BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
The Silviculture and Afforestation Innovation Group at the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) is a one-stop shop to find applied science-based solutions to address specific operational forest sector challenges.
Specializing in silviculture systems development and implementation, the group works closely with their partners to build business cases, develop novel woody feedstock strategies, and optimize supply-chain applications that encourage investment in bioenergy production, and take advantage of evolving forestry biomass-related opportunities.
While much of what the Group has to offer supports the transformation and diversification of the forestry sector, its solutions also explore synergies between forestry and the energy and agriculture sectors. It can even offer silvicultural and bioenergy solutions specific to energy and agricultural stakeholders related to woody biomass production, carbon sequestration and bioenergy/bioproduct conversion.
“Our Group has addressed a developing interest in woody biomass for clean energy opportunities, while encouraging the maintenance of a sustainable and healthy forest resource through the applied forest management solutions that we can provide,” says Derek Sidders, CWFC Regional Coordinator and Program Manager.
CWFC has established a national inventory of sustainable forest residues called BIMAT, which is accessible on the Web and capable of customized searches. It has also established a national network of sites to explore short rotation woody crops on non-traditional forestlands, which sequester carbon and create an alternative source of woody biomass in specific locations across Canada.
“We’ve witnessed yields on these sites of somewhere between five and ten times native forests,” says Sidders. “We have also developed techniques to effectively recover native forest and afforest biomass, including conditioning, pre-processing and enhanced storage and transportation systems, all contributing to development of clean energy and renewable energy sources.”
CWFC has a long history of developing science-based strategies involving innovative site prep applications and tools to help industry establish forest cover on challenging sites, rehabilitate non-productive forest sites, and apply innovative harvesting practices to mimic natural systems, protect select species, or enhance mixedwood management systems.
“In the past two years, the Group has completed the establishment of a mountain pine beetle rehabilitation development site, co-operatively with Canfor and the University of Alberta, and supported by the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta,” says Sidders.
The Group has also established innovative mixedwood forest and afforest management regimes, tested site re-vegetation strategies with partners across Canada and have evaluated biomass pre-processing and densification systems in cooperation with numerous companies across Canada.
“A lot of our work is looking at the operational aspect of biomass or woody feedstock production and utilization,” says Tim Keddy, Wood Fibre Development Specialist. “So we work with anyone using woody biomass or that may have forest regeneration issues or challenges. And in cooperation with them, develop solutions than can help optimize their operations.”
Addressing climate change, adapting to policy changes, and taking advantage of potential investment opportunities could be top-of-mind for many Canadians in the near future as Canada develops its national climate change strategy.
“The Group has been working with many different stakeholders to develop new climate change options for regeneration applications to suit pilot opportunities in the future,” says Sidders.
“We have numerous active partnerships across Canada and we wish to explore new challenges by inviting questions and queries to develop solutions,” he adds. “If you have a challenge or question, send it to us.”
BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
The province of Alberta recognizes that supporting research related to such forestry-based biomaterials as cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) and lignin will help the province achieve its goals of reducing its reliance on fossil fuel exports while reducing its carbon footprint.
Several projects related to streamlining the production and preparation of CNC and lignin for commercial application were approved recently as part of nearly $13 million in funding approved for 61 projects under the province’s flagship bioindustrial initiative, the Alberta Bio Future research and innovation program. It is funded by Alberta Economic Development and Trade and Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (AI Bio), and administered by AI Bio.
“The economy of the next 30 years is going to be very different than the economy of the past 30 years, and Alberta innovators are leading the way in finding solutions to future challenges and capitalizing on future opportunities,” says Deron Bilous, Alberta’s Economic Development and Trade Minister. “Using renewable materials in fascinating new ways is helping to diversify our economy and keep our province competitive.”
Alberta is already well on its way to becoming a global leader as a supplier of both CNC and lignin, having established one of only a few pilot plants in the world capable of producing 100 kilograms of CNC per week and having one of the world’s only commercial lignin production plants attached to West Fraser’s pulp mill in Hinton. AI Bio provided financial and business support for both projects.
“Alberta is blessed with abundant biomass in our forests and crops, advanced infrastructure and universities, and highly qualified personnel in our academic community, and bioindustrial sector,” says Steve Price, COO of AI Bio. “AI Bio works as a catalyst to bring these together to accelerate growth in an area with great potential.”
Pulp producer Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries (Al-Pac) has been working in partnership with Alberta Innovates over the last five years to streamline the commercial production of CNC. Through the Alberta Bio Future program, it received financial support for two important projects related to advancing this novel biomaterial toward full, commercial scale-up. One project is related to reducing CNC production costs by re-using the spent sulfuric acid in the pulp mill’s bleach plant. The other is related to testing novel process enhancements to improve CNC yield and quality while creating an end product that is economical to transport. The projects received total funding of $500,000. Al-Pac added another $290,000, for a total investment of nearly $800,000 for these two projects.
