Biomass Notes

Kelly Bird–Intern NEOSCIA

Please note that the biomass notes are focused on Agricultural Biomass.


  • Field crop residue, feed grains, crop milling residues, dedicated energy crops (7)
  • Denmark target values for potassium and chlorine are 0.2% and 0.1% (7)
    • Straw pellets are mixed with wood pellets in some power plants
  • Some shipping to Europe, but in bulk of 7, 000 tonnes (7)
  • Agri-pellets uses marginalized farmland (7)
Unit (9) Wood Pellets (9) Wheat Straw (9) Switchgrass (9)
fall spring
Energy 20.3 18.6-18.8 18.2-18.8 19.1
Ash% 0.6 4.5 4.5-5.2 2.7-3.2
N% 0.3 0.7 0.46 0.33
K% 0.05 1 0.38-0.95 0.06
Cl% 0.01 0.19-0.51 n/a n/a


  • Super premium pellet =0.5% ash (16)
  • Premium grade pellet= 0-1% ash (16)
  • Standard pellet= 0-2% ash (16)
  • Utility grade pellet= 0-6% ash (16)
  • Cubes= moisture 17%, range 15-20% (21)
  • Pellets= feedstock when dried 10% (21)
  • Briquettes= densified fuel product over 1 inch with 2 common sizes, 3inches (75mm) and near 4 inches (90mm) and variable length 50mm to 400mm (39)
  • Rule of thumb, “article size” for densifying must be no larger then die hole diameter (39)
  • Typical biomass fiber pellets, are shorter than 6mm(39)
  • Briquettes can be made of chunkier fibers (39)
  • Briquettes less processed then biomass…. Agricultural residue ideal (39)
    • Saving capital equipment and input energy
  • Drying 15% moisture for briquettes (39)
  • Drying 10% for pellets (39)
  • Pellets require pellet cooler equipment (39)
  • Briquettes cool/harden on their own (39)


  • Heat content min= 4350Kca/kg, 7850 BTU/lb, 18.2 mj/kg (21)
  • Ash=1.5% (21)
  • Moisture= 10% (21)
  • Sulphur= 0.01% (21)
  • Cl= 0.03% (21)
  • Nitrogen= 0.2%(21)
  • Density=  670kg/m cubed (21)


Feedstock (24) Bulk Density (kg/m cubed) (24) Energy Content mj/kg (24) Ash % (24)
Sawdust 606 20.1 0.45
Bark 676 20.1 3.7
Logging leftovers 552 20.8 2.6
Switchgrass 445 19.2 4.5
Wheat straw 475 16 6.7
Barley straw 430 17.6 4.9
Corn stover 550 17.8 3.7


  • Pellet diameter of 6 to 8 mm. length 38mm (24)
  • More than 25mm in diameter, briquettes (24)
  • Unable to make pellets with pine needles and maple leaves (26)
  • Made some pellets from 100% cardboard and brewers grain (26)
  • For developing a tech system should have as few steps as possible (27)
    • Densifying should occur early in chain



  • Winter heating season of 2006-2007 crop milling pellets old for $110-120/tonne to greenhouse heating industry (7)
    • Full cost of $6/GJ, gas $9-10/GJ
  • Eastern Canada production costs $75/tonne, pelleting $35-50/tonne (7)
  • Land in Europe, Netherlands and Germany $1500-1800/ha (7)
    • Europe carbon trading systems
    • Better year around cash flow
    • Strong Demand
    • Higher prices
  • Market = large schools, universities, jail, hospitals, churches, combined heat and power plants in northern communities (7)
  • Estimated that 14.1 million tones of energy grass pellets could be produced from converting 20% of marginalized crop land and 40% of land currently in forage production (7)
    • Would equal in the establishment of 52 pellet plants in Quebec and 89 in Ontario
      • Capital investment of $1 billion creating revenues of an estimated 1.7 billion annually
  • According to Stumburg, growers can expect to get between $10 and $15 per acre with dropping the residue behind combine or leaving it standing after stripper head operation (17)
    • Iogen and plant near Winnipeg
  • Growers may want to make a deal to do custom work for a company (17)
    • Growers should make agreement with a company before doing any work
      • Some company have certain specifications example square bales
  • Plants access biomass feedstock for $50/tonne, viable operator (17)
  • NOT something to jump into (17)
  • Nanticoke OPG (20)
    • Bales=additional cost at power station
    • Biomass must be at least 15% moisture
  • Operating costs= pelletting ground oat hull- $15 per tonne (21)
    • Cubing $35-45 per tonne depending on quality and material
  • Limited information on cost of converting agricultural biomass into pellets (21)
    • Consider binding agents, power cost, wear on machines
  • Biggest cost fertilization (28)
    • Ratio of about 14:6 to one energy out and energy in
    • Don’t plant any particular grass and don’t fertilize, you have a one cut managementà ratio becomes 20 to one
  • Canadian wood industry survey, compared costs of pelleting wood compared to switch grass and short rotation willowà pelleted grass is cheap or cheaper than current costs of pelleting wood (28)
  • Several groups in New York have been trying to buy pellet mills from $500 to $15 000, but Greg Cherney (Cornell university) has been discouraging them (28)
  • Only costs moving and baling, pelleting processà once established (28)
Fuel Type (20) Feedstock $/tonne (20) Transport $/tonne(20) Delivered Cost $/mmBTU(20)
Coal ————————— ————————— $4.00
Natural Gas ————————— ————————— $8.00
Straw 46 50 $6.66
Corn Stover 53 50 $6.62
DDGS 120 50 $9.11




