetics is accredited through the PFI Standards Program. After initiating revision of its standards in 2005, the Pellet Fuels Institute launched its PFI Standards Program in 2011, with the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) serving as the program’s accreditation body. The third-party accreditation program, which provides specifications for residential and commercialgrade fuel, has been proposed for incorporation in the EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for residential wood heaters. EPA, which mandates regulation of pellet fuel through NSPS, supports the inclusion of the PFI Standards Program in the NSPS. In March, all three Lignetics plants underwent the auditing process successfully, with Conway Robinson overseeing the audit. The company is approved to label its bags of pellets with the PFI quality mark, indicating that the product is guaranteed to meet specified grade standards.

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WBjune14pgs_SS_Wood Bioenergy Magazine 5/7/14 8:28 AM Page 32

■ product news Astec Builds Pellet Plant From Within

Astec’s state-of-the-art wood pellet plant features a number of industry-firsts. Astec, Inc. is a member of the Astec Industries, Inc. family of companies, a billion dollar per year corporation headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn. Because Astec builds most of the equipment in its own manufacturing facilities instead of procuring from other manufacturers, it refers to itself as an EBC provider. This model allows Astec to guarantee production rates, pellet quality and environmental compliance. This model also means that Astec is accountable to its customers. Most major plant components are pre-assembled in Astec factories and shipped to the site ready to lift from the truck and set directly into operating position on an asphalt or concrete pad. Because of existing standard designs of its modular equipment, Astec is able to have the first line of a new plant producing pellets within eight months of signing, assuming reasonable, typical weather conditions. The plant components consist largely of tried and true machines that have been in productive service and perfected for decades in extreme conditions of service all over the world. These proven designs have been upgraded with the latest technology. Using proven equipment with many possible applications provides owners and investors/lenders with a high level of security.

CEM Emphasizes Micro Chips Many chipper manufacturers believe that in order to manufacture micro chips, a proven and reliable chipper for conventional chips

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only needs to be set up to cut a small size chip. This thinking often comes from their experience making conventional-chip chippers for the pulp & paper industry. What these suppliers fail to recognize is that cost effectively making true micro chips is far more difficult than this. Because of CEM Machine’s extensive knowledge of chip-making, CEM recognized immediately that true micro chips form and behave differently in many ways from conventional chips. CEM therefore invested in researching and developing new patented technology for efficiently producing true micro chips specifically for the pellet and biomass industries. While making micro chips from logs requires somewhat more energy than making conventional chips from logs, it requires far less energy than making conventional sized chips and then refining these chips into micro chips through the use of reducing machines.

Bandit Offers Micro Chip Drum

Whole tree chippers from Bandit Industries are now available with a versatile new micro chip drum, designed to produce dimensional wood chips approximately ¼ in. in size. This drum can also be easily reconfigured to produce standard chips, as well as large

maxi chips to serve multiple markets with the same machine. The micro chip drum is available on the Model 2590, 3090, 3590 and 3590XL, and features double the cuts per revolution compared to a standard Bandit drum. Micro chips are typically the chips of choice for wood pellet production, as the smaller chip dries quicker and more evenly, allowing for more efficient pellet production with higher energy yields. Larger chips are also favored by certain fuel wood markets, but regardless of the market, uniformity in chip size is vital. The new drum works in conjunction with Bandit’s Card Breaker System, which is designed to prevent oversize chips from exiting the drum. The result is a very uniform wood chip that can be specifically sized for individual fuel wood markets. These changes do not affect throwing power or production, nor are any special chip accelerators required.

Morbark Promotes Micro Chipper

The Morbark 40/36 whole tree drum chipper was introduced in 2008 as a compact, affordable and productive biomass chipper. The latest model includes Morbark’s exclusive enhanced Advantage 3 drum for the creation of uniform micro chips; an operator-friendly slide-in forestry grate system to reduce oversized chips for a consistent, high-quality end product; and a mechanically driven chip accelerator to fully load vans with the micro chips. “With new biomass plants being built in the United States and the rapid expansion of wood pellet exports to Europe to meet the Euro-

