Over 70 experts from 13 countries attended the First International Workshop on Pellet Safety convened by the European Pellet Council, AEBIOM and the Safe Pellets project. Participants included researchers, pellet producers, utilities, producers of pelleting and safety equipment, representatives of associations, of inspection companies, investors and companies involved in pellet logistics.
Open Space Event
The workshop was organized as an open space event, meaning that the participants convened sessions on topics they considered relevant. Overall 27 sessions where convened covering a wide range of safety issues. The two most intensively debated issues were safety issues related to pellet storage and pellet production followed by human health and safety, and safety issues in transport and related to second-generation pellets.
An issue most operators of large pellet storage silos have is self heating. Discussions centred around possible influencing factors for self heating and ways of adequately monitoring storage conditions. Researchers from the Safe Pellets project presented their ongoing investigations on self heating and close co-operation with industry in this question was agreed upon. Besides topics related to large industrial storage, safety issues concerning small scale domestic pellet storage were also discussed.
The second most intensively debated issue was safety in pellet production. The visit at the 100.000 t Binderholz pellet plant right next to the conference venue created an excellent opportunity to discuss safety issues right on the spot. Workshops circled around the question of preventing fires and explosions in pellet production plants. Best practices for the set up and operation of pellet plants have not yet been established. The Wood Pellet Association of Canada has developed a safety certification for pellet producers together with insurance companies. WPAC is offering to use this certification scheme also in Europe and the USA as a means of establishing a better level of general safety in pellet production.
Two workshops dealt with the possibilities to improve storage safety by using second generation pellets which could be stored outside and with other specific issues related to the use of torrefied or steam treated pellets.
A topic intensively discussed was the question, of how to enable the industry to share information about incidents, to enhance learning and speedy implementation of adequate safety measures for all potential risks.
Follow up activities
The workshop ended with a number of sessions focussing on concrete follow up activities. It was decided to start working on a pellet safety handbook covering both production and issues along the diverse supply chains. A working group was established to develop a guidance document that outlines occupational safety and health concerns related to pellet production and use.
A web based communication platform for the pellet safety community will be established by the European Pellet Council in cooperation with the Safe Pellets project team. This platform will also allow reporting of safety relevant events.
Finally, it was decided to convene a follow up event within about a year to learn about the results of on-going research, to report on the results of follow-up activities and to debate what needs to be done further to improve safety in the pellet sector. EPC will take the lead in identifying an adequate venue and time for the follow up event. Overall participants expressed a high degree of satisfaction. The open format and the possibility to discuss and learn from persons having similar issues were considered particularly valuable.
A comprehensive 60 page documentation of the results of the workshop is available free of charge at AEBIOM. Please contact Mrs. Anna Maria Olaru: Olaru@aebiom.org via email to receive the report in electronic form.