Air Burners Turn Wood Waste into Electricity

Air Burners LLC introduced a portable wood-waste burner that produces up to 350 kilowatts of electricity, claiming it is enough to support more than 30 homes. The machine is based on the Palm City, Fla.-based company’s wood-waste disposal systems. The U.S. Forest Service supports the use of the equipment for forest fuels reduction as highlighted in its Tech Tip publication.

According to Air Burners, trees killed by beetle infestations in the western United States and Canada, long considered waste, can now be converted into clean energy and quickly disposed of at the same time. The electric power can be sold back into the local electric grid at landfills and transfer stations or used to power public buildings and facilities.

A “turbo-expander” power generator that is integrated into Air Burners’ standard firebox generates the electricity, and the heat is collected from the thermoceramic refractory walls and efficiently converted into electricity.

“What is really exciting,” said Brian O’Connor, the firm’s CEO and chief engineer, “is the prospect of bringing plenty of electric power deep into the forest where much of the dead tree disposal, logging and forest restoration takes place. This may make it advantageous for companies such as Caterpillar, John Deere, Komatsu or Volvo to expand their hybrid technologies to rely less on hydrocarbon-based fuels and more on clean electricity. With the PowerGen FireBox they now have the means to recharge their batteries on-site from the wood waste that has to be disposed of anyway.”

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