Carbonizing by partial combustion

Among the various charcoal manufacturing processes, a French company, CML, has developed a complete semi-industrial carbonizing system by partial combustion. The main advantages of this system during the production phase are: an outlet with an energy recovery system for wood pre-drying (increase of yield and quality of the end product); a high carbonization yield; and mproved working conditions. The system also has environmental advantages, in that it eliminates pollution; destroys smoke by incineration; and eliminates pyroligneous juices and tars.

For more information, please contact: CML, Route de Port Galland, F-01360 Loyettes, France.
Fax: +33 472939617.


El fogón a leña modelo «doña justa»

En una comunidad de Honduras, Proleña, situada en las cercanías de Tegucigalpa, se está promoviendo el fogón a leña modelo «Doña Justa». Este fogón me pareció revolucionario, ya que consiste en una cámara de combustión hecha de un codo de cerámica, inmerso en una gruesa camada de cenizas que sirve de aislante térmico, protegido por ladrillos laterales y cubierto arriba por una plancha de hierro de 3,175 mm de aproximadamente 50 cm por 50 cm. Al fondo de la cámara de combustión está la chimenea hecha de lámina metálica de 10,16 cm de ancho y de 2 a 3 metros de altura.

Este fogón es la combinación del fogón tipo «plancha» que promovía Proleña/Honduras con el fogón tipo «rocket» que promovía el Instituto APROVECHO de Oregón en Estados Unidos. La plancha permitía un nivel de emisiones muy bajo mientras el rocket permitía una combustión más eficiente por el efecto «turbo» que genera (un pequeño tiro de aire caliente exactamente arriba de la cámara de combustión).

El fogón Doña Justa fue desarrollado en Honduras en año de 1998 por el Instituto APROVECHO, Proleña y con el apoyo de la ONG Estadounidense Forest, Water and People.

Las ventajas de este fogón son:

En base a mis entrevistas en tres casas, fue notorio la satisfacción de la gente, incluyendo hombres y mujeres con el fogón tipo Doña Justa. Este fogón básicamente responde a las expectativas de los usuarios de leña que son por orden de prioridad:

1. Salud: elimina o minimiza la contaminación del hogar y sus efectos directos en las infecciones respiratorias agudas, las irritaciones de los ojos, el bajo crecimiento intrauterino, las quemaduras de los niños y el riesgo de cáncer a los pulmones.

2. Situación: mejora la calidad de vida del hogar, facilitar la limpieza de la cocina, lo práctico de los fogones mejorados y su mejor apariencia y presentación.

3. Ahorro: reduce los gastos diarios de compra de leña y se ahorra tiempo en la recolección.

4. Medio ambiente: reduce la demanda de leña y sus efectos directos en la reducción de la deforestación y degradación de los bosques naturales, y una mayor garantía de sostenibilidad ecológica.

Según Saul Guzmán, Director Ejecutivo de Proleña/Honduras el costo de este fogón es de aproximadamente 40 a 50 dólares EE.UU. (Fuente: Rogerio Miranda, Red Internet en Bioenergía.)

Para más información, dirigirse a: Sr. Guzmán, Director Ejecutivo, Proleña Honduras, Apdo. Postal 3870, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Correo electrónico: prolena@prolena.sdnhon.org.hn

[Quien desea información adicional sobre el uso de los combustibles forestales en Honduras puede contactar nuestro sitio Web .]


Enecon - wood utilization for carbon products, eucalyptus oil and energy

Enecon Pty Ltd (Enecon), founded in 1998, is an Australian company involved in engineering consulting and technology development. Enecon's focus over the past 12 months has been on two main areas:

Current and recent assignments include:

Wood to energy studies

Activated carbon and energy from mallee eucalypts

Enecon is leading a major, multidisciplined study of integrated processing of mallee eucalypts in WA. The goal of the study is to obtain technical and commercial data to verify the commercial benefits of processing plantation mallee eucalypts in centralized plants to recover renewable electricity, activated carbon and eucalyptus oil. The mallee trees are being grown as a land care crop to reduce the effects of salinity in the WA wheat belt. Commercial use of the trees will greatly enhance their planting rates. The study is jointly funded by RIRDC and Western Power Corporation. Technology being used includes the CSIRO carbon and energy process and Curtin University continuous distillation process. Results to date show that activated carbon made from these eucalypts performs very well in water treatment and gold recovery applications. Estimates for factory gate prices for whole tree feed and plant capital and operating costs have been analysed. They indicate a commercially viable industry.

