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â– table of contents

www.woodbioenergymag.com

26

20

6

FROM THE EDITORS An Industry In Growth Mode

32

HM3 ENERGY All About Torrefied Biomass

8

IN THE NEWS Drax Remains Aggressive

36

PRODUCT NEWS Installations, Technologies

20

COLOMBO ENERGY Big Startup In South Carolina

Cover Photography: Colombo Energy (Jessica Johnson)

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FIVE QUESTIONS Industrial Pellet Experts Respond

36

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Wood Bioenergy / April 2017

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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.

Volume 9

Number 2

32 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 Managing Editor ■ Dan Shell Senior Associate Editor ■ David Abbott Associate Editor ■ Jessica Johnson Associate Editor ■ Jay Donnell Art Director/Production Manager ■ Cindy Segrest Ad Production Coordinator ■ Patti Campbell Circulation Director ■ Rhonda Thomas Marketing/Media Coordinator ■ Jordan Anderson 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: windham.susan4@gmail.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: 334.699.7837 ■ 800.669.5613 E-mail: bdevane7@hotmail.com A Hatton-Brown Publication Other Hatton-Brown Publications:

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Bliss Industries

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Bruks Rockwood

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CPM-Roskamp Champion

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European Biomass Conference

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Evergreen Engineering

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Metal Detectors

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Morbark

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43

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Sigma Thermal

18

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TSI

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Uzelac Industries

40

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West Salem Machinery

43

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Williams Patent Crusher

25

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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 are $50 per year, Canadian subscriptions are $60 and foreign subscription are $95 per year (U.S. funds). 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 requesting change of address, please specify both old and new. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Ala. and at additional mailing offices.

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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 ® 2017. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Printed in USA.

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■ from the editors

U.S. Industrial Wood Pellets

10 Years In The Making 2 017 is an anniversary of sorts—the 10-year anniversary of the industrial wood pellet industry in the United States. At least that’s one way to view it, though if you want to say 2018 will really mark 10 years, we can go along with that, too. It was late in 2007 that Fram Renewable Fuels began producing pellets at its new plant in Baxley, Ga. But the surge started in early 2008 when Fram really ramped up, and when Dixie Pellets started up its new plant in Selma, Ala. and Green Circle Bio Energy did likewise in Cottondale, Fla. How those plants fared pretty much sums up the industry course over the next 10 years. The Fram plant at Baxley is still going strong and the company has since built two others, also in Georgia. Dixie Pellets, within a year after startup, went bankrupt. The facility started producing black pellets after Zilkha bought it in 2010, but that’s also been a rough ride. Green Circle, which grew to become the largest single production capacity pellet plant, was acquired by Enviva in 2015, a company which by then was operating five pellet plants— two smaller ones it had purchased in the Southeast, one it built on a former sawmill site in Ahoskie, NC and started up in 2011, and two it built from the ground up in Southampton County, Va. and Northampton County, NC. Since the Green Circle purchase, Enviva has built and started up yet another greenfield plant in Sampson County, NC, has another one definitely in the making and others in the possible category. The export of wood pellets to overseas markets to serve as fuel for electricity facilities quickly moved from peculiar jargon to a way of life. Georgia Biomass started up its plant in Waycross, Ga. in May 2011. Westervelt picked out the site for theirs later in 2011. German Pellets began planning one at Woodville, Texas early in 2012. Smaller firms like Low Country Biomass, Ridgefield, SC, and Varn Wood Products, a sawmiller in Hoboken, Ga., began building smaller pellet mills in 2012. The industrial wood pellet industry really became an industry when in September 2012 Drax announced it would convert three of it six boiler units from coal-fired to biomass-fired at its huge electricity plant in the United Kingdom. By the next spring, it had fully converted the first one, and by the end of last year, all three were doing biomass, in the name of carbon reduction.

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And oh yes, Drax also built and started up two wood pellet plants in the Southeast. U.S. pellet exports in 2013 approach 3 million tonnes and 5 million in 2015. Some European countries and Asia began making commitments to reduce carbon with plans to move away from coal. Some projections point to a 40-50 million tonnes worldwide market by 2025. Some people are taking these commitments seriously, as evidenced by new pellet plant startups in the U.S. in the past six months by Fram at Hazlehurst, Ga., Highland Pellets in Pine Bluff, Ark. and Colombo Energy in Greenwood, SC. Drax recently said it is adding production at its existing plants and possibly through acquisitions. We already mentioned Enviva’s plans. Of course Dixie Pellets wasn’t the only failure. German Pellets went bankrupt along with its pellet plants in Woodville and Urania, La. And how many fingers does it take to count the number of announced projects that never materialized? The new industry naturally spun off topics of discussion and debate, such as the one with the traditional wood products industry over timber supply economics. Then there’s the science of carbon neutrality and the factors to be considered therein. Who knew that environmental groups would have a problem with an industry that promotes carbon reduction? Hey, it sounds like a real industry to us, even if it isn’t a teenager yet. But don’t take our word for it. Beginning on page 26 we pose several big picture questions to several big time experts in the field who have been on this 10-year ride. Take their word for it.

Wood Bioenergy / April 2017

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■ in the news Drax Is Increasing Pellet Production

Drax Group Remains Bullish On Biomass

Drax Biomass is beginning capital expenditure projects at each of its industrial wood pellet mills in the Southeast U.S. Drax wants to increase production capacity at its Morehouse Bioenergy mill in Bastrop, La. and at its Amite Bioenegy facility in Gloster, Miss. from 450,000 metrics tons annually to 525,000 metric tons at each plant. The capacity increase is part of a plan to increase in-house production to 2 million metric tons annually, which would supply 20-30% of the Drax Group biomass power facility fuel requirement in the United Kingdom and also service new biomass markets in Asia and elsewhere. In addition to the expansion at its existing plants, Drax is looking at acquisition of distressed wood pellet plant assets to boost in-house production capacity. In February Drax submitted bids for the purchase of the bankrupt German Pellets mills in Woodville, Texas (Texas Pellets) and in Urania, La. (Louisiana Pellets). The Louisiana plant auction was scheduled for March 9, though a fire February 27 at the German Pellets shipping facility at Port Arthur, Tex. (presumed also to be part of the bidding) possibly delayed the process. Following an acceptance of an offer, the sales would have to be court-approved. The Texas facility has been in operation, while the Louisiana plant is idle. They each have 500,000 metric tons of annual capacity. Drax Biomass is adding a second truck dump at both the Bastrop and Gloster mills to handle dry mill shavings, and installing dedicated delivery systems to move the dry material to existing dry hammermills. The expansions should be on-line before the end of the year.

“With the right conditions, we can do even more, converting further units to run on compressed wood pellets. This is the fastest and most reliable way to support the UK’s decarbonization targets, whilst minimizing the cost to households and businesses,” commented Drax Group CEO Dorothy Thompson as Drax released its financial reports for 2016. The company reported 140 million pounds ($174 million U.S.) in EBITDA for the year, down 17% from 2015, citing challenging commodity markets. Drax reported that 65% of its electricity generation was with biomass fuel, compared to 43% in 2015, with three converted biomass units in operation. Its total electricity output was 19.6 TWh (terawatthours) (12.7 TWh biomass generation, 6.9 TWh coal generation). The company noted it expects to end coal generation by 2025. The company accounted for 16% of UK renewable electricity. “We are playing a vital role in helping change the way energy is generated, supplied and used as the UK moves to a low carbon future,” Thompson said. Drax began transitioning to biomass in 2012. She noted that the wood pellet market has suffered from a significant excess of supply over demand, following three warm winters in Europe where there is a large market for wood pellets for heating. “However, against this backdrop there has been increased interest in biomass generation, particularly in the Netherlands and Japan with parallel policy developments expected to support biomass generation. So, although the market has been severely stressed by excess supply, it is expected that demand for biomass will increase in future years.” Thompson said investments will go into effect this year to increase the capacity at each of its two wood pellets plants in the Southeast U.S. from 450,000 tonnes an-

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nually to 525,000 tonnes. Drax Chairman Philip Cox said the company’s strong operational performance came against a background of low wholesale electricity prices and a volatile and demanding environment for renewable energy providers. “Our aim for the power station is to deliver 100% sustainable, renewable and reliable biomass generation,” Cox said.

