July 20, 2020 By Fahimeh Yazdan Panah
Wood pellet plants produce syngas – a highly explosive mix of carbon monoxide, methane, hydrogen and other volatiles – during various stages of the pellet manufacturing process. This combustible gas is produced whenever biomass is subjected to high temperatures in a low-oxygen environment. It often accumulates within enclosed areas such as dryers, ducts, cyclones and piping. If not managed properly, syngas can cause catastrophic fires, explosions and deflagrations and resultant injuries, loss of life and equipment. This phenomenon is equally true for woody and agricultural biomass.
As a result of several recent syngas explosions, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC)’s Safety Committee decided to produce an educational video to help operators minimize the risks associated with syngas. Several partners quickly stepped up with technical and financial support. These include the University of British Columbia Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group, BC Forest Safety Council, BiomassCanada Cluster, and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. This group has now released the video Best Practices in Managing Combustible Gas.
The video describes how and where combustible gas will accumulate during the pellet manufacturing process. It gives recommendations for reducing risk such as the use of back-up power during power outages to maintain extraction fans, considerations for plant design, the locations and components that need to be inspected and cleaned regularly to avoid syngas build-up, the use of monitoring and alarm systems and operator training.
The video takes just seven minutes to watch and is packed with vital information. We encourage everyone involved in wood pellet manufacturing to take the time to view it as part of our collective comment to a safer wood pellet industry.
If you have any comments or questions, please contact:
Fahimeh Yazdan Panah
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