New BC regional director: Our BC chapter has a new regional director. We would like to welcome Dr. Mahmood Ebadian who joined our society in May 2015. Dr. Mahmood Ebadian received his Ph.D. in biomass and bioenergy supply chain management in 2013. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, UBC. He is also the founder of Biomass Supply Chain Consulting Ltd. We’d also like to thank Dr. Fahimeh Yazdanpanah, the outgoing BC regional director for dedicated service to our society.
Master program completion: We would like to congratulate our member, Hamid K Hamedani on the successful completion of his master program at the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, UBC. He worked on the use of agricultural crop residue such as corn stover for power production in Ontario. He applied Integrated Biomass Supply Analysis and Logistics Model (IBSAL) model to simulate the biomass supply chain. Hamid investigated 3 case studies including: 1) Delivery cost of corn stover to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in Lambton, Ontario. 2) Delivery cost of switchgrass to a greenhouse in Ontario. 3) Delivery cost of switchgrass to mushroom industry to be used as bedding. This study was supervised by Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj and Dr. Anthony Lau and supported financially by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The thesis can be downloaded at:
Production of biojet from woody biomass in Western Canada: The Boeing Company, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and SkyNRG have established a coalition on February 2015, to realize sustainable biofuel production derived from woody biomass in Western Canada. Two of our members, Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj and Dr. Tony Bi are the principal investigators of feedstock assessment and technology assessment, respectably. Dr. Jack Saddler at the Faculty of Forestry is the principal investigator of policy assessment in this project. Rather than just focusing on research, the goal of the coalition is to catalyze the development of both the technology and a future supply chain. More details of the project will be released in the next newsletter.
Wood pellets loading may be continued during light rain: In the face of climate change, more than 17 million tonnes of wood pellets are used as a carbon-neutral replacement to coal or heating oil in residential heating and power generation. British Columbia is the Canadian biggest exporters of wood pellets with more than two million tonnes produced in 2014. During the journey from the rainy BC coast to the consumers, pellets are exposed to weather element during loading at the port. Pellet moisture content are increased from initial moisture content of 5%. Current loading protocol is to stop loading at any event of rain, regardless of the rain intensity, to prevent deterioration in pellet quality. A robust experiment has to be conducted to confirm whether loading should be allowed under light rain conditions. With the financial support of the Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc., our member, Jun Sian Lee, a PhD student at the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group of University of British Columbia is simulating the different rain intensities by applying water on the pellets at different rates and time. The initial results show that at rain intensity less than 0.5 mm/hr, loading of pellets may continue for more than 1 hour, before mechanical durability of pellets drops below 96.5%. In addition, loading of wood pellets during light rain conditions (rain intensity less than 0.5 mm/hr) may be continued for an extended amount of time.
3rd International Conference on Solid Waste in Hong Kong, May 19-23, 2015: our member, Ehsan Oveisi, a Ph.D. Candidate at the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) at UBC attended the 3rd International Conference on Solid Waste in Hong Kong on May 19-23, 2015. The conference provided a stage to explore a variety of topics related to sustainable waste management practices. Participants to the conference were not only limited to academia, but delegates from industries, governments, and the public also joined the conference for discussion. There was a pre-conference workshop on Advanced Thermal Technology. This workshop provided an overview of waste-to-energy utilization around the world. It also discussed about the process aspect of thermal treatments of solid waste. The economic aspect of waste-to-energy plants was covered as well. The main programs included the following topics
- Sustainable solid waste management practices
- Waste collection, segregation and characterization
- Innovative strategies for waste separation, recycling and recovery
- Sustainable waste utilization & recycling methods
- Bioenergy and bioproducts from waste
- Thermal technologies for waste treatment – Trend & development
- Landfill management & leachate treatment
- Economic instruments and financing methods for waste management
Ehsan also attended the technical field trip to SENT Landfill at Tsuen Kwan and a restored landfill (Ngau Chi Wan Park) at Jordan valley. The SENT landfill demonstrates how a modern landfill is managed and operated. The restored landfill is an example of future landfills in Hong Kong. By 2020 all remaining landfills in Hong Kong will be terminated and restored to public facilities such as parks and residential areas.
Ehsan presented in the session of “Thermal Technology”. He presented the relationship between tar formation and biomass feedstock characteristics and operational conditions in an updraft gasifier. The results from both the impinger and CanmetENERGY tar sampling methods confirmed that gasification temperature had a negative effect on the amount of tar and the major constituent naphthalene. High gasification temperature resulted in better syngas composition, and produced greater heating value of the syngas. This study also found that temperature was affected by the operational conditions including fuel feeding rate and oxygen level in the system. A slightly higher moisture content could also lead to lower tar formation.
Development of steam conditioning process to enhance the properties of biomass pellets: Steam explosion can improve the density, durability and high heat value of the pellets derived from both agricultural and woody biomass. Bahman Ghiasi, another Ph.D. Candidate at the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) is evaluating the magnitude of this improvement. The results of his experiment show that steam explosion have a great impact on mass density and bulk density of pellets. This impact was observed in both woody biomass (e.g Pine and Douglas fir) and agricultural biomass (e.g. wheat straw, switchgrass, corn stover, miscanthus, and bagasse). The single pellet density gets to 1.35g/cm3 which is even much higher than the density of white industrial pellets. As a development to his previous test, he made better conditioning of steam exploded material prior to the densification and as a result, the durability of steam treated pellet increased significantly. The durability of pellet was higher than 99%. The steam explosion process removes the rigidity of the biomass and also helps to separate fibers. This assists in both pelletization and leaching process. Washing test result for both steam exploded and raw material shows that steam explosion eases the access of water and other solvents to the fiber structure and helps to remove salt and ash.