The concept is well regarded by all involved and in June 1999 Enecon and its partners won an environmental award for work to date from the Institute of Chemical Engineers, United Kingdom. The integrated tree processing opportunity has also been considered favourably for financial support by the Australian Greenhouse Office in the first round of the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program (RECP). Funding is almost completed for a multimillion dollar demonstration facility in WA to follow the study work. It is intended that this demonstration plant will be designed and built during 1999/2000, ready for operation early in 2001. The plant will accept 20 000 tonnes per year of chipped, whole tree feed from mallee plantations and comprises the following sections:

Charcoal and energy from wood

A study is being carried out on large-scale charcoal manufacture (30 000 tonnes/year) in NSW for use in silicon smelting or as a cooking fuel. The use of CSIRO carbonizing technology allows focus on significant energy recovery in parallel with charcoal manufacture as well as improved utilization of wood resources. The study includes the trial preparation and optimization of briquettes, plant sizing and costing, product yield calculations and project cash flow analysis.

Biomass gasification

Ongoing consulting assistance on feasibility of Waterwide close-coupled gasification/combustion systems running on wood and other biomass sources is available at several locations around Australia.

Activated carbon from wood - New Zealand

A screening study provides a preliminary review of activated carbon from soft wood residues.

For more information, please contact: Mr Colin Stucley, Managing Director, Enecon Pty Ltd, 210 Canterbury Road, (PO Box 417), Canterbury, Victoria 3126, Australia.
Fax: +61 3 9888 6744;
e-mail: enecon@ozemail.com.au

Prizewinning process promises benefits in the West

A novel process that produces energy and high-value activated carbon from wood has been recognized in this year's awards for "excellence in safety and environment" presented by the international journal The Chemical Engineer.

Dr Paul Fung, leader of the CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products team that devised the process, and Colin Stucley, Managing Director of Enecon, the company licensed to develop applications, received the award in June 1999. The citation described the process, the basis of an ambitious project now under way in Western Australia's wheat belt, as an elegant chemical engineering solution to a number of environmental problems being faced in Australia and elsewhere. (Source: Onwood, No. 26, Spring 1999.)


European Association for Solar Energy (EUROSOLAR)

Dr Hermann Scheer, President of the European Association for Solar Energy (EUROSOLAR) and one of the world's leading promoters of solar energy, was named as one of four recipients of the 1999 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize.

EUROSOLAR, which Scheer founded in 1988, now has more than 20 000 members and offices in 12 of the member states of the European Union. He and EUROSOLAR have prompted the European Commission to adopt many of their policy proposals. Scheer himself said, "We need a stronger commitment of the ecological community to overcome the massive obstruction of the established energy economy and of the directly connected political institutions and politicians." (Source: EUROSOLAR: www.eurosolar.org/home.html )


Institutional and legal aspects regulating wood energy activities in european countries

The growing interest for woodfuels as an environmentally friendly source of energy is leading to an increased number of initiatives and projects in this field. In fact, by 2010, European Union countries expect to reduce their CO2 emissions by 15 percent compared with 1990 levels. One important contribution to this reduction is expected to come from woodfuel utilization. This implies that production, trade and use of woodfuels will increase considerably in the years to come. New institutional arrangements for the promotion and monitoring of these initiatives, as well as adequate legal aspects for the regulation and control of production, trade and use of woody fuels, will be needed.

FAO's Wood Energy Programme, together with the Italian Biomass Association (ITABIA), is now carrying out a study to review the institutional and legal aspects and issues regulating the implementation of wood energy activities and projects. As a first step, relevant documentation and information is being collected on: institutional aspects, identifying the main institutions responsible for the regulation, promotion and control of existing and new wood energy systems, including the financial mechanisms and tools adopted for the promotion of wood energy initiatives; and legal issues, identifying the laws, rules and standards normally used for the regulation of wood energy systems.

