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Not just efficient – eco-efficient

The Valmet 801 Combi BioEnergy is a new type of harvester/chipper primarily intended for use in young-growth woodland. It is an ideal tool for thinning woodland to promote strong future forest growth and producing high-quality woodchips for use in biopower plants. Sakari Kulju was awarded the INNOSUOMI Innovation Award in 2005 for developing the concept.

The benefits of thinning young plantation woodland have gone largely unused in Finland, as they have elsewhere in Europe, largely for reasons of cost. The low yield of wood per hectare generated by this type of thinning has generally seen timber companies and pulp and paper companies avoid it as largely unproductive.

Chip consistency produced using the Valmet 810 Combi BioEnergy is very dense and enables cost-effective loads to be achieved easily, adding another benefit to the system's many other advantages.

With the rise in the interest in renewable, carbon-neutral fuels, however, this situation is changing. Young forest represents a major fuel resource capable of providing millions of cubic metres of wood a year in the Nordic region alone.

The obstacle to making use of this resource up until now has been that the harvesting and chipping methods available have not been particularly well-suited to this type of land. They are also not very eco-efficient either.

A new approach

The Valmet 801 Combi BioEnergy eliminates these problems at a stroke, as it offers a 'chips on the spot' solution.

While felling, the operator can grab a number of trunks at the same time and feed them into the chipper located at the front of the machine. The resulting chips are then blown into the onboard 27-m3 hopper, the contents of which can be emptied into a forwarder-hauled container in only three minutes for transport to a pre-set pickup point at the roadside.

This efficient integrated chain means that timber felled in the morning can already be generating heat and power at a power plant later the same day.

Eco-efficient all the way

A number of forest energy contractors and forest management companies are already using the Valmet 801 Combi BioEnergy; and the results have been even better than expected.

One machine and the associated support logistics can manage around 300 hectares of young-growth woodland and generate the equivalent of more than 50,000 MWh of environment-friendly forest energy.

The Valmet 801 Combi BioEnergy system thins, chips, and transports a highly valuable energy resource using a little over one litre of fossil fuel for every MWh of end-use energy – this compares very favourably to the best that the alternative systems can do, as they need nearly four times as much fuel to achieve the same performance.

> Antero Siuro
(Published in High Technology Finland )