Biomass as Fuel to Produce Steam since 1922
NPI USA utilizes biomass fuel (commonly called “hog fuel”) as our main source of fuel to produce steam for our processes. The mill has utilized biomass fuel since it began operation in 1922, but has increased the use of biomass over past years in response to environmental, economic, and regulatory incentives to offset fossil fuel use with renewable sources, which include biomass.
NPI USA purchases biomass fuel primarily from local sawmills that market these forest residuals as part of their operations. Since NPI USA owns no forest lands on the Olympic Peninsula, we rely on professional foresters to provide both the wood chips for making our paper and residual forest waste biomass fuel to generate steam. The business of forest management for both private and public lands in the Northwest is strictly regulated and forest health and sustainability are carefully accounted for in the long-standing rules.
As legally definition, forest biomass does not include lumber products or wood treated with preservatives. Forest biomass is also not wood from old growth forests and does not include municipal solid waste.
Biomass Supply for the Cogeneration Boiler
Prior to beginning our cogeneration boiler project, NPI USA commissioned two independent studies to make certain that adequate biomass fuel supplies were available to support our replacement boiler. Concurrently, in 2012, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) also completed a biomass supply assessment.
NPI USA’s and the WDNR’s biomass supply assessments concluded that our forests on the Olympic Peninsula are quite capable of providing the additional biomass fuel required for NPI USA’s cogeneration projects. The biomass fuel is harvested from what WDNR refers to as “biomass feedstock”, residual branches, tree tops, pre-commercial thinning, and residual materials from sawmills, such as bark and shavings. No whole tree logging of commercial lumber will be required to supply fuel for our project. In fact foresters manage timberland for the highest value products it can produce, which for the Pacific Northwest is lumber.