  • Switch grass van produce $9-10 tonn/ha on soils in eastern Canada of moderate ability (7)
  • Delayed harvesting provides significant improvements (7)
    • Chlorine and potassium leached
    • Fall mowing of grass
    • Spring bailing
  • Study showed that, switch grass that appears poor in seedling years often produced a high-yielding next year (8)
  • Few pests and disease problems
  • Switchgrass:  heating value=18.3 GJ/t (18)
    • Ash= 1.5-4.5%
    • Sulphur=0.12%


  • Developed under flood plain conditions (8)
  • Yields up to 25 tonnes/hectare (8)
  • Latter maturing, thicker stems, ten to have a lower plant population with indficual plants (29)
    • Latter maturing=higher mineral


  • Canada (8)
  • Developed under dryer plains (8)
  • Northern Ontario-less then  2500 heat units (8)
  • 8 to 10 kilograms of pure live seed per hectare are recommended (8)
  • Newly planted have high per cent of dormancy (8)
    • Equals in higher seeding rates
  • Seed costs $7-21/kg (8)
  • In Ontario big blue stem can be included (8)
    • Mixed planting 4kg/ha of switch grass, and 6kg/ha of big blue stem
    • Requires better field drainage
  • Easier to establish on loam and sandy soils than clay soils (8)
    • Roots and crowns spread more readily
  • 30% potential first year, 70% potential 2nd year, 100% 3rd year (8)
  • Packing fields before and after planting recommended on all soil types, especially clay (8)
  • Foot print should barely be visible before planting (8)
  • Establish best on well drained soil that warms up early (8)
  • Well suited to grow in areas with less than 2600 heat unites(8)
  • Ph above 6(8)
  • Weed control (8)
    • Spray with broad spectrum herbicide to eliminate problem with perennial weeds=quack grass
  • Summer and fall tillage (8)
  • Avoid spring application of round-up ultra/max (8)
  • Seed when soil warm (8)
  • Nitrogen fertilization not used in 1st year (8)
    • Avoid manuring
  • Establishing year, switch grass be over wintered (8)
    • Results in vigorous growth and winter hardiness
  • One-cut per year crop, harvest any time after fall dormancy well established (8)
    • Harvest period-late fall, mid winter ( if there is no snow) and spring
  • Cutting in fall, leave 10cm of stubble to ensure survival, and winter hardiness (8)
  • Ash content of SG declines from 5% in fall to 3% in spring (8)
    • Spring 12-14% moisture, eliminates drying
    • Fall stored baled forage with 16-17% moisture will  become 12-14% moisture by spring
Plant Component (9) Ash Content (9) Energy (9)
Stems 1.03% 19.6
Seed Heads 2.38% 19.5
Leaf Sheaths 3.07% 18.7
Leaves 6.98% 18.4




  • Breakage of seed heads and by wind and ice storms (8)
    • 20-30% dry matter lost in field
  • Cutting in spring leads to large losses due to material shattering because of its dry and brittle state (8)
  • Swathing standing SG reduces loss (8)
  • Fall mow and spring harvest (8)
    • Reduce winter breakage and promote rapid soil warming and field drying
  • Ash is 3.25% when grown in clay or sandy loam (9)


  • Nitrogen application is 50-60kg/he (8)
  • Once established in ON 8-12 tonnes/ha harvestable of dry matter by fall (8)
  • Costs to grow and harvest=  $40-50/tonne (8)
Year (34) Clay kg/ha (34) Sand kg/ha (34)
1993 1, 620 2, 150
1994 7, 370 3, 646
1995 8, 753 2, 565
1996 6, 671 2, 603




  • Lake Superior State University, biology department Dr. Gregory Zimmerman and Justin Wilson (Ste Marie) (3) 
    • Reed canary grass pellets
    • Economic stimulant for Eastern Upper Peninsula
  • Reed Canary grass does compete with food production (3)
  • Harvested grass in November (3)
    • Grass dead and allowed nutrients to go back to the soil
    • No further energy for drying
  • RCG ground in ¼ inch particle via hammer mill (3)
  • 2 recipes (3)
    • RCG grass and brewers grain
      • 7.5 gallon bucket of uncompressed ground reed canary grass (2.3kg), 800mL wet spent brewers grain (26)
    • RCG grass and fryers grease, corrugated cardboard
      • 7.5 gallon bucket of uncompressed ground reed canary grass (2.3kg), 1.5L of corrugated cardboard, 200mL frier oil , 400mL of water (26)
      • Cardboard shouldn’t be too fluffy (26)
  • 3 acres of RCG would make enough pellets to replace 800 gallons of propane(3)
  • Suggestion of co-op to keep local (3)


