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Energy 101

Briquets are typically average 10% moisture—they can be higher - up to 16% --- Green feedstock is typically 50% moisture, wet basis. If you take green feedstock and grind and dry it to 10% moisture for briquetting you typically end up with half the weight in briquets.

HOWEVER-- this does not include the drying energy — The question is — do you take the water out at source by using a dryer or do you burn it out in your boiler -see following-

Transport Costs (on the way up everywhere)

IF the energy in a typical drum dryer is derived from burning part of the dried fiber --- then you will need 15--20% of the intake to dry the rest.

So if you have a 1000 pounds of green feedstock -- wet basis you will have 40--50% water which needs to be removed before briquetting you need 15--20% fiber to fire the dryer (closed loop fired drum dryer we are talking here) ----- unless you fuel it from other energy sources.

- also a typical drum dryer needs 2000 BTU per pound of water removed from the feed so its not as efficient as one would like--but thats the numbers today-they can vary depending on each application --- there are other dryers we are dealing with that are in the 1400 BTU range - see photo.

So out of the 1000 pounds green input you will end up approx 400-500 pounds of briquets if you use part of the dried input as fuel for the dryer

-- some well designed closed loop fibre fired dryers use the 1/8 inch minus dried fines which are screened out in the drying process-this component is returned to the dryers burner to fire it-it is approx 15--20% of dried output-
-- to act as an efficient fuel for this type of burner it needs to be 10% moisture minus and not larger than 1/8—3 mm size-some dryer return burners require flour sized fines which run the risk of explosions
-- also up to 50% of the dryer exhaust gases which typically are at 200-250 F are returned back to the 2000 F burner exhaust air to bring its temp down to typ 900-1000 F before it hits the wet feedstock being dried—some systems operate higher temp but risk fires and volatiles. Returning the warm air exhaust rather than injecting ambient air helps dryer efficiency and reduces exhaust to atmosphere.
-- for example very large biofuel production plants have 4—5 foot diameter return air ducts on their drum dryers-large dryers of this size/capacity can cost 4-6 million dollar range. While most average size operations use dryers in the 1—2 million dollar range.

There are single and multi pass drum dryers-usually the big ones are single pass due to transport constraints—the larger ones are about 14—15 feet in diameter and shipped in sectional rings with flanges and bolted together on site ending up as 80—100 foot long drums rotating on rollers with refractory liners. They are assembled and tested first at the factory. It is possible to ship larger multi pass systems in sections as well.

There is also external fired dyers which have burners designed to burn hog-bark fuel instead of the dried component this type of hog burner is usually much more expensive and larger than the returned fines burner but can be the way to go if for instance you are a sawmill with a lot of bark/ residuals in place locally or on site as well as need for other heat - LOCALLY---fast becoming the word in all industries from making widgets to shipping tomatoes-----got to be close cause bringing in wet hog can cost too much due to ever rising diesel-transport prices Todays newspaper is full of airlines fuel surcharges and BC ferries fuel surcharges etc

MOST IMPORTANT—like the dried fines dryer burner the wet hog needs to be heated up before its useful as a fuel--in other words energy has to be PUT INTO IT to eliminate the water content before it actually EXPENDS heating energy to dry the wet biomass-WATER DOES NOT BURN and a lot of it is inside the cells of the fiber—and not on its surface—you need to drive this water out and that takes massive amounts of energy—reminds me of my days designing a microwave dryer for the paper mill industry-MW and RF energy dryers heat from the inside out--the toughest part of the water to remove in paper making is INSIDE the paper fiber (which is bleached wood) after the wire part of a paper machine—approx 35%----also this is why paper mills are by rivers and if they can they may “ sell you the river” ex sell higher moisture content paper-an extra % can mean xtra millions in profits-water is cheap compared to pulp

NOTE!! --half the weight of green hog fuel is water and 15—20% of the actual fiber in it has to be burned before the whole process becomes a POSITIVE energy emitter--this works as long as you have mountains of CHEAP hog bark on site from sawmilling but the minute you need to bring it from elsewhere down goes your profits-- ( truckers are now charging by the hour as mileage does not cut it anymore—heard of 100—200 dollar an hr rates) Furthermore the boilers in wet burners need to be much larger to deal with the water vapour, they run the risk of higher maintenance as well, more refractory etc.

Imagine paying for all the delivered fuel weight on a truck but actually getting to use only one third of it in a useful way but at the same time paying to handle the other two thirds of it which are useless to you.

