Congratulations to all the 2015 Awards recipients for their outstanding contributions through work and achievements!
If you arrive in Vancouver by plane, one sight that will probably catch your eye during your short trip from the airport to Downtown Vancouver is collections of timber floating on the Pacific Ocean and the Fraser River. These collections of timbers are known as log booms, used to collect and transport sawlogs and pulp logs (Figure 1). Log booms have been practiced for decades in the coastal region of British Columbia (BC) to move large volumes of timbers from forests to wood manufacturing facilities. Log booms are towed by tugboats hundreds of meters or kilometers to get to their destination. This practice provides forest companies with a cost-efficient mode of transporting and storing harvested timbers before the delivery to wood manufacturing sites.
Figure 1. Tugboat pushing log boom near Vancouver (Photo by Gordon, Wikimedia Commons)
However, towing log booms in the salt water highway creates a challenge for wood processing facilities. Water transportation exposes wood fibres to chlorine in the water. In addition, soaking sawlogs in the water increases the moisture content in wood fibres. High chlorine and moisture content make these fibres a less attractive feedstock for the residual industry including pulp and paper mills, pellet plants, bioenergy plants (heat and power), animal bedding and landscaping applications. Sawmills in the BC Coast do not usually separate different streams of their byproducts including sawdust, wood shaving and hog fuel as there are no individual markets for their by-products. Mill residues are usually mixed together and the whole mix is regarded as hog fuel. The mix of mill residues results in a large variation in the particle size of fibres in hog fuel (Figure 2). In addition, this hog fuel has a high moisture content (50-70%). The high level of precipitation on the BC Coast also contributes to the high moisture content of hog fuel. In contrast, sawmills in the BC Interior do not mix their mill residues and sell them to various markets based on the quality specifications of their end users. For example, sawdust and wood shavings are the feedstock of choice for pellet production and animal bedding while hog fuel is the raw material for heat and power production as well as landscaping. The separation of residue streams generate more value for forest companies.
Figure 2. A sample of hog fuel in the Coastal BC (Photo by Paul Adams)
The primary consumer of the coastal hog fuel is the pulp and paper industry. Hog fuel is used as feedstock for power boilers of pulp mills to produce heat and power. However, high moisture content and large portions of fine materials (up to 50% of hog fuel mass) have adversely affected the efficiency of boilers. The efficiency of power boilers usually reaches its lowest level during winter when the moisture content of hog fuel can be as high as 70%. The low efficiency of boilers are usually offset by using natural gas. Reduction in the moisture content and separation of fine materials can provide significant cost savings in the energy profile of the coastal pulp mills.
Altentech™ and SMG Wood Pellet, located in Vancouver with operations in the District of Mission in the Lower Mainland region of BC, have been working for the last seven years to develop technology solutions for the low quality of hog fuel in the BC Coastal region. These solutions include size segregation, grinding/shredding, drying and pelletization. This package of technology solutions would provide the opportunity to maximize the value extracted from large volumes of low quality hog fuel in this region. These solutions would also solve the challenges related to removing mill residues from sawmills sites.
The mission of Altentech™ and SMG Wood Pellet is to create multiple markets for the coastal hog fuel by (1) meeting the quality specifications of the pulp mills by removing the small particle-sized fibres and reducing the moisture content to a range of 30-35% (w.b.), (2) creating a new value stream for small particle-sized hog fuel for applications such as pellet and biofuel production and (3) attracting new businesses and technologies to maximize the residual resource utilization and value in any given geographical area. In addition to hog fuel, these solutions can help to maximize the amount of forest residues extracted from forests and produce a marketable wood fibre from these residues. Most of these forest residues are currently piled at the roadside of harvested forest stands and burned to reduce the fire risk and to avoid the risk of disease and pest infestation.
