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Logging and Sawmilling Journal October/November 2011

May/June 2012

On the Cover:

In what is the largest sawmilling investment in North America in recent years, Alberta’s Millar Western Forest Products has invested $50 million and rebuilt its Fox Creek operation into a state-of- the-art sawmill that has already achieved 100 per cent of daily production design capacity. Read all about the new mill beginning on page 10. (Cover photo by Tony Kryzanowski)

Spotlight: An industry united

The recent explosions and fires at two sawmills in B.C. have united the industry like little before, and all involved are working hard to determine the causes—and prevent it happening again.

Canada’s newest sawmill: Fox Creek

The start-up of Millar Western’s new $50 million Fox Creek sawmill, capable of twice the production of its predecessor operation, has become a source of pride and joy for company employees and the Fox Creek community.

Upgrading the mill in a down economy

Stimson Lumber is taking advantage of the slower economy to make an investment in its stud mill, including the replacement of its canter and an upgrade to an optimized double length in-feed scanning system.

Fuel Sipping Processor

Tigercat’s new 880 machine is proving to be a fuel-sipping processor, while still delivering the goods, at Suncoast Logging on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Thumbs up for new Tigercat 880

Tigercat’s new 880 machine is proving to be a fuel-sipping processor, while still delivering the goods, at Suncoast Logging on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Meanwhile, an 880 log loader is receiving the “thumbs up” working for logging contractor Blue Valley Enterprises in B.C.’s Central Interior.

A Case study in equipment life

Two Case 921 wheel loaders have gone the distance—and then some—at West Fraser’s Quesnel sawmill, clocking in some amazing operating hours: more than 41,000 hours and 38,000 hours, with original engines and transmissions.

Adding value on Haida Gwaii

As the new timber allocation on Haida Gwaii in British Columbia is put in place, the Haida Enterprise Corporation and its subsidiary, Taan Forest, will be looking at a number of initiatives to add value to the wood fibre, and provide jobs for the Haida people.

Logging in limbo

The uncertainties around timber supply in Haida Gwaii have left some long-established and resourceful operations, such as O’Brien & Fuerst Logging and its pole plant, in limbo.

Strands of recovery coming together for OSB

The economic tsunami for Canada’s OSB industry—following the collapse of the U.S. housing industry—is finally starting to recede after five very long, and lean, years.

Think your product is green? Prove it!

With the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) program, the forest products industry is challenging other building materials to back up any claims their products might be “green”.

The Edge

Included in The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories on Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovations – Bio Solutions research projects.

Tech Update

Logging and Sawmilling Journal has the latest product information on spark detection, dust suppression and fire suppression equipment in this issue’s Tech Update.

The Last Word

Tony Kryzanowski wonders if the Stephen Harper’s government has left the building when it comes to the bio-economy file, instead choosing to focus on oil and gas.



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The Edge

By Tony KryzanowskiI

Innovation and partnerships are key to advancing the bio-economy in both Alberta and Canada.

That was the message delivered by Alberta Innovates BioSolutions (AI Bio) Chief Executive Officer Dr. Stan Blade at the recent annual Canadian Bioenergy Association (CanBio) conference held in Edmonton.

AI Bio co-hosted the three-day CanBio conference, which was focused on the theme of “Biomass in a Canadian Energy Strategy – Advancing the Bio-economy.” It attracted a large number of participants from the forestry, agriculture, energy, government, and research and development communities.

AI Bio Chief Executive Officer Dr. Stan Blade (above) emphasized the need for bio-industries to partner with the conventional energy sector to develop bio-based products at the recent CanBio conference in Edmonton.

“There is a need for innovation because Canada and Alberta will never be the least cost producer in many of the things that we are currently active in,” Blade said. “So, it’s about that next idea, that next way to add value, the new kinds of ways that we might be able to produce products, processes and services that are going to give an advantage to Albertans, Canadians, and to people in the rest of the world.”

In addition to the need for innovation, Blade emphasized the need for bio-industries to partner with the conventional energy sector to develop bio-based products to meet their needs and to co-operate on finding ways for bio-products to supplement products in the stream of conventional energy production.

“We see the energy industry as a collaborator, as a cooperator, and as something that can be supported by the bio-economy,” he said, noting that there is opportunity within the province because Alberta’s biomass resource is significant, the province has a good handle on where it is located, and also on its availability.

Dr. David Bressler, Executive Director of the AI Bio-supported, Bio-refining Conversions Network (BCN), agreed that Alberta’s approach of working with the non-renewable energy sector to find solutions within the bio-economy has been positive, and has opened doors to many opportunities “The entire non-renewable infrastructure we have in Alberta is actively looking for alternatives that are locally grown and help green their footprint,” he said, referring to diluents, lubricants, and surfactants that the industry commonly use in its extraction processes.

He adds that BCN is building bridges by creating teams with different disciplines to work with industry partners to develop and commercialize technologies. Its role is also to help government review and validate the many bio-based technologies presented to it.

Doug Lammie, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister at the Alberta Department of Energy, noted during his keynote address that despite the province’s focus on fossil fuels, Alberta is the only province to collect a fee from large greenhouse gas emitters, which is then channeled toward research, development, and investment into greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy initiatives. He said as part of its discussion with other provinces and the federal government toward development of a Canadian Energy Strategy, Alberta will emphasize the importance of involving traditional bio-industries.

In his presentation focused on accelerating renewable energy deployment, Surindar Singh from Alberta Innovates Energy & Environmental Solutions pointed out that government support to encourage greater deployment of renewable energy technology is not a barrier. While there needs to be better harmonization of support programs between the federal and provincial governments, there are nonetheless a number of strong industry incentives for bio-energy and bio-product development. However, when looking at how industry is tapping into these incentives, he noted that there are plenty of industry subscribers for government programs offering grants, but lesser uptake from industry for programs offering repayable loans.

