British-Columbia Regional News

Saturday, 14 September 2013 23:06

Introducing your New Alberta Regional Director


Wow! Have things ever started off with a bang! I probably should begin with an apology. This report will likely read more like a blog. No, please don’t get me wrong. I don’t blog and have only been exposed to “blogging” a few times in my lifetime (mostly this year). Regardless, I thought this would be a nice way to connect with the CSBE membership, particularly regional members (and non-members) that might be perusing our website.

So, here we go! The fanfare all began with my nomination to the society’s Regional Director portfolio in spring this year. And yes, what a surprise it was considering the last time I actively participated in a CSBE event was in 2006 when Alberta hosted the CSBE National Technical Conference and Annual General Meeting. Prior to 2006 and since then, I’d battled with finding my identity within the society, be it the Canadian Society of Agricultural Engineers (CSAE) or now, CSBE. What was I really getting out of my association with the society? I had reviewed details of the proposed 2013 AGM and Technical Conference earlier on and didn’t find anything that appealed to me and so once again, I didn’t plan on attending this event either.

After consulting with a few prominent individuals, reviewing past and present regional director reports in the newsletter, and taking a peek at the draft revised CSBE bylaws, I proceeded to accept the nomination. Of course, this now meant I had to attend the AGM and Technical Conference held in Saskatoon in July of this year. And what an AGM and Conference it was! Obviously, I was voted into office…thank you…but beyond that was my new eye-opening, self-realization experience with the CSBE. I attended one of four workshops held on the 7th, a plenary session and technical sessions on the 8th, toured a biofuel production plant, a biogas research facility and a canola oil food processing plant on the 9th, and another series of technical sessions and a captivating education forum on the 10th. Not to mention the opening reception, AGM, barbeque, awards banquet, poster session and CSBE council meetings.

So what made the difference this time? Well, for one, I had the opportunity to be exposed to areas of expertise within bioengineering that were not familiar to me, and voilà, a connection was made. Light bulbs flicked on as my awareness grew. Opportunities for innovation, collaboration and so on came to mind. At last, I was forced to “venture beyond my comfort zone”, “think outside the box”, and I liked where it took me! Since the annual gathering I have had the opportunity to pursue some of my “newfound dreams” by meaningfully connecting with engineers and non-engineers associated with bioengineering. One of my goals as regional director for 2013/2014 is to expand this network to include as many such professionals in Alberta and to introduce or re-introduce them to the CSBE, as the case may be. I look forward to our voyage ahead and plan to keep you posted on the progress via this column on a quarterly basis. Toodles.

2013 Standards Developer Award

Congratulations to CSBE, Shahab Sokhansanj, one of the recipients of the 2013 Standards Developer Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). Shahab will be recognized at the 2013 ASABE Annual International Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri during the General Session on July 22nd, for his exemplary leadership and work in the revision of a very important Standard that deals with Densified Products for Bulk Handling.


Engineers Canada Fellowship

Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj was elected to the Fellowship of Engineers of Canada at a ceremony on March 7th in honor of exceptional contribution to the engineering profession in Canada. On behalf of the Canadian Society for Bioengineering, we congratulate him on this great honor and accomplishment.


Bio Resource Alumni Reunion

UBC Bio Resource alumni got together on May 25th, 2013 for an all years reunion. It was a morning social, a tour of Chemical and Biological Engineering Department laboratories at UBC followed by dinner. A few members of CSBE were among the attendees.


WPAC 2013 conference to hit Vancouver in fall

Pellet producers and industry colleagues are in for a treat this November, as the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) will host its expanded AGM in Vancouver. The event, held November 18-20 in scenic downtown Vancouver, will grow on the format adapted for WPAC's last AGM held in Quebec City in late November 2012. It will include a pre-conference tour of bioenergy facilities, an ice breaker reception, a one-day conference focused on the pellet export market, and the WPAC AGM itself. For the first time it will also include a small number of value-priced table-top exhibit opportunities, as well as a few sponsorship opportunities. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be added to the event's email contact list. As the official media partner of WPAC, Canadian Biomass will work with the association to develop and promote the event through both its domestic and international audiences. 


