Business Briefs

By Pellet Mill Magazine | January 23, 2020

Forisk acquires North American Wood Fiber Review
Forisk Consulting, a leader in North American forest industry and timber market research, has acquired the North American Wood Fiber Review from Wood Resources International of Bothell, Washington. The review, which tracks wood fiber markets in all major regions of the U.S. and Canada, will be published by Forisk as the Forisk Wood Fiber Review beginning this quarter.

The Wood Fiber Review is the only publication that covers both the pulpwood and biomass markets in North America. The market report includes prices and market commentary for a dozen regions, tracking pulpwood, wood chip, and biomass prices in the largest and most dynamic wood fiber market in the world.
Pinnacle, Westervelt, Two Rivers Lumber partner for Alabama pellet plant
Pinnacle Renewable Energy announced plans to build a new 360,000-metric-ton-per-year pellet plant adjacent to an existing sawmill in Demopolis, Alabama. The facility is expected to begin commissioning during the second quarter of 2021.

The Demopolis plant will operate under a single partnership with Pinnacle, The Westervelt Co., and Two Rivers Lumber Co. LLC, with each holding a respective 70 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent interest in the facility. According to Pinnacle, TWC will sell a 10 percent interest of its currently held 30 percent interest in Pinnacle’s nearby pellet plant in Aliceville, Alabama, to TRL. Under the terms of the partnership, Pinnacle will operate the Demopolis facility and manage all aspects of customer relations, marketing, sales and logistics.

A statement released by Pinnacle indicates the proposed Demopolis and Aliceville plants are located on the same river system. The location of the Demopolis facility will ensure finished pellets can be barged and loaded at the port in Mobile, Alabama, the same port used to export pellets produced at the Aliceville mill.

Bosstek releases variable frequency drive for dust suppression
In a move designed to bring unparalleled versatility to its lineup of highly successful dust suppression equipment, BossTek has introduced an optional variable frequency drive (VFD) system that allows users to adjust air flow to suit a broader range of applications and working environments. Driven by customer input from several industries, the new VFD system reduces the need to purchase or rent different models to match the machines’ output to specific project requirements, delivering greater flexibility and reducing the total cost of equipment ownership.

The VFD control will be available via a simple dial or remote control on three of the company’s DustBoss models: the DB-30, DB-45 and DB-60.  All three use specialized nozzles and a ducted fan design to atomize the water flow into droplets 50-200 microns in size, which is the optimum for most dust control applications.  Matching the droplets to the most common particle sizes delivers the greatest opportunity for them to collide and fall to the ground.  The variable drive is ideal for standalone applications that require flexibility, communications and energy-saving options in a cost-effective solution.

Port of Stockton makes first shipment of pellets
The Port of Stockton announced that the first wood pellet shipment from the port was successfully loaded to the M/V Global Serenity in December. The pellets, loaded by Metro Ports, were shipped from Michigan by National Carbon Technologies. The shipment was roughly 2,000 metric tons of torrefied wood pellets destined for Japan as a trial shipment.

The shipment is an important milestone for the Port of Stockton, said Richard Aschieris, port director. “The port has been actively working with renewable fuels producers for several years now, and this shipment of National Carbon Technologies torrefied pellets advances the port’s goal of diversifying our cargo base.”

The Port of Stockton is an inland facility situated on a deep-water channel located in the extended San Francisco Bay Area. Operating since 1933, the Port of Stockton is the fourth largest port in California and handles dry bulk, breakbulk, liquid bulk and project cargoes. The port is served by both the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads, with the Central California Traction Co. providing switching services on the port’s belt line. Services offered by the port and its tenants include stevedoring, warehousing, inventory management and transloading.

SBP certification system offers SDE+ compliance solution
The Sustainable Biomass Partnership announced that its certification system now offers the complete solution for compliance with the biomass sustainability requirements of the Netherlands’ SDE+ subsidy program.

