Forest Concepts designs biomass balers

By Matt Soberg | August 15, 2011

Forest Concepts LLC developed two baling systems scientifically engineered for woody and tall grass biomass. The balers were designed to solve the problem of using agricultural balers for biomass purposes. The company received two patents from the U.S. Patent Office on Aug. 2.

Forest Concepts is a Washington-based research and development company applying science and engineered design to wood-based projects. The company’s engineers discovered specific properties applicable to woody and tall grass biomass. The scientific properties of platen pressure, friction and Poisson’s ratio were directly applied to the baler designs.

“These three discoveries enable engineers to design and manufacture robust, lightweight rectangular balers for woody biomass and tall grass feedstocks,” said James H. Dooley, Forest Concept’s chief technology officer and co-founder.

The systems are designed for various applications including municipal, residential and forestry settings. The balers are street-legal and easily maneuverable. They provide an optimal method for collection, transport and handling of biomass. 

The systems are compatible with tall grass, woody biomass, brush, cellulosic biomass and other feedstock packaging. Baling at the source enables purchasers to ensure the precise form and purity of the baled biomass.

The systems produce a high-density product that is stackable and easily loaded for road and rail transportation. “Balers using our inventions are likely to reduce the supply chain cost for delivery of feedstocks on conventional semi-trailer trucks to bioenergy and biofuel plants,” Dooley added.

Forest Concepts does not intend to build the biomass balers in-house, and is in the launch stage of their business plan. The company proposes forming a consortium of biomass firms along with an experienced equipment manufacturer to accelerate the commercialization, marketing and manufacturing of the balers. 

According the business plan, Forest Concepts is also seeking funding partners to aid in engineering, field testing and roll out. Each partner would have the full-time use of three to five prototype balers for six months of operational testing. The marketing prototype process will proceed at a cost of $5 to $7 million. 

The estimated sales price after prototype testing and final manufacturing is $100,000 per biomass baler.  Manufacturing capacity may be initially limited resulting in the consortium partners having first rights to purchase production units at discounted rates and deploy them in their own operations.