FM BioEnergy Products looks to create a new business model
July 31, 2023
By Maria Church
Alberta entrepreneur Frank Laneuville sees a future in merging wood waste recycling and wood pellets.
FM BioEnergy Products in central Alberta is planning to combine wood waste recycling with wood pellet production to make the most of the full life cycle of wood products.
Owner, president, and CEO Frank Laneuville says the operation’s flexibility will allow them to reach a largely untapped clean waste wood fibre generators, supply, customer base and markets.
With a 25-year background in civil and oilfield construction, Laneuville has been tied to the forest industry in western Canada for many years. He started up FM BioEnergy this spring to fulfil what he sees as an unmet need for bioenergy in central Alberta.
“I’m doing things differently,” Laneuville says. “I’m going to concentrate on recycling a variety end-of-life waste wood products for regional sustainable reuse markets. I want to be a pioneer of that.”
Sustainable business model
Flexibility is a central component to FM BioEnergy’s business plan. Their site will combine wood waste shredding with pellets, grinding of specialty waste wood products, and firewood production.
Laneuville anticipates fibre supply will come from a range of providers, from local Class 2 and 3 landfills and municipalities to private woodlot owners, and pipeline construction companies.
“The Trans Mountain pipeline, for example, uses great amount of wooden road access mats, and of that, 20 per cent of them will be non-essentially burned and or destroyed at the end of their use, approximately every two years. A majority of the time they non-essentially are burned or hauled to local landfills and buried,” Laneuville says. He’d like to see all that waste wood fibre brought to his facility, sorted, cleaned, processed and recycled for a 100 per cent reuse application.
Equipment mobility is another important component to working with the private sector, Laneuville says. Having essential mobile equipment such as a mobile high-speed chipper, a slow-speed grinder, and a custom-built portable scalper will allow FM BioEnergy to remove unwanted forest biomass from private sites across his region. The wood biomass will be washed and processed on site, and become the best-use product, whether that’s hog fuel, wood chips, pellets, firewood, biochar, compost feed stock or a milled lumber product.
“I don’t want just wood pellets, or just hog. When the markets go down, you’re stuck with your revenue with that happening. With different sustainable closed-loop wood recycling markets, we can assure stable ROI from different revenues,” Laneuville says.
Brand new plant
FM BioEnergy expects to have a commercial site this summer and plans to purchase a full slate of brand-new pellet plant equipment. The plant will allow them to produce four to six tonnes per hour, with construction to begin in late summer or early fall and pellets produced by the end of the year.
A portable sawmill and firewood processor will also live on site. “I want to do probably 1,000 to 1,500 cord a year,” Laneuville says.
Two shredders will handle biomass processing, one mobile to process waste wood recycling and another serving more like a hammer mill to produce quality wood chips for pellet manufacturing or other emerging regional reuse markets.
The entire site will likely employ around five people, with most processes automated to minimize manual labour. In two or three years, Laneuville expects to employ closer to 15 people.
“I started the idea really small, and every time I think about it, it’s getting bigger and bigger,” he says with a laugh.
The company is a member of the Canadian Wood Waste Recycling Business Group, building their business presence in the Canadian wood recycling industry. Having a variety of products and the flexibility to tailor production to customers will open up new markets for them, Laneuville says.
“I want to go with the markets,” he says. “Wherever it will bring me, I know the demand is there. I’ll be equipped to do everything.”
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