MUNICH, Germany – Because wood is heavy and logs are irregularly shaped, it costs more to transport, limiting its use as a raw material in industry. In the European Union-funded SteamBio project, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB have teamed up with various partners to change all that, developing a special steam drying technique that could significantly cut transportation costs.
Using wood on an industrial scale offers a great opportunity to replace crude oil and natural gas. The challenge is coming up with innovative ways to treat biomass so as to allow for sustainable products and production processes.
Normally, forestry waste, weak wood and other inferior wood is ground into wood chips, which are an important feedstock for the wood processing industry. They are also used as fuel in thermal power plants and woodchip heating systems. However, the high moisture content of fresh wood chips presents two problems: it is a lot of weight to transport, and it is difficult to store the damp cargo. If it is not protected from rain, the material quickly rots.
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