Faced with one tough year in the forest sector, the organizers of Wood
Week 2009 wisely combined two key events and three sectors to allow the
show to go on.
Faced with one tough year in the forest sector, the organizers of Wood Week 2009 wisely combined two key events and three sectors to allow the show to go on. Although Wood Week included exhibitors and visitors from forestry, sawmilling, and biomass, it was biomass that in many ways stole the show when it came to new gear and visitor interest.
|Wood chip and pellet moisture metres from Gaston Richard give precise readings on the spot and in 11 seconds.
That interest came from myriad sources, from sawmills looking for an outlet for future mill residues to shuttered plants looking for a way to start up and loggers searching for another revenue stream or market outlet for off-species. In fact, several high-level sawmilling and pulp and paper executives suggested that in several Canadian regions, biomass and bioenergy projects will assume some or even most of the role currently played by the traditional pulp and paper sector. “Look at the equipment you see here, in booths where you would have seen traditional gear – grinders, pellet mills, fibre dryers. Look at the number of loggers and sawmill owners looking for this sort of solution. Why? Because in some areas, it’s already clear: this will be the future outlet for sawmillers and loggers looking to market lower grade material and residues, so they’re figuring it out.” That is how one top-level national sawmill executive summed it up on the first day of Wood Week.
Canadian Biomass spoke with organizers or their suppliers about projects and start-ups in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario, with only the show location preventing us from hearing about biomass projects in the rest of Canada. We also spoke with landowners who were considering investment in high-yield, short-rotation crops. We even heard of a pending $15 million roundwood-to-pellet operation building steam in La Tuque, Quebec; only finalizing the Crown fibre supply remains to be done.
Here’s a brief look at what some of these emerging biomass players came to see and discuss:
- Comact pellet mills: This well-known sawmill machinery supplier is now offering turnkey pellet mills thanks to a partnership with Promill Stolz Technology in France. There are over 200 of these mills sold, but Comact was able to announce its first sale here in Canada at Wood Week. Northwest Wood Preservers of northern British Columbia hopes to have its unit operational by early 2010. The mills bring several advantages over others on the market, Comact says, including half the maintenance costs compared to gear box type pellet mills, simplified die installation by thermal expansion to reduce pellet mill vibration, and standard components that are well known in the industry.
- Hurst boiler options for wood waste and other biomass: The U.S. supplier was on hand with its eastern Canadian agent R. Nantel of Montreal. Nantel has experience in a wide range of installs using various feedstocks and has been working to educate clients on the importance of marrying feedstock to boiler type and design.
- Anderson’s BioBaler series of biomass harvesting and compaction equipment: The Canadian supplier has machines to manage feedstocks that include short-rotation woody crops (complete with sawhead) and over-stocked wooded areas (complete with mulcher head).
- Simoneau Group’s Hybrid Solid Fuel Boiler: The boiler is designed to handle a wide range of “by-product” fuels, including wood, biomass, manure, etc. As a consumer of such products, the boiler often opens the door to tax incentives or a reduction in disposal fees. The boiler combines a full waterfall furnace with a steam-generating firetube section.
- Gaston Richard: This Canadian distributor has added to its long list of biomass and bioenergy equipment and was showing two of its newest gadgets at Wood Week. The Wood Chip Humidity metre is portable, easy to use, precise, and gives the moisture level of incoming or process wood chips within 11 seconds. Also new is the Humidity Sensor for Pellets, which works on fabricated fire logs, sawdust, and pellets. Like the chip version, it is portable and gets precise results in 11 seconds.
Wood Week 2010 takes place in Dolbeau, Quebec, next September. •
– Scott Jamieson