Why Wood-Chip?

PowerCan®200 uses wood-chipThe PowerCan® 200 has been developed with wood-chip as its basic feedstock, as this article explains, no other feedstock compares in availability and value. No other feedstock has a greater positive impact on the environment and in the fight to reduce CO₂ emissions than wood-chip. Wood-chip is available because of sustainable forestry practices, common sense and through proper conservation of our forests

“With wood-chip as a consistent material in its feedstock PowerCan® 200 is capable of gasifying a wide variety of seasonal waste cocktails, MSW fiber as well as many other wastes and bi-products which can be bulk handled to produce electricity, heat and transport fuels locally.”

Availability of wood-chip

Wood-chip is available almost everywhere, it is totally renewable and CO₂ neutral. By harvesting wood-chip from our forests we benefit the forest, the environment and the ecological-system the forest supports. As a result of the PowerCan® 200 gasification process we are able to use CO₂ credits to gasify many other local wastes and still remain CO₂ neutral.

Unlike other feedstock wood-chip is available all year round and although it can be stored without fuss even in large quantities it seldom goes off. Unlike many other types of feedstock wood-chip needs little bulk handling and it does not pose any occupational threat to those who work with it.

Because the PowerCan® 200 is movable its innovation is that it can be deployed and redeployed at the source of the wood-chip [or other waste] and where it can most conveniently create electricity, heat or transport fuels.  PowerCan® 200 works within the local economy and without embedding CO₂ or being at risk from fluctuating transport fuel prices. Broadcasting electricity locally is far more cost efficient and environmentally friendly than transporting waste materials.

How does sourcing wood-chip from the forest combat CO₂?

Our forests clean up the air we breathe by converting CO₂ into oxygen. Our environmental predicament today is that we produce far more CO₂ than our forests can handle. Conservationist often argue that with far less deforestation the environmental situation today would be much different however they often overlook the fact that if our forest were better managed the conversion process would be far more efficient.

Large scale re-planting of forest might help us in years to come but we can make far better use of our forests now by better managing them now. In managing all of the grooming and other activities to make our forests healthier we produce wood-chip.

“Better forest management practices such as cutting away smaller trees, the removal of low or dead branches and bushes from the forest floor allows larger trees to grow and breathe to convert much more CO₂ into oxygen.”

PowerCan® 200 converts feedstock into producer gas and then reforms producer gas into pure synthesis gas all in a closed vessel – there is no gaseous emission in the process and no CO₂ is released into the atmosphere during the conversion process – gasification over other technologies of burning wood-chip creates a significant CO₂ credit

How does better forest management benefit the forest?

Our forests are often littered with fallen branches and trees or are impassible because of invasive forest floor growth. All fallen trees, small new trees, underbrush [or bushes] and low hanging tree limbs [all limbs to 2m or higher and all limbs which are dry or dead] should be removed from our forests to open up the forest floor to sunlight, and to soil nourishment.

Rejuvenation of the forest floor and reducing the competition for nutrients on the forest floor allows established trees to grow stronger and healthier and properly managed they are ready to convert much more CO₂ into oxygen than they do now.

Removing debris, dried woody materials such as dead trees limbs and brush reduces the risk and impact of forest fires. All the materials collected during forest management can be wood-chipped and are suitable as gasification feedstock it can be converted into local energy and transport fuel with no negative CO₂ impact.

“A clean forest floor benefits all forms of wildlife all conservationists agree that better management of forests floors is truly beneficial to preserving our forests”.

How does better forest management benefit wildlife and the ecology-system?

Our forests provide habitat and shelter for animals, birds, flowers and other wildlife which is critical to our ecology-system. With good forest management the forest floor is rejuvenated new grasses, herbs and other fresh undergrowth which provide habitat and food for all creatures in the forest ecology-system and outside of it can thrive.

“Rare and endangered wild flowers, birds and other creatures stand a healthier chance against extinction on their own in well managed forests than they ever could in old unmanaged forests”.   

Is wood-chip forest management a sustainable industry?

