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Australia invests in biomass harvester research

December 1, 2014, Australia - The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced $2 million in funding support to develop a solution for collecting renewable biomass from fast growing trees.


December 2, 2014
By Canadian Biomass

December 1, 2014, Australia – The Australian Renewable
Energy Agency (ARENA) announced $2 million in funding support to develop a
solution for collecting renewable biomass from fast growing trees.

 

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Biosystems Engineering
would be further developing, building and testing an innovative woody biomass
harvester.

 

“Fast growing trees have the potential to offer an
attractive renewable feedstock if a cost effective harvesting method were
developed,” Mr Frischknecht said.

 

“Biosystems Engineering plans to collect biomass from
certain species of eucalyptus trees that can be harvested every three to five
years.

 

“These species are complementary to food production and are
already being used on Australian farms as wind screens and to tackle salinity
and boost biodiversity.

 

“Using them as a renewable fuel may offer a win-win outcome
for farmers and could potentially create a new model for community based
biomass energy hubs in rural Australia.”

 

The $3.5 million project aims to collect 15,000 tonnes of
chipped Mallee at a plantation near Casino in NSW during a 33-day harvester
trial. This will be used to supplement feedstock to the 30MW bioenergy power
plant at the Broadwater sugar mill in NSW.

 

Mr Frischknecht said the new harvester will use a clever
design that could significantly lower the cost of producing wood chips for
biomass.

 

“Prototype trials have already demonstrated the system’s
potential to process more trees per hour than existing technology.

 

“It simultaneously cuts down trees and converts them to
woodchips in a single pass,” Mr Frischknecht said.

 

“The harvesting process is designed to integrate with
in-field haulout vehicles and roadside collection, similar to the current
supply chain model for sugar cane.

 

“Biosystems Engineering plans to increase the size of the
harvester and upgrade the design to enable it to operate under full-scale
commercial conditions.

 

“The harvester also has potential as an Australian
technology export, should it be successfully developed and perform to
expectations.”

 

The project is scheduled for completion in 2017.


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