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product news ■

pean Union’s mandate that 20% of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020, our customers need a cost-effective system for making micro chips,” says John Foote, Morbark VP of Sales and Marketing. “The 40/36 MicroChipper is the solution. We are able to produce a far superior product, producing 95% acceptable micro chips at volumes of more than 70 tons per hour.” With an average fuel consumption of 2.25 tons of micro chips produced per gallon of fuel used, the Morbark 40/36 MicroChipper allows owners to reduce costs and maximize profits. In customer tests, 95% of the micro chips produced passed through a ½ in. grate, and an average of 65% passed through a ¼ in. grate. These micro chips are vital for pellet mills, eliminating the need to regrind the wood fiber prior to pelletizing. The MicroChipper’s internal drive feed system has fewer moving parts, creating a high-performance, low-maintenance machine, while the Morbark Integrated Control Systems allows for diagnostic monitoring to reduce downtime.

pellet plants to complete custom horizontal hog systems that can process material of any length such a logs, forest debris, and urban waste. The Rawlings Patented Super Hi-Inertia Hog is designed to run 24/7 365 days a year. The rotor is equipped with the highest mass moment of inertia in the industry with the lowest operating costs per ton of material processed. Operating at lower RPM’s, the machine still provides the crushing and shearing power needed to handle really tough jobs, like green waste, cypress, redwood, cedar, poplar, and a wide range of other stringy and fibrous materials. The Rawlings Super-Hi Inertia Rotor was designed to maximize inertia while minimizing its weight. With less downtime and easier maintenance customers have applauded both the Super-Hi Inertia rotor as well as the Rocwear striker system.

DuraTech Provides Larger Chipper

Rawlings Enhances Hog Efficiencies The original rotary wood hog was invented and developed by Rawlings Manufacturing in 1977. Since then the family owned company has manufactured and marketed several series of product lines. The wood waste recovery systems are available in stationary, portable and skid mounted systems; both vertical and horizontal models are available. Rawlings Wood hogs come in all shapes and sizes, from simple stand-alone vertical hog’s for sawmills, pulp, paper, power &

DuraTech Industries offers the TC-15 Tree Chipper. The TC-15 is the larger option in the DuraTech tree chipper line. With option of a 122 HP (91 kw) CAT C4.4 or 139 HP (103.7 kw) CAT C4.4 diesel engine and PT-Tech clutch, the powerful TC-15 can grind logs up to 15 in. in diameter. “We are excited to offer a larger tree chipper with the same advanced and powerful technology utilized in our grinders,” says Bob Strahm of DuraTech Industries. “Our TC-12 Tree Chipper entered us into a new market, and now we are expanding further into this territory.” The TC-15 features a springloaded feed wheel with adjustable down pressure, an optional height

sensor that automatically adjusts the feed roller to material size and an optional hydraulic gathering winch. A hydraulic two feed roller system feeds the four 4.5 in. knives designed to chip wood waste. This high-powered unit discharges debris 360 degrees from the hydraulic rotating adjustable chip spout, allowing the user to alter chip disposal. The TC-15 has multiple safety features like the innovative hopper safety light bars with easy and instant shut down. There are also two E-stop switches, a disc hood closed proximity switch and a breakaway brake switch to ensure the safety of the operator. The new tree chipper is available with a pintle or ball hitch and can easily be towed to a job site. This unit is compact measuring 79 in. x 208 in.

Valmet To Supply TSE Power Plant Turun Seudun Energiantuotanto Oy (TSE) has chosen Valmet as the boiler supplier for the upcoming power plant in Naantali, Finland. Valmet’s delivery will include a fluidized circulating bed (CFB) boiler and flue gas cleaning equipment. The steam capacity of the boiler plant will be 390 MW. According to plans, wood chips collected within a 100-150 kilometer distance from the power plant will form the main bio fuel. • Valmet also announced that the Valmet-supplied gasification plant at GoBiGas (Gothenburg Biomass Gasification Project) was inaugurated on March 12 in Gothenburg. The plant was commissioned in late 2013 and will produce gas by gasifying forest residues and wood pellets. The produced gas is similar to natural gas and will primarily be used in the transport sector with the goal to switch from fossil fuel to biofuel. The biomass is gasified in a process called “indirect gasification” developed by the Austrian company Repotec. Valmet is han-

June 2014 / Wood Bioenergy

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■ product news

dling the engineering work for the gasification plant in Gothenburg with a license from Repotec. Gasification takes place in a separate reactor and heat is transferred from a combustion chamber by circulation of hot bed material, i.e. indirect gasification. Biomass is fed into the gasifier where it, on contact with the hot bed material, undergoes thermochemical decomposition. After the cleaning and methanation, the gas is imported to the natural gas supply and is used in Göteborg Energi’s power plant. Because of the high quality, the biomethane can be fed to the existing distribution grid, where it is mixed with natural gas. Combining a gasification plant using biomass as fuel and a methanation plant is unique.

