Progress continues on development of solid biofuel standards

By American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers | August 12, 2014

Work on international standards for solid biofuels continues to expand, with more than 40 documents in progress. 

Meeting recently in Stockholm, ISO Technical Committee 238, Solid Biofuels, made measurable progress toward developing the content for a series of physical property test standards and related topics. Special effort was given to a new project for thermally treated solid biofuels and a series of new standards projects related to safe handling of pelletized biofuels.

Attending the meeting on behalf of the U.S. was Scott Cedarquist, standards director at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, which is accredited by ANSI to coordinate the U.S. positions in the ISO process. Cedarquist says the work of TC238 has evolved and grown considerably since the committee was formed, in 2008. “Initially the focus was on moving a portfolio of existing European regional standards into the ISO process,” says Cedarquist. “New discussion topics have been industry-led and directed at topics relevant to international trade and emerging technologies.”

One of those new topics is safety. As the use and trade of solid biofuels increases, so does industry experience, which contributes to a better awareness and understanding of safe practices. As a result, a new TC238 working group was established in Stockholm, to coordinate this important work, a development that pleases Chris Wiberg, manager, Biomass Energy Services, Timber Products Inspection/Biomass Energy Laboratory.

“While there have been other initiatives to collect safety-related information and to better understand the risks involved in our industry,” Wiberg says, “this appears to be the first real effort to define best practices in regard to several safety related topics critical to our industry.”

The new working group on safety joins five other established working groups covering terminology, fuel specifications and classes, physical tests, chemical tests, and sampling. The US was one of 16 countries participating and was well represented at the meetings, with four delegates from diverse backgrounds. Included were staff from a biofuel producer, a testing laboratory, academia, and ASABE. US participation was made possible with the support of the Pellet Fuel Institute, the US Industrial Pellet Association, Zilka Biofuels, Oregon State University, Biomass Energy Lab, and ASABE, each of which committed personnel and/or funding.

In the U.S., ASABE coordinates the national positions on draft standards via an established committee of experts. Those interested in participating in the development of the biofuel standards are encouraged to contact Scott Cedarquist, at [email protected] or, in Canada, ASABE member Staffan Melin, at [email protected] .

Additional details on international participation and progress can be found on the ISO website.  

ASABE is accredited by the American National Standards Institute to coordinate and develop the U.S. position in eleven distinct areas of international standards development. Committee membership is open and typically comprises individuals with an academic or commercial interest in the subject matter. Participation in standards development benefits commerce as well as the public by ensuring issues such as consumer safety and evolving technology are addressed in a thorough and timely manner and by reducing trade barriers that can occur in the absence of standardization.

A summary of all ASABE international standards activities can be found on the ASABE website.