Assessment of current technologies for communition of forest residues
Recent legislation and energy prices have led to an increased need for alternative energy sources. Biomass, including forest residues, is expected to replace a part of the nation’s reliance on petroleum consumption. This paper provides an overview of existing literature related to the harvest, communition and transport of forest residues. Past studies have investigated the systems associated with biomass harvesting. Researchers have explored whether to incorporate the biomass component with other forest product removals, or to harvest it in a separate entry. Land managers do not have the tools to adequately assess the cost of biomass processing prior to treatments. Handling residue can be awkward due to the size and arrangement of the material. Dirt and rocks can contaminate residues and cause equipment repair problems or reduced utilization of the resource. These issues coupled with the problems of comparing existing production studies lead to some of the reasons why land managers have difficulty in assessing communition processing costs. Logging residue and unmerchantable stems are expensive to transport without some sort of communition prior to transport. There are few studies available today that investigate some of the newer technology, such as horizontal grinders and slash bundling machines. Forest professionals could benefit from further research in this area to provide a means of more adequately determining production and costs of biomass harvesting.