UBC's BBRG to hold pellet workshop in Vancouver 


The Biomass & Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) at the University of British Columbia will hold a 1.5-day pellet workshop around the Wood Pellet Association of Canada AGM to be held this fall in Vancouver. During the past 10 years, BBRG has conducted extensive research on wood pellet production, storage, handling, life cycle analysis, and characterization of the new generation of torrefied pellets. In 2011, with assistance from NSERC Pacific, BBRG organized a 2-day workshop on updates on science and engineering in the practice of biomass densification. It was well received by industry members with more than 100 attendees from BC, North America and Europe.

As a follow up, the BBRG is organizing a 1.5 day Workshop in conjunction with WPAC's Annual General Meeting to be held November 18-22 in Vancouver. The BBRG Workshop is organized in two parts. Part 1 will consist of lectures and visual electronic boards (electronic posters) on Monday November 18, 2013 at the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle, the venue for WPAC's meeting. Part 2 will be held on the afternoon of Wednesday November 22, at UBC, where attendees will participate in research on aspects of wood pellets and feedstock engineering, including the new biomass gasification plant on campus. 

The BBRG workshop will present the latest research and development on wood pellets and feedstock engineering research at UBC and from around the world, especially the latest ISO standards and practices in Europe.  Topics to be covered include:

  • Self heating initiation and spread of heat in wood pellet storage and ways of storage design and management to mitigate it.
  • Calorific value and the age of pellets vs. storage temperature and moisture content
  • Torrefaction kinetics and methods of making durable pellets
  • Comparative life cycle analysis for regular and second generation pellets and sustainability certificates
  • Innovations in online measuring of biomass compositional properties.
  • Will it be feasible to protect individual wood pellets from moisture ingress?
  • Steam torrefaction vs. dry torrefaction, which is the winner?
  • Does pelletization affect conversion of pellets to liquid fuels (boil oil and ethanol)?
  • Opportunities to reduce the pellet cost using blends of low quality feedstock
  • Safe transportation of pellets based on the IMO project (self-heating and the flammability tests).
  • Assessment of durability and sieve size (1/8" vs. 3.15 mm)

For more information, visit the www.biomass.ubc.ca

Nexterra Systems Corp., the University of British Columbia and GE celebrated the successful completion of an energy-from-renewable-waste combined heat and power (CHP) system located at UBC's Vancouver campus in September. The Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility is the first demonstration of its kind in the world of a community-scale heat and power system fuelled by biomass.

The system, fueled by biomass, creates synthesis (syn) gas that is then burned, in raw form, to produce steam or it is conditioned to create ultra clean syn gas that is injected into an internal combustion engine used to generate electricity. The system provides heat and power to The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. It facilitates research to develop feedstock (fuel) and process innovations, set new global standards for performance and emissions and lowers the campus’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and fossil fuel consumption.

UBC’s Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility (BRDF) will generate enough clean electricity to power 1,500 homes and will supply up to 12 percent of UBC’s heat requirements. It will reduce UBC’s natural gas consumption by 12 per cent and campus greenhouse gas emissions by 9 per cent (5,000 tonnes), the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road.

To read more on this you can refer to: http://sustain.ubc.ca/research/signature-research-projects/bioenergy-research-and-demonstration-facility


Co-sponsors : Canadian Society for Bioengineering & Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering

The 62nd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference is being held in Vancouver, BC from October 14-17 2012. One of the symposium running parallel to the main conference is the International Symposium of Biomass and Bioenergy. It’s Co-sponsored by Canadian Society for Bioengineering & Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering.

For conference information and abstract submission please refer to: www.csche2012.ca

  • Biomass resources, supply chain and feed-stock preparation;
  • Thermochemical conversion: torrefaction, pyrolysis, gasification** and combustion; tar formation, characterization and removal ; gas conditioning and cleaning;
  • Biological processes: algae production processes, ligno-cellulosic ethanol, higher alcohols, bio-methane;
  • Products from biomass: New products, bio-diesel, fuels and chemicals, lignin, biochar, pellets;
  • Upgrading and utilization of bio-oil and bio-fuels;
  • Research network activities;
  • Building the bio-economy: bio-pathways and the forest bio-refinery; markets, investment and financing; successes and failures.

