Evergreen Engineering Inc.
|The title of your presentation states that new discoveries in pellet manufacturing emissions are driving changes in plant design. What kind of changes?|
As nations consider renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, they are beginning to evaluate the energy value of trees, grasses and other organic material. The pellet industry has begun taking off, but without proper safeguards, many projects can hit roadblocks when it comes to navigating the complicated regulatory agencies. Roadblocks may occur if the process is not clearly defined or understood, and concerns must be addressed before permits can be issued. It’s also very important to truly understand pelletizing processes. Recent statements in Biomass Magazine indicate typical new mill construction is six times the size of the average previously existing pellet mill. Because new plants are producing at greater capacities than ever before, they begin to reach limits for various pollutants. When this happens, previously unseen emission control devices must be implemented in order to meet the requirements. In general, we can expect to see additional emission control devices being required in various process stages.
It is critical to understand your process design and how it will operate as plant size increases. Oftentimes, processes in pellet plants are compared to other traditional wood manufacturing operations, such as particleboard, medium density fiberboard or oriented strand board. What we have learned from these operations can be applied to specific applications of the pellet industry; however, there are times when we need to step back and evaluate how the pellet process is different, and realize that we might see different emission factors. Key differences are dry milling, pelletizing and cooling. Without a good understanding of these operation areas of a pellet plant, you could be facing some roadblocks with the permitting agency.
New developments are also impacting permitting. Does this mean existing plants, or more so plants under development?
Yes and no. Existing plants must meet the limits of their permits. These operations must provide specific data illustrating compliance. By doing this, they have demonstrated the ability to control levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and other pollutants according to permitted levels. Until there are tighter regulations or new data that shows the plant is out of compliance with its permit, they can continue to operate. However, as it was demonstrated with traditional wood manufacturing operations, maximum achievable control technology (MACT) regulation could be changed, and tighter controls may be required in the future.
As with any new facility, it is import to understand the entire picture of the operations and develop accurate models to predict emission potentials. As more information becomes available from existing operations, models can be refined to reflect these inputs. Therefore, new operations may well face more stringent permitting requirements.
In a few sentences, without giving away too much of your presentation, what is the main message or summary of what you are hoping to get across to pellet plant developers?
I’ll expand upon the role front-end project development has on the overall permitting process. I’ll also explain some of the challenges involved in meeting the owner’s desire for a low-cost capital facility with a high production output while balancing the need to meet regulatory compliance requirements and limiting the impact on operations. I hope to show how defining your process and highlighting similarities between traditional wood manufacturing operations can help explain your systems to a permitting agency. I’ll also look at the dynamics surrounding plant design and permit modeling, and how simple process design changes can have a large impact on overall operations.