  • 2003 Reed Canary Grass Leaching (25)
    • Method: three replicated fields of reed canary grass were cut and left in field up to 29 day during summer
      • Ash content at cut was 7.2%
      • Ash content of bales declined to 4.1%
  • 2003 Reed Canary Grass Overwintering (25)
    • Method: primary growth of reed canary grass in 2003 was left in field overwinter
      • Grass became lodged almost completely with essentially 100% loss of harvestable yield in April’04
        • Hand cut samples average 3.8% ash
  • 2005 studies (25)
    • Fields of switch grass and reed canary managed to minimize ash
    • Fields fertilized with 100lbs of N fertilizer in spring 05
    • Fields mowed in early Aug and forage allowed to remain in field for over 3 weeks
    • Forage collected as large bales and stored for pelleting
      • Dry matter
        • Reed=2.7% ash, 1%N, 0.4%K, 0.09%Cl, 0.1% S
        • Switch grass- 3% ash, 0.8%N, 0.5%K, 0.05%Cl, 0.1%S


  • Being used as a heating fuel in Scandinavia (26)
  • 8,000 BTU/lb same as wood or other biomass material (26)
  • Productivity= more than 1 tonne/acre (26)
  • Requires no insecticides nor herbicides (26)
  • Suited for wet and cool (29)



  • Project compared to Miscanthus, it has been studied extensively
  • SG and RC established from seed
    • Cheaper than miscanthus or short rotation coppice
  • All take 3 or more years to reach full production
  • Only fertilizer applied was 60kg N/ha to RC in years two and three
  • Miscanthus was planted 2 plants/m squared
    • Establishment vaired-27-86%, gaps replanted 2nd  year
    • Once grown no significant losses in subsequent years at any size
  • Weeds most difficult to control for RC and SG establishing year
  • RC had the fewest herbicide applications, with one applied final year
  • Miscanthus and SG received an average of just one application per site
  • Maximum yield for switch grass 15.5t/ha
  • Maximum yield for miscanthus 17.5 t/ha
  • Maximum yield for RC 8.7t/ha
  • Switch grass increased at most sites each year
  • Largest yield increase were at sites where crops had established poorly
  • SG yield poorly at northerly point
  • Switch grass conclusion
    • Can be difficult to establish
    • Cheap to grow and can yield to southernly conditions
    • Cost between 30-57 Euros/t to produce
    • No serious pest or disease problems
  • Reed Canary Grass conclusions
    • Cheap and more reliable to establish
    • Require nitrogen fertilizer for full yield
    • No significant disease
    • Full yield potential less than others—cost production higher
    • Did well at more northley points
    • Grass weed control potentially difficult
    • Cost between 43-73 Euros/t to produce
  • Miscanthus conclusions
    • Very expensive to establish but yields well
    • Problems with establishment
    • Cost between 30-63 Euros/t to produce
    • No significant pest or disease



  • C4 perennial grasses= switch grass and miscanthus (5)
  • Frank Dohleman, plant biology, university of Illinois (5)
    • Studies showed Miscanthus is twice as productive as switchgrass
      • Greater amounts of photosynthetic carbon per unit of leaf
      • Greater  leaf area
      • Longer growing season
  • Miscanthus gained 33% more carbon than switch grass average of two years (5)
  • Miscanthus leaf area is 45% greater than switchgrass (5)
  • Miscanthus grew average 11 days longer then switchgrass (5)
  • Extended growing season accompanying lower temperature boosted the photosynthetic activity of Miscanthus (5)
  • Pyramid farms in 2007 began investigating in purpose grown energy crops (6)
    • Switch grass, willow, poplar, annual crops hemp and sorghum, miscanthus
      • Miscanthus won
        • High yields
        • Perennial crop that can grow for about 26 years
        • Few inputs
        • Moisture level of less then 20 per cent at harvest
  • Miscanthus can grow up to 4m (6)
    • Tin Plant Germany has been breeding M for 17 years
  • Tin Plant has high yield and cold hardiness (6)
    • Trialed in Canada as far as Edmonton since 2002
  • Miscanthus:  heating value= 17.1-19.4 (18)
    • Ash=1.5%-4.5%
    • Sulphur=0.1%
    • Potassium= 0.37-1.12%
  • Established by planting mechanically divided rhizomes or plantlets micropropagated in tissue culture (30)
    • Collected with a potato or flower bulb harvester
    • Planted at density of 3-5m squared
  • Larger rhizome pieces, over with straw , deeper planting will increase over winter survival and establishment rates (30)
  • Irrigation of newly planted rhizomes appear to improve establishment rates under drier conditions (30)
  • Typical planting density of 10, 000 plants/ha (1m spacing) (30)
    • Dense root established by year two or three
      • Prevent leaching of nitrogen
  • Harvest miscanthus=chopping forage harvester (30)
  • Baling and bundling both possible but field losses of 10% or more and stem size/stiffness (bundling) need to be considered (30)
  • In Danish condition s production costs are similar to annual and perennial grassesà US $82/t or US $4.80/GJ (30)
  • UK suggests it is an energy viable crop if yields are 18 t/ha/year on large famrs with low fixed costs (30)
    • Market incentives need if 15t/ha/year
  • Mineral content is low compared with wheat straw and comparable with willow/poplar (30) 




