Storage of Wood Pellets

Handling large Amounts of Wood Pellets with Mammoth Silos

04/26/2012 | Autor / Editor: Jaap P.J. Ruijgrok, Richard Spaargaren, B. Holtrop / Marcel Dröttboom

Fig. 1: Wood pellets are by far the most popular biomass fuel.
Gallery: 5 Pictures
Fig. 1: Wood pellets are by far the most popular biomass fuel. (Pictures: ESI Eurosilo B.V.)

The worldwide usage of biomass fuel is considered to grow at an exceptional rate, due to environmental as well as economic concerns. Because of the growing amount of biomass to be handled, there is an increasing interest in suitable high-volume storage solutions. Mammoth silos offer up 100 000 cubic metres capacity and also meet the safety and quality requirements.

The worldwide usage of biomass fuel is considered to grow at an exceptional rate, due to environmental as well as economic concerns. Because of its organic origin, most types of biomass are regarded as a renewable and CO2-neutral source. At the moment biomass is increasingly applied for co-firing and mono-firing power plants.

The most common practise is co-firing in pulverized coal firing plants, while the most popular biomass fuel by far, is wood pellets. As the use of wood pellets is expected to grow tenfold or more, the logistic solutions in the supply chain need to measure up to handling unprecedented volumes. Also the irregularities between production and demand will occur at a larger scale, causing transport and storage volumes to vastly increase.

The proper storage solution is determined by a number of key elements, such as capacity requirements, material characteristics, local circumstances, environmental regulations, safety and more.

The EU Wood Pellet Market

The European wood pellet market shows a very exciting and promising development. Within the next decade, wood pellets will become a mainstream bio fuel in Europe. The EU 2020 targets for renewable energy sources and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are among the main drivers for this development. In 2009, approximately 650 pellet plants produced more than 10 million tonnes of pellets in Europe.

By 2020, the demand for wood pellets will range from 100 million tonnes up to 140 million tonnes per year, based on market forecasts for pellets in the energy sector. This will have a serious impact on storage, handling and transport.

Torrified Wood Pellets

An upcoming innovation in the wood pellet market are torrified wood pellets. Torrefaction is a thermo-chemical treatment of biomass in the 280 to 340 degrees Celsius range. Compared to untreated biomass, regular wood pellets offer superior performance on all relevant characteristics, such as heating value, grindability, combustion nature, storage and transport and handling characteristics.

Compared to regular wood pellets however, torrified pellets contain substantially more calorific value (18 to 21 GJ/m3 versus 10 to 11 GJ/m3), due to a higher energy density and a higher mass density. Also handling characteristics like grindability are improved. Because of their black colour, the torrified wood pellets are also referred to as 'Bio Coal'. Conventional wood pellets are still most common, but the use of torrified pellets is expected to grow within the next years.

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