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US Salt looks to wood chips


WATKINS GLEN—US Salt will soon be using a renewable resource—wood chips—to generate the steam needed for salt processing at its Watkins Glen plant.
The company is installing a new furnace that will use what is referred to as biomass for fuel. Biomass is any renewable, carbon-based material that can be burned for heat and power generation. In the case of US Salt, the biomass will be wood chips. Wood chips differ from wood pellets because they don’t need to be composed of clean hardwoods, and the only processing required is the chipping.
Traditional fossil fuels, such as coal, propane and petroleum, are not renewable and have become increasingly expensive over time.
The company anticipates the new furnace, which will burn efficiently with little in the way of emissions, will be operational this spring. US Salt has been working on creating a staging and storage area for the new biomass fuel source, which will begin arriving in January.
The biomass required to power the new furnace will be locally sourced by a company US Salt contracted solely for that purpose. Tree Source Solutions will be procuring the raw materials and creating supply lines that will ensure US Salt has the fuel it requires.
Jack Santamour, who works for Tree Source Solutions, recently held an informational session facilitated by Cornell Cooperative Extension, to provide information on the procurement process and to discuss how local foresters, landowners and others can supply biomass.
He says that US Salt will require 150,000 green tons of biomass each year, which will need to come from sources within 60 to 90 miles.
Brett Chedzoy, senior resource educator for Cooperative Extension, told the group that in the Southern Tier region there’s an estimated annual potential of 250,000 green tons of biomass.
That includes the tops and limbs left after logging, unmarketable species, and cull and rotten trees.
According to Chedzoy, chipping the unused woody materials creates a local market an agricultural product that didn’t previously exist.
“Utilizing portions of trees that are not usually utilized can yield significant biomass,” he told the group.
 


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