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Steep slope harvesting with winch-assisted machines has been steadily increasing in western Canada. Although this technique is still new in the region, winch systems with harvesters and forwarders have been used in Europe for more than 20 years.
FPInnovations has partnered with Forest Liaison Inc. to produce a best practice manual for winch-assisted harvesters. Forest Liaison Inc. brings a wealth of training expertise with cut-to-length harvesting and adapts it to steep slope operations with winches.
With funding from the Northern Development Initiative Trust, FPInnovations and Forest Liaison Inc. developed a manual that contains techniques and processes developed and implemented by some of the best operators in the world, who have achieved high production in the most cost-effective and safest manner possible.
“Every stage of planning, felling, delimbing, and cutting product to length is covered,” explains Jim Hunt, Lead Scientist, Resource Management at FPInnovations. “These best practices are designed to help make operators more successful.”
If you find you have difficulty doing some of the best practices, don’t hesitate to ask your contractor/manufacturer for some one-on-one time to address concerns before they become problems. Sometimes it only takes a bit of coaching to get you comfortable with all of the steps of the harvesting process.
For more information about this new guide, please contact Jim Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As forest-origin biomass use has increased, the logistics of supply and storage become more complex and innovative solutions are required to improve feedstock quality for the growing bioenergy industry.
The variety of feedstocks available is quite complex, with multiple feedstocks coming from different streams (at-the-stump, roadside, transfer yard, mill) and accessible in different formats (wood chips, bark, fines, tops, and branches or low grade logs). The quality of biomass is critical for many bioenergy processes and best management practices (BMPs) are required to guarantee access to quality feedstocks at any given time.
A priority in the supply chain is the need to improve the business and policy environment for biomass and biomass heat markets by developing better understanding and best practices for storage of forest biomass.
With that in mind, FPInnovations has undertaken exhaustive work aimed at compiling field data and measuring the financial implications of innovative storage practices with the intent of helping the industry better understand and manage forest feedstocks and improve the financial impact on their operations.
Best Management Practices guide
FPInnovations recently published the Best Management Practices Guide for Access to Quality Forest Feedstocks, a document that assesses the economic benefits of best management practices on feedstock quality and process improvement for the bioenergy sector.
Common drivers in the forest and bioenergy industries are the need to demonstrate sustainable forest management and harvesting with reduced environmental impacts of operations. After identifying gaps in the management of biomass quality based on different types of forest-origin biomass, the guide proposes opportunities to create value from marginal forest stands with innovative harvesting and recovery techniques for different conditions. It also covers items and tools that have the potential to help improve the supply chain of the future.
FPJoule, an FPInnovations web-based system used to evaluate the amount of energy contained in biomass based on its origin and moisture content, is one of these solutions. For example, FPJoule can be used to quantify the financial advantages of using biomass as a fuel source compared to conventional fossil fuels.
Best management practices for storage are also outlined in the guide for various types of biomass, with key parameters influencing biomass quality during storage.
The document also presents cost-benefit case studies for roundwood and bark, which will help demonstrate the benefits and net savings of good management practices. The guide is now available free of charge via FPInnovations’ website.
New app to calculate roadside biomass volumes
To meet and adapt to the industry’s needs, FPInnovations also recently announced the launch of the BiOS app, a free, convenient, and easy-to-use tool that can calculate roadside biomass volumes and potential greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits in real time.
The BiOS app is intended to:
The development of this app was a key part of a larger initiative within the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) aiming to develop a Geographic Information System for the development of British Columbia’s forest bioeconomy.
The Best Management Practices Guide for Access to Quality Forest Feedstocks was made possible with financial support from the provincial Nova Scotia Innovation Hub Initiative, as well as federally from Natural Resources Canada under the Program of Energy Research and Development (PERD).
The guide and app are available by visiting the Research Programs section (Forest Operations/Fibre Supply/Tools and Resources) page of FPInnovations website.
For more information on FPJoule, please use this link: http://fpjoule.fpinnovations.ca/Views/Welcome.aspx.
Log load securement in forest operations is often performed by using load wrappers or tie-downs that are made from steel cables with sections of chain on one or both ends that secure the logs to the truck or trailer (for the purpose of this article, load wrappers and tie-downs will be referred to as wrappers).
