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Turning wood waste into energy.

Piles of wood waste can be quickly turned into piles of savings and profits with the proper wood waste disposal system.

Almost everyone in the woodworking business has a problem with wood scrap, chips and sawdust occurring as a by-product of woodworking. From the mill to the finished product, this offal represents an impressive amount, approximately 50 percent, and are usually categorized as "waste." This is probably one of the most incorrect expressions given the fact that this waste is pure energy. One pound of dry wood contains about 8,000 to 9,000 BTUs. This means that 15 pounds of dry wood has the energy content of one gallon of fuel oil.

What has the woodworking industry been doing with all of this waste? Most companies dump it in a landfill or give it away as animal bedding. Some are lucky enough to be able to sell their waste, but few will do better than break even.

So what can be done to extract the energy that is in our wood waste? The first solution would be to follow the lead of the larger industry, burning the waste and converting it into steam or hot air to be used as a heating source or for presses and other machinery.

In order to optimize the use of waste as a power source, you must insure that the feeding procedure for the respective boiler or furnace be as automated as possible because labor will not get any cheaper in the future. The only way to control the combustion process is through controlled fuel feeding. Even if still allowed in some areas, chimneys billowing black smoke will not be tolerated for long.

The basic requirement for minimizing wood waste management problems is a grinder to reduce the wood scrap into chips. Chips can be fed automatically by an augering system. The ideal chip size would vary from furnace to furnace. The best way to get boiler fuel is to use a modern grinder with features like batch feeding that requires no supervision, a lower power consumption level and little or no noise pollution.

Grinders are available that can process scraps from 500 pounds an hour for smaller woodworking shops to up to 40 tons per hour for the larger industry. Shavings, sawdust and chips produced in the manufacturing process can be burned as fuel in the same way as chips from a grinder.

What if you only need heat a few cold months of the year or if your volume of waste is more than the energy needs of your woodworking facility? Chips and dust can still be converted into briquettes. Not only does this process reduce the volume of the chips and shavings by up to 10 times, but it also helps increase the specific weight (gravity) of wood. The briquettes burn well, are easy to stock and can be sold to other businesses who need cheap energy.

There are more ways to use wood waste efficiently. In most cases, there is enough waste and scrap to not only produce power for the entire plant, but to also heat the facility. And why not use these systems to air condition your plant? An investment in a wood waste management system can save money in power and heating bills, and it can also eliminate the problem of wood waste disposal.

Hans Zoellinger is president of Eurohansa Inc., a supplier of wood waste management equipment based in High Point, N.C.


It's not the same kind of waste disposal problem one might findat a zoo or a livestock show, but the exhibits at last August's International Woodworking Machinery & Furniture Supply Fair at the Georgia World Conference Center generated their own kind of waste: sawdust. In the past, tons of the stuff has been loaded into dumpsters, then hauled off to area landfills.

However, environmentally-conscious officials at IWF '92 took care of the problem even before the dust had a chance to leave the building.

New York-based A. Costa America Ltd., one of the show's exhibitors, agreed to run the accumulated wood dust through its 150 LogMaker, a machine that compresses loose sawdust into solid logs.

"The reconstituted logs reduce waste volume by 90 percent," said Ronald Weiner, A. Costa's general manager in charge of North American operations. The 2-inch diameter logs were donated to exhibit hall workers who took the logs home to recycle as home-use fuel, said IWF executive director John Zinn. "This was only our first step in recycling. We want to expand our efforts for IWF '94.

The arrangement will not only help save the environment," said Zinn, "but it should also save hundreds of dollars in tipping fees. We must have sixty or seventy dumpsters full after every fair," he said.

Other IWF exhibiting companies who may have suggestions on recycling waste materials or would like to contribute to 1994 efforts may contact John Zinn at IWF headquarters, 8931 Shady Grove Ct., Gaithersburg, Md. 20877, phone (301) 948-5730.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Vance Publishing Corp.
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Author:Zoellinger, Hans
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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