TerraSource Nears Completion of DDC When the U.S. office of Jeffrey Rader, a brand of TerraSource Global, relocated from Woodruff, SC to Hillside Park in Duncan, SC in 2012, a plan was put in place to create a single Demonstration & Development Center (DDC) facility for all TerraSource Global material tests, demonstrations and product development. Bryan Lanham, Director of Product Development for TerraSource Global, was charged with the task of bringing together three brands’ machines and auxiliary equipment from three existing test labs and designing the layout of the new 9,000 sq. ft. lab space. “The project was broken into two major phases,” Lanham says. “The first phase was moving the Jeffrey Rader brand equipment from Woodruff, which was completed in September 2013. The second phase was the relocation of equipment from our Belleville, Ill. and Broomall, Pa. test labs, which is nearly complete.” As the DDC nears completion, more than two dozen trials have been performed in the new lab. “The results of these trials have

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been valuable to both our customers and to us internally,” Lanham says. “We are looking forward to the upcoming opportunity to evaluate the Gundlach, Jeffrey Rader and Pennsylvania Crusher brands against each other. This will help us to do a better job for future customers’ applications and point us in the direction for new product development projects.” According to Vice President of Power and Mining Doug Sublett, “One of the biggest advantages our new test lab offers is that we can test material on a range of equipment rather than just one piece.” Material can be run through wood hogs, hammermills, sizers, granulators, roll crushers, impactors and Cage-Paktors. Adjacent the DDC, a 1,800 square feet Training Center is also available for sales, customer testing meetings and conferences. Private office space, phones and wireless internet access is available in the Training Center. Anyone who sends in raw materials to be tested on TerraSource Global equipment will also be invited to visit the office and watch the testing live.

Precision Names VP Of Sales Precision Machine and Manufacturing, Inc., a leading U.S. manufacturer of rotary feeders, valves and screw conveyors, announced that Neil Burck has joined the company as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, a newly created position. Burck will head the company’s sales and marketing teams.

VBS Distributes Manager Software Verdanté BioEnergy Services (VBS), a provider of technology solutions for the biomass energy sector, announced its appointment as the exclusive U.S. distributor of Finland-based MHG Systems’ Biomass Manager software.

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product news ■Acrowood Emphasizes Chippers, Screens Acrowood and its predecessors Black Clawson and Sumner Iron Works have supplied chippers and forest products equipment for more than 100 years. The common thread for all this machinery has been efficient and reliable operation with minimal maintenance. Since the 1970s, Acrowood’s robust design disc scalpers have provided years of trouble free operation, reliably segregating grossly over-sized material and contaminants from wood chips, sawdust, bark, and other biomass or fuel stocks. Acrowood Slant Disc Chippers have long been used to efficiently reduce wastewood from sawmills, producing high quality pulp chips from sawmill residues. Dual drive suspended rotary screens sort overlength material and fines from wood chips and are also used to screen sawdust and biomass prior to further processing. The unique screen design locates drive components outside the screen pan for easy maintenance access. Acrowood also manufactures and supplies disc thickness screens and its unique DiamondRoll thickness and fines screens which offer superior screening efficiency for chip thickness screening systems. Air density separation systems process a variety of feedstocks, removing high density contaminants such as biological knots, metal, or rocks.