The latest consents from the Dutch minister of economic affairs and climate policy are for Biomass Category 2 using a risk-based approach, and SDE+ Controlled Biomass with approvals already granted. These consents provide end-to-end solutions for the full range of woody biomass types recognized by the Dutch authorities.

SBP’s approvals under the SDE+ regime cover woody biomass from feedstock sourced from forest residues through the SBP group scheme, and now, through the SBP risk-based approach for Biomass Category 2, as well as processing residues.

The additional approval for SDE+ Controlled Biomass covers biomass that meets a subset of the full sustainability requirements, which is acceptable to be physically mixed (according to prescribed limits) with sustainable biomass.

Report predicts strong growth in US pellet exports to Japan
A report recently filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network indicates Japan’s market for wood pellets is expanding rapidly. While the policy-driven market opportunity for foreign wood pellet suppliers is exceptional, the report states U.S. suppliers remain on the margin.

Japan imported 1.44 million metric tons (MT) of wood pellets in 2019, up from 1.06 million in 2018 and 506,000 in 2017. Cur­rently, Canada is the primary supplier of wood pellets to Japan.

Japan’s domestic wood pellet production reached 135,000 MT in 2019, up from 131,000 in 2018 and 127,000 in 2017. According to the report, the country currently has 155 wood pel­let plants, up from 154 in 2018 and 147 in 2017. Consumption of wood pellets has grown rapidly, from 626,000 MT in 2017 to 1.168 million MT in 2018 and an estimated 1.559 million in 2019.

According to the report, biomass power plants in Japan are looking for reliable, long-term supplies of biomass. As a result, wood pellet exports to Japan are expected to significantly in­crease. The report estimates the U.S. will begin to take part in the Japanese market, with exports exceeding 3 million MT per year by 2025.

Enviva awarded construction permit for Alabama pellet plant
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has approved a permit allowing Enviva to construct a wood pellet facility in Sumter County.

The plant’s planned permitted capacity is expected to be 1.15 million metric tons, initially constructed to produce 700,000 metric tons of wood pellet per year with the option to expand.
Construction of the facility is expected to begin in early 2020, subject to final investment approval, and is expected to take approximately 15 to 18 months.

Once operational, pellets produced at the plant are expected to be transported by barge via the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to Enviva’s planned deep-water marine terminal that is under development in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The pellets will be exported to customers in Europe and Asia.

Support for woody biomass included in spending, tax deals
In the final week of the 2019 legislative session, Congress passed a $5 million allotment for the new Community Wood Energy and Innovations Program in the massive $1.4 trillion spending deal, extended the Section 25C wood and pellet stove credit, and reauthorized the carbon neutrality of biomass policy, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council reported. BTEC applauded Congress and President Trump, and extended gratitude to its bipartisan congressional champions, including Sens.

Susan Collins, R-Maine; Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire; Angus King, I-Maine; Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire; and Reps. Annie Kuster, D-New Hampshire; Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts; Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; Peter Welch, D-Vermont; and their staff. BTEC also thanked its numerous coalition partners, including Orion Advocates and Innovative Natural Resource Solutions.

Mitsubishi plans biomass conversion of Japanese power plant
Japan-based Mitsubishi Corp. announced plans to convert the coal-fired Suzukawa Energy Center Ltd. to biomass. The 112-MW plant is expected to begin producing renewable energy from wood pellets in April 2022.

In a statement, Mitsubishi said it made the decision to launch the biomass conversion project after having come to terms on conditions for procuring wood pellets and completing arrangements for a non-recourse  project finance.

Mitsubishi, through its wholly owned subsidiary Mitsubishi Corp. Power Ltd., and partners Nippon Paper Industries Co. Ltd. and Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc., established the Suzukawa Energy Center in September 2013. The partners have been in discussions since then to develop a dedicated biomass power generation project at the site. The conversion supports Mitsubishi’s goal to have renewable energy businesses account for more than 20 percent of its power generation assets by 2030.

