Biomass gaining in Popularity
Biomass is material which originates from living or previously living plant or animal matter tha can be converted in to fibres. Wood, such as forest residues, yard trimmings, wood chips and municipal solid waste are the most prolific form of biomass, but there are others including: chicken litter, sugarcane residue, bamboo, corn, hemp, some grasses, vegetables and a variety of tree species. Some of these materials are grown on an industrial scale for use as biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels. Materials can be left to rot and the resulting methane gas used as fuel and others can be fermented to produce ethanol or bio diesel. However wood remains the largest biomass energy source and is burned to produce heat and energy.
Wood grades A, B and C smaller than 50mm are suitable for biomass. Grade A consists of pallets, untreated wood offcuts and packaging crates. Grade B is mixed demolition timber, furniture and painted timber. Grade C is chipboard, MDF and contaminated waste wood. Storage and transportation of this type of loose material can be difficult and expensive. Large storage areas or silos need to be constructed and for commercial and industrial bulk loaders will be required, which is uneconomical. For these materials baling is the ideal answer, providing the baling press can supply sufficient compaction to hold the smaller wood chips/dust together. Bales must also be sufficiently dense and of a suitable size to maximise weight and transportation.
A typical biomass baling operation would use a baling press such as a Macpresse Mac 110/1 capable of producing 26 to 30 tonnes of baled biomass per hour. This fully automatic, continuous press uses a single 92 Kw motor and pump generating 170 tonnes of ram thrust. It and a cycle time of only 15 second and a highly efficient cutting and tying system, the low energy usage makes the Mac 110/1 one of the most economical baling presses on the market. Lined with bolt on Hardox plates for wear resistance and capable of using either steel or plastic tying wire it suited to baling a range of materials including biomass.
With such a press the loose infeed would be around 200Kg per cubic metre and the output 750Kg per cubic metre. At this density the bale will be stable and ideal for incineration. Burnable plastic wire is needed to secure the bale as is wrapping in a plastic film enabling the material to be delivered by any form of transport: ship, container or tautliner vehicle, only incurring delivery costs minimising transportation costs. Biomass fuel has an advantage over refuse derived fuel from municipal solid waste in as much as Grade A fuel can be sold while RDF requires the producer to pay a gate fee to the incinerator owner, although this fee is considerably lower than the landfill tax charge. Biomass is a clean, renewable, sustainable energy source produced from abundant supplies of raw material. New developments are making biofuels, bioproducts and biopower more readily available. Modern biomass boilers are highly efficient, although expensive to install the savings year on year will recover the outlay and carbon emissions will only be a fraction of those or coal or electricity. So keen is the government to encourage the use of renewable energy that the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, was launched in April 2014 and provides financial support to the owner of the renewable heating system for seven years. The scheme covers England, Wales and Scotland.