3 Questions with
For those who aren’t familiar, can you broadly explain what a wood chip standard is, and why it’s important?
Rural communities in forested regions of the U.S. spend billions of dollars on fossil heating fuels annually. At the same time, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year to thin public and private forests to improve health and reduce risk of wildfire. There is significant opportunity to expand the use of modern wood heating in the U.S. and develop a vital local market for low-grade and small-diameter wood sourced from forest stewardship activities. Despite the market growth potential, there remain issues regarding air emissions, boiler efficiency, boiler performance, and overall system reliability. These issues still hinder the expansion of the modern wood heating market. Wood fuel quality and consistency directly impacts how efficiently, reliably, and cleanly these systems burn.
With grant assistance from the USDA Forest Service, we have assembled a team of forestry, wood energy, fuel specification, and wood combustion experts who propose to establish and disseminate nationwide a long overdue fuel specification for woodchips used for thermal energy. The technical standard and companion guidance document will guide the production, transportation, storage, and use of woodchips in heating and combined heat and power applications. The standard will be established through a comprehensive outreach effort involving all impacted stakeholder interests. It will be promulgated through a stringent process overseen by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Adoption and utilization of the standard will be widely promoted throughout the United States. The adoption of such a standard is essential for the continued growth and mainstream adoption of wood heating for commercial and institutional applications.
This initiative has been in the making for quite some time. Aside from acquiring funding necessary to the effort, what’s been the most time-consuming or difficult part of the process?
The process of developing a standard consistent with internationally accepted procedures entails very thorough evaluation of input from the widest possible range of stakeholders. Our team is committed to ensuring that anyone who may have in interest in this standard, from whatever perspective, has the opportunity to comment on it and shape the final product. To be thorough takes time. However, we have the advantage of starting from an ISO standard that has already been developed, but needs to be adapted to the U.S. market.
You presented on this topic at least year’s International Biomass Conference & Expo. Can you tell us a little about progress made since then?
At last year’s IBCE we were introducing the project even before our funding was official and work had begun. This year, we will be presenting a draft standard and using the opportunity for interaction with hundreds of potential stakeholders at IBCE to gain valuable feedback on the draft. IBCE provides the most important national venue where such a wide range of interested parties will all be present. We look forward to everyone’s feedback.
See Niebling Speak On Tuesday, April 11 (1:30 pm - 3:00 pm)
Why On-Spec Feedstock is So Vital for Heat and Power Generation and the Efforts Underway to Ensure It Happens throughout the Industry