Air Burners new BioCharger turns wood waste into energy

Air curtain burner is closed-looped system for managing plant waste, powering electric machinery

biomass Air Burners has developed the BioCharger – a portable machine that turns biomass waste into energy. (Illustration: Air Burners)

Air Burners, a Florida-based manufacturer of air curtain burner systems, said it collaborated with Rolls-Royce and Volvo Construction Equipment to develop and test the BioCharger – a portable machine that turns biomass waste into energy.

The BioCharger combines three steps to provide off-grid power from vegetative waste. First, it eliminates plant matter using air curtain technology to minimize the particulate matter that enters the atmosphere. Then, it converts the residual heat energy into electric energy and stores it in a connected battery storage module. Finally, with an accompanying charging mechanism, the BioCharger allows for off-grid electric vehicle and machinery charging.

“While electric machinery becomes increasingly popular in the fight against climate change, when it comes to forest management, we must have practical solutions for charging electric machinery away from traditional power sources,” said Brian O’Connor, president of Air Burners. “The Air Burners’ BioCharger provides that solution and manages wood waste, all done in an economical and environmentally conscious way.”

The company said 70 million tons of wood waste is collected annually in the United States, but only 48% of that waste is reused, leaving the rest to open burns or decomposition. The company said the BioCharger eliminates up to 20 tons of vegetative waste per hour without emitting harmful greenhouse emissions like methane and black carbon – which it said is the second biggest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide.

Air Burners consulted with Rolls-Royce Power Systems in developing the battery storage module within the BioCharger, a 450 kWh charging station that can recharge multiple battery-electric machines and tools, from chainsaws to excavators. The BioCharger creates and stores enough energy daily to recharge three to six battery-powered machines. In addition, the BioCharger retains enough energy to start itself and continue the cycle the next day.

“The BioCharger is a unique application for our MTU EnergyPack battery energy storage system that I think shows just how versatile energy storage can be,” said Kevin McKinney, Sales Director at Rolls-Royce Solutions America. “The BioCharger’s ability to reduce emissions and generate energy through responsible handling of vegetative waste perfectly aligns with our targets to support our customers with innovative solutions for the transition to clean power generation.”

Volvo Construction Equipment worked with Air Burners to prove the charging capabilities of the BioCharger with its new 23-ton crawler excavator, the EC230 Electric. The EC230 Electric is currently in pilot testing across North America ahead of its commercial launch next year.

“This collaboration with Air Burners for the BoCharger allows us to demonstrate one of the more non-conventional sources to fast-charge our equipment in off-grid locations,” said Ray Gallant, vice president of sustainability and productivity services, Volvo Construction Equipment.

Air Burners said the BioCharger is a fully portable machine that can be relocated to a new site and be operational in approximately 6 hours. The machine accepts whole logs, root balls, pallets, crates, and any other clean wood or vegetative waste without sorting, crushing or grinding. Air curtain burners also do not require any secondary fuel sources like natural gas, reducing costs and easing installation.


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