ASABE announces progress in solid biofuel standards development

By American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers | August 04, 2015

Development of international standards for solid biofuels has been ongoing since 2007; with seven of the 12 published ISO standards being completed within the past year, and another 26 standards at various stages of development.

Substantial progress was made at the seventh formal international meeting of ISO Technical Committee 238 (TC238), Solid Biofuels, held recently in York, England, where attendees gave special attention to a series of solid biofuel test standards and related topics. Significant time was also devoted to discussions on a classification standard for thermally treated solid biofuels, ISO 17225 part 8. Several participating countries, the US and Canada included, expressed concern about the immediacy of need for such a standard, when relevant technology has not matured. Interim adoption of an ISO technical specification was discussed, which would allow additional information and data to be gathered.

“We are proud of our accomplishments in developing these standards for solid biofuels, but we must be careful not to set standards prior to the industry being ready for them,” says Chris Wiberg, lab manager of Biomass Energy Lab. “Technical specifications are better choices in situations where the industry is still developing and the users of the information need guidance as compared to rigid requirements that are poorly understood.”

As international trade in solid biofuels continues to expand, emerging industry needs are spurring consideration of future standards. “The development of test methods to maintain production quality will be important for future solid fuel technologies under development,” notes Ryan Davis, Zilkha Biomass Energy.

Attending the meeting on behalf of the U.S. was Scott Cedarquist, standards director at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, which is accredited by ANSI to coordinate the U.S. positions in the ISO process. Cedarquist says the international interest in the work of TC238 continues to expand, along with international trade of solid biofuels. “There are currently 38 countries actively following this work. When the technical committee was formed, the attendees and participation was from Europe and North America, but we are now seeing participation from around the globe. A great example of this is that Standards Malaysia has agreed to host the 2016 international meeting.”

At the York meeting, the U.S., one of 16 countries participating, was well represented at the meetings, with three delegates from diverse backgrounds. U.S. participation was made possible with the support of the Pellet Fuel Institute, the US Industrial Pellet Association, Zilka Biomass Energy, Biomass Energy Lab, and ASABE, each of which committed personnel and/or funding.

In the US, ASABE coordinates the national positions on draft standards through an established committee of experts. Those interested in participating in the development of the biofuel standards are encouraged to contact Scott Cedarquist, at cedarq@asabe.org or, in Canada, ASABE member Staffan Melin, at drc@dccnet.com .

Additional details on international participation and progress can be found at: http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_technical_committee.html?commid=554401.