Logging truck drivers are required to throw wrappers over the log load, and that can be a challenge for some drivers due to the heavy weight of the wrapper. Performing this task several times a day and for several years can result in shoulder injuries, and the inability to throw wrappers can force drivers to leave the industry. One possible solution to help with this problem is to reduce the weight of the wrappers by replacing the heavy steel cable section with synthetic rope made from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). Synthetic rope is much lighter, weighing between 1/6 and 1/8 the weight of steel cable.
In the first study performed in 2006, FPInnovations raised concerns with regard to the strength of UHMWPE rope. The study found that the rope’s strength decreased with use. With new rope technologies and the benefit that these ropes can provide to the industry and drivers, FPInnovations’ Transportation Group decided to initiate a new study in 2017. The focus of this study was to verify the findings from the previous study and to better understand why the loss in strength occurs. If loss of strength continued to be a problem, then FPInnovations would suggest options to mitigate these losses.
The results from this study showed that loss of strength continued to be a problem. Damage, such as abrasion, knots, and broken strands, significantly decreased the rope’s strength, to the point where it was unsuitable for use and had to be removed from service. The study also found that dirt and abrasion appear to be contributing factors to the loss of strength.
FPInnovations recently initiated Phase 2 of this project. This phase tried to deal with the loss-of-strength problem in two different ways:
• Increasing rope size from 3/8 to 1/2 inch diameter, which increases the safety factor from 5:1 to 8:1. The rope may still incur some loss of strength, but the larger rope may still retain enough strength to safely secure the log load.
• Trying a new type of rope consisting of a UHMWPE core with a polyester jacket. The core is slightly larger than those used in the 2017 study, and the addition of the outer jacket should protect the inner rope core from abrasion and dirt contamination.
Both of these wrapper types are currently being field tested by FPInnovations members. Final results will be published by the end of March 2019.
BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
The prevailing view among the 170 participants at the first PAPTAC International Lignin Conference held recently in Edmonton was not “if’” lignin would significantly expand its market penetration as a biomaterial, but “when” and “how”.
Lignin, a compound found in trees, is the second most abundant natural polymer in the world and a byproduct of the pulping process. Alberta Innovates (AI) is working to add value to this abundant biomass by investing in lignin research and production.
The lignin conference, which took place at Alberta Innovates, was organized by the Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada. It was co-sponsored by Alberta Innovates, West Fraser Timber, and several others.
The three-day lignin conference included a tour of a lignin extraction demonstration plant attached to West Fraser’s pulp mill in Hinton. Alberta. Alberta Innovates has invested $3 million toward the construction of that plant, which features patented LignoForce extraction technology developed in Canada.
“Alberta Innovates is focused on diversification of Alberta’s economy, creating new jobs and managing our natural resources effectively,” says Steve Price, Executive Director of Bioindustrial Innovation at Alberta Innovates. “Developing new uses for what was previously a waste product clearly demonstrates that the bio-economy has a role to play in Alberta.”
There were participants from 10 countries representing five continents at the conference. Representation also included the world’s major pulp producers, some of which have also invested in lignin extraction technology.
Among the conference’s highlights were presentations featuring several of the current technologies for lignin extraction from black liquor, including Shane VanCaeseele with NORAM Engineering & Constructors, the Canadian company that markets the LignoForce extraction process.
Keith Carter, Vice-President, Pulp and Energy Operations at West Fraser, informed participants about West Fraser’s lignin production capabilities, pointing out that their Hinton plant can produce 30 tonnes of high-quality lignin per day.
As a plywood producer, West Fraser was attracted to lignin as a commercial product because it could envision a future where half of the lignin produced in Hinton could be consumed in-house as a plywood resin, Carter said. This, to some degree, served to lessen the risk of finding customers for the company’s entire lignin production.
Currently, the company is working with specialty chemical producer, Hexion, to develop a suite of lignin-based PF resins and commercial trials are underway at West Fraser plywood facilities.
“I’m very excited about the path that we are on,” Carter said.
Lignin research pioneer, Wolfgang Glasser, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, has performed considerable R & D work characterizing the properties of lignin, defining extraction methodologies and challenges, and identifying lignin’s market potential.
In his presentation, he noted that lignin has a potential value 10 to 20 times greater as a biomaterial than as a fuel. Typically, lignin is retained in the black liquor byproduct stream, most of which is consumed as fuel to drive the pulping process. Glasser noted that its greatest potential is in engineering plastics, polymer foams, and carbon fibres.
Also presenting was Ludo Diels from VITO, a Belgium-based independent research organization in the areas of cleantech and sustainable development, which researches lignin chemistry, its characteristics and how it can be economically fractionated into potentially high-valued commercial commodities.