**Abstracts primarily devoted to gasification should be submitted to i-SGA-3 which will be running concurrently.


Paul Watkinson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Shahab Sokhansanj, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Franco Berruti, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Wenli Duo, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NSERC Bioconversion Network Pre-treatment Workshop was held at UBC from June 4th to 6th, 2012. The Workshop featured presentations/tutorials, and interactive discussions from world renowned international experts in biomass pre-treatment technologies, pre-treatment equipment manufacturers, pulp and paper companies and end users. One of the CSBE members, Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj was among the lecturers. He made a presentation on Biomass logistics and handling.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:05

Biomass and Bioenergy Group (BBRG) at UBC

The Biomass and Bioenergy Group (BBRG) at UBC is doing research in the area of biomass processing bridging the gap between biomass production and biomass conversion. This involves integrating all processes and management strategies from source raw biomass to just before final conversion to bio-products. BBRG involves multidisciplinary innovative research on biomass drying, size reduction, densification, torrefaction, resource assessment, characterization, and supply logistics. BBRG was founded and is led by Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj, an Adjunct Professor at UBC in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CHBE) and a Distinguished Research Scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Sokhansanj and his colleagues Professors Xiaotao Bi (CHBE), Jim Lim (CHBE), Anthony Lau (CHBE) and Taraneh Sowlati (Wood Science) and in consultation with industry (Mr. Staffan Melin) have identified biomass processing and logistics as a key priority for the development of bioenergy in BC. BBRG’s current research and development is focused on development of pellets and torrefaction, a fast growing industry in British Columbia and Canada. In summary, the BBRG’s research addresses a number of critical issues facing the sustainability and growth of the bioenergy industry in British Columbia and in Canada.

The current energy input and output ratio of the process is not favorable especially when long distance transport is required. This makes pellets less attractive from an emissions stand point.

  • The excessive transport cost needs to be offset by a higher bulk density, higher energy density and higher pellet durability. Development of low cost environmentally benign torrefaction may provide a solution;
  • The cost of turning raw biomass into a densified product using the existing technology is high, making biomass less competitive with fossil fuels;
  • The availability of low cost saw mill residue is decreasing due to a gradual reduction in the number of sawmills especially in BC. Also, logging residues are varied in quality resulting in poor quality pellets;
  • As a biological material, biomass emits toxic gasses inside enclosed spaces that endanger the life and health of people. Methods for safe handling and storage of biomass are important;
  • A pelletized biomass creates dust during frequent handling, which can be harmful to humans and can cause explosions and fires. It is important to produce durable pellets that withstand frequent mechanical forces and do not adsorb moisture from the environment.

BBRG has been hosting a weekly seminar series on biomass and bioenergy to promote the research and development of renewable bioenergy in British Columbia. Speakers have been drawn from a variety of industries, levels of government, and academic disciplines. The seminar series also give the students of BBRG an opportunity to showcase their research results to a multi-stakeholder audience. Members of BBRG are collaborating with the designers and operational staff to develop quality specifications for feedstock and supply logistics to minimize any potential adverse environmental impact on the neighbourhood.



Members of the CERC Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG)

At the same time, BBRG has been actively participating in many provincial and national initiatives, such as examining the potential use of mountain pine beetle killed trees in BC, the Agricultural Bioenergy Innovation Program (ABIP) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands, BC Innovation Council, and Natural Resources Canada. For up to date information on research, members of the BBRG, and events see BBRG’s website at www.biomass.ubc.ca.

One of the students of BBRG, Mahmoud Ebadian, the PhD candidate at Forestry department also has recently received the two following awards:

  • First prize of the student poster competition in 6th Annual Growing the Margins and 4th annual Canadian Farm and Food Biogas Conferences today;
  • People's Choice Award in the Faculty of Forestry 3-Minute-Thesis Competition, 2012.  