For more information, please contact Miguel Trossero.

[The results of this study will be reported in the next issue of Forest Energy Forum.]


MESAP planning system

The Modular Energy System Analysis and Planning Environment (MESAP) is a tool for integrated energy and environmental planning. It was developed at the Institute for Energy Economics and the Rational Use of Energy (IER), University of Stuttgart, Germany. It is used, for example, in the GTZ-supported project Combustibles Domestiques in Senegal. MESAP integrates different modular energy planning models through a central database system, NetWork. Figure 1 below shows the diagram of the MESAP architecture. MESAP is being developed for PCs with a Windows-based graphical user interface.

The MESAP system was designed to support every phase of integrated energy planning and thus assists the decision-making process in a pragmatic way, from the problem definition phase to finding the right decisions. (Edited from: Boiling Point, No. 42, Spring 1999.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Christoph Schlenzig, Institute for Energy Economics and the Rational Use of Energy (IER), University of Stuttgart, Pfaffenwaldring 31, D-70550 Stuttgart, Germany.
Fax: +49 721 685 7567;
e-mail: CS@ier.uni-stuttgart.de


Solar photovoltaics - a complementary renewable energy

Energy from the forest or biomass is just one of the renewable energies available. Others include wind energy, solar hot water systems, hydro power (usually restricted to small micro plants) and solar photovoltaics. The latter process uses the phenomenon discovered by Becquerel in 1839 and is most known to readers by its mass usage in solar-powered calculators around the world. Here a two-layer device of different semiconductors creates electricity from light photons hitting one layer and causing transfer of electrons between the two areas which can be collected as electricity. The result is a fuel-free, reliable power source which can be used for a variety of applications. Of particular interest to readers is that one of the biggest threats to forests is fire. It can often take many days before such fires are even reported and can be tackled. One way of getting information from very remote locations to the authorities is by radio network. These remote radio stations, therefore, need a reliable, fuel-free power source to ensure their effectiveness and solar photovoltaics is the ideal power source.

Such systems have been used by forestry departments around the world: in Indonesia, Kenya, Algeria and Turkey, to name but a few. It is a situation where one renewable energy source ensures the success of another.

For more information, please contact: Mr Mark Hammonds, BP Solar, PO Box 191,
Chertsey Road, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex TW16 7XA, UK.
Fax: +44 1932 762686;
e-mail: Hammonm@bp.com;


Waste to fuel process wins award

Pacific Northwest researchers have developed a process that turns levulinic acid into products such as alternative automotive fuel ingredients. An innovative energy-saving project that could lead to low-cost alternative fuels has received the Environmental Protection Agency Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

The project, introduced by a small Massachusetts company, Biofine, has led to an economical method of turning paper mill waste into levulinic acid, an important, multipurpose chemical. Levulinic acid can be used to make a range of everyday products, including petrochemicals. Created through the Biofine process for as little as one tenth of the cost of current manufacturing processes, the acid can be made with virtually any biomass waste product.

The cost savings are key to using a second process that creates, from levulinic acid, an important component for use in alternative fuels. The Department of Energy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in partnership with Biofine, has developed the first ever multistep, catalytic process to convert levulinic acid to useful products, including an alternative fuel component, methyltetrahydrofuran, which can be used with ethanol and natural gas liquids to create a cleaner-burning fuel for cars and trucks that produces less air pollution than petroleum-based gasoline.

"Our system incorporates multiple chemical reaction steps into one process and creates higher yields than previously available," said Doug Elliott of Pacific Northwest's chemical process development group. The process produces about 110 gallons (416 litres) of alternative fuel component for every 100 gallons (378.5 litres) of levulinic acid.

"This is an exciting technology emerging from DOE's investments in biomass conversion, a field where we are literally just touching the surface of the potential for using low-value and waste biomass material for valuable products," said Dennis Stiles, manager of Agriculture and Food Processing Technology programmes at Pacific Northwest. "In the near future, the technology will be expanded to produce levulinic acid from other organic wastes, such as straw, as well as producing a variety of other chemical products, such as solvents, herbicides and plastics, in addition to [methyltetrahydrofuran]."