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â– energy and carbon

Pellet Manufacturing

Energy And Carbon Balance Storage dome for wood pellets at port facility under construction

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energy and carbon ■

By Allen Wiley, PE

I

n recent years, the world has witnessed a dramatic increase in the production of wood pellets for fuel. As a home-heating fuel, wood pellets can sometimes stand on their own as an economically viable alternative to more expensive heat sources such as electricity, propane or fuel oil. These markets are most often served by smaller manufacturing facilities with bagging equipment at the end of the production line. However, the bulk of the new and proposed facilities are manufacturing pellets for use as boiler fuel for electrical power generation. Pellets must rely on government incentives for viability. They cannot compete economically with alternative boiler fuels such as coal and natural gas. These incentives are in place in Europe as a result of the Renewable Energy Directive. This directive aims to set the total European renewable energy content at 20% by 2020 [7] in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas production. Biomass fuel and, in particular, wood pellets are often seen as the least-cost alternative for meeting these standards. Pellet plants are being built in many distant locations to supply this market. Biomass energy is normally considered to be “carbon neutral” if the resource is re-grown, since the new growth absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere equal to the amount released in burning. When government incentives are used to force a new technology into a market, often factors that can normally prevent the technology from entering a free market remain hidden. For example, estimates of the energy required to produce ethanol range from 50% to 150% of the produced energy [6]. In the case of wood pellets, a large quantity of high quality energy, i.e., electricity is required for manufacturing, which has its own associated carbon dioxide emissions. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the energy gain and net carbon dioxide emissions from wood pellet manufacturing to provide a clear understanding of the net environmental benefits.

Pelleting Process The energy requirements of a typical wood pellet plant will be considered for this analysis. The plant produces 250,000 tons (1 ton = 2,000 pounds) for shipment to European markets. Pellet specifications are as follows: Diameter: Length: Species: Moisture Content: Ash Content: Fines Content:

8 mm 3.15 to 40 mm Southern Yellow Pine Less than 10%, wet basis Less than 1% Less than 1%

A few energy-related comments are in order regarding the above specifications. Some pellets are manufac-

tured to 6 mm diameter. This requires about 5-10% more energy at the presses. Southern yellow pine requires about 10% less energy at the presses than mixed southern hardwoods. The ash content of less than 1% is not difficult to obtain as both wood and bark of southern yellow pine have less than this. Some harvest practices involve dragging or skidding felled stems to a central location. This can result in large quantities of dirt entrained in the bark, which can show up as ash in the pellets. These logs must be either washed or debarked. Bark contains a high silica content, which shortens the life of the press. Debarking provides the dual advantages of prolonging press life and provides a supply of bark as energy for the dryers. Traditionally, pellet plants are divided into three parts, referred to as islands: a green wood preparation island, a drying island and a pellet island.

Green Wood Preparation The plant under consideration receives treelength southern yellow pine logs on pole trucks. The trucks are unloaded by a rotary crane and stacked in a partial circle below the crane. A crane places the logs on an infeed deck, which feeds a rotary drum debarker. Bark is hogged and stacked in a pile for use as dryer fuel. Since there will not be enough bark to fully fuel the dryer, facilities are provided to receive extra purchased fuel which may be residual bark from a nearby wood processing plant or logging residues chipped in the field. Debarked logs are fed to a chipper that produces 3⁄4 in. chips or “mini-chips.” These are smaller than standard paper mill chips, which are 3⁄4 in. long. The smaller chips are produced by special chippers made especially for the pellet industry. If 3⁄4 in. chips are produced, they must be further reduced in size by green hogs for optimal drying. Chips are stored outdoors and reclaimed by mobile equipment to feed to the dryers. Chips must be screened for overs before drying. The oversized chips go to a green hog for further size reduction.

Editor’s Note: The photos in this article are not specifically connected to the content of the article, but serve only to enhance the layout.

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â– energy and carbon

Dry wood chips are stored in a silo with auto-reclaim sized for eight hours of storage.

Pellet Island Before the wood can be made into pellets, it must first be further reduced in size. This is best done after the dryers at the hammermills. Dry wood is more friable than green wood and requires less energy for size reduction. Particle size must meet not only the requirements of efficient pelleting, but also the requirements of the end user, since the pellets must be pulverized before feeding to the boiler furnaces. For European power plants this is typically: 99.5% less than 4 mm 92.5% less than 2 mm 50% less than 1 mm 20% less than 0.5 mm

