Sept Oct, 2003





Turning Wood Residue into Revenue

The Residue-To-Revenue Residual Wood Conference — being held November 5 to 7 in Richmond, BC — will look at current uses for residual wood and the exciting emerging markets.

By Paul MacDonald

Part of the interest in energy-related residual wood solutions in the North American forest industry seems to rise and fall with energy prices, notably natural gas prices. When natural gas prices rise, the interest is greater—and interest in wood-related energy solutions declines when prices fall. If anything, the outlook for natural gas supplies and prices should drive the industry to look very seriously at residual wood powered systems. "Energy prices are still a big driver for residual wood energy systems," says Mel Spitler, co-chair of the Residue-To-Revenue Residual Wood Conference. The 5th Biennial Residue-To-Revenue Residual Wood Conference will be taking a look at all the advantages, including energy savings, dealing with wood residue in an effective manner, as well as the other variety of options available.

The conference will feature a wide range of respected and knowledgeable speakers from across North America, who will review current uses for residual wood, as well as possible future markets for this increasingly valuable resource. Spitler noted that natural gas prices are much higher than they were two years ago at the last residual wood conference. As a result, the topic will be even more front and center this time around. The war in Iraq caused higher prices as a fallout from high oil prices. The worrying thing for the industry is that the war is over, and oil prices have dropped, but natural gas prices are still high.

Hal Kvisle, TransCanada's chief executive officer, testified at the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing on natural gas supply and demand: "We estimate natural gas demand growth of more than 15 billion cubic feet per day by 2012, but supply growth from traditional North American sources is not expected to be more than 5 billion cubic feet per day." According to some industry reports, natural gas demand in North America is increasing at about 2.5 percent a year whereas supply is increasing at about one percent and production from many older gas wells is declining quite rapidly.

The forest industry is growing to realize that its best longterm interests lie in coming up with a long-term solution for wood residue—regardless of whether energy prices are high or low. Spitler said the conference is also working at getting an overview of what is going on in residual wood utilization in Europe, especially in the bush where the Europeans are working to get the most out of their forests. "The overall goal is to achieve much better utilization of the forest fiber and reduce energy costs," says Spitler. At the same time, the conference will also be looking at how to handle residual wood generated at the mill, whether the fiber is in the form of sawdust or solid wood, as in the case of trim ends.

Residual wood in the forest is expected to be of growing interest in the U.S., with recent moves by the Bush administration to allow stepped-up forest management, to reduce the number of wildfires. This would mean removing underbrush and smaller wood materials—which helps to fuel extremely damaging wildfires—and which will now be available for utilization, such as power generation. Stuart McCormick, Weyerhaeuser's company-wide leader for residuals and solid waste management issues, is co-chair of the conference with Mel Spitler.

He notes that while energy will certainly be of high interest at the conference, the conference content will also be very broad in scope. "Producing energy from residual wood continues to be of high interest to people in the industry," says McCormick. "But we’ve also made sure that other emerging issues, such as climate change and carbon credits, will be covered with our speakers and presentations." "There are a lot of people in the industry who are looking to come up with economical solutions to deal with their residual wood," McCormick says. "There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution that works for everyone. But people who have attended the previous residual wood conferences have told us that they left with ideas from both the conference speakers and the industry people they met informally at the conference. It can generate some different ideas on how to deal with what remains an untapped resource."

The conference is produced by Logging and Sawmilling Journal. The title sponsor of the conference is Valon Kone Brunette Ltd, with silver sponsors BC Hydro and Natural Resources Canada. Among the topic areas to be covered at the conference will be: • the handling and separation of wood residue, • carbon credits, • biofuels, • assessing emerging technologies and how mills can reduce their dependence on outside power.

Speakers at the conference will include:
• Kirstin Castro-Wunsch, KC Environmental Group Ltd. - Wood Residue to Mulch/Compost.
• Konrad Fichtner, Earth Tech Canada Inc. - Gasification of Wood Residues • Brian McCloy, BW McCloy & Associates - Climate Change and Carbon Credits
• Kendall Pye, Vice-President, R & D, Lignol Innovations Corp. - Understanding the economic readiness of biomass to ethanol.

For further information, please contact conference coordinator Jan Raulin at (604) 990-9970, fax (604) 990-9971, or by e-mail at


   This service is temporarily unavailable



This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 28, 2004