Managing forest for fuel is an ancient and sustainable craft, the truth is man has managed forests for thousands of years. During wood-chip production dry or dead trees are identified and removed the reality is far more trees are destroyed in our forests through spread of disease than from forest fires.

Sick dry trees are prone to disease they become infected and then spread infection and without proper management of forests fallen and dead trees can accelerate the spread of disease.

Lumber from unmanaged forests has little commercial value it is commonly pulped for paper whilst more valuable higher quality lumber used for construction is imported. Failure to properly manage forests wastes valuable resources, creates poor economic conditions and creates unnecessary CO₂ embedded in imported materials.

“Properly managed and controlled forest management can have a huge positive ecological impact especially for the rarer and the most precious of our trees – it can also produce significant amount of renewable energy”.   

Wood-chip cocktails

Wood-chip is a stable feedstock, unlike many other feedstock it is relatively easy to source, it is most abundant and always available. Wood-chip gasifies as easily as coal however with far less environmental impact. Wood-chip is a regular feedstock it is not prone to bridging or choking the gasifier which is critical in order to ensure perpetual gasification.

A variety of feedstock cocktails can be readily introduced into the stable, continuous gasification process that wood-chip provides. These cocktails can include clean sorted cellulose from MSW [known as MSW fiber], as well as seasonal agricultural and food wastes.

During PowerCan® 200 2013-2016 Research and Development program SOLIDEA Group scientists are looking at specific and specialized cocktail solutions for example how best a regional shopping centre “PowerCan® 200 Retail Waste to Energy Program” or District Hospital “PowerCan® 200 Hospital Waste to Energy Program” can combine own sorted wastes with wood-chip to satisfy energy and heat requirements as well as offsetting own waste disposal and landfill costs

A specialist AD industry study “PowerCan ®200 Anaerobic Digestions Waste to Energy Program” will be completed and published in 2014. AD waste and wood-chip cocktail gasification could improve the cost efficiency and reduce the feedstock volume burden for the AD industry.

Wood-chip Legislation   

Local legislation in parts of the EU already prevents landfill of wood-chip [much of it ends up in AD] this includes wood-chip from forest management and forest production, as well as park, avenue and garden grooming. As these industries are now obliged to find alternative uses for these waste materials wood-chip is becoming even more commercially accessible. Most importantly wood-chip is becoming more competitively priced.

The EU intends to roll-out the landfill ban for wood-chip over the coming years to be introduced in all member states before 2020. As not producing wood-chip because of the cost of its disposal is contrary to reducing CO₂ we expect that the European Union will more actively promote the wood-chip industry and especially its use for small scale and local gasification projects.

Wood-chip is more abundant than sorted MSW fibres and it can be even more readily available locally or imported and as the business sector grows. Unlike MSW no special licenses are required for the transportation and storage of wood-chip.

Environmental Compliance

Any extinction of feedstock including burning of woody biomass in the European Union is considered CO₂ neutral. PowerCan® 200 gasifies wood-chip and in the gasification process there is no combustion and no burning occurs [this also means there are no Furans or Dioxins released in the process].

“PowerCan® 200 gasifies wood-chip creating substantial CO₂ emission credits it is a local process which can handle other forms of waste locally and yet remain CO₂ neutral”

PowerCan® 200 does not consume water it produces water. When gasifying wood-chip water is produced as an emission in liquid form. All water in the gasification process occurs as a result of the gasification of feedstock. Water occurs because of change of state e.g. plasma to gas in the gas reform process, we call this water “chemical water” it is clean even potable water.

Water is released from the moisture content of the feedstock as an emission, in the case of wood-chip the emission is consistent it smells and looks like old fashioned creosote, the consistency and volume of the creosote like emission can be regulated by adjusting the evaporation process of the gasifier or reducing the moisture content of the feedstock before it is gasified

PowerCan®200 project in future is dedicated to develop wood-chip cocktails, to develop smarter feedstock solutions based on wood-chip.

“Wood-chip will always be available as a feedstock so long as good sense prevails and good forest conservation continues – PowerCan® 200 is a moveable local energy solution which was designed to follow that ethos”

Suwałki, 11 December 2013

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About Steve

Over 20 years in Real Estate and Project Development
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