  • Removal of crop residue=removal of nutrients (1)
    • 2006- 136lbs/acre of nitrogen removed in grain
    • 2006- 115lbs/acre of nitrogen removed from corn stover
  • Soil erosion during intense rainfall (1)
  • Soil disturbance for nutrient in crop will result in tillage during times when soil has minimum residue cover(1)
  • Studies have shown removal of one pound of biomass has reduced grain production by 0.13lbs and stover by 0.29lbs (1)
  • Residue removal= the removal of soil organic material (1)
  • More trips across soil= soil compaction (1)
    • Wheel induced compaction impacts water runoff and soil erosion
    • Studies shown the amount of residue to maintain Soil Organic Material range from 900-15 000lbs/acres/year
  • Crop residue acts as a barrier to soil surface and solar radiation (1)
    • Crop residue reduces evaporation rate 
  • Crop residue reduces daily water evaporation by 0.016inches/day (1)
  • Crop residue acts as water absorbing material in spring (1)
  • Crop residue traps snow in winter months (2)
    • Enhancing supply of moisture in the spring for the crop
    • Improving survival of winter wheat
  • Protects against wind erosion (2)
    • Standing straw helps to slow wind speed at ground level protecting top soil
  • Leaving straw returns nutrients to the soilà carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur, calcium, magnesium (2)
  • Soil organic materialà stubble and chaff binds soil particles, improving soil structure (2)
    • Improves ability of soil to deliver water and nutrients to crops
  • Karlen et al. found that 10 years of residue removal under no-till continuous corn grow in Wisconsin equaled in harmful changes in biological indicators of soil quality (4)
    • Lower soil carbon, microbial activity, fungal biomass, earthworm population
  • Lindstorm found increased run off and soil loss with decreasing residue remaining on soil under no till (4)
    • 30% removal rate suggestion


Sustainable Harvest Amounts Vary (4) Residue Rates Should Decrease (4) Recommended Sustainable Residues (4)
Management Increased soil disturbance Use no-till with cover crops
Crop and Yield Lower yield or lower crop Harvest high residue crop only in good years
Climate Warmer, wetter Residue harvest in the US south east in high risk
Soil Type Coarser soil texture Heavy clay, poorly drained soils
Topography Greater slope Use a variable rate harvester. Stay off hill sides
  • Residue Removal Rates (4)
    • Vary by crop and region
    • Areas with low slows and high yields may support residue harvest
    • Not the same as soil cover
  • Additional Conservation Practices (4)
    • Contour cropping or conservation tillage or conservation tillage
  • Crop Alternatives (4)
    • Crops grown specifically for biofuels
  • Periodic Monitoring and Assessment (4)
    • Fields carefully monitored for erosion or crusting
    • Check soil carbon
  • Removal Rates will need to be reduced as climate becomes humid and warmer (4)
  •  Dam et al. found poor emergence of corn with residue intact and under no-till compared with residues removed and conventional till with and without residue (4)
    • Attributed to cooler soil temperatures and higher soil moisture associated with climate conditions
  • Power et al. found increased yields for corn and soy bean when residues were left on soil surface compared with yields in Newbraska (4)
    • Dry years
  • Residue removal based on weight of tissues removed at harvest (4)
  • Protection from soil erosion 30% ground residue cover after planting (10)
  • Replace crop residue, with fertilizers and reduced or no till systems— soil system should be fine (17)
  • Roots always stay in soil (35)
  • 50% of top can be removed safely (35)
  • Yield low, less than 1 ton per ac=don’t remove anything (35)


  • Potassium and chlorine, when exposed to high temperatures, vaporize from feedstock creating corrosive salt formations on boiler (7)
    • Mix with silica to create clinkers
  • Research by agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Indian Hedd Research Center (17)
    • Growers will need to replace some but not all nutrients lost with removal of straw
    • A lot of the Nitrgoen would leach out of the nutrients and be captures in the soil, with only 11 to 19% being returned to soil under U.S. conditions
  • Residues do not make good pellet because of lack of binders= good cubes (37)