Enviva Says Pellet Growth On Horizon Coming off “solid financial results” in 2016, Enviva expects 2017 net income to be in the $31-$35 million range and adjusted EBITA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) to be in the range of $110-$114 million. The company reported net income of $17.7 million in 2016 on net revenue of $464.3 million, including the acquisition of closely affiliated Enviva Pellets Sampson LLC, the new wood pellet plant in Sampson County, NC and its 10year 420,000 metric tons per year off-take contract with Dong Energy. “Strong plant performance and reduced costs across our operations enabled the partnership to deliver solid financial results for the year,” comments Chairman and CEO John Keppler, adding that Enviva’ sales strategy is to fully contract its production capacity with a portfolio of off-take contracts, which currently have a weighted average remaining term of 9.8 years. Keppler notes a projection that worldwide demand for industrial wood pellets will increase to 27 million tons in 2020, representing an annual growth rate of 20%, driven predominantly by biomass consumption in Europe and Asia. He cited the following recent developments: l DONG Energy, the largest power producer in Denmark, announced in February it will completely eliminate the use of coal in its operations by 2023, replacing it with biomass. DONG Energy al-

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■ in the news

ready has two facilities burning wood pellets which are expected to consume 1.8 million metric tons per year at full capacity. l In December, Drax Power received EU state-aid approval of the contract for difference (CFD) through 2027 for its third 660 MW biomass unit, which is anticipated to require more than 2 million MTPY of wood pellets. Drax has stated that it could convert its remaining three coal-burning units to biomass in the next two to three years under the right conditions. l In the Netherlands, biomass projects were awarded the majority of the 5 billion euros in funding in 2016, including 2.1 billion euros awarded to coal plants planning to co-fire biomass. RWE, Engie and Uniper received awards, and the minister of economic affiars has announced that the program budget will be increased from 9 billion

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euros in 2016 to 12 billion in 2017. l In November, Japan ratified the Paris climate agreement as part of its plan to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2030. Japan has set a target of 6.0-7.5 gigawatts of biomass-fired capacity, of which nearly 3.2 GWs have been approved through Japan’s feed-in tariff program. Several power producers have announced biomass projects, including Japan’s largest electricity wholesaler, Electric Power Development Company, which stated it expects to co-fire biomass at all seven of its coal-fired plants. l Several announced biomassfueled projects in South Korea are expected to be operational by 2020, increasing the expected South Korea demand for wood pellets up to 6 million MTPY. As this demand is well in excess of expected domestic supply, a signif-

icant amount of wood pellets are expected to be imported under long-term contracts, representing a shift from the short-term tender mechanism currently used to purchase biomass. l In January, China’s National Energy Administration announced that the country will spend at least $360 billion on renewable energy through 2030. Reports also indicate that China is expected to increase biomass-fired generation capacity from 10.3 GWs in 2015 to 15 GWs by 2020. Keppler says Enviva is completing a design replica of the Sampson plant at a permitted site in Hamlet, NC to supply MGT Power’s Teesside Renewable Energy Plant; and that in order to supply anticipated volume growth in Europe and Asia, Enviva is evaluating additional sites in Lucedale, Miss. and Abbeville, Ala.

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in the news ■ Rentech Considers Options, Including Sale Rentech, Inc. is exploring strategic alternatives for the company, including its sale. The announcement coincides with Rentech’s decision to idle its Wawa, Ontario wood pellet facility due to equipment and operational issues that would require additional unbudgeted capital investment. The decision also results from continued uncertainty around profitability on pellets produced at the facility, making additional investment in the facility uneconomic for Rentech at this time, the company said. Idling the plant will allow Rentech to conserve liquidity as it formally explores strategic alternatives for the plant including ongoing discussions with third parties. In conjunction with the strategic review of the Wawa facility,

Rentech previously reported that the Wawa facility experienced equipment and operating challenges subsequent to the replacement of conveyors last fall and that these issues have persisted. “While we believe that the issues we have been experiencing at the facility can be resolved with additional capital investments, we have concluded that it is not economical to pursue those investments or to continue to operate the facility at this time,” the company stated. Rentech’s other businesses, including its Atikokan wood pellet facility in Quebec, continue to operate, though the company is reducing production at the Atikokan facility to levels necessary to fulfill the delivery requirements under the Ontario Power Generation off-take contract. “We expect the Atikokan facility to generate cash flow in the range of break-

even to slightly positive in 2017 under this revised operating plan. Atikokan will no longer ship pellets to the Port of Quebec. We will continue to explore alternatives for selling additional pellets produced from the Atikokan facility to increase its utilization.” Rentech also reported that pellet sales at its New England Wood Pellet (NEWP) operations were negatively impacted by relatively warmer weather than in previous years, continued low-cost heating oil and propane, and changes in consumer buying patterns. Rentech intends to explore strategic alternatives for the Wawa facility and for the company as a whole. Rentech is considering a sale of the company, a merger or other business combination, a sale of all or a portion of the company’s assets or a recapitalization. Rentech has retained Wells

April 2017 / Wood Bioenergy

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■ in the news

Fargo Securities, LLC to assist in the strategic alternatives review process. “If an appropriate strategic alternative is not achieved on a timely basis, and if the company were otherwise unable to secure additional sources of funds to address potential future liquidity needs, there could be a material adverse effect on the company’s business, results of operations, and financial condition,” the company stated. In spring 2013, Rentech, based in Los Angeles and a specialist in clean energy technologies, entered the wood pellet business by acquiring a former OSB plant in Wawa and a former particleboard mill in Atikokan. The company reported it would convert both plants to wood pellet production with a combined 485,000 metric tons of annual production capacity, and that it had signed a 10-year con-

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tract with Drax Power to purchase most of the production and with Ontario Power Generation to purchase the remainder. But Rentech continued to have issues and had to cancel planned deliveries to Drax in 2015. It also sold and/or restructured pre-existing businesses to gain capital. At the same time, Rentech purchased Fulghum Fibers, Inc., including 32 chip mills. A year later, Rentech purchased New England Wood Pellet’s three heating wood pellet operations, and this business subsequently purchased Allegheny Pellet Corp.

Proposal Made For Gainesville Plant Gainesville Regional Utilities has proposed to buy the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center biomass power plant in Gainesville, Fla. for

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center biomass power plant has been the center of controversy in Gainesville, Fla.

$750 million, according to gainesville.com of the Gainesville Sun. GRU, a municipally owned utility, and the biomass plant are just three years into a 30-year contract that calls for GRU to pay the biomass plant about $70 million annually, even if its services aren’t used. GRU officials maintain they’ve saved money by purchasing cheaper

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■ in the news

power elsewhere, while leaving the biomass plant on standby. GRU General Manager Ed Bielarski says the deal could save the city between $600 and $700 million. “This is an exit strategy for GREC and an entrance strategy for GRU,” he says. GREC completed construction of the 100 MW facility at a cost of $500 million in October 2013 and it became available for commercial operation in late 2013. The plant was owned by Energy Management, Inc., BayCorp Holdings and Starwood Energy, as well as by principals of Fagen, Inc., which was the contractor. The city offered to purchase the plant for $400 million in late 2013, but was turned down. The plant was expected to utilize 1 million tons of woody biomass annually. The plant operates a Metso bubbling fluidized boiler and Siemens turbine. Bielarski says buying the plant would allow for modifications to fit utility needs and would result in significant rate reductions for residential and commercial customers.

Airex Energy Starts Up Torrefaction Plant Airex Energy inaugurated its biomass torrefaction plant, located in the La Prade industrial park in Bécancour, Quebec. The industrial size demonstration plant, which required around 10 million Canadian dollars in public and private investments for its design, construction and startup, showcases the firm’s biomass torrefaction technology, called CarbonFX, said to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in many industries that still use coal or coal byproducts. Airex Energy’s torrefaction process transforms biomass residues into biocoal pellets. Unique properties allow it to easily disintegrate, so it can be ground up and combined with bituminous coal in thermal power stations producing electricity, without major

changes to existing systems for handling, storing and grinding coal. The CarbonFX system also produces biochar, a product with a high carbon content used for soil remediation, liquid filtration and metal reduction. Biochar, when mixed with compost or peat moss, promotes plant growth. Biochar also helps reduce metals and enables rehabilitation of former mining sites. “We believe our technology will provide new ways for forestry companies to increase profitability while diversifying their sources of revenue. With this in mind, we have started marketing our CarbonFX systems in Canada and the United States in order to roll out this technology in all markets generating substantial amounts of residual biomass,” says Sylvain Bertrand, CEO of Airex Energy. Since December 2015, Airex Energy has conducted a gradual commissioning of the plant’s equipment and performed several tests to optimize the process. The company started commercial biocoal and biochar production, with the goal of producing 15,000 metric tons annually from residual biomass such as forest residues, sawdust, bark and recycled wood.

DONG Energy Plans Total Coal Phase-Out Denmark’s DONG Energy has decided that by 2023 coal will no longer be used as fuel at the company’s power stations. The decision is a result of the company’s vision to lead the way in the transformation to a sustainable energy system and to create a leading green energy company. Since 2006, DONG Energy has reduced its coal consumption by 73%, and the company has now decided to entirely phase out the use of coal. The power stations will be replacing coal with sustainable biomass. “The future belongs to renewable energy sources, and therefore we’re now converting the last of our coal-fired power stations to

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in the news ■

sustainable biomass,” says Henrik Poulsen, CEO. DONG Energy is the first among the large European energy companies to decide to phase out coal for the production of electricity and heating completely. Since 2006, DONG Energy has reduced its coal consumption through a reduction in the number of power stations as well as conversions to sustainable biomass instead of coal. At the same time, the company has constructed more production capacity based on offshore wind than any other company in the world. This means that in just one decade, DONG Energy will have gone from being one of the most coal-intensive utilities in Europe to being among the greenest energy companies in Europe. Since 2002, DONG Energy has used wood pellets and wood chips as fuel at both Herning Power Station and Avedøre Power Station, and over the years the company has increased the share of biomass at the two power stations. In 2016, both Studstrup Power Station near Aarhus and Avedøre Power Station near Copenhagen were converted to run 100% on wood pellets and straw, and during the spring of 2017, Skærbæk Power Station near Fredericia will be able to run 100% on wood chips. With DONG Energy’s decision to stop all use of coal by 2023, a future solution must now be prepared for the company’s remaining two coal-fired power stations: Asnæs Power Station and Esbjerg Power Station. DONG Energy is in dialogue with the heating customers in Kalundborg and Esbjerg regarding the possibilities of converting the two power stations to use wood chips as fuel instead of coal when the existing heating agreements expire at the end of 2017 and 2019, respectively. “Our cooperation with our heating customers is good. The large cities have ambitious goals to reduce their CO2 emissions and demand green district heating from our power stations. In cooperation

with the municipal heating companies, we’ve already converted a large part of our power plants to using sustainable wood pellets and wood chips as fuel instead of coal and gas,” says Poulsen. The municipal district heating companies in Copenhagen and

