THE EDGEReport on energy intensity reduction studies

Report on energy intensity reduction studies: improving energy and equipment efficiency

Early this year, during the month of March, FPInnovations’ Transport & Energy department published the findings of various studies on energy intensity reduction. These findings are summarized below.

Full power mode versus econo mode of a log loader

A study comparing the impact—on both energy intensity and productivity—of econo mode versus full power mode in operating a log loader made it possible to note that in econo mode, the energy intensity (L/m³) diminished 30 per cent without negatively affecting the loader’s productivity in so doing. Although productivity was slightly higher when the engine was in full power mode, it didn’t compensate for the higher fuel consumption. The use of econo mode should therefore be given priority.

Engine power and energy efficiency of roadside log processors

Another study was carried out to evaluate the impact of engine power on fuel consumption and energy intensity. To do so, four models of roadside processors were observed to assess the impact of various parameters. The study made it possible to note that the two least recent pieces of equipment (2004 and 2007) demonstrated better energy intensity (L/m³) than the two more recent ones (2013). In addition, it was noted that engine power had no direct impact on energy intensity.

While the study produced interesting findings, longer-term observations should be made in order to better understand the links between power, type of processing head and energy intensity. The scientists moreover mentioned, as a reminder, that the operator’s skills would also play a major role in the productivity of the machine.

Energy supply at remote camps: saving by replacing

Replacing equipment rather than repairing it would be preferable in order to reduce the fuel needs of stationary generators at remote camps. Based on the scientists’ observations, LED lighting, new generators and modern electric household appliance models would help significantly reduce energy consumption at logging camps. Oil-fired boilers would also be more efficient if they were equipped with heat exchangers to cool them.

The scientists found that opting for less energy-guzzling equipment may make the high capacity of some generators unnecessary, which, in return, affects their energy performance. By reducing the power required, a smaller capacity generator can be more efficient when working in its optimal range.

Report on energy intensity reduction studiesTridem drive - quad-axle semi-trailer configuration outperforms 8-axle semi-trailer for energy intensity

When compared to the Super B-Train and Tridem B-train, the Tridem drive - quad-axle semi-trailer configuration demonstrates the best energy intensity (L/t-100 km). On-board computers displaying the fuel consumption on the electronic control module were installed on the trucks. These values were calibrated with the fill-up data at the pump. The data could then be compared in order to identify the 8-axle configuration with the poorest energy intensity performance.

For further information on these studies, please contact Vincent Roy ([email protected] or 514-782-4522), Scientist, and Cameron Rittich ([email protected] or 604-222-5740) Senior Scientist in FPInnovations’ Transport and Energy Group.

Resource access roads and wetlands: how to minimize impacts caused by operations


Wetlands, such as fens, bogs, swamps, and marshes, are integral components of forested landscapes. They provide many vital ecological functions and play a pivotal role in regulating local and regional forest hydrology. Often, resource access roads pass through these wetlands which create environmental and operational challenges for road managers. The health and continued hydrologic function of wetland crossings are becoming an increasing concern for Canada’s forest industry, other resource-based industries, governments, and conservation organizations.

Report on energy intensity reduction studiesDead and dying trees as well as ponded water are common visual clues that the hydrology of a site may have been affected by a road that blocked surface and possibly subsurface flow. Maintaining wetland flow is critical for many aspects of a well-functioning wetland.

“A road can be located to minimize the impact on the wetland while still meeting operational, economic, and safety requirements,” explains Mark Partington, Senior Researcher at FPInnovations. “Although it is the preferred planning scenario, avoiding wetlands is not realistic in various locations in Canada because of the vastness of wetlands across the landscape.”

To address these challenges, FPInnovations, along with Ducks Unlimited Canada, is playing a key role in developing and implementing industry management best practices to minimize negative impacts on wetlands caused by operations. With careful planning, knowledge of the various wetlands and associated wetland functions—and the development and use of best management practices (BMP)—it’s anticipated that both wetlands and resource roads can function as anticipated (Partington and Gillies 2010). The results can be cost effective, ecologically sensitive (Rummer 2004), and not necessarily excessively restrictive to forestry operations (Sheeby 1993).