Singh made a strong pitch for the need for continued support for research and development in the areas of bio-energy and bio-products to help maintain the momentum that will lead to further expansion of the bio-economy.

“The key barrier (to accelerated deployment) is the need for breakthrough innovation,” he said. Another constraint is a secure raw material supply to industry.

Dave Patterson, bio-product specialist with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, provided conference attendees with a snapshot of how commercialization of bio-opportunities are likely to unfold within the forest sector. He said the most economical path for forest companies is likely staged deployment of manufacturing systems that produce a diversity of products. That may involve starting with developing a bio-energy component attached to an existing facility, and then over time adding components that
lead to bio-refining.

AI Bio Chief Executive Officer Dr. Stan Blade (above) emphasized the need for bio-industries to partner with the conventional energy sector to develop bio-based products at the recent CanBio conference in Edmonton.

For more information about the CanBio conference in Edmonton, contact Pat Guidera at (780) 638-3722 or [email protected]

Ellerslie research site demonstrates leading edge woody fibre management regimes

Dr. Carmela Aravelo (left) sets up an automatic carbon dioxide exchange system in an eight-year-old stand of hybrid poplar to collect the data to measure how much carbon at the Ellerslie demonstration site is being sequestered.

“How old are those trees, how much does it cost to establish a similar plantation, and how quickly can you put those trees on my land?”

Those are the three most popular questions that the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) gets when they offer tours through the Ellerslie Short-rotation Woody Crop Technical Development Centre and demonstration site in Edmonton, Alberta for landowners, forestry personnel, researchers and potential investors, says CWFC Wood Fibre Development Specialist Tim Keddy.

Established in 2002, the 18 hectare site leased from the University of Alberta was the first of over 150 technical development sites now established and monitored by CWFC in various geo-climatic zones across Canada. It was the template CWFC used to establish sites that demonstrate different species, clones and plantation management regimes. The Ellerslie site has test plots featuring hybrid and clonal aspen, hybrid poplar, mixed wood, and willow under high yield afforestation and concentrated biomass regimes. For comparison and study purposes, so do the many other development sites managed by CWFC across Canada.

Based on the health of the wood fibre and growth achieved on each site, CWFC can recommend to landowners what species are the best bets as a cash crop for their particular area. For example, visitors to the Ellerslie site see healthy short rotation willow, hybrid poplar and hybrid aspen crops often showing exceptional growth planted right next to species that are struggling. Conversely, a CWFC technical development site in southern Manitoba or Ontario in a different soil classification, climate and precipitation zone could show the exact opposite growth pattern. That’s the value to landowners and investors of having so many development and demonstration sites throughout Canada. And it all started with Ellerslie in 2002.

CWFC has also established mixed wood trials at the Ellerslie location where hybrid poplar and white spruce are planted together. The concept shows how landowners can harvest two valuable crops from the same land base, with the poplar being harvested after 20 years and then the spruce left to grow to full maturity and then harvested after about 60 years. With two crops maturing at different times, the site also operates longer as a valuable carbon sink.

“We are demonstrating a development option that allows companies to consider hybrid poplar and white spruce mixed woods for potential plantations along the forest fringe that allows for the management of two species at once,” says Keddy. “That’s where you get the greatest potential for volume and therefore income by growing two high value commodity species at the same time.”

However, technical development and demonstrations sites like Ellerslie do much more than demonstrate growth and yields of various tree hybrids and clones. They also demonstrate different refined plantation management regimes that landowners can replicate to achieve the highest possible yield over each growth cycle for either high yielding trees or short rotation woody fibre.

In addition to selecting the right tree variety for a particular area, spacing, the number of stems planted per hectare, mortality management, and vegetation management until crown closure are important considerations for a successful plantation. CWFC has already completed a lot of the critical management regime experimentation on its technical development sites to be able to make management recommendations to landowners regardless of where the fibre is being grown. Visitors to the sites can see the results for themselves.

“The whole goal is to create regimes that grow the most amount of biomass for the cheapest cost,” says Keddy.

Short rotation woody crops also offer a potential source of carbon sequestration, which can generate income for landowners through the sale of carbon credits. CWFC has partnered with the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) Climate Change Group to evaluate how much carbon is being sequestered on the Ellerslie site and on other development sites to determine: whether the plantations are a carbon source or a carbon sink; when the plantations make the transition from becoming a carbon source to a carbon sink in different soil classifications and geo-climatic zones; and how CWFC’s management regimes influence carbon sequestration capacity.

“We know that carbon is lost when we cultivate land (to plant trees),” says Dr. Carmela Arevalo, visiting fellow with the CWFC. “But because we are planting trees, creating biomass above and below the ground, the amount of carbon is paid back to the ecosystem in very short order. We have found that in a span of only one year, this type of land can fully recover the amount of carbon lost and start acting as a carbon sink in its second year. We estimate that in 20 years, this type of land can sequester approximately 900t CO2eq ha-1.”

Working with CFS researchers, Arevalo is conducting studies on many CWFC development sites to quantify carbon inputs and outputs, and the carbon credits that the various plantations and management regimes will produce.

“I imagine that that stakeholders will benefit in terms of the carbon gain that they achieve,” says Arevalo.

For more information and to organize a tour of the Ellerslie development site or any other development site managed by CWFC, contact Tim Keddy at (780) 435-7212 or [email protected], or Derek Sidders at (780) 435-7355 or [email protected]