Innovative pyrolysis process for producing energy on sawmill sites from wood residues moves closer to commercial scale operation and production in New Zealand

DUNEDIN, New Zealand , December 18, 2009 () – New Zealand sawmilling industry guru/pragmatist Doug Stewart has hit the mark again with another innovative step towards closing the loop with energy generation on sawmill sites. For sawmill managers it's an exciting and truly "green" technology development. Stewart's pyrolysis process for producing gas for site use from wood residues is rapidly moving closer to commercial scale operation and production. As of this week - continuous scale installation is now up and running in Rotorua.

Back in June this year at the FIEA Residues to Revenues Conference Series, delegates heard how the Lakeland Steel team had worked through the practical challenges to develop batch-process pyrolysis fed by green sawdust. Since then, a combined pyrolysis development team at Lakeland Steel Products in Rotorua have made practical improvements and have now successfully proven the continuous form of their process.

"We've ironed out the bugs from this scale model" said Lakeland's project manager Cory Leatherland, "and we know the scale of the by-products coming from our continuous process - the oil, water and biochar which the system generates in addition to the valuable syn-gas." Stewart added, "the knowledge we've gained in getting this continuous system fine-tuned means we know where to look when we scale it up again during 2010 and hook the gas supply up to a diesel motor and electricity generator."

Managing director Doug Stewart and project manager Cory Leatherland demonstrated the continuous process system to the Friday Offcuts team as they are now confident that the patent application process is near completion and the time is right to move another step closer to a commercial-scale operation. Stewart is confident that they have learned enough in building and operating a 1/20th scale model that they can now tackle the challenge of a larger scale plant that will be connected to a diesel generator to make electricity for their Rotorua workshops.

Given the vast practical experience Doug and his Lakeland Steel team have, it won't be long before they make the next announcement for commercial applications for sawmills. The commercial version will require an infeed of 200 kg/hour of green sawdust (some water content is needed for the process) and produce 200 kW in the form of a syn-gas supply.

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