  • Wheat straw can contain 6.5-10% ash with 1% potassium 0.4% chlorine (7)
  • Wheat mill residue= binder for higher fibre, agri-fibre resources for grasses (10)
  • Demand increasing (17)
    • Next 10 years demand will increase
  • Can be removed as long as 750kg/ha is left standing stubble (17)
    • Removed once every 4 years
  • Nanticoke OPG (20)
    • Co-fire with wheat shot or other dry granular fuels
  • Washinton State farmers—selling straw and chaff from wheat field for $200 a tone= pelletizing (38)
    • Market is more horse bedding
      • Also approached by forest service to use to reduce erosion
      • Feedstock


  • Corn stalks difficult to dry and high in potassium (7)
  • Milling bi products of corn and oats P contents below 1% (10)


  • Do not produce large volumes of residues, 3% field cover remaining following harvest (10)
    • Dry at harvest, high energy content
  • Low CL content (less than 0.1%) soybean hulls, wheat millings and oat hulls (10)


  • Best crop milling residue=low value livestock feed (10)
  • University of Iowa approached by Quaker Oats to use oat hulls in their fluidized bed boiler (19)
    • VERY IMPORTANT— they are 20 miles apart
    • Oat hulls reduced gas emission and regulated air pollutants
      • Co-fire with coal
    • Use CFB boiler—can burn a variety of fuels
    • Silo had to be made to hull oats to furnace
  • Oat hull heat content of  7 000 btu/lb (19)
  • Low potassium and chlorine may ease combustion (21)


  • BTU=9, 455,795 (13)
  • Unit=500kg (13)
  • Efficiency= 85%  (13)
  • Cost unit= $15 (13)
  • Cost of IM BTU= $1.87 (13)
  • Oil seed flax vs. fiber flax (14)
  • 2001 Canada produced 720 000 tonnes of flaxseed and straw (14)
  • Demand for flax and hemp increasing (17)
    • Next 10 years the demand will increase
  • Research on Flax:  stripper head and bale in spring (17)
    • Improves processing and quality
  • Cost to collect, bunch and burn flax is likely between $5-8/acre (17)
  • Left flax straw for stripper head and combining operation, farmer is able to direct seed into it (17)
    • Single shoot knife openers=seeding operation, was done at an angle to the rows of flax
      • Some stated stripper head cut down on fuel costs by more than 40%
        • Less wear and tear reduced because less straw is taken by combine
  • Flax shive difficult to pelletize (40)
    • A lot of horsepower and the material is fairly abrasive on hammer mill and pelleting dies
    • Good fuel
  • High enough melting point usually doesn’t make hard clinkers (40)
  • Binding agents—not much benefit (40)
  • Canadian straw generally does not survive the harvest processà is it worth it? (40)


Biomass (21) Composition (21)
Flax Shives –   low ash-   high energy
Flax Shive Pellets –   low ash-   high energy
Oat hulls –   moderately low potassium, chlorine, nitrogen-   high energy
Sunflower Hulls –   quite high potassium-   moderate energy
Wheat Straw –   high ash, Nitrogen, potassium, chlorine-   moderate energy
Hemp Hurds – moderate heat


Biomass (21) Ash (21) Energy (mj/kg) (21)
Flax Shives 2.7% 16.9-17.8
Oat Hulls 5.2-7% 16.2-19.5
Sunflower hulls 3.1-8% 17.4-19.7
Wheat Straw 3-8% 18.2- 18.7
Hemp Hurds 4-8% 17





  • Main crop milling residues being commercially developed for bioheat are wheat bran, oat hulls, flax shives (7)
    • All dry, uniform, moderately low potassium and chlorine
  • Some use of corn cobs, barley hulls and sunflower hulls (7)
  • Crop milling residues on average are 60% less P, 87% less Cl than crop residue (10)




  • Transportation largest cost (17)
  • Volume of material needs trucks (21)
  • 100 car unit trains, carry 60 000 tonnes per train (21)
  • Bulk transportation will need to occur in covered vehicles that are resistant to moisture (21)
  • RAIL vs TRUCK (21)
    • Availability of cars may be an issue (lease/purchase)
    • For rail additional cost of car sitting on CP or CN line
Feedstock (21) Storage (21)
Flax Shives –   outside-   inside for screened product
Oat Hulls –      flat bottom grain bins-      can be store outside
Sunflower Hulls –      hopper bottom bins-      for unloading, walking floor trucks would need solid floors
Wheat Straw – depend on use
Hemp Hurds – potential for high value products could involve enclosed storage