This FACT OF LIFE is quickly becoming apparent to many burning wet hog fuels and paying expensive transport costs to get to their burner--example solid fuel fired boilers in greenhouses—for example-if wet hog costs 40 dollars a ton delivered its actual positive fuel cost per ton is 120 dollars plus xtra maintenance and handling costs! gone are the days of cheap hog fuel--because of its poor heating value due to its water content typical hog has to LAND AT THE BOILER USE SITE CHEAP--

This does not happen anymore because of high and higher diesel fuel -shipping costs so people owning and operating solid fuel burners are just coming to realize this new fact of life that cheap hog is no longer cheap fuel –it also can wear out the burners resulting in extensive repair bills—some will still argue the fact but its like running over dollar bills to save nickels and dimes ( a Canadian condition I sometime describe it but may also exist elsewhere)

BOTTOM LINE

The best and most profitable fuel is dry consistent agglomerated (pellets or briquets) fuels-which come with a fuel certificate-

REMEMBER-you are not buying tons, board feet, units and volumes here as in the lumber bz—you are buying heating content--Gigajoules, BTUs, Therms etc

FURTHERMORE---briquets/fuel pucks cost less to make than pellets but have similar heating and bulk density values so they are fast becoming the favourite solid fuels—they also have a smaller carbon footprint which will factor in once North America adapts some form of the European certification process. Typical fuel values are in the order of 18 gigajoules per metric ton at 10% moisture. Tpyical bulk densities can range from 500—800 KG per cubic meter, depending on feedstock, compression dies used in the compaction process and briquette size. We hope this all makes sense to the readers—any questions call us or look us up at www.briquettingsystems.com I have come to feel like a grade school teacher on this whole briquet bz. At the stage we are here in North America re bioenergy its all about EDUCATE EDUCATE..

Solid fuel combustion direct to energy is the way to go and it should be in the form of CHP-combined heat and power—ex—district heating plants heating the towns, institutions and greenhouses and industrial processes and any excess going to the grid—making power only from combustion is inefficient and it is now happening because coal electric generating plants esp offshore are in dire need to lower their carbon emissions. We would be very wise here in North America to quickly adopt some type of national carbon emissions and credits system and use all the agglomerated fuels for domestic purposes, examples as mentioned here instead of exporting this valuable resource. Even from a bz view there should be more profit and less transport costs. Transporting biosolid fuels overseas also expends large amounts of fossil fuels in their transport. Also BC to Europe bulk rates have gone from 40 to over a hundred dollars a ton lately. As for the liquid biofuel bz—it may prove to be a big and costly mistake which many are coming to realize. Why turn fire into liquid and then back into fire? Especially if it costs hundreds of millions to do so. See more on this subject c/o Roger Samsons report c/o www.reap-canada.com The huge amounts of fertilizer used in corn ethanol production is already having adverse effects on the environment-ex-washing down thru the Mississippi river system to the gulf and polluting the ocean. A lot of the nitro phosphates remain in the soils which end up in the gulf bleaching the sealife.

It seems as a highy technical society we are never content unless we make simple things complex—being a practising engineer for over 30 years I am a strong believer in the KISS principle.


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Selling Energy

The whole subject of biomass and its energy content is relatively new to North Americans and therefore its educate, educate and educate!

First and foremost you are selling energy when you are selling fuel briquets, energy of a known quantity. Energy is measured in gigajoules and therms here, one gigajoule equals 10 therms. Natural gas is sold in these terms, so is coal and heating oil. A ton of fuel briquets has a energy value of 100—150 gallons of heating oil or a value of 15—22 gigajoules. There is a range given here and to this end you must have your briquets/feedstock tested for its energy value, if feed is consistent this test will be only necessary only once in a while and depending on the buyers terms. For example a European buyer of a shipload of fuel pellets made in North America require this certificate. He is not really buying a boatload of pellets, he is buying gigajoules of energy.

The same case for domestic sales of pellets. Since many of you have some familiarity with wood pellets think of fuel briquets as large pellets, they have similar heating values and bulk densities. However briquet manufacturing have advantages, one of which is less capital investment and production cost per gigajoule is half, one dollar per gig vs 2 dollars per gig of pellet production. Domestic pellet pricing closely follows the price of fossil fuels esp natural gas prices because that is the competition and the same goes for briquets. Also keep in mind the pellets and briquets have their advantages , they are eligible for carbon credits and offsets to name a few. There are other reasons to use solid fuels-see following. Natural gas selling for 10 dollars per gigajoule will result in a comparative value for wood pellets/briquets of 150-220 dollars per ton, far more than the money made from traditional sales of wood residuals for landscaping and animal bedding!

