Torrefaction – wildfire prevention and rural jobs

forest fire-post

Welcome to my very first blog. Naturally, I’ll talk about biomass torrefaction, something HM3 Energy has been working on since 2009. Biomass is what’s created from thinning overgrown and unhealthy forests, waste from sawmills and forest products manufacturing and after-harvest agriculture vegetation. It can be woody waste materials left over from home construction and remodeling. Our technology combines the age-old value of thriftiness with new-age innovation to produce renewable energy, more rural jobs and cleaner air from biomass.

We are now in the wildfire season in the US.  Forests that have not been managed (often due to underfunding) and are overstocked with fuel in the dry summer air and vulnerable to forest fires. These intense wildfires don’t discriminate between old growth and underbrush. They burn it all, filling the air with particulate and leaving a swath of blackened stubs and ash.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Woody biomass can collected before a wildfire occurs, as a part of wildfire prevention. This woody biomass feedstock can be used in the commercial production of torrefied biomass briquettes – a much more energy dense, water resistant biomass fuel that can actually replace coal in coal-fired power plants without modifications. Because it has 20 percent more energy than raw (traditional) wood pellets and burns more cleanly than raw wood pellets, it is a superior product for wood boilers as well.

Today, Oregon is just one example of a state that has chronic unemployment in rural communities. Oregon has millions of acres of federal, state and private forest lands that need management and thinning, or risk damage from fire and disease. With an end user of the forest slash, these piles would no longer be burned in place. They would be used to produce torrefied biomass, a carbon neutral energy, and thousands of rural jobs.

Many of you are familiar with raw wood pellets. Torrefied wood is a very different type of product that uses low value feedstock (forest slash) to produce very high energy briquettes that handle like coal, and have a similar BTU to coal, but without the terrible toxic emissions that coal spouts into the air.

There is a global race to commercialize this technology in the most efficient way, and HM3 Energy is proud to be acknowledged as one of the foremost contenders in the field. Stay tuned for more.

HM3 Energy