Getting a Handle on Biomass

By Rona Johnson
I don't think I have to tell those of you who are in the biomass business that handling is an issue. That's why our staff writers are always on the lookout for features about biomass handling equipment and systems. In this issue, for instance, Ron Kotrba talked with Rapat Corp., which designed the biomass handling system to feed Benson, Minn.-based Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co.'s gasifier.

The design was tricky because CVEC needed a system that could move wood chips quickly from the truck to the storage silo in order to keep truck drivers happy and at the same time move the wood from the storage silo to the plant at a slower pace. To make the project even more interesting, CVEC's biomass conveyance system had to be capable of moving different types of biomass such as wood chips, corncobs and corn stover. If you want to find out how they dealt with that situation, take a look at Kotrba's "Flexible Biomass Conveyance" feature on page 34.

I also want to mention staff writer Anna Austin's feature "Sprucing Up Wood Waste" that starts on page 46, where she looks into some ways to clean and recycle wood waste, including wood that's treated with creosote. Creosote seems to me like a good news/bad news chemical. Yes, it prolongs the life of power poles and railroad ties so we don't have to keep using more wood to make them, but it's also a toxic material. In Austin's feature, you can read about the process through which Canadian-based Enerkem plans to turn decommissioned power poles that have been treated with creosote into ethanol.

I hope these features are useful, and if there's anything in particular that you'd like us to write about, don't hesitate to ask.

Rona Johnson
Features Editor