“We are taking a material variable in density and moisture content and making a very uniform product … with very few manufacturing steps, compared to many intensive conversion processes,” Sokhansanj said. This process is located at rural centres and employs people close to the production of the materials.
The group’s five-year research program, “modelling of off-gassing for wood pellets,” addresses the education and training of high-quality personnel to support this emerging industry. The research investigates several topics, stated Sokhansanj, including the safe handling and storage of pellets, and off-gassing and self heating. Two students are working on spontaneous heating and ventilation. When fine, coarse, low-temperature pellets were compared with torrefied chips and switch grass, torrefied chips emitted the lowest CO.