Aarhus, for whom DONG Energy’s power stations produce district heating, welcome the decision. Morten Kabell, Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs of Copenhagen and Chairman of the Metropolitan Copenhagen Heating

April 2017 / Wood Bioenergy

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■ in the news

Transmission company (CTR), says: “I’m pleased that DONG Energy is now removing the last coal from Copenhagen. It’s a huge contribution to our efforts of making Copenhagen the world’s first CO2neutral capital. Through our heating contracts, CTR has contributed to making the district heating from Avedøre Power Station green, and now coal is disappearing altogether. It is an important element in our strategy that all heating must be CO2-neutral by 2025.” Denmark’s total annual emissions of greenhouse gases have been reduced by approximately 25 million tonnes CO2 from 2006 to 2016, and DONG Energy’s share of the reduction amounts to approximately 53%. DONG Energy expects its share of Denmark’s total reduction to remain at this level from 2016 to 2023.

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In 2023, the company will have reduced its annual CO2 emissions by almost DKK 18 million tonnes compared to 2006 levels. The total reduction corresponds to the annual emissions of more than 9 million cars. In 2023, the company’s electricity and heating production will emit approximately 0.5 million tonnes CO2 annually, primarily from gas-fired boilers covering peak loads in the district heating system and situations with lack of power. All DONG Energy’s suppliers of wood pellets and wood chips must ensure that the biomass they supply comes from sustainable forestry where the woods are replanted and biodiversity is protected. “When we use sustainable biomass, we achieve significant CO2 reductions in comparison to when we use coal and gas. Our wood pellets and wood chips originate from forest areas with continuous refor-

estation, meaning that new trees grow up to absorb the CO2 emissions created during the combustion of the biomass,” says Poulsen. With the Danish industry agreement for sustainable wood-based biomass, the entire Danish energy industry is committed to documenting sustainability in relation to the use of wood pellets and wood chips. The industry agreement became effective in 2016, and the documentation requirement will be phased in toward 2019, when suppliers will be controlled by independent auditors and certified if they meet the requirements.

Equustock Adds Two Facilities Illinois-based Equustock, LLC has acquired pellet and shavings facilities in Rapid City, SD and Kingsbury, NY. ➤ 19

Wood Bioenergy / April 2017

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■ in the news

Hatton-Brown Partners With Wood Industry Summit Hall 26 will once again be home to the Wood Industry Summit during Ligna 2017 in Hannover, Germany and Hatton-Brown Publishers is once again an official partner of the event and will be promoting Wood Bioenergy, and its other forest products magazines. The Summit made a very successful debut in 2015, with international customers achieving an investment volume of some €30 million. As an international meeting place for the primary industry cluster, the Wood Industry Summit features innovative solutions for harvesting and processing and for integrating the various stages of processing. The Summit is divided into three areas: an exhibition, a forum and a matchmaking hub. Every day from Tuesday, May 23, to Friday, May 26, the forum of the Wood Industry Summit will highlight a topic of current international interest in the industry, with experts from Germany, Austria, Canada, Russia, Sweden and Spain giving presentations and fielding questions from the audience. The main themes at the Wood Industry Summit 2017 include: Tuesday, May 23: Forestry 4.0: Vision or Future? Wednesday, May 24: Development and Infrastructure to Ensure Sustainable Forestry Thursday, May 25: Forest Fires – Prevention, Detection and Firefighting Friday, May 26: Fleet Management to Optimize the Logistics Chain from the Forest to the Factory Exhibition stands located next to the forum will provide an ideal networking environment for exhibitors and visitors. Ligna will be held May 22-26 at the Hannover Exhibition Grounds. It’s The Wood Industry Summit will be held organized by Deutsche Messe AG and German Woodworking Machinery adjacent wood-based panel machinery Manufacturers’ Assn. exhibitors in Hall 26. Contact Anja Brokjans, anja@brokjans.com.

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Wood Bioenergy / April 2017

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in the news ■

The Rapid City, SD plant 16 ➤ is the former Mountain Pine Management facility and the Kingsbury, NY plant is the former location of Royal Wood Shavings. The Rapid City plant is already in production of Equustock pelleted horse bedding, cat litter, absorbents and fuel pellets. Plans include additional lines to simultaneously produce Equustock and custom label products. The Kingsbury, NY plant produces manufactured shavings for the equestrian community serving the Northeastern U.S. Immediate plans are to upgrade equipment and packaging lines to accommodate Equustock’s three distinct shavings products as well as custom labeling for select clients. According to CEO Claire Brant, “The acquisitions of these two strategically located facilities combined with our existing net-

work of plants allows Equustock to effectively reach markets for all of our products throughout the United States.”

Sherman Development Has New Ownership Sherman Development, a closed 24 MW biomass power generation station in northern Maine, could restart as early as June, according to its new owner. 42 Railroad Ave LLC CEO Steven Johnson announced the finalization of the purchase agreement for Sherman Development from Niagara Worldwide LLC. Johnson says he plans to rebuild the turbine, activate new transmission lines, and build a rotary kiln to produce more than 100 tons per day of activated carbon. “Sherman Power Station was constructed to be the diamond

jewel of the industry, with an automated feed system and other state-of-the-art technologies, which have been maintained very well by Wheelabrator and Boralex, and when the plant was shuttered a few years ago, it was shut down properly, with all the infrastructure left in place to make the restart very economical,” Johnson says. “In today’s market, the cost to build a biomass fueled power generation station of this magnitude could easily be over 100 million dollars, but at Sherman, even with installation costs of the new activated carbon rotary kiln, we’ll still be able to keep the re-start budget under 10 million dollars and should be up and running by the end of June 2017.” According to Johnson, Sherman Plant has the ability to take in more than 700 tons per day of wood fiber for fuel.

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Colombo Energy

Growing Opportunities By Jessica Johnson GREENWOOD, SC conomic forecasts for paper show a weakening global demand as markets shift to e-readers, e-mails and smartphones. So when privately owned Portuguese pulp and paper giant The Navigator Co. began studying how to expand business in order to continue to enjoy expected high return on investments as well as maintain strong, sustainable profitability, the company developed a three-way plan of avenues for growth. First, the already strong presence in owning forestland and producing pulp would be ramped up with the investment of forestland in Mozambique. Next, the existing Cacia pulp mill would be expanded to include capabilities for producing tissue paper; in addition to the purchase of a primarily tissue paper plant in Portugal. And finally, the company created Colombo Energy Co., a wholly owned subsidiary operating in the Southern U.S. producing industrial wood pellets for European

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Colombo has built in the flexibility to go from 500,000 to 600,000 metric ton capacity by adding green hammermills and more pellet machines.

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Colombo asked for machinery bids on three separate packages: wood yard, pelleting island and drying island.

and Asian markets. The former European Sales Director for the paper business of The Navigator Co., and now the CEO of Colombo Energy, António Porto Monteiro says the decision to move into the industrial wood pellet market was, at the time the decision was made in 2014, based on the high growth of that business, as well as on the profitability of the project, in addition to the ability to continue to be good stewards of the environment. Furthermore, The Navigator Co. had a close relation to a pellet producer in Portugal that brought the inspiration for the project, enabling Navigator first-hand knowledge of the pellet producing business. Porto Monteiro says Navigator’s shareholders have a very medium/long term vision for the company, and the decision that was made to start a 500,000 metric ton annual production capacity greenfield pellet project was also based on the fact that the U.S. could, and should, be a very interesting market for the company. “This experience could help the company learn the U.S. market and how to operate here, which can be used for paper or for pulp or for more pellets,” he adds. Porto Monteiro says that while the facility was built mainly to supply industrial needs in Europe, the possibility of selling to industrial markets in Japan or even the heating domestic market, the U.S. is not being discounted. Neither is the European residential market. Once the decision was made to begin the project, it moved quickly. Project Manager António Sequeira says the project from inception to groundbreaking took about a year. The process of choosing a location started with some internet searches, he explains, before finding information about South Carolina and its Chamber of Commerce. Sequeira says he and his team investigated sites in forest-heavy South Carolina and Georgia primarily, but focused heavily on South Carolina—due to the warm welcome and sense that South Carolina would be able to support this type of facility. Porto Monteiro says strong support from then Governor Nikki Haley, then

TSI was selected to supply the drying island—which includes the dryer, cyclones, wet ESP, RTOs, furnace and stack.

Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster, and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce was a driving force to helping bring Colombo Energy to the state. The South Carolina Forestry Commission also had a very active industrial growth push going on and made it clear that South Carolina could support Colombo. Sequeira says Colombo only considered places with rail access, as well as utilities. “Initially we were looking for different sites that would enable us to connect to different ports,” he adds. “We even checked into the possibility of building our own port. We did a full

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The Colombo Energy senior management staff, from left, Ken Leach, Bill Moran, Antonio Porto Monteiro, Antonio Sequeira

preengineering plan to build our own port.” The plan to build a port was eventually scrapped, as the production cost for building a port would require several plants the size of Greenwood to sustain it—not something the first time pellet producer was interested in undertaking. Colombo Energy would eventually land in rural South Carolina, in Greenwood County on close to 200 acres, a hour and half from Greenville, SC; about three hours from Atlanta; easily reachable by rail to the deepwater port in Wilmington, NC. An electrical substation is connected to the site, supplying a 20 MVA transformer. A volunteer fire department station is close by. Colombo would build an internal spur to connect to the nearby CSX railway. Ultimately, Greenwood was selected for its wood basket, a concept that was not foreign to the Portuguese, but the term was something they learned upon arrival in South Carolina. The access to abundant amounts of southern yellow pine pulpwood at reasonable prices has lured other large-scale industrial pellet producers to the region, so it’s only natural Colombo would be in the mix here as well. The first Colombo Energy office was in a Holiday Inn in Sequeira’s hotel room, before Colombo started hiring construction workers and bringing over its engineers from Portugal. “António Sequeira is the heart and soul of this plant,” Porto Monteiro emphasizes. A major development was that Colombo Energy was able to enter into an offtake agreement contracting 40% of the plant’s capacity for the next 10 years. Additionally, Colombo Energy, from a logistics standpoint, utilizes the deep-water port in Wilmington to store and ship pellets. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in March 2015.

Operations Once the site was chosen and the project was off the ground, Sequeira says Colombo began accepting bids for the machinery needed. Thanks to the partnership with the

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Inside the control room, team members brainstorm ways to improve the pelleting process.

partner pellet mill in Portugal, Colombo already had an idea about what machinery might work for them. Spanish equipment manufacturer Prodesa was the supplier throughout the mill in Portugal; so naturally, Colombo took a very hard look at what Prodesa’s ProMil-Stolz equipment could offer. During project development Colombo shipped wood from South Carolina to the plant in Portugal to try producing pellets with Prodesa equipment there, just to be sure, Sequeira adds. “We decided to go with ProMil and got a competitive quote because they wanted to penetrate in North America as well. We are their first big project in the U.S.,” he says. Ultimately Prodesa supplied the complete milling, pelleting and cooling lines, including five dry hammermills, 15 pellet mills, five vertical coolers and more than 1,800 instrument signals that process through the PLCs to enable a safe and well informed operation of the plant, with more than 11,250 HP installed. Prodesa’s comprehensive services have included project engineering, technical support, installation, startup and training as well as support and maintenance of the plant under a two-year contract. Colombo split the project into three packages: wood yard, drying island and pelleting island. For the wood yard, which included conveyors, stoker, stacker-reclaimer, chipper and green hammermills, it came down to two suppliers Sequeira says, before choosing BRUKS. For the drying island, Colombo had two primary bids and ultimately chose TSI, including the furnace, dryer, cyclones, wet ESP and RTO. The pelleting island had four primary bids before going to Prodesa. Mid-South Engineering served as the owner’s engineer, coordinating multiple EPC vendors’ interfaces and providing detailed electrical engineering and “balance of plant” engineering. Mid-South also provided procurement assistance for multiple equipment and installation contracts, and provided document control and on-site construction coordination for the project. Other notable suppliers include SHW intermediate silos; Eaton power distribution system and motors;

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Currently, Colombo is only processing roundwood—management feels this helps better control quality in pellet production.

Flamex fire detection and suppression system; MJ Wood sprinklers and fire protection; PEA civil engineering; East Coast and Southern Industrial construction for instrumentation and electrical power distribution. Flamex provided the required process fire protection in four key areas of the plant. Separate Flamex spark detection and extinguishing systems were supplied for protection of the dryer, hammermills, pelletizers and load-out areas. The systems utilize hot particle detectors and deluge assemblies in certain applications at the plant, in addition to spark detectors and extinguishing valve assemblies for suppression in duct work. The four systems are monitored and operated from the control room by the Inveron HMI system also provided by Flamex. Startup hit its stride last October, and Porto Monteiro believes that the equipment selection and process design has resulted in a very high quality pellet. The facility is processing only roundwood, but can accommodate chips. Ken Leach, Wood Procurement Manager, says that the opening of the facility was a welcomed market for the logging force in the area. In the past, this region of South Carolina had aggressive timber buying, but as chip mills closed quickly the region became underserved, he adds. “They were very anxious for us to open the doors,” Leach says about the area harvesters. “They were a little skeptical at first, but once we started buying wood last June, it took some of them a little while to warm up to the idea that this is serious—that we were not joking.” Currently, the procurement team has met requirements for the current sales and production level. Se-

queira and Leach say at this point it is almost like a race to see who stays ahead of the other. The facility is focused right now on processing pine roundwood, Sequeira says, and doesn’t see that changing, citing process stability and stable quality as the driving factors. “If you have to tune new equipment and you have different types of equipment that is related in the process, you have to have something very consistent and stable—the raw material—because everything else might change. If you are able to control the raw material you have a very important key to bring stability to process success,” he states. Colombo management proudly mentions feedback received from some relevant players in the industry who said that the quality of the pellets is unmatched by the U.S. producers they have seen. “It gives us confidence,” Porto Monteiro says, adding that the pellets have shown through independent testing to have a very high calorific value, a very low ash content (less than 0.5%), a high durability and a good particle size distribution. Porto Monteiro echoes Sequeira in saying this quality would not be possible without absolute control of the raw material. Two Caterpillar M325 D rubber tired material handlers work the wood yard, unload trucks and feed logs onto the mill infeed. Logs move through a Price LogPro drum debarker and then to a BRUKS horizontal drum chipper. Wood is chipped to less than ½ in. Chips proceed to the BRUKS circular blending bed stacker reclaimer, which provides first-in, first-out in-

Finished pellets are shipped via CSX Railways to the deep water port of Wilmington, NC.

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Colombo currently uses 15 Prodesa ProMil pellet presses, but has space for up to 18 if owners decide to increase production.

ventory control. It utilizes full 360° slewing to stack and reclaim chips. A traversing harrow agitates the pile for even feed to the reclaim screw conveyor. Chips then travel to one of four BRUKS green hammermills. Sequeira points out there is space to put in a fifth green

hammermill should production and market demand call for ramp up in capacity. Raw material proceeds to the dryer island with a TSI rotary dryer, supported by ample emissions control systems including cyclones, a wet ESP and a RTO. Material then goes to the Prodesa hammermill building and then to the pelleting building. “In strategic places in the plant, we are able to increase production to 600,000 metric tons if we want to,” Sequeira explains. Space inside the pelleting building allows for total of 18 pellet mills, though currently the facility only uses 15. All pellet presses are vertical. Colombo uses gravity, instead of conveyors, to take pellets from the presses to the coolers. “It just drops,” Sequeira says simply, before explaining that from the coolers, pellets go to storage silos, then rail cars for shipping. At various points throughout the process, Colombo has the ability to pull samples and test in-house for quality. Sequeira believes this helps keep quality and process under control. Only two Colombo employees are currently Portuguese: Sequeira and Porto Monteiro. According to Porto Monteiro, that’s exactly how Colombo Energy was intended, to be an American company. Of the 70 total employees, 68 are American. One of the growing pains of any greenfield operation is hiring hourly employees, and Colombo has felt that challenge as South Carolina’s unemployment reached 15 year record low levels. Porto Monteiro says on a management level, it was difficult but not impossible to find the right talent, but not necessarily at the local level, and therefore managers had to recruit from other areas of the U.S.

Markets From a sustainability point of view, Colombo has achieved all certifications available for pellet facilities: FSC (Chain of Custody), PEFC (Chain of Custody), SFI and SBP compliant. From a quality point of view, Colombo is certified by PFI for the North American market and aiming to be certified by the European market (EN A1 Plus) in the near future. Porto Monteiro says everything is ready for the audit, but the company is just waiting for the right time to call for it. At startup the plant was contracted for around half of capacity, which still leaves a sizable gap for the sales department to fill. They are weighing what is expected to be a soft worldwide demand situation for the next year, before picking up steam again—based on projections for the European market, and the potential of the Japanese markets. Porto Monteiro believes that this growth should absorb the extra capacity seen in the Southeast right now. Head of Sales Bill Moran agrees, “2018 is a projected crossing point.”

