5 Ways to Keep Emissions Down as the World Returns to Work

While recent world events have upended life as we know it, they have also resulted in an unexpected upside: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as economies were put on pause and people stopped commuting to work. But as the situation gradually stabilizes, the world is cautiously making plans to help people get back to work. While there are concerns that greenhouse gas emissions will accordingly rise back to their usual levels, this doesn’t have to happen—at least not when it comes to wood waste management, where our air curtain burners can play a role.

Wood and vegetative waste are one of the largest waste problems facing the world community, according to the World Bank it represents almost 20 percent of all waste.  The elimination of the waste has a significant negative impact on our environment, but it doesn't need to. Here are 5 ways Air Burners machines help to keep emissions down as wood waste management activities resume.


1. Trapping and Reburning Black Carbon Emissions

Most global wood waste is currently burned through open burns—in other words, a pile of wood is gathered in an open area and set alight. However, this open burn process freely releases black carbon into the atmosphere. Apart from posing hazards to human health – contributing to lung cancer and heart disease – black carbon is also the second-largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. All these risks can be curbed if we can stop black carbon from entering the atmosphere during the wood waste disposal process. In this regard, Air Burners provide a strong solution.

Air Burners machines are fitted with air curtain technology. The Air Curtain creates a secondary burn chamber which traps these black carbon particles as they are released from burning wood. These particles are then reburned until they are small enough to pass through the air curtain and enter the atmosphere with none of their harmful qualities. Air Burners plume opacities are below 10% per EPA Method 9 Testing. Such results are far more optimal than those of open burns, which may produce smoke plume opacities of between 80% and 100%.


2. More Fuel-Efficient Method of Disposing of Wood Waste

To dispose of wood waste, it typically has to be first ground on site and then trucked out to an incinerator which may be located miles away from the site requiring wood waste disposal. The whole log grinders typically consume 100 gallons of diesel per hour. The transportation process can take 10 to 15 gallons of diesel fuel for a one-way trip, so if you need to make multiple trips to transport all your waste to the incinerator, your fuel consumption—and amount of emissions produced from such trips—can really start to add up.

Our Air Burners provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to this fuel-intensive exercise. Being portable, our machines can be brought directly to the wood waste disposal site. This reduces both the transport distance and the amount of fuel needed for trucking. What’s more, Air Burners can accept and burn wood waste whole. This avoids the need to grind wood waste into smaller pieces before they can be burned, which is often required for other wood waste disposal methods. The result is even greater fuel savings—as high as 30 to 100 gallons of diesel per hour, depending on the grinder model—and the prevention of emissions from the grinding process.


3. Generating Clean Electric and Thermal Energy

Burning biomass to generate electricity is not a new concept. However, Air Burners are able to produce electric and thermal energy free of black carbon emissions with the help of an air curtain system, as mentioned above. Such clean electric and thermal energy can be used to power job sites and heat buildings respectively. This reduces the need to burn fuel to obtain electricity for the same purposes—and hence the amount of emissions produced from generating electricity in that manner. The Air Burners PGF system is the first large biomass energy system that is portable and does not require any permanent structures.  This is significant because when the fuel supply (wood waste) runs out the system can be easily moved.  This is the main issue that is closing biomass energy plants all over the world today.  Because they are permanent structures the waste must travel to the facility.  In most cases that is cost prohibitive and the biomass facility is closed.  This is the case in California where over 50 biomass energy plants have closed for this very reason.

Our Air Burner PGFireBox models are rated at 100kW, 500kW and 1MW of gross electric power and 1MW, 2.5MW and 5MW of gross thermal power respectively, and are able to meet a wide variety of power needs. In the event that excess electricity is produced, such excess can be sold into the public power grid for additional revenue.


4. Producing Biochar That Can Help Reduce Emissions

When wood waste is disposed of using an Air Burner, what remains from the burn process is a porous, carbon-based charcoal substance known as biochar. Biochar is a rich, natural soil amendment that can be used in multiple ways and help curb harmful greenhouse gas emissions in the process. For example, agriculturists add biochar to soil to improve soil fertility and crop yields. Doing so can also reduce soil emissions of nitrous oxide—a greenhouse gas 200 to 300 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon dioxide—by about 55%, according to studies from Cornell University scientists. Separately, another study conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has found that mixing biochar into cattle feed can help reduce methane emissions from cattle by an average of 10%. This could be a game changer, considering that cattle produce about 65% of the global livestock sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


5. Clears Dead Trees at Scale to Curb Methane Emissions

Due to tree mortality incidents, large swathes of trees may lay dying or dead in forests in parks. While they are biodegradable, simply waiting for these trees to decompose would allow for the production and release of large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Human intervention is thus required, and Air Burners can facilitate the disposal of dead trees and vegetative waste at scale. For example, our small FireBox Model S116 can burn two to four tons of wood waste per hour while our larger FireBox Model S330 can handle 11 to 13 tons of wood waste per hour. Such results are far superior to attempting to clear wood waste through open burns. In one experiment, we burned one 20-ton pile of wood waste in our FireBox Model S327, and burned another 20-ton pile via an open burn. Our FireBox Model S327 took just a couple of hours to finish burning the 20-ton pile, while the open burn took nearly 48 hours (releasing much smoke in the process as well).


Let’s keep emissions down!

As the world returns to work, it is expected that the amount of wood waste we generate will start to rise again—but this doesn’t mean that our emissions from wood waste management have to increase as well. Our Air Burners can help dispose of wood waste in a more fuel-efficient manner, while preventing harmful black carbon emissions from entering our atmosphere. In the process, a rich biochar is produced which has scientifically proven greenhouse gas-reducing benefits. Electric and thermal energy is also generated, reducing our fuel reliance and hence emissions from fuel consumption even further. These facts clearly point to Air Burners being the most environmentally friendly solution for disposing of wood waste as the world returns to normal. Contact us for a quote today to learn more about how our products can meet your wood waste disposal needs.