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  • Steve Nelson

Material Handling for Biomass-based Renewable Diesel and SAF

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Woody biomass, material handling, Wolf material handling
The conversion of solid feedstock to liquid fuels begins with material handling. (Photo: Wolf Material Handling Systems)

What first comes to mind when you think of project development for renewable diesel or sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)? Obviously, market opportunities? How much feedstock is needed, and is it sustainable? What type of technology will you deploy to process the feedstock? Which processes lead to potential environmental impacts, and how they can be mitigated? Finally, who will buy your fuel and coproducts and how will you get them to the marketplace?

Everyone progresses through project development differently, which leads to the question we ask here at Wolf Material Handling Systems: “Have you considered your material-handling requirements?” Without sustainable, efficient and reliable material handling, you will not optimize your plant’s performance and profitability. That is where Wolf MHS, as a technology provider, can help.

While it is easy to recognize the tremendous opportunities for renewable diesel and SAF, bringing these fuels to the consumers requires private and public investments, policy incentives and market opportunities. One method for producing these fuels is solid bulk material biomass-based gasification. The conversion of feedstocks begins with material handling. While material handling is typically less than 10 percent of the overall capital investment for a biorefinery, it has a major impact on the overall success of a project and the future performance of the investment. Next to feedstock availability, material handling is the most critical front-end consideration for the processing plant; without consistent and properly prepared feedstock, the conversion process is diminished, or even crippled.

Material-handling considerations include receiving, separating, sizing, conveying and delivering the feedstock to the gasifier island. Each type of feedstock has unique characteristics such as size, bulk density, moisture content, flowability and more. Biomass-based gasification projects utilize wood waste, agricultural residues and municipal solid waste, and each presents challenges and opportunities in its use as a feedstock. Recognizing and addressing the unique needs of a specific project result in an optimal process flow with an integrated material-handling system that maximizes the reliability and efficiency of the overall process.

Wolf MHS is the premier designer and supplier of fuel-yard systems for biomass power and conversion, pulp and paper, power generation, gasification, resource recovery, mining, chemical, manufacturing and recycling, and other industries that require material handling. Wolf MHS provides complete in-house design, engineering, manufacturing, assembly, and installation for systems using conveyance, stacking, reclaim, truck dumpers, receiving hoppers and ash/biochar receiving, handling, storage and removal. Wolf MHS understands the challenges required to handle biomass and its byproducts, taking full responsibility for every aspect of the process from fuel receiving, sizing, storage, reclaim and boiler feed. With a long history of delivering performance and innovation, Wolf MHS is considered not just a material handling systems provider, but a technology partner in the development of projects by providing complete interdisciplinary systems and support, beginning with the conceptual phase through commissioning.

Wolf MHS has successfully supplied the complete material-handling systems for several of the largest biomass power projects in the U.S. For example, a 115-megawatt (MW) wood waste feedstock biomass power plant, which was named the 2012 Biomass Project of the Year by Power Engineering. Also, a 102.5 MW wood waste feedstock biomass power plant, named a finalist for Power Engineering’s 2013 Bioenergy Project of the Year. In addition, several wood waste, agricultural residues and other feedstocks for power generation, ranging from 20 to 65 MW.

With more than 40 years of experience, Wolf MHS systems and equipment maximize process and production efficiency with consistent and reliable flow of materials. Each system is designed to reduce labor and maintenance costs and consume less power per mass unit than other alternatives. Wolf MHS is committed to offer each client a custom material-handling solution for their specific site and process requirements. Wolf MHS’s in-house capabilities include consultation for scope definition, system design, equipment engineering, detail drawings, fabrication, assembly, inspection, start-up and commissioning. Wolf MHS systems come with a performance guarantee and have never experienced major system failure.

Wolf MHS has recently become the material handling technology provider for a wood waste gasification-to-SAF project in the western U.S. that will produce 10 million gallons per year. Wolf MHS is also currently engaged in several solid biomass-based conversion projects that utilize a variety of feedstocks to create renewable diesel, SAF and coproducts. With more than 40 years of experience, project developers rely on Wolf MHS to design, engineer and manufacture the required material-handling equipment that will maximize their efficiencies and profitability while minimizing operating and maintenance costs.

Author: Steven Nelson

General Manager, Wolf Material Handling Systems


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