Biomass & Bioenergy, Vol.117, 10-23, 2018
Evaluation of wood pellet handling in import terminals
Wood pellet imports are expected to increase in the European Union and Southeast Asia by 2030, considering pellets are the main feedstock used for co-firing in power plants throughout these regions. Due to the material's physical and biological properties, the equipment at an import terminal need to be different than what is used for other bulk material. Thus, most of the common problems associated with handling can be avoided. Dust emission and explosions, degradation in storage, self-heating and ignition are important criteria when designing a wood pellet port terminal, and can greatly affect associated logistics. Despite some availability of data concerning the handling of pellets, there is a lack of insight into the equipment and operations of actual handling facilities. A detailed literature research was performed in order to ascertain the level of the scientific background on the subject. Subsequently, visits in pellet facilities in the Netherlands and in-depth interviews with representatives were conducted and serve as a means of gaining an overview of current industry practices and equipment used for the handling of wood pellets. The main objective of this work is to evaluate the state-of-the-art in wood pellet handling in import terminals. This way, future bottlenecks can be identified and actions needed to overcome them can be determined. The analysis performed shows that while wood pellet terminals might be able to cope with the low amounts being traded currently, a reexamination and redesign of terminal facilities to accommodate the increased volumes will probably be required by 2030.