Exploring wood fuel drying techniques: Workshops and site visits organized by WFQA and IrBEA

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) Scheme, is organising a series of wood fuel drying demonstrations and workshops. These free events are open to IrBEA & WFQA members, potential new members and interested stakeholders. The aim is to enhance the understanding of wood fuel drying techniques and processes. These events are scheduled to take place in May and June of 2024. Through these workshops and site visits, participants will gain practical insights, interact with industry experts, and exchange knowledge. These workshops are designed to assist woodfuel suppliers to meet their moisture content requirements as specified under the Solid Fuel Regulations. These workshops are open to all fuel suppliers and all members. Each event will showcase unique learning aspects of wood fuel production and we encourage participants to attend as many of these events as possible. Wood fuel drying is a pivotal stage in the production of quality wood fuels. Various drying methods are employed, contingent upon factors such as wood type, desired moisture content, production scale, and resource availability. During these site visits, attendees will have the opportunity to explore different drying methods, including:

Workshop 1: Polytunnel drying, Thursday 16th May 2024 – 10:30 to 13:30, Sherlogs, Gainstown, Navan, Co. Meath.
Industrial scale polytunnels are an excellent tool to accelerate air drying while also providing fuel storage. Properly designed tunnels offer a controlled environment with elevated temperatures conducive to fast wood drying. Particularly advantageous for smaller-scale operations or regions with unpredictable or adverse weather conditions, polytunnel drying provides an effective alternative to traditional outdoor drying methods.

Workshop 2: Kiln drying, Thursday 30th May 2024 – 10:30 to 15:30, Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge, followed by a site visit to D.Brennan and Sons, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare.
Kilns are used to rapidly dry wood fuels with artificial heat and airflow. While kilns do have an associated capital and operational cost, they can effectively reduce the drying time from several months to a few days. Fuel drying can be relatively low tech. At this workshop, we will be hosting a kiln expert who will explain the fundamentals of proper kiln drying. Kiln drying offers faster and more uniform drying compared to air drying, making it a valuable tool for large and small-scale wood fuel production facilities seeking to have more control over fuel production.

Workshop 3: Air drying, Saturday 15th June 2024 – 10:30 to 13:30, Cotter Bros Firewood, Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick.
This approach involves the correct stacking of wood in open-air environments with ample airflow and sunlight exposure. Air drying, when done correctly is an effective low cost method of producing wood fuels. However, it does require care, time, attention and space. Air drying is often a precursor to further drying processes such as kilns and polytunnels, particularly suited for smaller-scale operations. This site operator has perfected various air drying techniques which allow them to consistently produce firewood at under 20% moisture content.

UK Tour 4: UK kiln drying site visits, first week of June 2024
We will be hosting a 2-day study tour to the UK to meet with firewood producers utilising various kiln designs to produce firewood to 20% moisture content. This excursion will afford participants invaluable insights into kiln operations, further details will be provided shortly. The trip will be held in the first week of June with dates and full details to be confirmed.

These events are free. Seperate registration for each event in advance is mandatory. See links below.
For further information on these events please contact Noel Gavigan at noelgavigan@irbea.org or Teresa O’Brien at teresaobrien@irbea.org
Register links below
The Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme (WFQA) is managed and administered by Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and the promotion of the scheme is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.