Biomass is biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms. Biomass is often used as a term to mean plant based material, but can equally apply to both animal and vegetable derived material. The use of biomass in the form of ‘energy’ crops to produce fuel that can be used either directly, or through additional processing (pellets), for use in localised heating plant is becoming more widespread in the UK. Within this definition, biomass for energy production can include a wide range of materials.
There are five basic categories of biomass material:
- Virgin wood, from forestry, arboriculture activities or wood processing
- Energy crops: high yield crops grown specifically for energy applications
- Agricultural residues: residues from agriculture harvesting or processing
- Food waste, from food and drink manufacture, preparation and processing, and post-consumer waste
- Industrial waste and co-products from manufacturing and industrial processes
Biomass is an increasingly attractive source of renewable energy. Available in many forms ranging from waste side streams from wood processing plants through to felled round wood, forestry clearings, produced wood chip, to processed uniform wood pellets. Biomass can also take the form of waste wood which has been diverted from landfill. The use of specifically grown biomass such as short rotation coppice or Miscanthus (elephant) grass is also growing in interest.
Commercial wood heating systems have developed significantly over the last few years driven by development in Scandinavia and Austria. Wood fired heating systems have become increasingly reliable and as such are now comparable to the operation of a gas fired boiler.
Fully integrated biomass fuelled Combined Heat and Power plants producing electricity for use on the site and also the heat for process heating is becoming more widespread in the UK. Schemes ranging up to 40 MWe and larger have successfully been commissioned in the UK ranging from dedicated power stations to fully integrated CHP plants. Currently over 3.5 GWe of biomass power stations is in the planning or construction stage and this will require over 30 Million tonnes of Biomass to be consumed every year.
Biomass have more recently become popular as renewable energy sources that are “carbon neutral”, in that they do not add any greenhouse gas into the atmosphere; burning them simply returns to the atmosphere the carbon dioxide that the plants take out when they were grown.
The use of biomass as a co-fired fuel has also grown substantially with several of the large fossil fuelled power stations now burning a percentage of biomass.
Dependant on thermal demand, storage facilities, availability of biomass either locally or nationally and application, PROjEN can advise and support the integration of suitable biomass solutions within your organisation including matching supply to thermal demand, storage facilities and combustion equipment. Issues such as integration of steam systems, heating demand profiles, local heat opportunities for heat export can all be developed.
In addition operational reviews to establish efficiencies of a running Biomass Boiler, development of operational procedures to improve plant operational efficiencies and plant failure investigations can be undertaken.
All aspects of the design and build of biomass boilers can be supported from the development of a design basis, specification development through to, HAZOP studies of boilers and biomass handling plant, development of commissioning strategies and commissioning plans.
For over 30 years PROjEN has been involved in the design and build of a variety of complex process plants and the PROjEN BioEnergy team consists of a number of individuals who have been involved in some of the UK’s most iconic process plant installations. The team is headed by BioEnergy Divisional Manager Shane Pugh and the technical team is headed by Dr Les Gornall – probably the best known and most respected member of the AD community. PROjEN’s reputation and presence has grown significantly as many realise that PROjEN’s design and build experience coupled with its expertise in health, safety and legislation matters make it an ideal partner for Biomass builders. Significantly the company is also technology agnostic – not tied to any particular technology or supplier to ensure the customer gets the best fit solution every time.