Peterson introduces 1710D horizontal grinder
Peterson Pacific Corp., a Eugene, Oregon-based manufacturer of horizontal grinders, drum and disc chippers, blower trucks and screens, has introduced the Peterson 1710D horizontal grinder to its product line.

 The 1710D is ideal for mulch, compost, or small pallet grinding operations, as well as municipalities looking for a smaller, tracked machine, but still needing excellent throughput for a grinder of this size.
The 1710D’s large feed opening measures 54x27 inches. When boosted by Peterson’s high-lift feed roll, the feed opening’s maximum lift of 41.5 inches can tackle the largest of feedstock and allows excellent accessibility to the rotor for maintenance.

The 1710D horizontal grinder is equipped with a Caterpillar Tier IV C9.3B 455-horsepower (HP) engine, or an optional, export-only C9.3B Tier III, 415-HP engine. At 46,500 pounds, it is one of the lightest of Peterson’s grinder series and is easily transportable.

BC Forest Enhancement Society, government partner to prevent slash burning
The Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia, in partnership with the B.C. government and the government of Canada, is providing $1.4 million in funding to address the economic viability of processing low-grade fiber by supporting the incremental hauling costs to Okanagan-based BC EcoChips Ltd.

About 325,000 cubic meters of normally unmerchantable wood fiber will be saved from burning in slash piles over the next four years, according to FESBC. Over 35,000 cubic meters have already been hauled and chipped since spring 2019. The project is being managed by Westwood Fibre Resources Ltd. of Kamloops.

Tops are estimated to be about 10 percent of the total primary harvest per year, FESBC reported. When a tree is cut up into logs, the treetop is typically discarded as waste and then burned to comply with legal requirements. Through this project, the tops are recovered and converted into pulping chips and marketed in the southern interior and coast of B.C. The fiber will help support jobs in pulp mills and bioenergy plants.

Drax sets ambition to become carbon negative by 2030
Leading British energy company Drax Group Plc has announced ambitions to become carbon negative. CEO Will Gardiner said doing so will depend on an effective negative emissions policy and investment framework for new technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Being carbon negative means that Drax will be removing more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere than it produces throughout its operations, creating a negative carbon footprint for the company within a decade. Drax is already running a successful BECCS pilot at its power station, capturing 1 metric ton (MT) of carbon dioxide every day, with the eventual possibility of using BECCS across all four of its biomass generating units, capturing 16 million MT of CO2 a year.

White joins Drax as senior vice president
Drax Biomass Inc. has hired Matt White as its new senior vice president to run Drax’s U.S. biomass operations from its headquarters in Monroe, Louisiana.

White joins Drax from Rockwater Energy (now Select Energy Services), a chemicals and logistics provider to the oil industry, where he was director of manufacturing and engineering.

Most of White’s career has been in manufacturing management helping organizations grow, adapt to change and increase safety and efficiency by developing high-performing teams. A mechanical engineer by background, White has worked in a number of sectors including air products and chemicals, and with Solvay’s guar/oxide manufacturing.

On his new position, White said, “This is an exciting time to join Drax Biomass as the business seeks to grow its wood pellet output to 5 million [metric] tons per year while maintaining a focus on safety and operational excellence. Drax has an impressive commitment to support the communities in which it operates by promoting sustainable forestry and investing in local development, so I am looking forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Dyantrol highlights level detection for steam with Armoloy protection
Dynatrol DJT level detectors can provide measurement of high-, intermediate- or low-level detection in temperatures exceeding 300 degrees Fahrenheit, easily obtaining bulk solids level measurement in surge bins or hoppers. Armoloy-coated Dynatrol models are designed for pelletizers using steam where pitting can damage the detector probe.

Crafted in the U.S. for more than 60 years, all Dynatrol point level detectors are constructed for a long operating life with no moving parts, gaskets or seals to deteriorate. They are factory calibrated, requiring no field adjustments. When combined with the EC-501A control unit, process control equipment, level alarms or indicator lights can be actuated.