  • Mild pre-treatment of biomass at a temp between 200-300 degrees C (22) 
  • Properties changed to obtain a much better fuel quality for combustion and gasification application (22) 
  • Effective method to improve grindability  of biomass (22) 
  • Energy dense fuel—15-18.5GJ/m cubed, costs 40-50 Euros/tonne (22) 
  • Carried out at 200-300 degrees C in absence of oxygen (22) 
    • Biomass becomes dried and looses fibrous  
    • Biomass increase calorific value 
  • Approaches properties of coal(22) 
  • After, moisture uptake is limited (22) 
  • Decreases volume, increases energy, reduces amount of volatiles, increases fixed carbon and ash (23) 
  • Achieves an equilibrium moisture content of 3%, reduction of 20-30% mass, retaining 80-90% of biomass original energy content (23) 
  • Resistant to moisture (23) 



  • Pyramid farms of Leamington switched to biomass boiler system (6) 
    • Invested paid for itself in 2 years 
    • Paying  $4-5 for gigajoule of wood
    • Profits over past for years have been from the savings from using biomass
    • Wood price tripled in 3 years, still cheaper then natural gas
  • Reason for pelleting (7)
    • Improve convenience of handling
    • Improve combustion efficiency
    • Reduce particulate loads
    • Reduces fire risks
  • Emission are alkaline, not acid (28)
    • Help counteract effects of acid rain
      • According to governor’s task forceà New York produces 1% of world’s greenhouse gasesà more than many European countries
      • ESTIMATE: pelleting 5.4% of residential buildings, or 3.1% of all buildings, would offset 100% of all green house gas emissions by agricultural in New York
  • Large possibilities for rural communitiesà energy  source can produce here and use here 


  • Fuel not consistent (6)
  • Agri-pellet issue= dust, gas, aerosols deposit formation, corrosion (11)
  • High ash content (11)
  • Potassium influences emission and slagging by lowering the softening temperature of the fuel=high ash (11)
  • High Cl=corrosion and dioxins (11)
  • Mix with sawdust and anti-slagging agents (kaolin) (11)
  • Can develop further, with the development of stoves (11)
  • With 4-5% ash, ash needs to be removed from stove every couple of days (25)


  • Slagging=deposits in molten or highly viscous state found in flame section of furnace
  • Sintering= formation of a coherent mass by heating without melting
  • Melting=ash  enters a molten phase
  • Alkali metals in combination  with silica and sulphur responsible for melting or sintering at relatively low temperature
  • Typical range
    • Silica=1-4%
    • Alkali Metals (potassium and sodium)= -0.2-2%
    • Cl=0.01-0.5%
    • S= 0.07-0.15%
  • Alkali metals=increased corrosion and slagging
  • Clay soils have much more soluble silica than other soil
  • Warm season grasses (switch grass) have lower uptake of water compared to cool season (reed canary) and half as much silica
  • Alkali metals combine with silica to form silicates that melt at lower temperatures


  • Softwood pelleting is also a problem (27)
    • Has higher quantities of resin oils and fatty acids than biomass from agriculture which influence friction
      • Cooling dies and rollers is a good solution
  • Compared to wood pellets, 2-5% lower in energy than premium wood pellets and some almost the same (28)



  • Fast growing tree species can be cut down to a low stump (or stool) when dormant in winter and go to produce many stems in next growing season (31)
    • Well established in UK and Europe
  • Suitable species= poplar, willow (31)
  • Used in Sweden since ‘70’s (32)


  • Produces a lot of juvenile wood (32)
    • Used for bio energy
  • Willow or hybrid poplar grown at very high densities of about 14, 800 to 15, 600 plants/h and harvest every 3-4 years total of 5-7 harvests (32)
  • COSTS (33)
    • Rearing, selecting, processing stock $4688/ha
    • Site prep $900/ha
    • Marking, planting $931-3275/ha
    • Vegetation management $2600/ha
    • Plantation maintenance $950/ha
    • TOTAL COST: 10 069-12413/ha
    • HOWEVER, $400-800/ha later rotation
  • BENEFITS (33)
    • Significant land area suitable
    • High yields, short rotation
    • Consistent fiber quality
    • Suitable for small or large scale conversion technologies
    • Multiple values: biomass, growth stock, waste amelioration
    • Excellent pellet feedstock based on testsà low as <2% ash, high energy 19-19.8GJ
    • Can supplement forest urban biomass residues
    • Costly establishment and management
    • Requires technical development
Item (33) Suitable (33) Not Suitable (33) Amelioration (33)
Soil texture Loams, sandy loam, clay, silt loams Coarse sand and pure clay Irrigating, fertigation on coarse sand
Soil structure Well developed Massive or inconsistent Avoid
Soil drainage Imperfect to moderately well Rapid, well, poor Irrigation or deep sub soil
Soil PH and EC 5.5-8ph0.4-0EC <5.5PH>4.0EC  
Root depth Well 30cm Poor <25cm  
Site quality 3,2,1 4 or lower  
Topography Flat level, gentle slope Undulating  
Hardiness zone 2a and relative 1a, 1b, 1c  