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Industrial Wood Pellets Industry:

A Long Way In A Short While

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Pellets Q&A ■

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wood Bioenergy turned to the experts to provide some perspective on the evolvement of the industrial wood pellets industry during the past decade and where it might be going in the next one. William Strauss, Andrew Johnson, Harold Arnold and Seth Ginther have been players since the beginning of the U.S. industrial wood pellets movement—Strauss as president of FutureMetrics, a leading consulting and economics firm; Johnson as vice president of TSI, a manufacturer and supplier of heat energy, dryers and emissions control systems; Arnold, president of Fram Renewable Fuels, which built one of the earliest industrial wood pellet plants in the Southeast and has built two others since; and Ginther, executive director of the U.S. Industrial Pellet Assn. during a period of vigorous growth and challenge. WB: What is your take on the evolvement of industrial wood pellets in the U.S. over the past 10 years? Is it where you thought it might be at this point? Strauss: The U.S. industrial wood pellet sector still has a lot of room to grow as long as the demand for industrial wood pellets continues to grow. The closures of pulp mills in some locations have freed up many millions of tons per year of feedstock from managed working forests. That fiber no longer has a home and in some jurisdictions the forest products sector and regional economies are challenged. Wood pellet production can take up some or all of that slack as long as there is growth in demand. I and many others thought a few years ago that there would more production from the U.S. than there is now. Changes in policy have curtailed the support for co-firing or full-firing wood pellets in power plants in the UK and in some countries in Western Europe versus what was expected just a few years ago. But with that said, FutureMetrics expects the industrial wood pellet sector to grow from about 15 million tonnes per year this year to about 40 million tonnes per year by 2025. The last major projects in the UK and Europe that are in the pipeline now, including the likely co-firing in the Netherlands, will increase demand by about 5-6 million tonnes per year. The rest of the growth will be in Japan, South Korea and probably a few other countries. As Western Canadian production is shipped west to Japan, the U.S. and Eastern Canada will have the opportunity to replace some or maybe all of that production that was going to England and Europe. Johnson: It’s hard to remember what my real expectations were 10 years ago when I first got introduced to the idea of industrial wood pellets as a concept for a mainstream renewable energy strategy. It was obvious that the potential was huge given the relative size of the world power industry and so the opportunities seemed larger than the reality that has unfolded since that introduction. Everybody in the industry also thought it was going to be a “piece-of-cake” from a technical and commercial point of view. That has not been the case and the net result is that

development has been more restrained and slower than I thought it would be. However, I think the industry is now in a good place, and in some respects the slower than anticipated rate of development has allowed the industry to grow and mature at a manageable rate. Arnold: Over the past 10 years we have gone from a “gold rush mentality” (that is, build and expand at any cost) to a very conservative mindset and are very nervous about the future. Some companies, those with the most capital and resources, have done quite well. Others have fallen by the wayside. The industry is not where I thought it would be 10 years ago. I did not see the pull back in the UK for example; we thought by this time there would be five or six major consumers of wood pellets in the UK. Today there is only one. I also thought the market would be more balanced. But it is dominated by one buyer that takes more than 25% of the industrial pellets and clearly controls the market and one or two major producers with multimillion ton manufacturing bases. The present market is at an all time low for pricing and the growth in demand has almost disappeared. The opposition to the use of wood pellets in the climate change battle has been surprising as well, with NGOs preferring to see power plants burn sequestered carbon (coal) rather than renewable wood pellets. In summary, we are not where I thought we would be and may well be a dying industry. Ginther: The last decade has seen a lot of growth in the export wood pellet sector in the U.S. We have gone from a fledgling industry to a fully established market with a solid supply chain and efficient infrastructure. We are now exporting more than 6 million metric tons of wood pellets from the Southeastern U.S. to Western Europe each year. In the early years we were starting from zero, so growth was doubling and even tripling year over year. As expected, now that the market has found its footing, we are better able to predict future supply and demand and future opportunities, so we will see a more steady growth rate. WB: What has surprised you the most, if anything, as to the development of this industry in the U.S.? Strauss: We are surprised that the U.S. Southeast is no longer the lowest cost large producer of wood pellets in the world. The U.S. Southeast, while the dominate producer in the world in terms of volume, is no longer the lowest cost producer. An overarching need for this industry is to lower costs and therefore lower the price of pellets. Some of that cost disadvantage is exchange rate driven; and who knows where that will go in the next few years. But some is also due to inefficiencies in the conversion process and errors made in sizing the plants versus the sustainable supply of wood fiber, which has caused the average delivered wood costs to be too high. The existing producers with multiple pellet mills and a number

Opposite page, clockwise beginning upper left, William Strauss, Andrew Johnson, Harold Arnold, Seth Ginther

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■ Pellets Q&A

Fram got it going at Baxley, Ga. Enviva went into production mode and hasn’t stopped.

Dixie Pellets couldn’t navigate on the river.

Georgia Biomass had staying power.

Green Circle Bio Energy became the biggest single plant producer.

Drax conversion opened the floodgates.

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Wood Bioenergy / April 2017

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Pellets Q&A â–

of years of experience have learned many lessons and are incorporating them into the design and operations of their new and existing plants. New producers should have the benefit of those lessons learned and apply best practices to the fiber procurement, process flow design, equipment specifications, and operations protocols of their new plants. We expect continuous improvement amongst all of the industrial pellet producers so that the U.S. remains highly competitive in a global market that is increasingly becoming a commodity market. Johnson: With the exception of a few lumber companies, the mainstream established forest products industry has largely shied away from the industrial pellet market and the wider biomass power/fuel industry. My own opinion is that they see the margins as too slim and the markets as artificial and have therefore preferred to stick with what they know (engineered wood, paper etc.). They also see the pellet industry as competition for resources and have in some cases adopted an adversarial stance. The ongoing development of being able to utilize non-commercial feedstocks, the advantage of long-term off-take agreements that are somewhat immunized against market swings, and the benefits of diversification seem to have been largely discounted. They could have controlled the market but instead have allowed outside players to become established. Arnold: The relative strength of the dollar against the buying country’s currency. This coupled with lower energy prices in general due to low oil prices has surprised me. Ginther: Probably the biggest surprise has been that there are extreme environmental groups out there that are actually advocating to remove ownership of forests from private citizens. That just goes against the free market and some of the basic principles that our country was founded on. That is mind boggling to me, especially when the data proves that working forests year over year for the past 60 years have increased in cover. We have an amazing free market system of land ownership here in the U.S. that works and works well.

William Strauss

Andrew Johnson

WB: Do you feel this industry is indeed an established industry with a future, given the whims of political tides, overseas policies, etc? Strauss: We are very optimistic about the future of the industrial wood pellet industry. The use of wood pellets to replace coal in large utility power stations makes good sense. No other renewable generation strategy can provide baseload or on-demand peaking power. No other renewable generation strategy creates and sustains jobs as part of its fuel supply chain. No other renewable generation strategy can transform existing coal fueled power stations into low carbon solutions for a greener future. Perhaps even the U.S., which was on track to see co-firing of wood pellets in its coal generation fleet under the Clean Power Plan, will figure out that an industrial wood pellet strategy creates jobs and keeps coal power plants relevant in an era of cheap natural gas. Johnson: The industry is still developing and while we have seen some high profile casualties we are also seeing the emergence of serious players who are building multiple plants. While there is still room for growth and new players, the market will continue to consolidate. The political aspect of the market is always a concern. Quite apart from the real risk of changes in policy, there is also the slow pace of policy development and the negative aspect of subsidies, which can act as a brake on development in some respects as projects are delayed, or put on hold, pending clarity of schemes and tariffs, or while the next subsidy in the pipeline is being anticipated. Arnold: I think the future is very much in doubt. There are forecasts of increasing demand in 2019 and beyond. If this demand does not materialize then I think there is a limited future for the industry. The increased demand is contingent on several projects in Europe: Langerlo (Belgium), Lynemouth (UK) and the opening of the Dutch market. Lynemouth is dependent on financing, Langerlo is the same situation; while financing seems imminent it could not happen or could happen with a higher than expected interest rate to cover the risk. The risk being the power price which is

Harold Arnold

Seth Ginther

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■ Pellets Q&A

still very low in most of Europe. The Dutch regulators do not want to use biomass but are obligated by legislation to do so. The NGOs are insisting on very stringent rules for verifying sustainability. Any of these factors could work to limit or delay the new demand. In Japan and Korea it is government uncertainty. The on again off again Korean market might be cranking up finally but it is uncertain. The Japanese market seems to have a Feed In Tariff that is almost too high ($0.24/KwH). These governments will find that feeding a multimillion dollar biomass subsidy program will require a lot of money, just as the UK did. Once the actual amounts hit home they will find ways to limit consumption and therefore subsidy payments. Ginther: Absolutely. The future of the industry is very bright. It is true that the majority of the current market is based on subsidy, but the governments that have chosen to subsidize biomass have done so with certainty, allowing U.S. producers to lock into longterm off-take agreements. In order to effectively and efficiently remove coal from the energy system, a replacement baseload power is needed to meet fluctuations in demand and balance the grid alongside other renewables like wind and solar. Biomass in the form of wood pellets is low-carbon and low-cost and can easily fill this void with minor infrastructure investments. It is truly the winning solution and we have proven this in our current markets where we have seen up to 90% reduction in carbon emissions by replacing coal with wood pellets for energy production. Moreover, we are beginning to see incredibly strong interest in biomass from the Japanese power generation market, with subsidies designed to facilitate very long-term off-take agreements. Additionally, we are already beginning to see how different customers, like chemical companies, may be able to utilize our supply chains to procure wood lignin for power generation and steam and extracting the sugars from wood pellets in order make a number of different chemicals. WB: What are some of the biggest challenges the industry faces moving forward? Strauss: By far the biggest challenge is dealing with anti-biomass propaganda cloaked as carefully developed analysis. Unfortunately, many policy makers do not understand that our managed working forests are essentially crops being grown to produce feedstock to many industries. The working forests of the U.S. are grown to be harvested just like a crop of corn is grown to be harvested. The industrial wood pellet sector is a relatively small demander in that space that gets more than its share of opponents. Supposedly academic studies reference our forests as being “chopped down” to feed power plants. Supposedly scientific analysis proclaims that using wood pellets in place of coal is worse for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Future-

