Conference addresses biomass challenges


elegates attending the Association of Bulk Ter- minal Operators’ (ABTO) inaugural conference in

London, Bulk Terminals 2017, were left in no doubt regarding the chal- lenges facing bulk terminal opera- tors looking to make the transition from coal to biomass.

“Biomass is not one material,” said Professor Mike Bradley, Director of the Wolfson Centre, urging termi- nal operators at the conference to carefully evaluate the various types of biomass products before investing in new handling and storage facili- ties. “Different biomass products have different requirements,” he said, explaining that biomass prod- ucts can be made up of anything from organic residues, food waste, sewage, straw, cereal and olive stones to chipped wood, elephant grass, wet leaves and paper. “The key is to understand the properties of the particular range of materials involved since no one handling system can deal with all types of biomass.”

Going on to highlight some of the unloading and handling challenges faced by operators looking to adapt their terminals for biomass, he ad- vised operators to keep a close eye on their quality control and safety procedures. Biomass dust, he said, is a particular challenge.

“Dust has caught more people out in biomass handling,” he said. “It’s more mobile, it’s lighter and will stay suspended for longer.” He said there is a danger that if not dealt with appropriately, it could result in terminal workers inhaling the dust and contracting ‘farmer’s lung’, the accumulation of mould spores in the lungs.

Bradley also said that the ac- cumulation of biomass dust can increase the fire and explosion risks, particularly as some biomass cargoes

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This biomass storage and handling facility at Gladstone Quay in the Port of Liverpool can handle three million tonnes of wood pellets a year.

are self-heating. “If you can write your name in the dust, you have an accident waiting to happen.” The storage of biomass prod- ucts, specifically wood pellets, was a key point raised by Dr Mi-Rong (Kimberly) Wu from the TBA Group. She informed more than 50 bulk in- dustry leaders that biomass volume, rather than weight, has to be taken into account when considering silos and storage facilities.

She said that because of its bulk density, more volume of solid bio- mass needs to be stored compared to coal and this would require about 1.3 times more land to accom- modate the higher volumes. Wu also pointed out that solid biomass is sensitive towards degradation and should not be stored for more than three months. “Silos have been known to explode because of incorrect handling. For solid biomass products, temperature and CO2 emissions must be constantly moni- tored,” she told delegates. Summing up her presentation, she said, “Solid biomass properties are in a wide variation range. For solid biomass handling, the volumet- ric performance should be the main benchmark rather than tonnage per- formance.” She concluded that for those terminal operators considering a transition from coal to biomass, adjustments in terms of handling

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processes and storage requirement are necessary, along with in-depth investigations into logistics and material characteristics. The biomass sessions were rounded off by David Wragg, Busi- ness Development Director at Har- greaves Industrial Services, and Gary Sharpe, Project Director (Mersey) of Peel Ports Group, both of whom provided insightful case studies of terminals that have successfully made the transition to biomass. Wragg’s presentation focused on the safety systems and technologies Hargreaves has installed in the Port of Tyne’s new biomass-handling facility, while Sharpe detailed the in- frastructure developments required of Liverpool’s Gladstone Biomass Terminal to handle three million tonnes of wood pellets a year. The latter project required three 100,000 tonne capacity silos, 1.2 km x 1.8 m wide belt conveyors rated at 2000 t/h and rail infrastructure for ten trains each capable of hand- ing1700 tonnes per day.

ABTO Chief Executive Ian Adams concluded, “It was very satisfying to know that all delegates left the con- ference – our first event since estab- lishing the Association 18 months ago – commenting on the high quality of the papers presented”. More information from



Diary of events Biomass

Brno, Czech Republic 8-12 April, 2018

Wood Bioenergy Conference & Expo

Atlanta, USA 11-12 April, 2018 Forst Live

Offenburg, Germany 13-15 April, 2018

All-Energy Exhibition & Conference

Glasgow, Scotland 2-3 May, 2018

European Biomass Conference & Exhibition

Copenhagen, Denmark 14-17 May, 2018


Helsinki, Finland 29-31 May, 2018

Wood & Bioenergy Helsinki, Finland 29-31 May, 2018

www.woodexpo.messukeskus. com

Euroforest 2018

Saint-Bonnet-de-Joux, France 21-23 June, 2018


Munich, Germany 18-22 July, 2018

RWM Exhibition Birmingham, England 12-13 September, 2018

APF Exhibition Alcester, England 20-22 September, 2018

Biofuels International Conference & Expo Berlin, Germany 10-11 October, 2018 conference


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