“The need for a practical applications guide focusing on building resource roads across wetlands was apparent once the initial literature search was conducted and it was shown that there was a real lack of operational guidance,” states Clayton Gillies, Senior Researcher at FPInnovations.

As a result, FPInnovations and Ducks Unlimited Canada released in June 2016 a guide targeted to field practitioners entitled “Resource Roads and Wetlands: A Guide for Planning, Construction, and Maintenance.” It focuses on two primary issues: ensuring that resource roads that cross wetlands function at the required design and performance levels to allow forest access and hauling operations in a cost-effective manner, and reducing the impacts of resource roads on the flow characteristics of wetlands.

“Providing flow characteristics for the four primary wetland types helps to ensure that the chosen BMP will be compatible with the long-term health of the wetland,” explains Gillies. “It is a unique and innovative advancement for the protection and maintenance of wetland crossings.”

Planning for water management where roads cross wetlands has become an additional focus among road practitioners who have historically been challenged with the poor bearing capacity of these sites. To address these challenges, FPInnovations and Ducks Unlimited Canada recommend the use of corduroy sections which, by laying logs parallel to each other and in alignment with the flow, allow water to pass through the numerous voids between logs and provide the hydrologic connectivity for the wetland.

Additionally, other BMP include the use of culverts, with spacing distances correlated to wetland type and their flow requirements, and a rock or aggregate mattress that is built to promote flow through a designated seam. The guide also describes practices aimed to improve the poor bearing capacity of typical wetland soils.

This guide is directed at road managers, planners, and construction crews who are engaged in the planning, construction, and maintenance of resource roads across wetlands. It aims to bring awareness to the interactions between resource roads and wetlands. It may also be of interest to those involved in implementing practices that support wetland protection and management.

The characteristic of a wetland can be subtle and require careful attention. Road-planning and road-building practitioners need to understand wetlands and their hydrologic functions in order to better manage water movement; training and knowledge transfer are critical for successful uptake and implementation.

NOTE: The guide “Resource Roads and Wetlands: A Guide for Planning, Construction, and Maintenance” was funded by Natural Resources Canada and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program. It also received support from project partners and review committee members. For more information about the guide, please contact Clayton Gillies at [email protected] or visit


Partington, M.; Gillies, C. 2010. Resource roads and wetlands: opportunities to maintain hydrologic function. FPInnovations, Pointe-Claire, Quebec. Internal Report IR-2010-11-01.

Rummer, B. 2004. Managing water quality in wetlands with forestry BMPs. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution: Focus 4(1):55–66.

Sheehy, G. 1993. Conserving wetlands in managed forests. North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada). Ottawa, Ontario. Issue Paper No. 1993-2.

Caroline Ventézou is a senior communications specialist for FPInnovations. She previously worked at the Association for the Development of Research and Innovation in Quebec as communications manager. Caroline has a degree in communications and journalism from University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France.

Report on energy intensity reduction studiesCWFC provides solutions to Agrium for reclaiming accumulated stacks of fertilizer byproduct


It’s hard not to notice the large stacks of phosphogypsum, a byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer manufacturing process, that many fertilizer plants accumulate near their facilities.

The challenge for fertilizer producers is how to successfully reclaim these stacks while mitigating any environmental risk, such as the long term management of water run-off and infiltration while deriving some benefit from them. Typically, gypsum stack reclamation involves contouring the piles, covering them with soil and seeding them to a grass mixture.

But the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) has demonstrated a solution to these challenges by working with fertilizer giant, Agrium, to apply its short rotation woody crop (SRWC) system to establish a typical, mixedwood, boreal plains forest on two, large phosphogypsum stacks—as well as a reclaimed retention pond filled with phosphogypsum in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. The project takes in a total of 15 hectares.

By successfully establishing a forest on these sites, Agrium will reduce water infiltration into the stacks while saving money on long term mowing and weed control costs as the forest will typically be established within three to five years. It also provides Agrium with a marketable biomass crop that can be harvested for bio-energy or a variety of bio-products, while also creating an opportunity for the company to benefit from the carbon credits that the woody biomass crop could generate.

