Extreme Forest develops biomass collection, power machines

By Anna Austin
Posted April 29, 2010, at 3:32 p.m. CST

Alabama-based Extreme Forest, a five-year old company that has previously been focused on contracts for private land clearing, has developed new biomass collection equipment and is working to perfect a mobile biomass power generator.

Owner Michael Durden said his company began designing collection equipment a couple of years ago when the value of woody biomass began to greatly increase, creating a need for quick and simple ways to collect materials while obtaining the right chip or pellet consistency.

The machines are much like typical mobile mulcher or pregrinder machines, but have heads on them that can collect the material while processing the biomass instead of leaving it on the ground for later collection. "It's blown into a basket right away so they're ready to be burnt or processed into pellets," Durden said. The machines can clear and collect material from one acre, depending on the density of material, in about three to four hours. One acre can contain 50 to 100 tons of biomass Durden pointed out, but at a maximum the machines can handle about 100 tons every four hours.

Extreme Forest is also working to perfect a mobile biomass generator, according to Durden. He said the electrical capacity right now is at about 5 megawatts, but will be increased as the company perfects the design. "These generators will be useful at sites without readily available electricity such as at an oil rig, or in a community that's been hit by natural disaster," Durden said. "If power lines are severed, we can quickly utilize the available waste materials for power production, as the machines can be plugged right into the grid. They will also be capable of removing moisture from the biomass instantly, similar to but not exactly flash drying. If you've got a large amount of wet wood like during Hurricane Katrina, these will enable power production on site within a day of setting up."

Extreme Forest is working with a few different groups on some regulatory and grid aspects surrounding the generators, but Extreme Forest has done most of the design work, Durden said. The company is also working with Alabama's Environmental Protection Division to gain emissions approval.

The first generator is nearly complete, according to Durden. The company will not initially have them available for sale in order to run tests, but should have them on the market within 10 to 12 months. "It's just a matter of tweaking and fine-tuning them to possess the optimum efficiency, and also making sure they comply with air quality requirements," he added.