A paper on Stratification of off-gases in stored wood pellets by Fahimeh Yazdanpanah another PhD candidate at this group was selected and presented at the WSED (World Sustainable Energy Days 2012) in Wels, Austria in Feb 2012. In December 2012, Clean Energy Research Centre open house was heldat the University of British Columbia. Biomass and Bionergy Research Group (BBRG) members received the 2nd prize at the poster competition running along the event.


62nd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference

The CSBE / SCGAB and CSChE will collaborate on the technical programming of the 62nd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference (CSChE Conference) taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia on October 14-17, 2012. This collaboration will be carried out to the mutual benefit of both respective organizations and their individual members and with the additional objective to further the cause of biological engineering and chemical engineering in Canada. CSBE / SCGAB members are encouraged to work with the CSChE Conference Technical Program Committee to develop one or more joint technical sessions. These will be recognized as such in the conference program book and on the conference website. CSBE / SCGAB leaders will be shown on the Technical Program Committee lists on the website, program book and other communications vehicles.



Friday, 25 March 2011 16:08

Biomass Pelletization Workshop

UBCDuring the past five years, the Biomass & Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) at the University of British Columbia has conducted extensive research on wood pellet production, storage, handling, life cycle analysis, and characterization of new generation of torrefied pellets. A Collaborative Research and Development program between UBC, Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) and Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has funded this project. The British Columbia Ministry of Forest, Natural Resources Canada, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, FPInnovations, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (U.S. Department of Energy), and several private sector partners have also contributed to the development of feedstock engineering research at UBC. The BBRG is organizing a 2-day Workshop at the University of British Columbia during May 17-18, 2011 to share the latest research and development on wood pellets. In addition to members of the BBRG, key members of the industry are invited to present the state of technology of wood pellet processing, handling, and market trends.

In the 4th International Bioenergy Conference and Exhibition held in Prince Gorge in June 2009, in addition to post-ers presented by Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) at UBC, they are also invited to speak on a panel session discussing about Bioenergy Technologies for Tomorrow. BBRG‟s PhD candidate, Zahra Tooyserkani, participated and discussed about Hydrothermal Pretreatments of Biomass for Pellet Production on behalf of all BBRG members. In the lieu of speaker‟s gift, a donation has been made in BBRG‟s name to a scholarship in Bioenergy at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Thursday, 16 September 2010 14:19

Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) news

Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) in Clean Energy Center at the University of British Columbia conducts innovative research in biomass densification, preprocessing, resource management, material characteriza-tion, and supply logistics. Below is a list of projects done or being done in BBRG:

  • Biomass steam explosion for improved densification
  • Simulation and verification of logistics of biomass (woody and herbaceous) supply chains
  • Self heating of wood pellets in storage
  • Off gassing kinetics related to pellet physical properties
  • Airflow pressure drop in bulk wood pellets
  • Studies on GIS based availability and supply of cereal straw as a feedstock for a biorefinery in Peace River Region
  • Bioenergy densification (pelletization)
  • Energy input and manufacturing costs for producing torrefied biomass pellets
  • Optimization of Forest Biomass Supply and Logistics
  • An investigation of size reduction and biomass feedstock quality
  • Hydrothermal pretreatment of cellulosic biomass for pelletization
  • Optimizing pellet durability to minimize dust
  • Biodrying of biomass
  • Techno-economic analysis of renewable energy source options for a district heating project
  • Characterization of woody biomass using spectrophotometry
  • Development of protocol for evaluating the material characteristics for pelletization
  • Life-Cycle Analysis of Exported Wood Pellets from Canada to Europe

At the ASABE Annual international Meeting in Pittsburgh last June, CSBE member, Shahab Sokhansanj was recognized with an ASABE President's citation. The citation acknowledged Shahab‟s leadership and outreach to industry and government agencies in the bioenergy engineering area on behalf of the ASABE. Shahab was also recognized for out-standing leadership as a co-chair of Bioenergy 2009 that was held October 11-14, 2009 in Bellevue, Washington.

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