Figure 3. top photo: pile of hog fuel, bottom photo: Altentech™ dryer (Photos by Mahmood Ebadian, SMG Wood Pellet Plant, Mission, BC)
Altentech™ and SMG Wood Pellet are working closely with interested parties in the region to commercialize these technology solutions including BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN), Mission municipality, local communities, the forest sector and Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) at UBC. Commercialization of these solutions generate social, economic and environmental benefits. Jobs creation for the local communities, new income streams from the coastal hog fuel and forest residues, producing low-carbon solid and liquid biofuels (e.g. pellet, biojet and green diesel) are the values generated by these technology solutions.
I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Paul Adams and Larry Taylor of Altentech™ and Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj, the director of BBRG to prepare this news.
Hot off the Presses!
R. Vadivambal and Digvir S. Jayas have just published a 381-page, co-authored book entitled “Bio-Imaging: Principles, Techniques, and Applications” with the Taylor francis Group (CRC Press).
Rewards for Research:
Professor Jitendra Paliwal, with co-applicants Stefan Cenkowski, Digvir Jayas, Paul Fields, Noel White, Joe LoVetri, Martin Scanlon, and Doug Thomsom received $1.98 million to purchase new research equipment, with $638,298 coming from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The team lead by Dr. Jitendra Paliwal will attempt to perfect technology that will enable farmers to remotely detect the early stages of grain deterioration (typically referred to as “hot spots”).
Professors Qiang Zhang, Stefan Cenkowski and Kris Dick received $249,306 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John E. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). Their research will focus on the development of innovative greenhouse technologies to meet the challenges of food insecurity in remote northern communities of Canada.
Industrial Development Dollars:
Buhler Versatile Inc., the agricultural equipment manufacturer best known for its powerful line of farm tractors, is set to receive up to $220,000 in funding through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) to support the development of continuously variable transmission (CVT) tractors, and to create hydraulic installation models and drawings for tillage equipment. Grant Adolph, Chief Operating Officer of the company, stated: “With NRC-IRAP assistance, Versatile will be able to advance development of a continuously variable transmission for tractors, which will result in better efficiency for farmers in Canada and around the world, ultimately enabling them to increase productivity. This funding will contribute to the use of simulation technology, significantly reducing development time, which will allow us to be more competitive in the global marketplacethe development of CVT tractors will for enhanced productivity of farmers around the world.”
CSBE has recognized the following individuals for their outstanding work in various different areas:
Dr. Qiang Zhang, Dr. Stefan Cenkowski, Taylor Kirouac, Samantha Symons, Amy La, and Valery Agbor. Keep up the good work!
Harold House, MSc., P.Eng. (37 year member) received Agricultural Engineering degrees at the University of Guelph. He recently retired from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as dairy and beef engineering specialist. He planned new facilities, renovations or additions to existing facilities and advised on farmstead planning, barn layout, cow comfort, animal welfare, ventilation and manure handling. He took special interest in dairy farm automation, calf housing and ventilation and worked with veterinarians and other agribusinesses on troubleshooting. Harold plans similar consulting work through his new company StocTec in collaboration with DairyLogix www.dairylogix.com. Harold’s advice to younger members ‘Connect with other members in your field of interest as much as possible. You need someone to bounce ideas off of, collaborate with, be mentored by, and challenge you.’
John Ogilvie, PhD, P.Eng. (57 year member) is a charter member of CSBE, Fellow in both CSBE and ASABE and very active in Society matters during his long and distinguished career. He has been retired 20 years from the School of Engineering, University of Guelph, and is now Professor Emeritus. He had been Director at the School www.uoguelph.ca/~jogilvie. John received his BSc (Agr) in 1954, MSA from U of Toronto in 1960 and his PhD from Purdue U in 1971. Before retirement, John taught engineering design. (Hugh Fraser, former student remembers John’s computer skills being legendary long before virtually anyone knew what a computer even was!) John’s advice for younger members: ‘Keep up your attendance and participation at CSBE and ASABE technical conferences.’
My garden has been making me think. Spring is a time of change and opportunity. My Gran taught me that if I put seeds in the ground now, they might grow into something yummy. If I don’t get around to planting anything, well, no fresh salad. Change and opportunity…