Dryer Island The dryer is a single-pass 18 ft. diameter x 70 ft. long rotary drum with partial recycling exhaust gas. Non-recycled gas goes into a wet electrostatic precipitator (WESP), then to a regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO). The RTO functions to raise the temperature of the exhaust gas to promote destruction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) before discharging to the atmosphere. Natural gas is used as the heat source for this and the regenerative feature reduces the amount of gas required by capturing waste heat in a heat storage medium. Providing the dryer with partial gas recycling reduces the size requirements of the WESP and RTO and reduces the amount of natural gas required for the RTO. The dryer fuel is bark and other biomass residues. Since the fuel source is biomass that will ultimately be re-grown, it will not be counted as an energy input or as a source of CO2 emissions. Wood chips enter the dryer at 50% moisture, wet basis, and leave at 10%. Bark fuel is also assumed to be 50% moisture.

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The power requirements for this size reduction are quite large. This plant requires four hammermills at 500 HP each. The hammermills are usually air-assisted in that air is pulled through them with induced-draft fans to help move the light, fluffy fiber through the hammermill grates. The air must be passed through bag filters before discharging to atmosphere. Fines collected in the filters are returned to the process. The fiber is stored in a silo with automatic reclaim capabilities sized for eight hours retention. Fiber reclaimed from the fiber silo passes through a pre-conditioner where a small amount of water is added for optimum pelletizing characteristics. From here, the fiber is transported by a conveyor to a series of seven pellet presses. The presses are preceded by ripening bins, allowing time for the water added at the pre-conditioner to be absorbed by the fiber. Conditioners provide an opportunity to add water, steam or additives just prior to pelletizing. Pelletizers in the U.S. usually only add water at this stage. This helps lubricate the fiber as an aid in pelletizing.

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■ energy and carbon

The pellet presses are major power users. A single press can produce five ton/hour of pellets and this plant requires seven presses at 500 HP each. The pellets are heated by friction in the presses and discharge at around 200° F. They are fragile at this temperature and must be cooled quickly to below 110°. This increases strength and reduces breakage. This is done with pellet coolers, which draw ambient air around the pellets with induced-draft fans. The air must be passed through bag filters or high-efficiency cyclones before discharging to the atmosphere. Fines from the collectors are recovered to the process. Pellets discharged from the cooler are screened and fine particles from the screen are recycled to the hammermills. Acceptable pellets are stored in a silo and loaded into trucks for transport to a port facility.

Energy Inputs CO2 Discharge • Planting & Harvesting Planting includes site preparation, application of herbicide and mechanical planting. In the Southern United States, most existing and planned large pellet facilities are purchasing treelength logs for on-site chipping. Harvest may be plantation thinning or final. Based on information provided by Georgia Forestry Commission [4], a reasonable estimate for planting and harvesting would be 1.7 gallons of diesel per ton of harvested logs. Unit fuel consumption is 246.6 Btu/pound of pellets. Unit CO2 emissions due to combustion of diesel is about .039 pounds/pound of pellets. ● Transportation of Logs to the Plant Site For this plant, an annual delivery of 528,000 tons of green logs is required to produce 250,000 tons of dry pellets. In addition, 16,200 tons of purchased fuel is required. For this study, we as-

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sumed 100 miles round trip for both fuel and logs. Fuel consumed was 14.6 gallons per round trip. Energy consumption was 45.5 Btu/pound of material delivered or 99.67 Btu per pound of pellets. Assuming complete combustion of diesel fuel, CO2 emissions were calculated to be 21.47 pounds/gallon of fuel burned and 0.0155 pounds/pound of pellets. Pelleting Process The pelleting process is very energy-intensive, requiring large amounts of electricity plus some natural gas and diesel fuel. Electricity is not a primary energy form and must be produced from combustion of a primary fuel such as coal, wood pellets or natural gas. Therefore, the electrical energy requirements must be converted to primary energy requirements to determine the net gain. Also, the CO2 emissions from the primary source must be accounted for. For this paper, we will assume a thermal efficiency of 35% in converting primary fuel to electricity. Electrical power consumption will be based on 65% of connected horsepower. EPA suggests a factor of 0.000689 metric tons of CO2 emitted per kWh of electrical consumption, or 1.55 pounds CO2 /kWh [1]. ●

● Green Wood Preparation Island Total connected horsepower: 2,562 HP Estimated primary fuel consumption: 185.5 Btu/pound of pellets Estimated CO2 emissions: .029 pounds/pound of pellets

