Difficult waste wood handling demands met with ease
17 Feb 2021
As countries shift from fossil fuel-driven economies to renewable ones, there is an increasing focus on the use of waste. Making an energy product from it is one of the most sustainable power-generation strategies available today.
Bruks Siwertell works closely with biofuel specialists across the world; a recent installation for leading USA-based company, ICM, demonstrates wood-processing technology’s critical role in bioenergy production.
Biofuel industry advances
ICM started operations in 1995, developing commercial dryers to improve the longevity and quality of grain for distillers. Its biofuel industry advances, including patented gasification equipment, have continued since then, and the company cites that plants using ICM technology collectively produce 8.8 billion gallons of ethanol annually.
Gasification can turn carbon-based feedstocks, under high temperature and pressure, into synthesis gas, or syngas. Furthermore, by combining gasification with advanced catalysts that speed up chemical reactions, ethanol fuel can be created from a wide range of biomass. This includes distillers grain, left over from alcohol production; agricultural by-products such as post-harvest leaves, stalks, and cobs of corn, grass, wood pulp, animal waste; and even shredded tires and general rubbish. Gasification’s versatility means that it is gaining increasing industry interest.
Much of ICM’s focus is adding value back into industry through designing biofuel plants and supplying technology that enables producers to diversify and make something valuable from their waste products.
As part of its development strategy, ICM, in joint venture with ethanol specialists The Andersons, has built a state-of-the-art biorefinery, Element, adjacent to ICM headquarters in Colwich, Kansas. The plant will be used to demonstrate and showcase advanced renewable fuels technology; a part of this process required expertise from another quarter, Bruks Siwertell.
Waste wood to energy
“The new plant needed a system capable of handling and processing difficult waste wood products,” explains Ken Upchurch, VP Sales and Marketing, Bruks Siwertell.
“The waste wood is used to fuel ICM’s advanced gasification technology, driving a combined heat and power generator that will offset a considerable portion of the plant’s natural gas requirements and electricity demands,” notes Upchurch.
“Our extensive experience in dealing with and handling difficult wood waste residues, similar to the target materials destined for use by the facility in its processes, was one of the reasons why it approached us,” he continues. “Actually, the very start of our conversation was meeting ICM representatives at an international biomass conference event in 2014.”
Bruks Siwertell was contracted by ICM for a complete woodyard, capable of truck receiving, conveying, and processing. “It is a complex, yet beautifully laid out system,” says Upchurch. It comprises a 4.9m (16ft) dual truck-receiving hopper, four heavy-duty belt conveyors, a disc screen and hog-sizing transfer tower, magnetic separator, three stoker floor reclaimers and a screw conveyor.
A plant with a difference
Its owners note that the refinery’s features, which differentiate it from others in the industry, including its waste wood heat and power-generation capabilities, are its high protein distillers dried grains (DDGs) production for onward use as livestock feeds, and cellulosic ethanol production using corn kernel fiber feedstock.
“Our heavy-duty machinery is an integral part of the plant’s efficiency and distinguishing features,” adds Upchurch. “All our equipment is known for robustness and reliability and its ability to operate 24/7 in extreme conditions, handling a variety of difficult materials.”
The Bruks Siwertell system was installed at the beginning of the year and now supports the plant’s aspirations to be the most efficient dry mill facility in the US, producing low-carbon intensity ethanol.
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