Timber manufacturers to conduct energy research

Photo: Laminex

Laminex Australia has been awarded a grant to conduct a feasibility study for an energy cogeneration plant, as part of a Queensland government initiative to fund research into transforming waste streams into products.

Laminex has received $559,000 via the state’s Resource Recovery Industry Development Program (RRIDP) to conduct the study at its fibreboard manufacturing facility in Gympie, which last year expanded its manufacturing operations.

The business currently produces 310,000 metric metres of fibreboard (MDF) and laminates approximately seven million square metres of MDF and particleboard each year.

“The proposed (energy cogeneration) plant would support the electricity and thermal energy requirements for Laminex’s entire Gympie fibreboard manufacturing facility,” Minister for Manufacturing, Cameron Dick, said.

“Laminex will draw from a wide selection of waste resources as feedstock for the cogeneration plant, including demolition wood waste and green waste.

“Once operational the cogeneration plant would divert up to 100,000 tonnes of waste from landfill annually.

“If we can help unlock new revenue streams for our plantations and associated timber businesses, local communities that rely on our forestry industry will reap the benefits of the seeds being sowed.”

Queensland’s growing resource recovery and biofutures industries are creating new research, investment and supply chain opportunities for the state, according to Dick.

Over 1.25 million tonnes of timber is harvested annually from the area, so being able to turn the waste from this work into energy would deliver strong economic and employment outcomes for the region.

“We need to ensure our flagship plant continues to be at the forefront when it comes to using innovative energy-efficient equipment,” Laminex group executive general manager, Justin Burgess, said.

“Supported by this grant funding, we expect to use up to 100,000 tonnes of biomass otherwise destined for landfill to generate electricity and thermal energy for production processes, achieving the highest possible energy efficiency.”

HQPlantations (HQP), Queensland’s largest forestry plantation company, has been awarded $50,000 through the $5 million Waste to Biofutures Fund to help test the use of forest-floor materials as feedstock for a biomass plant. HQP owns around 200,000 hectares of timber forests.

HQP science manager Ian Last said treating treetops and other offcuts as a resource rather than waste is a research priority for the company.

“The Queensland Government’s funding will support field trials, including further sampling to better define residues, as well as trialling residue recovery equipment such as mobile in-field chippers and grinders,” Mr Last said.