Tom Browne, representing FPInnovations and Tom Browne and Associates, spoke about lessons learned to this point concerning the uses of kraft lignin. He pointed out that what researchers and industry face now in terms of its advancement “is not rocket science” because so much research has already been conducted on lignin dating back to the 1950’s. What has changed is consumer sentiment where they desire more products with a green, bio-based attribute. That is where lignin has potential.
Browne’s group has identified two potential sweet spots for the near-term commercialization of lignin based on what industry can expect to earn per tonne of manufactured lignin tied to customers with high-volume needs. These are in phenolic formaldehyde resin chemistry where lignin acts as a substitute for petroleum-based components of resins typically used in panel board production and in polyurethane foams.
The cost for a barrel of oil is providing a catalyst for greater commercialization of lignin, Browne added. When the oil price hovers at more than $40 per barrel, the economics for greater lignin use and substitution improves. Right now, oil is around $70 per barrel.
For more information about presentations made at the lignin conference, visit www.paptac.ca.
BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
End users of wood fibre, whether it is pulp, oriented strand board, lumber, wood pellets, animal bedding, bioenergy, or advanced bio-based liquids and gases, need raw material with different physical characteristics as their feedstock.
Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) is hosting a series of field demonstrations over the next four months of technology that shows industry what on-site processing options are available to them from wood grown through afforestation under high-yield (14+m3/ha/yr MAI) and short rotation (3-17 years) scenarios. The goal is to evaluate how to minimize supply chain costs while providing end users with raw material that meets their specific characteristic requirements, all under very short time frames (less than 20 years).
Demonstrating this processing technology is just one aspect of a series of exhibitions, local field demonstrations, trail walks, workshops, displays and virtual tech transfer opportunities that the CWFC Technology and Transfer Group, in partnership with industry and bioeconomy innovators, is organizing at the Ellerslie Short Rotation Woody Crop research site in Edmonton.
Established in 2002, the 18-hectare site has reached its maturity, featuring many fast-growing hybrid and clonal poplar, aspen and willow species in both high yield afforestation and concentrated biomass plantation patterns.
The site will now provide a rare opportunity where it’s values will be validated through the demonstration of proven mid-stream harvesting, processing and transportation methodologies and technologies, associated with actually delivering the wood fibre to potential end users in real time and in the size or format that they require. The costs associated with these activities will be evaluated and discussed with those participating in planned events.
Tim Keddy, CWFC Wood Fibre Development Specialist, says that along with the successful patterns and management techniques developed to establish the Ellerslie site over the past 17 years, there have been many advancements in wood fibre processing and delivery options over that same time period. CWFC has studied these options with the goal of evaluating how to minimize harvesting, processing and transportation costs, and wants to share what options are available with potential wood fibre end users. CWFC has also discovered packaging methods that help to minimize wood fibre degradation while it is in storage.
“It doesn’t happen very often in a forestry career where you get to establish a plantation and then get to harvest it for the products for which it was intended,” says Keddy. “Now we have the opportunity to bring in different types of equipment to actually evaluate the cost of creating feedstock based on desired physical characteristics. You want to link the mid-stream supply chain to the actual end user.”
Participants will witness processing technology and equipment capable of generating wood materials ready for transport anywhere from logs, to round bales, to chips ranging anywhere from over five centimeters to under four millimeters thick. Participants will have an opportunity to experience unique hands-on perspectives while viewing the production stands and recovery operations.
CWFC technology development specialists will also use this rare opportunity to validate how much carbon sequestration has actually occurred over the full life span of plantations located within the Ellerslie site. This will prove invaluable for developing quantifiable and verifiable data as it relates to the potential of short rotation woody crop afforestation as part of the national climate change mitigation or adaptation strategy.
Scheduled events include:
October 23 and 24
Custom Tours of all Treatment Sites (By Invitation)
November 13 and 14
(11:00 – 15:00):
Drive or Walk-through Tour of all 18 Hectares of Mature Plantations (Open to All)
November 20 and 21
Harvesting and Processing of Small Stem Concentrated (12,000-16,000 stems/ha) Biomass Plantings
November 27 and 28
Harvesting and Selected Processing of Large Stem Afforestation (1600 stems/ha, 250-400 m3/ha)
December 4 and 5
Harvesting, Processing and Packaging Non-Roundwood Biomass/Fibre