New ISO wood pellet standards published; safety effort begins

By Sue Retka Schill | April 25, 2014

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards for solid biomass fuels will be available for purchase in the next week in the ISO store.   

The international standards agency outlined the need for standards for solid biofuels, including wood pellets, chips and other densified biomass, in an article published on its website, “Stoking the biofuel flame.” 

Eija Alakangas, ISO project leader for the ISO 17225 series, pointed out that while there are existing standards in Europe and the U.S., “several test methods have been used. If you trade your solid biofuels internationally, you have to complete a number of tests to prove the quality of your fuels and, as things stand today, you cannot compare results because they have been derived using different methods.”

Part 1: General Requirements of the ISO 17225 series gives an overview of the standards, which include “the fuel quality classes and specifications for solid biofuels of raw and processed materials originating from a) forestry and arboriculture; b) agriculture and horticulture; and c) aquaculture.”    Part 2: Graded wood pellets, outlines quality classes and specifications of graded wood pellets for nonindustrial and industrial use.  

In all, seven parts are to be available within the week, according to an ISO spokesperson. ISO 17225 series will include almost 60 international standards “for solid biofuels on graded wood pellets, graded wood briquettes, graded wood chips, graded non-woody pellets, thermally treated and densified biomass fuels, etc. It comprises definition and classification standards as well as standards for chemical and mechanical testing. A standard on sampling methodology is also included as a necessary building block for accommodating certification and various schemes of credit accounting,” according to the description on the ISO website.

In a separate effort, a technical committee has organized to develop ISO standards for the safe handling and storage of wood pellets. Sweden-based SP Fire Technology’s Anders Lonnermark was appointed chairman of the safety group, ISO/TC238. The next meeting of the group is set for June in Stockholm, where the group will make a formal decisions on work items.

Writing about the ISO effort in a recent issue of the SP Fire Technology’s newsletter, Brandposten, the SP team outlined the main questions needing answers: “How can wood pellets be safely stored?  How can a fire in a silo be extinguished?  What is the best way of testing and analyzing any particular type of pellets in order to assess their tendency for spontaneous combustion or gasification?”

The first meeting was held in October, with 15 persons from seven countries, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands and Austria, in attendance. Experts from Canada and the U.S. expressed interest in participating in the work, though they were not at the initial meeting. The main result from that first meeting was the establishment of five subgroups to prepare drafts on various guidelines, including guidelines for safe handling and storage of pellets in various quantities, as well as methodology standards for determining the potential for spontaneous self-heating and/or gas generation.

U.S. representation is coordinated through the American National Standards Institute. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has been appointed by ANSI to oversee the standards effort. If interested in participating in the safety standards development or getting updates, contact Scott Cedarquist at ASABE.