Research Continues On Sawdust-Coal Energy Pucks

Apr 15, 2019

file photo of Center for Applied Energy Research
Credit uknow.uky.edu

Research on renewable energy options takes on many different forms.  That includes energy pucks which include sawdust and coal.

Plastic bags, each containing a different hardened mix that included sawdust, traveled through the hands of attendees at a recent forestry industries conference in Lexington.  The research examines the effects of burning these briquettes in coal-fired power plants. 

Darrell Taulbee with the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research says about 200,000 tons of sawdust is produced annually. “It’s sort of scattered around the state and so you start getting into transportation costs and that’s really where those kind of details are what ultimately decide if this is going to be economical to do or not,” said Taulbee.

Taulbee says the positive environmental benefits would be significant.    “You’re not putting out any sulfur dioxide to speak of.  You’re not really producing near as many nitrous oxides.  No mercury.  You do get a small increase sometimes in particulate matter, but overall, what we call hazardous emissions are way down, compared to coal,” Taulbee noted.

Taulbee believes commercial use is not far away.

Some of the examples presented during the conference included coal elements packaged with the sawdust.  UK Agronomy Specialist Tom Keene says a major aim is to divert sawdust away from landfills.