  • Growing hybrid poplar or aspen at lower stand densities that approximate natural densities of 1, 000 plants/ha (32)
  • Single harvest of trees after 15 to 20 years, larger stems, branches give more output value options (32)
    • Carbon sequestration and primary forest products and bioenergy
  • COSTS (33)
    • Rearing, selecting, processing stock $480-960/ha
    • Site prep $600/ha
    • Marking and planting $470/ha
    • Vegetation management $700/ha
    • Plantation maintenance $400/ha
    • TOTAL COST: $3450-3930/ha
  • Lands qualify as afforestation/reforestation under Kyto Protocol, qualify for carbon credits
Item (33) Suitable (33) Not Suitable (33) Amelioration (33)
Soil texture Loams, sandy loam, clay, silt loams Coarse sand and pure clay Irrigating, fertigation on coarse sand
Soil structure Well developed Massive or inconsistent Avoid
Soil drainage Imperfect to moderately well Rapid, well, poor Irrigation or deep sub soil
Soil PH and EC 5.5-8ph0.4-0EC <5.5PH>4.0EC  
Root depth Well 30cm Poor <25cm  
Site quality 3,2,1 4 or lower  
Topography Flat level, gentle slope Undulating  
Hardiness zone 2a and relative 1a, 1b, 1c  



  • Derek Sidder, Canadian Wood Fiber Centre, regional coordinator created concept
  • Maximized space and allow for some short term revenue under an afforestration scenario
  • Hybrid poplar grown with 4 time the number of trees as afforestation
    • Extra row of trees between each row
  • After 5 years, every other row is harvested
    • Remaining trees grow for another 10-15 years


  • Plants originate from vegetative cuttings (32)
  • 1 year old branches and stems, cut them into pieces that is what is planted (32)
  • Cuttings 25cm long, planted vertically with buds facing upward (32)
  • Concentratedà harvest first year to stimulate growth (32)
    • After first year, harvest every 3 years
      • Cut whole stems down to about 10cm from above ground
      • Intensive site prep and weed control first year



  • First year can grow up to 4m in height (31)
    • Cut back to ground level in first winter to encourage growth
  • First harvest in winter, typically 3 years after cut back (31)
  • First harvest maybe expected to be lower than subsequent (31)
    • 7-12 tonnes over dried/ha/year
  • Harvesting can be rods (8m), billets (4-15cm), direct chip (31)
  • DIRECT CHIP= problems for storage with rapid decomposing (loss of energy content), mold (31)
  • Willow plantation may be expected to be viable for up to 30 years before necessary to replant and can reach 7-8m in height at harvest (31)
  • Site flat with slope no more than 7%



  • Displays more apical dominance than willow therefore less ready to develop multiple stems following coppicing (31)
  • Shoots can reach up to 8m by the end of the first rotation (31)
    • Tends to develop fewer, thicker stems than willow, lower bark to wood to ratio
    • Individual shoots can reach up to 8m by the end of the first 3 years of rotation (31)
    • Planted in spring from cuttingsàmust have an apical bud within 1cm of top of cutting (31)
    • Planting density lower than willow (31)
    • Cut back in late winter (31)
    • Average yield 8 over by tonnes/h/per year
    • Harvesting cycles of 4-5 years, slightly longer than 3 years recommended for willows (31)
    • Growth in 1st year following cut back or harvest not as rapid in subsequent years (31)
      • Up right growth habit, may not develop closed canopy until 2nd-3rd year
      • Removal of poplar crop at end of useful life of plantation more difficult then willow (31)
        • Forms a large taproot, and requires a large excavator or more time to decay



  • C3 plants (cool season)= greater chilling tolerance, utilize solar radiation effectively in spring and fall (9)
  • C4 plants (warm season)= higher water use efficiency (9)
    • Utilize solar radiation 40% more efficiently under optimal conditions
    • Improved biomass quality: lower ash and increase holocellulose and energy contents
    • Responsive to warming climate
  • Straw and stock high Cl and P content (10)
    • Suggested delay harvest of cerial straw
      • Use stripper heads
  • Silca level in straw=wear on die and rolls if made out of the same steel as used for wood pellets (11)
  • Heartland’s business (12)
    • Deal with farmers individually
    • 12 month contract
    • Farmers store straw
    • Fixed market-doesn’t decrease may increase 5-10%/year based on market
  • Straw excretes a waxy layer, ideal for storage up to 2 years (12)
  • Feedstock for pellet made of straw, be able to pass drying stage (21)
  • High silica in straw, greater abrasion in pellet plants (21)


  • 2003 Tall Fescue (25)
    • Method:  samples were taken from varieties during May ‘03
      • Variety not significantly different  in ash content
        • Ash content declined to approx 8% by the end of may
  • 2004 Mixed Grass Fields (25)
    • Method:  seven fields were cut in early August, left in field for two weeks and large square bales (700 lbs) made with commercial equipment
      • Iron content of grass should be 2-300ppm
      • Significant soil contamination= ash and mineral issues


