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Rename Is The Game, Let’s Try A Different Outlook

Clare Hollister

Most magazines in the wood working industry regularly host a “Wood Waste and Dust Extraction feature” This publication included.

Chris Franklin Managing Director of Ranheat Engineering Ltd. Leading UK manufacturers of Biomass boilers and heaters suggests it is time to re-address the terminology used in the woodworking industry in the United Kingdom.

For many years wood fuel as a by-product of a wood manufacturing process has been described as waste. When we think of waste at home, Domestic waste, we think of household rubbish collected by the bin-men and taken away to landfill or re-cycling.

It is time to think again: the wood by-product from our woodworking industry should be looked at as wood fuel and not wood waste. 

All wood working companies both big and small should use this valuable resource as a clean renewable fuel that the industry produces tonnes of every day. 

RANHEAT 150 kW warm air heater linked to dust extraction system

Waste not want not.

We all know the hazards that can be caused by our industry when we machine or process wood or wood-based products. Good LEV to a central location outside creates a safe working environment for the workers inside the factory. Many of these dust extraction systems then deposit the extracted wood into plastic bags. The removal of the bags means that the extraction system has to be turned off and literally “let the dust settle”. This involves the workers having to put on PPE including face masks, it can be a horrible dusty job especially if outside on a windy and rainy day. Downtime on production and itchy workforce.

The bags are then removed, often overfilled, then they have to be sealed using sealing tape and then put in a dedicated skip for specialist disposal.

So, let’s not call it wood-waste but wood fuel. It’s no longer a waste but a valuable asset.

By linking the dust extraction system directly to a metal sealed storage silo the wood-fuel is then stored, with no manual intervention, into a safe external energy store, ready to be automatically fed into a warm air heater or boiler to utilise this valuable resource to heat the factory. 

The war in Ukraine has seen unprecedented rises in energy costs, the government has stepped in and capped the price per kW hour that can be charged and introduced direct rebate schemes for domestic users. Some help is coming for industry, but nobody is certain how much and for how long?

Hand loaded heaters for wood-waste can only deal with solid off-cuts not dusts, the equipment generally is not fitted with any particulate abatement or flue gas recirculation to reduce NOx. Often the extracted dust from the woodworking machines is harder to dispose of but for a properly designed wood fuel combustion system it is an excellent fuel in it’s extracted form, requiring no further processing or energy input to convert it into fuel. (as opposed to briquetting dusts into briquettes needing further energy).

NOx and particulate, which are produced by diesel engines has seen the decline in sales of diesel cars with a swing back to petrol or petrol Hybrids or full electric cars. But how is the electricity produced? Electric cars in China would be of no advantage if the electricity used is generated by coal fired power stations.

Hydrogen production could be a way forward, but it only seems to stack up if the electricity used in the production is from renewables.

So, for an immediate solution to the heating energy needs of factory, with a wood machining process direct linking of the LEV dust extraction system to a wood fuel storage silo or bunker with an automatic feed system into a wood fuelled heater or boiler is the answer.

With the installation of a woodchipper any off-cuts are turned into granulate and mixed with the other extracted materials to form a completely self-sufficient heating plant. Minimal emissions from a self-adjusting, self-responding system that automatically adjusts the feed rate of the wood fuel depending on heating demand on the system.

Ranheat systems can come with remote interrogation of the system enabling the rate of use of wood fuel to be adjusted from the operator’s phone. They can also receive text or e-mail alerts for alarms or low fuel alerts giving full control over the system.

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