For many years, wood fuel as a by-product of a wood manufacturing process has been described as waste. When we think of waste at home, we think of the household rubbish that is collected by the local authority and taken away to landfills or recycling centres. As a biomass boiler manufacturer, Ranheat recognises that it is time to reconsider how we view the wood by-products from our woodworking industry. Instead of treating these by-products as wood waste, they should be regarded as valuable wood fuel resources. And every woodworking company, regardless of its size, should utilise this valuable resource as a clean and renewable fuel, given the industry generates tons of it every single day
We are well aware of the hazards associated with our industry, especially when working with wood and wood-based products. To ensure a safe working environment for our factory workers, we have implemented adequate Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems that direct dust and particles to a central location outside. However, many of these dust extraction systems collect the extracted wood in plastic bags and when the time comes to remove these bags, the entire extraction system must be turned off to let the dust settle. Workers are then required to don personal protective equipment, including face masks, which can be quite an unpleasant experience, particularly in adverse weather conditions. This downtime in production can be inconvenient and uncomfortable for the workforce.
Furthermore, the bags are often overfilled. As a result, they must be sealed with tape before being placed in a dedicated skip for specialist disposal. For this reason, we should call it “wood fuel” instead of “wood waste” as it is no longer waste but a valuable asset.
As the dust extraction system is connected directly to a sealed metal storage silo, the wood fuel can be automatically stored in a secure external energy storage facility. This stored resource can then be effortlessly fed into a warm air heater or boiler, allowing the factory to efficiently utilise this valuable resource for heating purposes without any manual intervention.
The war in Ukraine has led to an unprecedented surge in the cost of energy. The government has intervened by setting a cap on the price per kilowatt-hour that can be charged and also by introducing direct rebate schemes for domestic users. While some assistance is on the way for the industrial sector, there is uncertainty regarding the extent and duration of this support.
Hand-loaded wood-waste heaters can only handle solid off-cuts, not dust. These units typically lack any features for particulate abatement or flue gas recirculation to reduce NOx emissions. Frequently, dealing with the extracted dust from woodworking machines can take time and effort. However, in a well-designed wood fuel combustion system, this extracted dust proves to be an excellent fuel in its raw form, necessitating no additional processing or energy input to convert it into a usable fuel. This differs from the process of briquetting dust into briquettes, which requires additional energy input.
The production of NOx and particulate emissions by diesel engines has led to a drop in diesel car sales, with a shift towards petrol, petrol hybrids and fully electric vehicles. However, it is important to consider how the electricity used in electric cars is generated. For instance, electric cars in China may not be advantageous if the electricity primarily comes from coal-fired power stations.
Although hydrogen production could offer a solution, its viability largely depends on using renewable sources for electricity during the production process.
For an instant solution to fulfilling the heating energy needs of a factory engaged in wood machining, the optimal approach would be to directly connect the LEV dust extraction system to a wood fuel storage silo or bunker. This setup should include an automated feed system leading to a wood-fuelled heater or boiler.
By incorporating a woodchipper into this setup, any off-cuts are transformed into granulate and blended with other extracted materials to create a self-sufficient heating plant. This self-adjusting, self-responding system ensures minimal emissions and automatically adapts the feed rate of wood fuel based on the heating demands of the system.
As a leading biomass boiler manufacturer, Ranheat has developed boiler systems that can maximise the potential of wood fuel for renewable heating. Ranheat systems offer remote system integration, allowing the operator to adjust the wood fuel consumption rate using their phone. Furthermore, they can receive text or email alerts for alarms or low-fuel notifications, thus giving them complete control over the system.
With the enormous heating and energy potential of wood by-products, we should regard them as valuable fuel resources rather than merely labelling them as “waste”. This approach would help foster a more sustainable future. Regardless of its size, every woodworking company should consider harnessing this resource and embracing the shift towards cleaner, renewable heating.
With innovative solutions and a commitment to efficient heating, Ranheat is looking forward to contributing to a greener, more eco-friendly woodworking industry. For more information about our industrial and commercial biomass boiler systems, please contact a member of our team at [email protected] or by telephoning 01604 750005. You may also visit us at www.ranheat.com.