  • Bales are seldom used as commercial fuel in original shape (27)
  • Shredding of bales represent high cost, and will reduce payment for farmer (27)
    • Shredding decrease value @ least 15%
  • Straw chips are a commercially accepted fuel delivered to the customer (27)
    • Extreme low bulk density when harvested by precision choppers
      • Influence field transportation, storing, road transport to customer
  • Grasses can grown on unused agricultural land, which is not suited to grow row crops (28)
  • Softwood shave  less ¼% ash than grasses, and hardwoods about half (28)
  • Energy content of warm season grasses= 18.5-19 GJ/tonne, 5-7% below wood residues (7)
    • Ash content is 3-5% Eastern Canada, 5-9% Western Canada
  • Cool weather grasses (timothy, wheat, canary, archard and brome) have double the ash content of warm season grasses like switchgrass, big blue stem, Indian grass (28)
  • Bales not high quality= $40-60/ton (37)


  Salix (36) Straw (yellow) (36) Straw (grey) (36) Hemp (spring harvest) (36)
Moisture Content% 51.5 15 15 9.8
Ash% 1.6 4 3 3
Heating Value MJ/kg 19.2 14.4 15 17.9
Nitrogen% 0.4 0.35 0.41 0.8
Sulphur% 0.04 0.16 0.13 0.07
Chlorine% 0.005 0.75 0.2 0.01



  • Phyllostachys Bissetii (15)
    • Hardiness -23 degrees Celsius,  most cold hardy
    • First to send shoots in spring
    • Fastest growing—most invasive
    • Moisture content ranged from 8-23%
      • PB moisture level increased with age of harvested plant
    • Ash year one: 1.14%, year two: 0.78%, year three: 0.9%
    • Cl year one: 0.07, year two 0.03, year three: 0.05%
  • Bamboo= heating value 18.5-19.4 GJ/t (18)
    • Ash=0.8-2.5%
    • Sulphur= 0.03-0.05%
    • Potassium=0.15-0.5%


  1. Environmental Implications of Biomass Removal.  Dr. J.L. Hatfield. 
  2. The Costs of Stubble Burning.
  3. Turning Grass Into Fuel.  Toni Boger.
  4. Crop Residue Removal for Biomass Energy Production: Effects on Soils and Recommendations.  Dr. Susan S. Andrews.
  5. Bioenergy Crops Compared: Miscanthus more Productive than Switchgrass.
  6. Canada’s New Energy Fields.  Dave Harrison.
  7. The Use of Agricultural Residues and Energy Crops in Biomass Combustion Systems.
  8. Switchgrass Production in Ontario: a Management Guide.
  9. Switchgrass for Bioheat in Canada.  Roger Samson.
  10. Establishing Bioheat in Eastern Ontario Utilizing Switchgrass and Agricultural Biomass for Solid Fuel.
  11. European Pellet Centre: Technical Obstacles Indentified.
  12. Adding Value to Wheat Straw.
  14.  Flax Straw.
  15. Bamboo: An Overlooked Biomass Resource?
  16. Rational Behind the Proposed New PFI Standards.
  17. What’s The Value of Straw?
  18. Bioenergy Feedstock Characteristics.  Jonathan Scurlock.  http://www.bioenergy.ornl.papers/misc/biochar-factsheet.html
  19. Case Histories:  Co-firing Coal and Oat Hulls Reduces Emissions at University Power Plant.  Ferman Milster.
  20.  Power Production at Nanticoke GS.  Les Marshall.
  21.  Biomass Conversion Feasibility Study.
  22. Torrefaction for Biomass Upgrading.  Patrick C.A. Bergman and Jacob H.A. Kiel.
  23. Torrefaction:  Improving the Properties of Biomass Feedstocks.  Bruce Folkedahl.
  24. Renewable and Alternative Fact Sheet.
  25. Cornell University.
  26. A Test of Reed Canary Grass as a Pellet Fuel Stock in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula.
  27. Optimized Chains for Production and Treatment of Reed Canary Grass and Other Energy Crops.  Rolf Olsson.
  28. The Grass is Grown for Burning…Not for Smoking.  Catherine Thompson.
  29. The Trial of the Suitability of Switchgrass and Reed Canary Grass as Biofuel Crops under UK Conditions.
  30. Miscanthus:  A review of European Experience with a Novel Energy Crop.  J.M.O Scurlock.
  31.  Short Rotation Cappice.
  32. Growing Woody Biomass.  Heather Hager.
  33. Biomass Opportunities:  Short Rotation Woody Crops Research.  Canadian Wood Fibre Center.
  34. Switchgrass as a Biofuel:  Is it Economically Feasible?
  35. Shahabaddine Sokhansanj.  9/30/2009
  36. David Anderson.  9/30/2009
  37. Shahabaddine Sokhansanj.  10/2/2009
  38. Shelly Mende-  10/9/2009
  39. Dennis Widdifiled- cook engineering.  10/16/2009
  40. Phil Fleury—Elf Industries.  12/11/2009

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