Last year, the company partnered with the CWFC and the University of Alberta on a two-year project to test the CWFC’s proven, short rotation woody crop system in an industrial site remediation application.

This is likely the first time ever that a forest has been planted on a rehabilitated phosphogypsum site in the world. So far, the trees, consisting of short rotation willow, hybrid poplar and white spruce are growing even better than researchers expected. To date, all of the test species have survived the winter, flushed in spring, and grown to impressive heights. The site is a testing ground for Agrium to possibly apply this same remediation method to phosphogypsum stacks at other fertilizer plants, like its large facility near Redwater, Alberta.

“There are so many benefits to an afforestation approach to gypsum stack reclamation instead of the industry standard practice of seeding a grass mix,” says Agrium Environmental Research Scientist, Dr. Connie Nichol. “I am beyond excited watching the success of the tree trials. Without the CWFC, this innovative approach to reclamation would never have happened. They provided both the concept and the expertise to make it happen.”

University of Alberta researchers are testing the chemical composition of the woody stems and leaves, and preliminary findings show that the new forests are just as safe for wildlife browse as any natural boreal plains forest. For its part, CWFC is conducting focused research on growth and yield, carbon sequestration, site suitability, and short rotation wood crop systems application.

CWFC provided Agrium with solutions for applying SRWC systems in an industrial site by creating a suitable growing environment through site preparation treatments to mix topsoil with the upper layer of the phosphogypsum which becomes very hard when stockpiled. They also provided design and management system solutions on how to establish the woody crops for best results. Two willow and five hybrid poplar clones, interspersed with white spruce seedlings, were planted on the site to evaluate how these species would respond.

Tim Keddy, CWFC Wood Fibre Development Specialist, says that successfully applying CWFC’s short rotation woody crop system on this site shows that growing trees on phosphogypsum stacks is a viable option. Furthermore, it also demonstrates that it could be applied to mitigate risk on other industrial sites.

“From the experience that we’ve gained from our short rotation woody crop research, we are now able to transfer that knowledge onto industrial sites for reclamation,” says Keddy. “We can provide options and solutions for revegetating industrial mine sites. This is the first time that we have really got involved with working closely with a large scale mine reclamation project.”

Keddy adds that CWFC has considerable expertise in silvicultural practices and bio-energy solutions, and feels that extending this knowledge to an industrial reclamation and revegetation setting has great potential.

For more information about the Agrium project, contact Tim Keddy at [email protected], or CWFC Regional Coordinator and Program Manager Derek Sidders at [email protected].

Report on energy intensity reduction studiesAlberta becomes nexus for prefab, modular all-wood building system research with new university chair


Five years ago, presenters at the Modular and Offsite Construction (MOC) Summit in Edmonton were hard-pressed to show actual photographic evidence that novel building materials such as mass timbers and prefabricated, modular, all-wood components were being used in construction.

But at this year’s recent MOC Summit, presenter after presenter provided copious images of prefabricated engineered wood and building systems being used in mid-rise residential buildings all across Canada, for the construction of bridges, and even for an 18-storey highrise student residence at the University of British Columbia.

The summit, which brings together academics, industry and others, has been hosted annually at the University of Alberta and co-sponsored by Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions. AI Bio, a government research and innovation agency, has long supported research that has paved the way to more prefabricated engineered wood and building systems being used in Canadian building construction. No less than seven projects supported by AI Bio were highlighted at this year’s MOC Summit.

Recent changes to the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC), availability of new mass timber products such as cross laminated timber (CLT), and successful promotion of prefabricated engineered wood and building systems with architects, building designers, and developers is resulting in significantly more wood use in new applications. According to the Canadian Wood Council, there are currently more than 250 all-wood, mid-rise residential building projects up to six storeys that are planned, design-approved or under construction in Canada.

