Business Briefs

By Pellet Mill Magazine | May 31, 2019

Panah joins WPAC, Melin retires
The Wood Pellet Association of Canada has appointed Fahimeh Yazdan Panah as director of research and technical development.

Panah joins WPAC from the University of British Columbia, where she was a research associate with the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group. For the past 12 years, she carried out bioenergy research on behalf of the university, governments and private industry clients, focusing on biofuel densification, pretreatment, storage, biomass handling and safety. Panah has co-authored more than 80 technical reports and peer-reviewed publications on the topic of bioenergy, and serves as the project lead within ISO Technical Committee 238 (Solid Biofuels) and chair within ISO Technical Committee 300 (Solid Recovered Biofuels). She received her doctorate and master’s degree in applied science from UBC and a bachelor’s degree in applied science from the Amirkabir University of Technology in Iran. She is a registered professional engineer with the Association of Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, and a professional project manager with the Project Management Institute. Panah also volunteers as the regional director of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Society for Bioengineering.

Panah joins WPAC as Staffin Melin, director of research, retires. Melin’s career in the wood pellets industry was preceded by five years as a trade commissioner for the government of Sweden in Canada, during which time he developed relationships that resulted in the first wood pellet exports from Canada to Europe.

Melin has been a leader in developing ISO standards for wood pellets, covering quality, chemical and mechanical testing and safety, and cooperated with the Swedish Research Institute on developing guidelines for extinguishing fires in storage silos. Over his career, Melin has authored or co-authored more than 80 scientific papers, reports and books on biomass processing, safety, logistics and international trade.

Pellet Fuels Institute welcomes new members
The Pellet Fuels Institute has added two new fuel manufacturers to its membership. Barefoot Pellet in Troy, Pennsylvania, and BioMaxx Inc., with manufacturing facilities in Ulysses, Pennsylvania, and Arcade, New York, have joined as fuel producing members. “We’re thrilled to add both of these great organizations to the PFI membership roster,” said Tim Portz, PFI executive director. “Our board chairman, Don Wagner of Appalachian Wood Pellets, and I visited both of these producers last fall and were extremely impressed by their operations and their passion for the industry.”

Martin’s Sales and Service, a specialty hearth retailer in Butler, Pennsylvania, has joined PFI as a retail member, and Novolex–Yakima as a new supplier member. “The pellet manufacturing and distribution supply chain is very interdependent,” said Portz. “Our diverse membership is a reflection of that interdependency, and we’re excited to add these important voices to our ongoing discussion about how to best grow our industry.”

Murray named Excellence in Bioenergy Award recipient
BBI International and Biomass Magazine named Gordon Murray recipient of the annual Excellence in Bioenergy Award, which was presented to Murray at the International Biomass Conference & Expo in Savannah, Georgia. The award recognizes individuals, organizations or companies who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the bioenergy industry.

Murray has a bachelor of science in forestry and is a registered forester who has worked in the forest and bioenergy industries for 35 years. Since 2003, he has managed an accounting practice specializing in forest industry mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and management accounting. In 2009, he became the Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s executive director, where he works as an ardent advocate on behalf of Canadian producers, traders, ports, terminals, shipping companies, and equipment suppliers. Murray also serves as a committee member for the Sustainable Biomass Partnership, is secretary of the WPAC Safety Committee, and has volunteered to help shape regulations for Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard, among many other initiatives.

Drax Group hires Baxter as nonexecutive director
Drax Group plc has brought John Baxter on board to serve in the role of nonexecutive director. Baxter has extensive energy, engineering and safety experience, with over 45 years spent working across nuclear, electricity, oil and gas sectors. Between 2004 and 2015, Baxter was at BP plc, most recently as group head of engineering and process safety, prior to which he was group engineering director at Powergen plc.

Having originally trained as a Royal Navy engineer officer serving on nuclear submarines, Baxter is currently visiting professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Strathclyde. He is also a nonexecutive director of Sellafield Ltd., a nuclear site management company based in Cumbria, North West England, where he chairs the Sellafield Board Committee on Environment, Health, Safety and Security.