PFI seeks experts to serve on ISO pellet safety workgroups

By Sue Retka Schill | November 20, 2013

The Pellet Fuels Institute is recruiting members and other industry representatives to get involved in the development of new pellet safety standards by the International Standards Organization.

A recent meeting in Sweden set out five areas to be considered by newly formed subcommittees of experts, including the safe handling and storage of pelletized biofuels in commercial and industrial applications; safe handling and storage in domestic and small-scale applications; the prevention and management of fires and explosions in commercial and industrial handling and storage; the analysis of spontaneous heat generation and off-gassing. 

Chris Wiberg, manager at Biomass Energy Laboratory and co-chair of the PFI standards committee, has long served on several ISO subcommittees working on standards for the pellet industry covering technical details such as terminology, specifications, sampling techniques and test methods. “We have a large technical advisory group that receives communications,” he explained. “Yet, there are very few people that participate in the working groups themselves.” Wiberg added that because he now works on four out of five working groups, he can’t take on another and is particularly eager to recruit industry experts for the safety effort.

“The challenge here for the U.S. is everybody is so busy and we tend to fall into our daily jobs,” Wiberg continued. “The people who typically participate are those whose businesses are highly impacted or research institutions, but we don’t have research institutions that are focused on this, so it falls on industry.”

It’s important that the U.S. be involved in writing of the standards, he stressed. “If we’re invited to the table and we don’t choose to participate, it’s up to the other countries to set these standards and we’ll be at the mercy of them.” If U.S. interests aren’t represented, there is the chance that some standards can become trade barriers.

Wiberg encourages interested people to reach out to the PFI staff at [email protected], or to Scott Cedarquist with the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. ASABE works with the American National Standards Institute, the organization that officially represents the U.S. in ISO.