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Metrics has written and will continue to write white papers exposing the faulty logic and outright “alternative facts” that anti-biomass groups use. Johnson: While there are always going to be lots of challenges, there are three key challenges that come to mind, all ongoing: The first is sorting out the “wheat from the chaff” in terms of production technology. Coming from a background of selling production systems to “engineered wood,” one of the first things I had to do for the pellet industry was look back into our presentation archives and pull out old technical data, in some cases from 20 years ago, to help educate clients on the reasons why things are done a certain way. That doesn’t always stop clients from jumping into technology that has long ago been discarded by the engineered wood industry. This is a slow learning curve for some people as it can take a few years to realize the consequences of bad technical choices, by which time others may have followed and the industry at large gets a black eye from the ensuing bad publicity. I hasten to add that this is not always the case. We also have clients who are ahead of the curve and it is these companies that are rising to the top as the industry continues to grow. The second challenge is driving down costs. For longterm viability biomass has to compete on a level playing field with wind and solar as well as fossil fuels. From our point of view that means designing more efficient systems that not only cost less to buy but also cost less to operate. This is relevant at several different levels. Lower capex, better reliability, more automation and lower running costs. It also encompasses branching out from regular wood pellets into other add-on technologies. Torrefaction and steam explosion are both examples of this but also being able to process material like “in-wood” chips from “tops” or using agricultural wastes like bagasse or wheat straw are all avenues that are now developing that can drive costs out of the system. Finally there is the war-of-words stoked by competing interests—part of this is accounting issues; for instance, do governments really look at the cost of standby diesel generator parks when costing out wind-power or the environmental benefit of keeping land as commercial forest (by giving it a value) rather than suppressing the market and having that land turned over to other uses. There is a long and contentious list. There is also a perception issue. It is easy to stir up emotional responses when talking about forests and there are powerful lobbies dedicated to doing just that. The industrial pellet industry is small, and while we have the backing of some segments of the power industry it is a tall order to really counter some of these well-meaning but ill-informed opinions. Arnold: The biggest challenge is overcoming the effects of the strong dollar and weak demand. Ginther: Our biggest challenge has always been and will continue to be our ability to communicate and edu-

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Pellets Q&A ■

cate our stakeholders on the sustainability of our product. Our industry operates as a small part of a decadesold forest products industry that has established best management practices for sustainable forest management. Despite population growth and urban sprawl, Southern U.S. forests and carbon stocks have been increasing since the 1950s. This is due to strong markets for forest products which incentivize landowners to maintain their forests as forests, rather than convert their lands to agriculture or, worse, commercial development. Believe it or not, there are groups out there that believe that forests in the U.S. should be taken out of the hands of private landowners and put into some sort of public trust—that obviously is not realistic and goes against the U.S. free market system, but those movements continue to use large scale propaganda campaigns to fundraise against the forest products industry as a whole. The pellet industry plays a small role in this complex marketplace, and it has been our job to share this story and educate policymakers worldwide on our sustainability standards and the strength of our forestry practices. It seems counterintuitive that increased demand for forest products could actually lead to increased forest coverage, particularly for those who live in countries where trees are scarce and most wood products are imported. This presents a challenge to our industry when explaining our supply chains and wood sources. We have worked hard to communicate this message across Europe and it will continue to be at the core of our work as an association. WB: Ten years from now, what do you think we’re looking at in the worldwide industrial wood pellets industry? Strauss: See the answer to the first question. We think that there will be pellets used in place of coal in many more countries than today. Australia, Canada, China and even the U.S. will become major users of industrial wood pellets. Japan and South Korea will continue to grow. We think the market for industrial wood pellets will reach more than 40 million tonnes per year by 2025. Johnson: Ultimately I believe that the continued destabilization of our climate will force governments

to take more and more urgent action to counter the threat. While there may be some short-term pullbacks (as we are seeing now with the U.S. federal government), longer term it is a war between fossil and renewable fuel that can only have one safe outcome. The question is can biomass be part of that mix. I believe it can. It has all sorts of inherent advantages, like being able to facilitate on-demand power supply and it is a ubiquitous resource that could supply all the world’s power needs if fully developed. If combined with carbon sequestration it even has the potential to be carbon negative. We are now seeing projected demands from Asia that equal or surpass that of Europe and there is a huge latent market in North America yet to be unleashed. My concern is not, “will the market continue to grow?” it is that the market may grow too fast for the adoption and development of responsible technology. I think a doubling of size in the next 10 years is entirely feasible and it could easily be a lot more than that. Arnold: I think 10 years from now we will be looking at wood pellets being consumed in many more places, especially Japan and Korea, than now. The demand will have increased but also the supply from nonU.S. sources will have also increased. It is doubtful the U.S. wood pellet industry will grow very fast. Ginther: Ten years from now, I anticipate the Northwestern European market will remain strong and that new markets will have developed in other areas of Europe and in Asia. We are seeing the beginnings of a Japanese market developing over the last 18-24 months and we anticipate that our members will be exporting pellets to Asia within the next two years. In fact, we are moving our annual Exporting Pellets Conference this year to a more central location for both European and Asian players in the market. There is also potential for markets to develop in South Korea and China that we intend to explore. I think you will also see the market diversify and there will be uses for pellets beyond energy production. There is opportunity to use pellets in the chemical market for steam production, or even for production of chemicals themselves by extracting the sugars. Technology is improving all the time and these new innovations will take wood products to a whole new level.

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■ torrefaction technology

Boosting Torrefaction Markets:

HM3 Proves Technology By Dan Shell GRESHAM, Ore. nnovators such as Hiroshi Morihara, President and CEO of HM3 Energy in Gresham, Ore., which last fall signed a licensing deal with Japanese power producer New Energy Development Co. (NED) to use HM3’s TorrB torrefied biomass production process, are a natural fit for the wood bioenergy industry. Morihara’s background as an executive with chemical and pharmaceutical companies, along with his involvement in the early U.S. silicon chip and semiconductor industries, is an advantage since he has plenty of experience exploring, testing and proving new technologies. He is also the former president of two biotech companies, and during his work with silicon manufacturing for the semiconductor industry, he’s credited with being the co-inventor of a process that creates the purest polysilicon in the world. After retiring from Union carbide’s large semiconductor operation in Washington state at age 47, Morihara went into the biotech business for a while, running two Bay Area companies. Then, after he retired once again from the tech business in the mid 2000s, his wife told him he was too young to be retired and needed something to do. Living in Oregon, Morihara was interested in wood utilization for energy, and was initially attracted to wood-based ethanol. He went so far as to form a company and put together an R&D team to begin researching basic cellulosic ethanol production processes. He even named it HM3 Ethanol. But all that changed soon afterward, when Morihara, an Oregon Business Assn. board member, attended an OBA presentation given by a Portland General Electric (PGE) executive concerning the company’s Boardman, Ore. coal-fired generating plant. The presentation included information about PGE halting coal use at the plant by the end of 2020 and the need for an alternative fuel to keep running it after that. Morihara says the idea of producing solid biomass fuel intrigued him so much he immediately changed the company’s name to HM3 Energy and began researching biomass torrefaction technologies. Biomass torrefaction is considered a mild form of pyrolysis at relatively low temperatures (up 500° F) in an oxygen-starved environment. All moisture is removed

I

Hiroshi Morihara shows HM3’s TorrB torrefied biomass product.

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torrefaction technology ■

HM3’s patented torrefaction prices starts with dried biomass, left, that’s hammer-milled then densified into cubes that are fed to the torrefier, center, and after torrefaction are ground up and re-densified into a product, right, that handles and performs much like coal, with similar grindability characteristics and easy fit with existing coal handling systems.

and the biomass undergoes partial devolatization, leading to a decrease in mass. Most of the initial energy content is preserved, so that the energy density of the torrefied biomass in pellet or briquette form is significantly higher than untreated biomass. The resulting energy density means lower transportation and handling costs than when using hog fuel or wood pellets. According to a report from the International Biomass Torrefaction Council, the typical mass and energy balance for woody biomass torrefaction is that 70% of the mass is retained as a solid product containing more than 85% of the initial energy content. The other 30% of the mass is converted into torrefaction gas, which contains up to 15% of the energy of the biomass. (Ideally, the energy contained in the released volatiles equates to the heating requirements of the process.) The HM3 Energy team began researching torrefaction production and applications and started developing its own process. They built a pilot plant containing a small torrefier of their own design so they could test their process and understand proper conditions for torrefaction. By 2011 they understood that the abrasive nature of torrefied biomass plugs densification equipment.

After modifying a commercially available densifer they were able to solve the plugging issues without adding any binders to the product. The group was then able to generate enough solid information through pilot plant work to begin making plans to build a demonstration plant. Along the way, in addition to raising money from private investors and some family, HM3 Energy was able to win five significant grants by 2015, including two U.S. Dept. of Agriculture USDA Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grants and two USDASBIR Phase II grants, a U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities Woody Biomass Joint Venture Fund grant and an Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Center grant. The HM3 Energy team gained optimism in 2010 after two test burns in which TorrB torrefied woody biomass material was blended with coal in a pulverized coal-fired boiler at the Western Research Institute’s small pulverized coal combustion facility, which models the operation of large pulverized coal power plants. The pulverized torrefied biomass material was burned in a 10% biomass-coal blend, a 50-50 blend

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■ torrefaction technology

Morihara’s wife Mary told him he was too young to retire after a successful semiconductor and biotech career and needed something to do.

and then as a 100% TorrB biomass fuel source. In each case, the torrefied material worked just as coal would, according to the WRI report summarizing the test results. Cubing machine has been modified with patented HM3 die cooling process that prevents plugging.