Researchers are optimistic about the success of the project because levulinic acid is economical - unlike most alternative feedstocks - and can be converted to a large number of other chemicals. Using low-cost and abundant waste feedstocks such as paper mill sludge, municipal solid waste, unrecyclable waste paper, waste wood and agricultural residues, the process also offers a welcome alternative to landfills. (Source: Environmental News Network.)


Wood energy and gender

Gender aspects are important for wood energy development in Asia since in most households men and women play distinct and different roles in virtually all issues relating to woodfuels. It is usually the women who have the knowledge about woodfuel species, growth and harvesting; many women also look after the supply, processing and trading of the fuels; and, last but not least, women tend the fires for cooking and other applications. The situation may be different with regard to non-household related woodfuel activities, which often have a commercial bias. Examples are tree growing in plantations, or other systems which produce woodfuel as a by-product; woodfuel wholesale; and woodfuel-based commercial activities, such as rural industries and food preparation by street vendors and the like. Whether household or non-household, it is usually the men who decide on the resources that matter to woodfuel, from land use to stove acquisitions and other areas where money is involved.

The implications of this state of affairs can be that women's interests and problems are not being adequately addressed and incorporated into decision-making on woodfuel matters (as well as many other matters). The adverse impacts can be quite dramatic. For instance, seedlings for woodlots may go astray; restrictions on woodfuel trading can deprive poor women of their small incomes; and, most important, adverse health impacts from poor kitchens and stoves affect the women disproportionately.

Gender problems of wood energy do not exist in isolation, but are part of broader socio-cultural realities which are still only partly understood and acknowledged. For instance, in development concepts it is too often assumed that a household exists as an economic unit. In statistics, "household income" is a common parameter, whereas in many societies such a concept has no ground whatsoever. Men and women do not share their incomes, and who belongs to the household can only be defined arbitrarily. It has also been amply documented that most rural women in Asia work several more hours a day than men do, whereas their work is often not even classified as "work".
Acknowledging that gender aspects play such important roles in wood energy, the Regional Wood Energy Development Programme in Asia (RWEDP) has integrated the main issues in its technical assistance programme. However, this can only be implemented in close cooperation with local organizations which utilize site-specific knowledge of gender constraints and which are in a position to explore realistic ways for improvement. So far, three regional and four national workshops have been organized by RWEDP to study and address the gender and wood energy issues. Of equal importance, gender aspects have been integrated into virtually all RWEDP training activities, from woodfuel resource management to processing and utilization of woodfuels. It is observed that understanding and acknowledging the importance of gender aspects is gradually increasing. After all, gender roles are not governed by laws of nature, but are the result of the way people organize their societies. That means these roles can be changed by people. (Contributed by: W.S. Hulscher, RWEDP, Bangkok, Thailand.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Wim Hulscher, Chief Technical Adviser, RWEDP-GCP/RAS/154/NET, c/o RAP, Maliwan Mansion, Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.
Fax: +66 2 280 0760;
e-mail: RWEDP@fao.org;

And have you heard about ...
Biomass and Bioenergy ?

Biomass and Bioenergy is a monthly international journal which publishes original research papers and short communications, review articles and case studies on biological resources, chemical and biological processes and biomass products for new renewable sources of energy, food and materials.

Key areas covered by the journal are: biomass, biological residues, bioenergy processes, bioenergy utilization and biomass and the environment. The scope of the journal extends to the environmental, management and economic aspects of biomass and bioenergy.

One of the four editors of Biomass and Bioenergy, until his death in August 1999, was Professor D.O. Hall, King's College London.

For more information, please contact one of the two editors:

Prof. C.P. Mitchell, Forestry Department, Aberdeen University, 581 King Street, Aberdeen AB24 5UA, UK.
c.p.mitchell@abdn.ac.uk ;

Dr R.P. Overend, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Alternate Fuels Division, 1617 Cole Boulevard, Golden, CO 80401-3393, USA.
rpo2@worldnet.att.net ;
Biomass and Bioenergy, c/o Elsevier Science Regional Sales Officer, Customer Support Department, 655 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10010, USA.
Fax: +1 212 633 3680;

[See under Special Features for a tribute to Professor Hall.]

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