Fuel usage of a single front-end loader or dozer working to feed chips and bark to the dryer is estimated to be 8.8 gallons/hour. Estimated fuel consumption: 17.3 Btu/pound of pellets Estimated CO2 emissions: 0.0029 pounds/pound of pellets Dryer Island Total connected horsepower: 2,478 HP ●

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■ energy and carbon

Estimated primary fuel consumption: 179.5 Btu/pound of pellets Estimated CO2 emissions: 0.028 pounds/pound of pellets Natural Gas to RTO Natural gas consumption: 4,037 SCF/hour Estimated Unit Energy Con-

sumption: 54.6 Btu/pound of pellets Estimated Unit CO2 emissions: 0.007 pounds/pound of pellets Pellet Island Total connected horsepower: 7,172 HP Estimated primary fuel consumption: 519.4 Btu/pound of pellets ●

Estimated CO2 emissions: 0.081 pounds/pound of pellets ● Transportation to Port Facility For this facility, a round-trip distance of 200 miles is assumed. This requires an estimated fuel consumption of 29.2 gallons of diesel or 85.2 Btu/pound of pellets. For longer trips, it is probable that rail transportation would be considered to decrease the fuel consumption. CO2 emissions were estimated at 0.0142 pounds/pound of pellets. Port Facility Pellets may be unloaded from rail or truck and stored in large domes at the port. From the domes, the pellets are loaded onto ships with specialized ship-loading equipment. Much of the equipment operates intermittently, but the dome ventilation equipment operates virtually continuously. For one facility currently under construction, total connected horsepower is 3,400. Accounting for intermittent loading, estimated primary energy consumption is 25.2 Btu/pound of pellets. Unit CO2 emissions due to electrical power generation is 0.0040 pounds/pound of pellets. ●

Ocean Transportation The cost of ocean transportation varies greatly, depending on dis●

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energy and carbon â–

tance, size of ship, back-haul opportunities, and distance to port of loading. One study on cost of shipping grains found the following cost for various ship sizes, assuming no backhaul [8]: Ship Size Fuel (dry weight tons) Consumption (ton-mile/gal.) 30,000 574.8 50,000 701.9 70,000 835.1 100,000 1,043.4

Btu/pound of pellets. The CO2 emissions from this fuel consumption are 0.0711 pounds/pound pellets. This represents a very significant, yet highly variable portion of the total energy requirement and CO2 emissions. Fuel can be reduced with larger loads and short ballast voyage (ballast voyage is the trip from last unloading port to

the loading port). Efficient backhauls can reduce the ballast voyage. In some cases it might be necessary to attribute the entire return voyage to the pellets. This is one area where Eastern U.S. suppliers should have a competitive advantage over more distant pellet supply locations such as British Columbia or South America.

Since many grains have bulk densities similar to wood pellets (about 42 pounds/cubic foot), similar fuel consumptions might be expected for wood pellets. For a voyage from Florida to Rotterdam, Netherlands, the estimated shipping distance is 4,600 miles. For a Panamax-sized ship, a ship-size of 70,000 dwt could be assumed. Using these conditions, the estimated fuel usage is 414.3

October 15-17, 2014 Portland Expo Center, Portland, Oregon

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â– energy and carbon Data Summary

Energy Consumption Btu/Pound of Pellets

Planting and Harvesting Transportation of Logs Green Wood Preparation Dryer Island Pellet Island Transportation to Port Port Facility Ocean Transport

246.2 99.1 202.8 234.5 519.4 85.2 25.2 414.3

CO2 Emissions Pounds CO2/ Pounds Pellets 0.039 0.016 0.032 0.035 0.081 0.014 0.004 0.071

Totals

1,828

0.292

Pellet Fuel Combustion

7,740

0

Results The higher heating value of oven-dry wood is about 8,600 Btu/pound [3]. Corrected for 10% moisture, the HHV is reduced to 7,740 Btu/pound. Total energy consumption in production and transportation of wood fuel pellets is estimated to be 1,828 Btu/pound of pellets, or about 24% of the pellet fuel energy. About 22% of this is in ocean transport, indicating that a significant energy savings would accrue from domestic utilization of the pellets. The CO2 emissions assume that no net CO2 results from combustion of pellets. Using a conversion efficiency of 35% yields CO2 emissions of 0.37 pounds per kwh of produced electricity, compared to 1.55 pounds CO2 per kWh using the EPA factor described earlier.