Even when we take into consideration investment costs in boilers and handling systems as well as the need to be effectively competitive with natural gas the selling price of fuel briquets should still be in the 4—6 dollars per gigajoule range. Here again is a important reason for testing your feed/briquets for its fuel-energy value as that is what you are really selling.

You are not selling a bulk product of unknown parameters compared to conventional hog fuels and demolition wastes, hence the need for fuel testing. For solid fuel testing contact Mike Bryan at SGS labs in Canada at 604-946-2249 or in the USA see www.us.sgs.com. Because of their experience with burning this waste most companies have a good idea of its fuel values but usually will not tell you. However they will know the values associated with superior fuels such as pellets and briquets and you must sell them on this and therefore you must know its advantages. Some of these advantages are as follows-


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Biomass Fuel Pucks For Heating Greenhouses And Other Industrial Processes

Briquetting Systems Inc. supplies briquetting equipment to produce solid fuel pucks for industrial heating systems. This technology long established in European heating plants by the CF Nielsen company of Denmark is now available here in North America with plant installations in the forestry, woodworking and agricultural sectors. The fuel pucks can be made from any dry wood residue or Agricultural biomass feedstock and provide similar heating values and bulk densities as pellets with the advantage of lower cost production compared to pelletizing. Also larger particulate can be briquetted compared to pelletizing without the need of expensive preconditioning and aftercoolers as is the case with pellets. Briquet pucks are not as susceptible to moisture as pellets. Some of the benefits are as follows. Save on storage capacity as the fuel pucks have 5 to 10 times the bulk density compared to loose shavings ,hog fuels and Ag residues . Agricultural residues like switch grass, flax shives, sunflower shells are a few of the many feedstocks that can be converted to fuel pucks. Accumulate an annual supply of the fuel pucks in off summer months when dry feedstock is available. Reduce shipping and handling costs and increase burner efficiencies. Reduce wear and maintenance on boilers. Systems with feed augers larger than 6 inch can handle the fuel pucks. Briquetter equipment is supplied with fully automated controls and to CSA and UL requirements. Various capacities and configurations available to several tons per hour including briquetting plants built into 2 story round steel collection silos where loose feed is collected in the upper section and briquetted in the lower section.

Briquetting plants built into these silos will be installed here in western Canada at local B.C. millwork operations and the briquets have been presold to Fraser Valley greenhouses, similar systems will soon be installed in southern Ontario for greenhouse heating.

NOTE- A ten acre greenhouse burning natural gas can have up to a million dollar per year heating bill - a 35-acre greenhouse recently invested over $4 million in two large wood fired boilers - and paid for them in 3 years' time with the changeover savings from burning gas (over which nobody has price control) to burning solid fuel pucks.


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Conclusion

This document has been put together because we understand you know all about your business you are presently involved but may know little about the energy business except when you get your monthly utility bill which brings us to the point-you should consider yourself the first customer of the briquets. To this end we also work with manufacturers of boilers , handling systems and dryers. The next customer should be located nearby as delivered costs of solid fuels-much of it is in the transportation. Similarly when you ask a business what do they pay for gas-make sure you ask what do they pay delivered to their plant as gas companies make a lot of money on the delivery end. You may want to look at greenhouses, barns and other processes using solid fuels or others considering getting off the fossil fuel habit and taking advantage of biomass.

For example the wood business may now be flat lining but we all know where the energy business is going - up and upward - fossil fuel use is on the rise and capacity is dropping on a worldwide basis. Biomass and bio-fuels is on the lips of everyone. In Europe where its use is old hat planner mills and sawmills in Sweden make more money per ton on the wood residuals than they do on their lumber product because the former is tied to the cost of energy and has nothing to do with how many houses are built. North American fossil fuel prices are matching European prices a few short years ago and will continue to rise.

Like any business opportunity it is the ones who first seize the opportunity that will benefit the most. The largest pellet plant in North America is owned and operated by the Swedes, it has a capacity of 500,000 tons per year (half of all present B.C. production) and comes on line in 2007.

NOTE- Unless you are planning to sell pellets to the consumer pellet stove market there is no reason to make pellets. Briquets are a lot less costly to produce and have similar fuel values and bulk densities-see the comparison features in this website! There is also a ROI cost table on this website as well.

We look forward to any questions you have on the subject. www.briquettingsystems.com supplies systems in agriculutural, paper and wood residuals for a range capacity of a few hundred pounds per hour to hundreds of thousands of tons per year. You can reach us at 604-818-0287.

For more information related to biomass energy see http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/misc/energy_conv.html

- Wayne Winkler P.Eng.