“Without this work, the CNC program in Alberta would not proceed beyond this stage, as neither the economics of production, nor the product quality, would have been sufficient to warrant continued development,” says Geoff Clarke, Program Lead, Bio-Product Development at Al-Pac. “To provide suitable benefit back to Al-Pac, the forest industry, and the province, we must provide a competitive product that provides exceptional value to the market,” he adds.
In addition to streamlining CNC production, AI Bio Future funding is also helping to advance research aimed at commercial application of this novel biomaterial in such areas as: production of reinforced foam-core sandwich composites structures; abrasion resistant, leak-proof pipeline coatings; novel ‘smart’ windows in partnership with All Weather Windows Ltd.; antimicrobial coatings in various medical applications; moisture vapor permeable air barrier and fire retardant emulsions in partnership with BarrierTEK Inc.; and nano-composites for use in bone tissue repair.
The transportation industry sees great potential in using carbon fibre reinforced composites as an alternative to traditional metallic materials, as they provide very high stiffness and strength with much less weight. The challenge is that currently, traditional carbon fibres cost about $10/lb. The automotive industry would like to see it drop to about half that cost. Alberta researchers believe that lignin could be used as the raw material to reduce the manufacturing cost of carbon fibre.
“Lignin has been investigated due to the fact that it is an inexpensive raw material and it is the second most abundant natural polymer in the world,” says Dr. Cagri Ayranci, Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Alberta.
Ayranci’s group has already produced carbon fibre from lignin and are now working to develop techniques to process the lignin, “to obtain better quality carbon fibres.” A total of $615,000 will be spent on two projects related to lignin conversion and process refinement, with $446,000 coming from the AI Bio Future program.
On the Cover:
The Weyerhaeuser sawmill in Princeton, B.C. has added two new Volvo wheel loaders, a Volvo L350F and a Volvo L150H, from B.C. Volvo dealer Great West Equipment to help manage log operations. Read about how the equipment is helping make the operation more efficient beginning on page 10. (Photo by Paul MacDonald).
Tapping into the growing bio-economy at Alberta’s Bio-Mile
A new $11 million Clean Energy Technology Centre recently opened in Alberta and among its goals is supporting greater product diversification within the forestry sector, and encouraging more participation by the industry in the bio-economy.
Volvos delivering volume
Some new Volvo wheel loaders are helping the Weyerhaeuser sawmill in Princeton, B.C. deliver efficiencies in the millyard, in feeding logs into the high production, two-line sawmill, and handling chips and hog fuel.
“Big Data” already being utilized by forest industry
Although “Big Data” has become a buzz term in business circles in recent years, the forest industry is already well on its way to using Big Data in a number of areas, from machine centres at the sawmill, to woodlands operations.
Hard work = successful sawmill
Though it requires a lot of hard work, Alberta sawmiller Colin Ruxton says that small sawmilling can pay off—and he’s proven it with both a band and circular sawmill.
Going from logger—to lumber producer
New Brunswick’s Pierre Friolet has used skills developed as a logging contractor to set up an added-value operation that produces thermally modified wood, finding customers from architects to guitar makers for the unique wood product.
Lean log handling
B.C.’s coastal forest industry and the provincial government are working on streamlining the log handling process through making changes based on the “Lean” philosophy that is practiced in other industries—and it’s already showing results.
Family fencing operation
B.C. specialty mill operation Nagaard Sawmill, run by brothers Darrol and Dale Nagel, has found its niche—and it’s in producing fence components from western red cedar for a growing market, with a mill that features a fair bit of home-made equipment, and lots of ingenuity.
Liking the Log Max/Doosan combo
New Brunswick harvesting contractor Remi Doucet is a fan of the Doosan/Log Max harvesting combination, and recently upgraded his equipment with a new Log Max 7000 head.
BUILDER of business relationships
B.C. logger Shane Garner says a successful harvesting contracting operation is all about business relationships, from his employees to his John Deere-heavy logging equipment fleet.
A life in logging: from horses—to Tigercats
Long time logger Alan Costain may have started with yarding horses, but these days the horsepower in Costain Lumbering is of a very different sort, with equipment such as a Tigercat 822.
The frontier community of Colville Lake, 50 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories, has acquired a new portable sawmill which will produce building materials to help address the community’s need for improved housing.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.
The Last Word
The Fort McMurray fire of earlier this year could have ripple effect on the cost of insurance for the forest industry, says Jim Stirling.