6th September 2016
South Wales based environmental services company Spencer ECA is pleased to report that it has recently expanded its biomass processing capability – a move that has led to increased activity in the supply of sustainable wood fuel products to local businesses, organisations and private clients.
A significant factor in the development of Spencer’s biomass provision has been the installation of a new drying system. A 500kw boiler, fueled by woodchip, produces hot water that is converted via a heat exchanger, into hot air. This is subsequently blown through two purpose-made drying trailers filled with sawmill residue that reduces moisture content from 60% to 20% in 24 hours. Prior to this dryer system, it would have taken 24 months to achieve the same amount of moisture reduction if the wood was left to dry naturally.
“We continue to allow nature to dry the majority of our biomass through forward purchasing of roundwood, but this new system allows us to produce boiler fuel from material that would otherwise have been too wet”, explains Spencer Energy and Environment Manager James Nash.
“Whilst a considerable investment, the drying system has given us a secondary source of dry harvested timber residue, which can be sold immediately to customers across South and West Wales.”
Coinciding with the commissioning of the new drying system, Spencer was contracted by Tilhill to supply in excess of 1200 tonnes of up to 25% moisture woodchip fuel to animal feed and dairy nutrition product manufacturer Volac that had recently installed a 20 MW combined heat and power plant at its production plant in Felinfach, West Wales.
Subsequently, the contract developed into an ongoing operation to receive, chip and haul the woodchip fuel for Volac, whilst its on-site chipper was being constructed. Consequently, Spencer is supplying 450 tonnes of biomass to Volac each week. This requires three, 25-tonne deliveries to be made every day, six days a-week.
As part of its rolling investment program and, to ensure continuity for the Volac supply operations, after much research, Spencer has invested in a new, state-of-the-art Heizohack HM14-800 chipper, together with a CAT Challenger to operate and power it. This formidable combination is able produce up to 200m3 of woodchip per hour and can process timber up to 800mm in diameter.
Looking at the longer-term picture, Volac, Tilhill and Spencer has entered a long term contract to run the fuel yard at the plant in Felinfach. This requires Spencer to receive and sample all deliveries, blend all material and load two hoppers in order to ensure the boilers have sufficient fuel at all times.
To meet the requirements of this contract and, as part of ongoing investments, Spencer has also invested in a Doosan DX300 shovel with 10m3 toe-tip bucket, a powerful machine able to easily blend and load the volumes of material required to sustain the boilers at Volac.
With its site clearance and forestry services enabling Spencer to harvest the required raw materials, coupled with the recent investment in additional plant and equipment – together with the subsequent improved efficiency and turnaround times – the company sees itself ideally placed to cope with the increase in demand for sustainable fuels.
“As a result of our end-to-end provision and ongoing investment programme, we are in a great position to offer biomass and wood fuel products to a wider range of customers”, said Nash.
“With more and more businesses and organisations turning away from fossil fuels for their heating and power, we are seeing a steady increase in demand. Consequently, we have established ourselves as a competitive and reliable provider of biomass and sustainable wood fuel products both locally and nationwide.”