Biomass Energy Lab tests giant king grass pellets

By Luke Geiver | February 29, 2012

The Biomass Energy Lab in Conyers, Ga., has begun testing biomass samples for the Pellet Fuels Institute’s Densified Biomass Fuel Standards Program, and California-based giant king grass producer Viaspace Inc. was one of the first clients to use the lab’s services.

BEL is accredited by the American Lumber Standard Committee as a testing and auditing agency for PFI. The lab performed testing on the giant king grass pellets that included proximate and ultimate analyses, elemental analysis of mineral ash and ash fusion properties. The tests showed that Viaspace’s king grass pellets hold a gross calorific value of 18.33 to 18.81 gigajoules (GJ) per oven dry ton, according to Viaspace, and a net calorific value of 16.64 to 17.20 GJ per ton with roughly 8 percent moisture content.

Chris Wiberg, BEL’s manager of biomass energy services, said testing the Viaspace pellets allowed the lab to use its knowledge in the emerging market of perennial grasses.

Viaspace recently reported that a shipment of its giant king grass seedlings were sent to a pilot plantation in China, where a customer helped establish a 5-acre propagation nursery. The seedlings sent to China were also harvested from China, in the province of Guangdong. The seedlings were inspected by Chinese officials and given a phytosanitary certificate before air freight delivered the shipment.

Karl Kukkonen, CEO of Viaspace, said the seedlings are transported by air because they need to be planted within two weeks of delivery. “This propagation nursery is an important milestone in the customer’s energy project,” he said. “This is a large bioenergy project that is expected to bring significant revenue to Viaspace so we are giving it our highest priority.”

After receiving the test results of the giant king grass pellets from BEL, Kukkonen explained that the data from the lab confirms the excellent energy content of the pellets, and that the company will share that data with other potential customers in Europe, China, Japan and Korea.

“Our joint venture partner also operates TLR International Laboratories in the Netherlands, and now U.S. companies can have their products tested to European specifications here in the U.S.,” Wiberg said of BEL.  

For more information regarding the Biomass Energy Lab, or information on providing samples, click here