Alberta is fast becoming a focal point for ongoing research aimed at even greater uptake of prefabricated engineered wood and building systems. Among the highlights at this year’s summit was the introduction of Dr. Ying Hei Chui as the proposed Industrial Research Chair in Engineered Wood and Building Systems within the Nasseri School of Building Science and Engineering at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Chui was formerly the Scientific Director of the NSERC Strategic Research Network, NEWBuildS, based in New Brunswick. NEWBuildS played an influential role in the recent development in mid-rise and tall wood building construction in North America. NEWBuildS researchers conducted some of the technical work that led to changes in the NBCC last year, allowing for all-wood, mid-rise residential building construction in Canada up to six storeys, and greater use of prefabricated engineered wood products in tall building construction.

“There is a lot of interest in using wood in tall wood buildings,” says Dr. Chui. “Although research and technology have allowed us to get to this point, there are still a lot of challenges. We still have issues in building codes and design standards that need to be addressed to make the construction and design of tall wood buildings more economical and more efficient.”

Steve Price, CEO of AI Bio, says recruiting Dr. Chui to Alberta will yield huge benefits, not only for local primary and engineered wood producers, but also for the province’s building design and construction industry, as the knowledge transfer process related to novel ways to use more wood products in building construction continues.

“I think having Dr. Chui here working with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will create a whole new building system that can be used to meet the growing needs of Alberta, such as replacement housing and structures in places like Fort McMurray, and meeting market needs in Calgary and Edmonton,” Price says.

“We see other jurisdictions moving into the realm of multi-storey wood buildings. We’d like to see the same thing happen in Alberta.”

Among the biggest challenges to more wood use in tall buildings is that this technology is so new. Dr. Chui says that there is a lack of performance history, and designers tend to be conservative in their approach to building design. A lot of the research work that will be done at the U of A’s new Program in Engineered Wood and Wood Construction led by Dr. Chui, slated to begin in early 2017, will be to continue technical work to provide science-based assurance that wood-based systems will perform to design specifications. The program will also support local wood product developers with their product and R & D testing needs.

Dr. Chui says one of the program’s goals will be to promote greater wood design content in university curricula, so that the next generation of builders will be more comfortable prescribing wood in novel applications.

“We need to train students in environmental management and civil engineering schools in the country to do this design,” says Chui. “Practicing engineers who were probably brought up or trained so that they are more familiar with steel and concrete, will also need to be upgraded in order to produce designs of wood structures.”

For more information about AI Bio’s support of engineered wood and wood construction programs, contact Julia Necheff at [email protected]

Logging and Sawmilling Journal
October 2016

On the Cover:
The re-opening of the plywood plant in Cochrane has brought 125 jobs back to the northeastern Ontario town. In addition to the plant facilities, the deal to re-open the plant includes a guaranteed wood supply, with a provincial allocation of 200,000 cubic metres annually of veneer quality aspen logs. (Cover photo courtesy of Rockshield Engineered Wood Products)

Seeking more balanced timber allocation in the B.C. Interior
B.C.’s Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association is encouraging the provincial government to consider a more balanced approach to timber allocation, where commodity dimension lumber sawmills and value added wood product manufacturers each have access to the fibre flow they require to succeed.

New Grapple Camera offers bird’s eye view
A new Grapple Camera from B.C.’s T-Mar Industries is allowing loggers to achieve safer and more productive grapple yarding operations, offering a bird’s eye view of choker settings—in high def, no less.

Coffee-powered plywood
The re-opening of the plywood plant in Cochrane, Ontario has brought a good number of jobs and economic activity back to the community—and it all started over a cup of coffee.

Double win: more production and uptime
Alberta logger Ted Freake is looking for more production per shift and uptime, and he’s confident he can achieve both with his new LogMax ProCut 2330 processing head—the first such head in Canada.

The Edge
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, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions and FPInnovations.

What was new at … DEMO 2016
Logging and Sawmilling Journal was there at the most successful DEMO show in years, held in Maple Ridge, B.C. in September. We highlight what was new in logging equipment and services in this issue.

The Last Word
The forest sector could contribute more to GHG reductions—and make money—with an aggressive plantation program, says Tony Kryzanowski.

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