It all comes back to the quality of our equipment and the optimal operating conditions we’ve learned to create together with ANDRITZ
Chief Operating Officer
Georgia Biomass, located in the Southeastern region of the United States, is the leading supplier of sustainable wood pellets and the largest, most modern facility of its kind in the world.
The company’s product, made from Southern Yellow Pine, is exported to several European countries currently attempting to reduce their use of fossil fuels by utilizing renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind power, and sustainable wood pellets.
The Southern Yellow Pine, a conifer native to Georgia, grows at a very rapid rate as compared to many other species. Because this variety of pine matures in approximately 30 years, it is an ideal renewable resource for power generation, industrial applications, and residential heating.
During Georgia Biomass’ design phase, the ANDRITZ hammer mill and pellet mill were identified as the best equipment for meeting the extreme production needs Georgia Biomass would face and from the wood yard to pellet production, ANDRITZ technology can be found throughout the plant.
“This is a large operation,” says Mark Gaddy, Chief Operating Officer. “We have ten double stacks of ANDRITZ hammer mills and 22 ANDRITZ PM-30 pellet mills, 21 of which are running at all times. We also use ANDRITZ conditioners and coolers. These are very robust and effective products.”
Chief Operating Officer
The pelleting operation begins when dried wood chips arrive at the ANDRITZ hammer mills. The wood chips processed at the plant come from a mix “long wood” or harvested trees and “alternate feed stock” or reclaimed wood that is residual from other processes such as lumber production. Conditioning follows the grinding process. ANDRITZ conditioners inject low-pressure steam into the wood particles, not only adding heat but also activating the lignin in the wood fibers, improving the stability and overall quality of the finished product.
The final stage of the process takes place in the ANDRITZ coolers, finishing and further increasing the durability of the pellet. Strength is a critical factor in this process, as these small finished pellets have a long journey aboard rail cars bound for Savannah and then outbound transportation overseas.
Since commencing operations in April 2011, the Waycross plant has created more than 90 jobs locally and 300 more indirect jobs. “Safety, environmental compliance and sustainability are paramount,” declares Gaddy. “To achieve the highest standards, we need the right people, processes and equipment, but above all, we must have the right partner. ANDRITZ has been by our side since the start,” Gaddy states. “It is a really successful long-term relationship. Scaling up a pelleting process for a plant of this size certainly creates some challenges. Together we have continuously improved quality and production rates. ANDRITZ has always been there to help us test new approaches, solve issues, and find creative solutions. The key challenges have been addressed, and as a result, the plant is running at full capacity.”
Mark Gaddy emphasizes that, apart from the reliable equipment itself, ANDRITZ has delivered a unique level of service. “They have really gone above and beyond the call of duty,” he says. “We are running 24/7/365, and sometimes we need immediate service on a weekend or holiday. ANDRITZ has always met our needs, which has included a member of the ANDRITZ staff jumping into a truck and bringing the parts right to our door – on Christmas Eve. That service means a lot to us!”
With production already running at optimal rates, nearly 750,000 metric tons, Georgia Biomass is always looking for new ways to reduce maintenance costs and increase profitability. “Wear parts are a big chunk of our expenses,” Mark Gaddy says. “The challenge is to extend the lifetime of these parts to decrease expenses and increase run-time. The ANDRITZ commitment,” Gaddy adds, “extended to setting up a machine shop in nearby Savannah to service those parts that can be refurbished, saving us even more time and money.” ANDRITZ has helped us to refine lubrication formulations and optimize running conditions to improve performance. The ANDRITZ system also enables us to monitor and control energy use, which is vital for both sustainability and cost control.”
Above all, Georgia Biomass needs to meet its customers’ expectations. “They want proven sustainability, safe production, the right quality, dependable supply and on-time deliveries,” Mark Gaddy says. “It all comes back to the quality of our equipment and the optimal operating conditions we’ve learned to create together with ANDRITZ.”