Air Burners, Rolls-Royce and Volvo CE turning waste into energy
By Adam FreillConstruction Equipment Equipment Technology Green Construction
BioCharger air curtain burner creates an environmentally friendly, closed-looped system that can power electric machinery fully off-grid.
Air curtain burner system manufacturer Air Burners is collaborating with Rolls-Royce and Volvo Construction Equipment on its BioCharger, an innovative, portable machine that turns biomass waste into energy.
The machine combines three innovative steps to provide off-grid power from vegetative waste management. It eliminates vegetative waste using air curtain technology to minimize the harmful particulate matter entering the atmosphere, converting the residual heat energy into electric energy that is stored in a connected battery storage module. This energy can be then used with the accompanying charging mechanism for off-grid electric vehicle and machinery charging.
“While electric machinery becomes increasingly popular in the fight against climate change, when it comes to forest management, we must have practical solutions for charging electric machinery away from traditional power sources,” said Brian O’Connor, president of Air Burners. “The Air Burners’ BioCharger provides that solution and manages wood waste, all done in an economical and environmentally conscious way.”
The company says that vegetative waste is a significant and growing problem, often seeing half or more of it being left to open burns or decomposition, which releases particulate matter and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The BioCharger, it says, is designed to permanently eliminate up to 20 tons of vegetative waste per hour without emitting harmful greenhouse emissions like methane and black carbon – the second biggest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide.
Air Burners consulted with Rolls-Royce in developing the Battery Storage Module within the BioCharger, a 450-kWh charging station that can recharge multiple battery-electric machines and tools, from chainsaws to excavators. The BioCharger creates and stores enough energy daily to recharge three to six battery-powered machines. In addition, the BioCharger retains enough energy to start itself and continue the cycle the next day.
“The BioCharger is a unique application for our mtu EnergyPack battery energy storage system that I think shows just how versatile energy storage can be,” said Kevin McKinney, sales director at Rolls-Royce Solutions America. “The BioCharger’s ability to reduce emissions and generate energy through responsible handling of vegetative waste perfectly aligns with our targets to support our customers with innovative solutions for the transition to clean power generation.”
Volvo Construction Equipment teamed with Air Burners to prove out the charging capabilities of the BioCharger with its new 23-ton crawler excavator, the EC230 Electric. The EC230 Electric is currently in pilot testing across North America ahead of its commercial launch next year.
“This collaboration with Air Burners for the BioCharger allows us to demonstrate one of the more non-conventional sources to fast-charge our equipment in off-grid locations,” said Ray Gallant, vice-president of sustainability and productivity services at Volvo Construction Equipment.
Unlike biomass power plants, the BioCharger is a fully portable machine that can be relocated to a new site. The manufacturer says it can be operational in approximately six hours, accepting whole logs, root balls, pallets, crates, and any other clean wood or vegetative waste without sorting, crushing, or grinding.