Demo Plant

Densified raw biomass at cubing machine outfeed is transferred via conveyor to the top of the torrefier.

Getting the company off the ground, Morihara was talking to lots of different people, and in 2010 he met briefly with a consultant who was working with Japanese energy industry interests who told Morihara his clients were impressed with HM3 Energy’s approach to torrefaction technology, but nothing materialized. Three years later, the same consultant came back by and revealed a new client: New Energy Development. “We sat down and talked, and by the end of the day we were putting a deal together for the demo plant,” Morihara says. “They came in as a project investor. Ultimately, they wanted us to prove the process using key pieces of equipment before they committed to building a commercial plant. They gave us some strict milestones to meet, which we did.” By the spring of 2014, the HM3 team was putting the plant together a piece at a time and writing specifications for all kinds of equipment purchases. Though it was completed in early 2016, HM3 finally received all its permitting and was able to get the plant up and running by April 2016. Key pieces of equipment—the torrefier and the densifier—are of commercial size. The dryer was eliminated to cut costs, however, because that technology is already proven. Feedstock must be dried to maximum 18% moisture content prior to processing. (HM3 dries the material in a large container using hoses and a makeshift rental dryer when needed.) The dried biomass is processed initially through a

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torrefaction technology ■

West Salem Machinery hammermill with .8 in. diameter screening system. From the hammermill material is fed to a model 250W “cubing” machine from Warren & Baerg that operates with an extrusion-type process and can handle up to five tons per hour. The cuber produces thin pucks of biomass that allow for higher air velocity during the torrefaction process, Morihara says. Cubed material is conveyed to the top of HM3’s patented torrefier, which Morihara calls a “mass flow reactor.” The cubes flow downward to the bottom of the torrefier, which is heated to 500° F in a low-oxygen gas environment. Emissions are re-burned in a thermal oxidizer, and heat from the torrefaction process can be recaptured to aid in re-heating the reactor gases and also for use in the initial drying process. “Using the flue gas for drying gives this system a big competitive advantage,” Morihara says. A screw feeder removes the material from the bottom of the torrefier to a conditioning chamber, where a high pressure water spray cools the cubes. (Heat and steam can also be recaptured here.) The torrefied cubes are fed through an RMS roller grinder that reduces the material back to smaller particles. The material is then re-introduced and processed through the cuber which has been modified using HM3’s patent-pending die cooling process to prevent plugging. There it is re-densified, and the resulting TorrB torrefied biomass cubes have a significantly higher energy density. One key to the product is its ability to displace coal and fit seamlessly into existing coal handling and burning systems and infrastructure. HM3 Energy’s testing shows the TorrB fuel has a Hargrove Grindability Index of 45, right in the mid-range of coal’s grindability characteristics, which means it can be used with existing coal plant pulverizing equipment. The product’s fit with existing systems, plus its water-resistant characteristic that allows outdoor storage—and of course the higher energy density—make torrefied biomass such as TorrB a better choice than raw pellets for power plants that are looking to convert or co-fire with biomass, Morihara says. In a position paper, Morihara says power companies that convert coal-burning power plants to raw pellets face high investment costs in handling, feeding and storage systems that can approach $100 million per 300MW of power generation. NED is banking on HM3 Energy’s torrefaction technology: During an October 2016 open house event at the demo plant, Morihara announced his company’s licensing deal with NED, which operates two biomass power plants in Japan and is in the process of building more to take advantage of Japan’s feed-in tariff system to bolster renewable energy production. Officials with NED say they plan to build several U.S. torrefaction plants using HM3 Energy’s TorrB technology, starting in the Northwest, that will export torrefied

Morihara says HM3’s patented torrefier is a type of “mass flow reactor” processing raw biomass.

biomass to Japan. Design for the first plant is under way. The event included an appearance and tour by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and provided a sense of accomplishment for HM3 Energy and Morihara and his team after seven years of developing the process. Yet he says challenges remain. He’s eager to have a commercial plant constructed. The sooner a commercial plant is operating, the sooner power plants will have sufficient material to switch to torrefied biomass. “It’s just a matter of time now,” Morihara says. “NED is designing two plants right now; one in the U.S. using woody biomass and another in Asia using agricultural residue from plantation operations. There is lots of biomass available on a sustainable basis world-wide. And there is a huge international market interested in replacing coal or fueling biomass power plants. The future for torrefied biomass looks very bright. We hope to license our technology to a number of producers around the world.”

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■ product news

Port Of Tyne Installs Three Pellet Silos Three major silos have been erected as the centerpiece of large-scale wood pellet handling facilities at the Port of Tyne in northeast England. The structures, each 36 m (118 ft.) tall and 45 m (147 ft.) in diameter, have been built by Spencer Group as part of a contract

awarded by Lynemouth Power Ltd. The silos will be topped off with “penthouse” structures housing the drive mechanism for the wood pellet conveyor system, taking the full height of the buildings to 45 m. The facilities, at Tyne Dock in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, will handle up to 1.8 m tonnes of wood pellets annually to support the full conversion of Lynemouth

Power Station on the Northumberland coast from coal-burning to biomass. The project will enable wood pellets to be conveyed mechanically to one of three newly built silos, each capable of storing 25,000 tonnes of material. The pellets will then be discharged from the silos via two conveying streams to a rail-loading facility to take the material to Lynemouth

Spencer Group reaches significant milestone on major infrastructure project at Port of Tyne.

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product news ■

Power Station by train. To complete the project, Spencer will carry out modifications to the existing rail infrastructure to provide dedicated rail lines to serve Lynemouth Power Station and connect the new facilities to the 11,000-volts mains supply. Gary Thornton, Spencer’s Managing Director, explains, “The project showcases Spencer Group’s ability to deliver significant projects of scale and positions us as a market leader in handling biomass. The completion of the three silos is a major milestone, as we now enter the final phases of the project.” The first materials handling gantries have also been installed on site as part of the conveyor system taking the wood pellets from the quayside to the silos and, finally, the rail-loading facility. The

gantry structures have been fabricated off site and are being pre-assembled on the port estate, prior to installation. Project Director Derek Barr comments, “In terms of design and delivery this project is at the forefront of innovation in this field. We have a very experienced team on site, drawn from within the business, and we have expanded it because of the size and complexity of the project, with so many disciplines involved.” The project continues a strong collaborative relationship between Spencer and the Port of Tyne which dates back to 2010 when Spencer worked with the port to design and build a rail-loading facility for wood pellets, which was then the first of its kind in the world. Andrew Moffat, CEO of Port of

Tyne, says, “We have been innovating processes, procedures and systems for the handling, storage and transportation of wood pellets since 2009, when we built the first facility, and even now we continue to research and develop improvements for effective handling of this material. “As well as working with Spencer Group on site, we have been employing new technology in the design of specialist hoppers required for the new handling and conveying systems. These are currently under construction in Spain and are due on site in April.” Hull-based Spencer is one of the UK’s leading privately-owned multi-disciplinary engineering businesses and has substantial renewable energy activities. Visit thespencergroup.co.uk.

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■ product news

MEGTEC Provides Clean Air Solutions

B&W MEGTEC CleanSwitch RTO

Babcock & Wilcox MEGTEC (MTS Environmental GmbH) is a global supplier of turnkey clean air solutions that meet stringent emissions regulations, improve process performance, and protect thermal downstream equipment in the engineered wood products industry. Its systems effectively control emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from dryers and press vents. Control technologies include a comprehensive suite of emissions products. B&W MEGTEC provides ultrahigh efficiency regenerative thermal oxidizers and regenerative catalytic oxidizers for VOC control for OSB, MDF, plywood, particleboard, wood pelletizing and other engineered wood products, with particular expertise in solving the problems of media plugging and alkali attack associated with wood dryer exhaust. Designs are modular, operator-friendly and cleanable. It also supplies alkaliresistant ceramics and corrosionresistant materials of construction to suit the application. Along with oxidation equipment, advanced solutions for particulate removal include wet and dry electrostatic precipitators (ESP) and scrubbers. B&W MEGTEC wet ESPs provide high efficiency removal of particulate matter and “blue haze,” either as a stand-alone device or combined with downstream treatment systems like the CleanSwitch regenerative thermal oxidizer. The wet ESP removes sub-micron par-

ticulate including back-half salts (protecting the RTO), tar-pitch, ash and fiber from dryer and energy system gas streams. The design combines removal efficiency, low maintenance, low pressure drop, and a small footprint. B&W MEGTEC also offers venturi and cyclonic pre-scrubber designs to ensure water saturation of the exhaust stream and to achieve considerable removal of coarse filterable particulates. The wet ESP can operate at a higher corona power for improved capture efficiency. Pre-cleaning of coarse particulates allows for a longer period between wash-downs. Its dry ESPs can be used to control particulates for biomassbased heat generators for drying of wood and wood products. These systems feature a collector plate design, rigid discharge electrodes, and top-mounted electrically driven, externally maintainable collector and discharge electrode rappers. The company also offers fabric filters (baghouses), SNCR Systems and Multiclone dust collectors along with solutions that address media plugging and alkali attack associated with wood dryer exhaust. Field support includes upgrades, parts and services for any air pollution control equipment. Visit megtec.com.

