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All wood burns. This is fact.

So when you are thinking of building a fire, throw some wood on it and ya’ got yourself a fire! This may work for a camp fire or small scale indoor stove, however when it comes to generating heat, steam and /or electricity on a consistent basis, fuel type is a major factor in determining whether a biomass energy project is successful or not.

Biomass varies greatly in availability, size, texture and composition and can be processed in numerous ways. All these factors weigh in when considering proper equipment technology for energy generation.

Biomass Energy Projects have the potential to end in disaster when the wrong fuel is procured and fired and can result in damaged equipment, injury and litigation for all parties involved. Here are some great examples of differences in fuels.

The fuel on the left was specified for a gasifier project. This project had no fuel sizing equipment located onsite requiring the ‘as delivered’ fuel to meet the specification of the designer.

The fuel on the right is similar to the fuel procured for this project although the actual fuel procured consisted partly of construction debris and may have included plastics.

This costly error resulted in the failure of the project and eventually the gasification equipment was scrapped.

As seen above, fuel specification is an important factor in the design and success of any biomass energy plant. Having the correct combustor/gasification technology and support equipment for the fuel available is equally important. PES has implemented changes on various plants using different technologies available including an Outotech, formerly known as Energy Products of Idaho’s bubbling fluid bed technology fueled by construction and demolition wood and currently operating at Seattle Steam in Seattle Washington, Hampton Lumber in Warrenton Oregon is currently operating a Wellons boiler system fueled by hog fuel.

In conclusion, if considering a biomass energy plant it is imperative to ensure the boiler combustion/gasification equipment being considered will work well with fuel that is both available and economic.