New guide promotes alternative fuel use by forest products industry

February 06, 2013

Alternative fuel use by the wood products industry could reduce the industry’s dependence on fossil fuels and decrease its emissions.

A new resource guide created by the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP), the Penn State College of Engineering, and the Mid-Atlantic Clean Energy Applications Center (MACEAC) promotes the use of one such alternative fuel: combined heat and power (CHP). CHP, also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single fuel source — in this case, on-site waste products such as sawdust, wood shavings or bark.

Shifting to CHP technology can increase energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and increase energy security, said Denise Bechdel, an environmental specialist at PennTAP. It is a particularly attractive option for lumber and furniture production facilities that have access to inexpensive and abundant fuel sources on-site.

“The use of wood waste to generate energy to process sustainably harvested wood can not only reduce long-term production costs, but also contributes to a net zero-carbon industry,” said James D. Freihaut, professor of architectural engineering at Penn State and director of MACEAC, which is funded by the Department of Energy. For Mid-Atlantic states with significant wood products production, CHP using wood waste “can make the industry competitive and environmentally neutral at the same time.”

Potential benefits of using CHP include:

-- Reduced power demand
-- Reduced fuel costs by using on-site fuels that would otherwise be considered waste
-- Ensuring a stable power supply
-- More efficient operation
-- Income from selling excess capacity back to local utility companies
-- Environmental benefits: Carbon neutral, reduced emissions, reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

PennTAP has worked with the College of Engineering and Mid-Atlantic Clean Energy Applications Center for the past two years to promote CHP use by the forest products industry. The project was made possible by a grant from the USDA Forest Service’s Wood Education and Resource Center in Princeton, WV.

“A Guide to Utilizing Combined Heat and Power in the Wood Resources Industry” is intended to serve as a one-stop shop for potential CHP adopters. The guide discusses what CHP is, its benefits, the various types of systems, sample feasibility studies, and contacts for professionals involved with CHP system development and installation such as technical assistance providers, designers, and equipment suppliers.

The guide is available on the PennTAP website at online.

The Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) engages, guides and empowers businesses and organizations throughout the Commonwealth and beyond by providing objective, strategic and experience-based technical and workforce solutions that enable clients to succeed and thrive. PennTAP is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide





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Last Updated February 28, 2013