SEI Promotes WESP System

SEI wet ESP

Southern Environmental’s upflow WESP technology eliminates the need for additional mist-eliminators, which are prone to plug-

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■ product news

ging, increasing pressure drop across the system. The tubular geometry of the membrane collecting electrode and the SEI discharge electrode optimize power levels and current densities. The SEI Membrane WESP design has the following advantages: • Eliminates downtime: The system will eliminate downtime because it has redundancy built into the design. Each module can be isolated. Membrane collecting electrodes are inexpensive and easy to replace if a catastrophic process event occurred damaging the internals of the WESP. Two water filtration systems permit redundancy. • Energy efficiency: State-ofthe-art high frequency power supplies and controls; state-of-the-art insulator compartment utilizing nominal compressed air. • Very high collection efficiency during a flushing event. • Fully compliant collection efficiency during a flushing event. • Maintenance friendly: No need for weekly manual washing as collecting electrodes are continuously irrigated and flushed as needed.

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Membrane WESP design is ideally suited for sticky particulate applications. Insulator compartments do not require purge air fan. Standard two-year warranty on all equipment. Standard 10-year warranty on collecting electrodes. Systems include SEI inspections and maintenance recommendations during planned outages for the length of the base warranty period. SEI is ideally suited to perform projects on an EPC basis as it will be managed under one roof with a single project management interface. All major elements of the project including engineering, fabrication and installation of these systems are based out of the corporate headquarters in Pensacola, Fla. SEI is in the unique position of having at its disposal its own fabrication shop and open-shop mechanical construction teams. These assets ensure its clients that all designs and arrangements receive a thorough quality control design and constructability review before the components are fabricated or delivered. Additionally, all components manufactured in Pensacola are transported

primarily by its own fleet of trucks, adding to the total project control philosophy of the company. Visit southernenvironmental.com.

Moisture Sensing In-Process, In-Lab

IR3000 series

868 lab moisture analyzer

Manufacturing wood pellets requires the refining, drying and blending of wood waste prior to entering the pellet press. By integrating MoistTech’s IR3000 into the process, users can monitor 100% of their product quality, instantly and consistently. Measuring moisture throughout the wood pelletizing process will produce pellets at a specific moisture percentage. Additionally, pro-active adjustments can be made to the process, to optimize pellet manufacturing. MoistTech’s new model 868 biomass lab moisture analyzer provides the user with high accurate moisture results within seconds on ranges of moisture between 080%. Customers using MoistTech moisture instrumentation can improve product quality and reduce fuel usage by preventing excess drying together with a reduction of fire risk in many installations. Ideal for laboratories or near processing lines MoistTech’s 868

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■ product news

sensor features a removable, rotating sampling dish, available in a variety of sizes that are designed for rapid moisture determination of non-homogeneous products and raw materials. The 868 Sensor incorporates MoistTech’s wellproven IR3000 optics and electronics providing superb accuracy, and resolution of any similar technology gauge. Visit moisttech.com.

Niziolek Joins Morbark As VP Of Operations Morbark has added Walt Niziolek to its senior management team as the company’s new vice president of operations and supply chain. Niziolek joins Morbark at a time of continued business growth to take charge of supply chain and site operational requirements. His new post includes managing local, U.S. and overseas vendors and suppliers, all warehouse and distribution activities, quality initiatives and liaising with business unit engineering support. Niziolek has previous senior leadership roles in manufacturing with companies such as CPG Building Products and Pride Mobility Products, where he specialized in deploying standardized work and other lean initiatives to improve safety, quality, delivery, supply chain management and cost.

Precision Husky Adds Rob’s Hydraulics Precision Husky Corp. has added Rob’s Hydraulics to its dealer network. Rob’s Hydraulics has been serving eastern North Carolina since 1997 with a variety of services both in shop and on site for heavy equipment. The RHI sales staff will be promoting and selling Precision Husky’s line of ProGrind horizontal and tub brinders, Precision Husky whole tree chippers, Husky knuckleboom loaders and the entire line of Precision sawmill equipment in the state of North Carolina. Rob’s Hydraulics Inc. has two locations: 7765 Pitt Street, Grimesland, NC 27837, 252-752-1500; and 7868 US Hwy. 70, Clayton, NC 27520, 919-243-0631.

Mid-South Engineering Adds Office In Maine Mid-South Engineering Co., an Arkansas-based, full service consulting engineering firm, has oppened its fourth office, this one in Orono, Maine. The new office, led by Walter Goodine, Director of Operations, allows Mid-South to better respond to its clients’ engineering needs in New England and the Maritime Provinces. Orono, the home of the University of Maine, is just north of Bangor. “The addition of this location supports our firm’s commitment to build on the success we have seen in the

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product news ■

New England area,” states MidSouth President Jeff Stephens. “The new office location is convenient to the building products, paper and bioenergy markets we serve and provides ready access to the professional talent to grow our staff.”

Peterson Pacific Adds Goodfellow, Border Peterson Pacific, a Eugene, Ore.-based manufacturer of horizontal grinders, drum and disc chippers, blower trucks, and screens, named Goodfellow Corp. as its new distributor in Utah, Nevada and southern Idaho. Goodfellow was established in 1960, and has seen steady growth in the aggregate crushing business. Adding environmental equipment such as the products that Peterson offers is a natural progression for the company for future growth. Peterson Pacific also announced Border Equipment as its new distributor in Georgia. Border Equipment, the local Case construction equipment dealer

in Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah area, has a long tradition of serving the state of Georgia. “We are very excited to bring on the Peterson line and are immediately stocking new grinders, chippers and screens to satisfy demand for these products here in Georgia,” says Brett Arrowood, Operations Manager for Border Equipment.

Baxley-LogPro Form Timber Automation Baxley Equipment Co., LLC and Price LogPro, LLC (BaxleyLogPro) announced the formation of Timber Automation, LLC. Subsequently Timber Automation announced the launch of Timber Automation Construction, a provider of complete end-to-end solutions. Timber Automation will provide Baxley Equipment and LogPro products alongside turnkey solutions. John Steck has been named President of Timber Automation. Steck rose through the ranks by exceeding expectations at Danaher Corp. He received his education at

University of Virginia with a BS in engineering and at the Darden School where he earned his MBA. “John has the full support of an incredibly strong organization. Founding partners Chris Raybon, Russell Kennedy, Pat Conry and Jim Krauss will remain committed and active in operations,” according to a company statement. “With our combined resources, our increased investments in engineering, technology, quality and production, we will continue to exceed our customer expectations.” ➤ 44

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â– product news

TSI Controls Emissions At Dryer Island

Aerial view of TSI dryer island at Colombo Energy pellet mill in South Carolina during construction, showing furnace, dryer, cyclones, wet ESP and RTO.

TSI supplies complete systems for pellet and biofuel dryer islands. This includes the heat energy system, the dryer and the emission control equipment. The heat energy and dryer both produce emissions that need to be addressed to ensure that plants are in compliance with their air permit. There are two broad classes of emission that are of concern: particulate and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These are measured at the stack and depending on the location of the plant may be controlled by either absolute limits or by concentration. In some cases VOC may not be controlled at all, but in most U.S. states VOC will be regulated. The primary strategy for reducing particulate is by use of cyclones after the dryer. TSI pays particular attention to the cyclone design to ensure maximum efficiency and even distribution of exhaust gas in the case of using multiple cyclones. On smaller plants this may be the only emission control equipment needed, but cyclones are not the best at catching really fine dust, so on bigger plants other equipment is required. TSI’s normal preference is to use wet ESPs (wet electrostatic precipitators) for particulate control and RTOs (regenerative thermal oxidizers) for VOCs. The wet ESP is a complex, gas cleaning mechanism that utilizes high voltage to charge particulate in the gas stream that then precipitates to grounded stainless steel tubes. A wet system is used to flush the captured particulate for disposal. VOCs are especially a problem with softwoods and encompass a wide range of hydrocarbon compounds and other hazardous air pollutants, many of which are generated even in low temperature drying applications. The RTO uses gas burners to oxidize these compounds and ceramic beds in conjunction with reciprocating gas flows

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■ product news

to recapture the heat energy from the burners. The combination of these two technologies gives, in the most stringent cases, the best results in terms of compliance. What TSI does is bring these technologies under one umbrella along with the dryer and heat energy system to ensure one supplier and one point of responsibility for what is really one contiguous process. Visit tsi-inc.net.

the diverter blade. We also gave them highly visible position indicators to help operators easily determine proper diverting location without accessing the unit and taking the equipment offline.” Another improvement is the new guard, which was engineered to remove potential pinch points, finger entry and equipment protec-

tion per safety standards ANSI B11.19-2010 and OSHA 1910.219. Field conversion kits have been made available for operators, allowing for ease of conversion from a manually controlled diverter valve to an automatic valve. Kice 67-series diverter valves and 68-series bin fill valves are heavy duty, cast iron valves.

Diverter Valve Prolongs Equipment Kice Industries offers an upgraded diverter valve available for Kice models 67Q2-2 through 67Q6-2 and 68Q2 through 68Q6 (2 in. OD – 6 in. OD line size). “This improvement will help prolong the life of the equipment,” says Jeff Kice, Kice Industries. “The precise blade positioning reduces wear on the leading edge of

Kice diverter valve

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WB 0417 Digimag  

The April 2017 issue of Wood Bioenergy.