Conclusion Clearly, in the scenario considered here, use of wood pellets to generate electricity results in a net energy gain of 4:1. There is also a clear reduction in CO2 emissions by about 4:1. Some other environmental advantages to using wood pellets as a fuel include low sulfur and mercury content when compared to coal. There appears to be a need to quantify and publish effects of ocean-transport variables on energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Ocean transport represents a significant percentage of the total energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and the factors contributing to these quantities are highly variable. Allen Wiley is a registered professional engineer with more than 32 years of mechanical design and engineering experience. He has served as a Senior Mechanical Engineer at Hunt, Guillot & Associates (HGA) for more than seven years and is an expert on wood products manufacturing. [1] See http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/refs.html [2] World Biofuel Shipping Study. For IEA Task 40. July 1, 2009. [3] U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Peter Koch. Utilization of the Southern Pines. (p. 1382). [4] Georgia Forestry Commission. Energy Balance in Wood Pellets. [5] http://exportingpellets.com/news.html [6] http://alternativeenergy.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001261 [7] http://www.woodpelletservices.com/market_background_and_trends.pdf [8] http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Grain/Topics/EstimatesofTotalFuelConsumption.htm

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in the news ■ Renewable Diesel Plant Gains Funds The government of Canada’s $500,000 repayable investment, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) Business Development Plan, will support the purchase of equipment toward the startup of a renewable diesel fuel pilot plant celluFuel will transform lowvalue wood fiber into renewable

diesel fuel for the refinery market, debuting its technology at ReNova Scotia Bioenergy Inc. in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia with a long-term plan to launch a full commercial scale operation in Clare, Nova Scotia by 2015. The province of Nova Scotia previously announced a $1.5 million repayable investment in the project. celluFuel Inc. is a Nova Scotiabased startup firm, established in October 2012. The commercial demonstration plant is expected to

have an initial capacity of 1.3 million liters of diesel per year. The business is reportedly pointing to a full scale plant at Clare because there is space at the former Comeau Lumber site, including 50 acres and existing infrastructure.

Wood Pellet Export Double In Two Years Wood pellet exports from North America to Europe have doubled in

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■ in the news

two years to reach 4.7 million tons in 2013 with the U.S. South accounting for 63% of the volume, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review from Wood Resources International LLC. North America exported wood pellets valued at more than $650 million in 2013, a dramatic increase of more than 250% in just two years, according to data compiled by the North American Wood Fiber Review. The U.S. South shipped almost 3 million tons last year, which was almost two-thirds of total export volume from North America. With no slowdown in sight, North American wood pellet exporting companies keep building new facilities to manufacture pellets for the European market. The expansion is entirely driven by demand for biomass in Europe. Many of the recent investments in pellet capacity in the U.S. South have occurred along the Atlantic

Coast, with Enviva and Fram expanding production in the states of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. The expansion in Canadian pellet export has been less dramatic, but still significant. In Canada, there have been two recent developments: 1) the first regular shipments of pellets to South Korea started in the second half of 2013 and, 2) exports from Eastern Canada from Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick increased during this same time period. Eastern Canada will see additional pellet export volumes later in 2014 when Rentech begins operation at its two pellet facilities in Ontario. A Quebec pellet export facility under construction at the Port of Quebec is the first dedicated infrastructure for pellet exports along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Its presence, when completed, reduces the heretofore, substantial entry barrier for a

number of smaller pellet companies which are interested in the international market.

Torrefaction Joint Venture Announced New Biomass Energy LLC reports it has launched a joint venture with Solvay, an international chemical group, in order to expand its production of torrefied wood pellets. New Biomass Energy reports that its plant in Quitman, Miss., owned by BTH Quitman Hickory LLC, is the largest torrefaction facility in North America. This project will complete the expansion of the Quitman plant, bringing annual production capacity to 250,000 metric tons by the end of 2014. Solvay Biomass Energy will promote its torrefied wood pellets for electricity production in Europe and Asia.

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