Swedish, U.S. firms finish first of wood pellet boiler series

By BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota | July 20, 2012

An International partnership in the area of environmental technology was on display at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn., on June 29. Sweden-based ABioNova and Minnesota-based WoodMaster celebrated their first in a series of “Made in America” commercial wood pellet boiler system installations at a ribbon-cutting ceremony highlighted by special guest, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., Jonas Hafström.

 The biomass boiler system installed at Wolf Ridge was developed by ABioNova in partnership with Italy-based D’Alessandro Thermomeccanica Company.  Additionally, ABioNova also designs and manufactures its own control panel with NovaReg software. ABioNova partnered with WoodMaster to manufacture locally and distribute the European-based technology known as the WoodMaster Commercial Series Boiler throughout North America. Assisting the partnership in identifying and accessing public and private resources throughout the region has been The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota and the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion.  

 “Our partnership with WoodMaster is about showcasing how effective technology transfer can be between two countries,” said Per Carlsson, ABioNova owner and CEO. “We are building a model on how our dependency on foreign fossil fuels can be lessened and how to take care of your own natural resources within local and regional boundaries can work, and build economic growth from it.”

 The Wolf Ridge installation replaces a cordwood system that was over 25 years old. Two new wood pellet boilers provide heat and hot water to the district heating network totaling 81,000 sq. ft. while also allowing for greater handling of the peak and off-peak heating loads. The smaller boiler has a capacity of 1.2 MMBtu/hr and the larger boiler has a capacity of 2.2 MMBtu/hr. The wood pellets are being sourced from a regional wood pellet manufacturer and stored on-site in a 20-ton pellet silo. During the coldest parts of the year, 20 tons of wood pellets will provide about 10 days of heating for Wolf Ridge. It is estimated that heating with wood pellets will provide a 50 percent cost savings over propane on a per MMBtu basis. Wolf Ridge also plans to share with each of its visitors, some 14,000 people a year, about how the center utilizes its biomass system.

 “This new wood pellet system is bringing both economic and educational benefits,” said Chuck Gagner, president of Northwest Manufacturing, “not only to Wolf Ridge, but to the community at large as it demonstrates how local partners can work together to advance technology and capture as much energy spending in their local communities as possible.”

 While the ABioNova and WoodMaster team have installed several boilers in the northeastern U.S., the installation at Wolf Ridge represents their first in a series of projects in Minnesota with locally produced boilers. 

 During his remarks, Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström emphasized the importance of economic activity and trade between Sweden and the U.S.  “Success stories such as this are exciting for the Swedish Ambassador,” Hafström said.