TECH4EFFECT presents at Green Week Partner Event led by RTDS

TECH4EFFECT Co-ordinator and Head of Research from the Division of Forest and Forest Resources at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Rasmus Astrup, and Ponsse R&D Manager – Technology, Product Safety & IPR, Kalle Einola, presented at the EU Green Week Partner Event: The Market-driven Circular and Bioeconomy led by RTDS Group CEO, Stephen Webb, showcasing five EU-funded projects.

The projects that participated in the on-line event which presented partners and technologies working towards zero pollution were: TECH4EFFECT, SUSBIND, SUSFERT, BIOVEXO and SUSTAINair. They were joined by the BBI JU Head of Programme, Virginia Puzzolo, who explained how the BBI JU were planning to reduce the carbon footprint of chemical and material production in line with the European Green Deal.

BBI JU Head of Programme, Virginia Puzzolo, presents at the EU Green Week Partner Event: The Market-driven Circular and Bioeconomy.

Puzzolo said that the substitution of fossil resources needed to be replaced with locally sourced biomass-based resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent.

Answering a question on how to strengthen forestry’s contribution to the EU’s zero pollution targets, Astrup said that forests had a key role in European green ambitions both in terms of providing the merging bioeconomy with the necessary cellulose and fibre for many sidestream products, and on the other hand acting as carbon storage and carbon sinks.

Increase in fibre demand, forest protection biggest challenges

TECH4EFFECT Co-ordinator and Head of Research from the Division of Forest and Forest Resources at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Rasmus Astrup, says forests need to be carefully managed as the demand for biomass, fibre is anticipated to increase.

Astrup said that to fulfill the goals of the Green Deal the forest sector would need to focus on the sustainable management of forests to ensure that biodiversity was maintained, and that environmental site impact was minimised, apart from many other factors.

“I think that the challenge that stands in front of us for European forests is that in the coming decades we will have to provide even more fibre supply, and at the same time we must protect the forests more.

“That makes forest management critical, so we need to carry out forest operations in an even better way for their sustainability. We must become better at all aspects of forest management and if we do that, I think that we can provide both a bigger fibre supply and ensure forests are protected,” he pointed out.

He added that a key aspect of the future management of forests was that we take advantage of all the digital opportunities from the emerging technologies.

How could we envisage a revolution in the digitalisation of forestry?

“I think forestry is an interesting sector because in one way it is very traditional, but on the other hand it is very high tech because wood is extracted by machines, like the Ponsse machines that are extremely high tech using many sensor, mechanical and digital technologies.

“For example, in Scandinavian countries, sensor technologies in forest operations are advancing very fast, so I think we will see an acceleration in the use of these technologies.

“It’s not going to be one technology that will revolutionise forestry over another, but it will be a whole series of different digital innovations that will make the whole production chain more efficient. We will see a lot more digital tools come online that the forest manager and the fibre industry can use to optimise production lines. So, I think that with the emergence of digital tools, we will see a revolution in the forestry sector,” he concluded.

Ponsse Technology Manager Product Safety and IPR, Kalle Einola, says production, fuel efficiency in forest machines are key goals for future sustainability.

Ponsse R&D Manager – Technology, Product Safety & IPR, Kalle Einola, who is also responsible for technology and research, said that the 50-year-old Finnish family company that has become a leading global Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in Cut-to-Length (CTL) forest machines has always built the machines from scratch, and is about to reach a global delivery of 17,000 machines during its history.

Improved fuel efficiency greatest challenge to operations — Life Cycle Assessment

Turning towards sustainable forest operations, Einola said that Ponsse had conducted a Life Cycle Assessment on its machines to learn more about the emissions that are created from forest operations.

“It is clear that over 90 per cent of the emission impact comes from the operation, which currently is in the form of the diesel fuel that is burnt, so fuel efficiency is the main focus for Ponsse in achieving its sustainability goals,” he explained.

Ponsse striving towards carbon neutrality

“Ponsse is striving towards carbon neutrality which is a bold statement, and we are clearly not there yet, but we are reaching towards it. We also aim to be known as the supplier for the most sustainable and innovative solutions in forestry,” he said.

He explained that one of the key means to reach the goals of carbon neutrality was to deliver operator assist systems to help operators be more productive.

“Basically, you want to lower the emissions, and at the same time improve the productivity. The aim is to reach a good level of production with the machines being operated by, often, not so skilled operators these days because there is a shortage of machine operators on a global level.

“Second, we need to focus on the energy efficiency of the drives and systems, making the machines more efficient, and to provide smarter solutions to manage operations on forestry sites. All these factors will provide greater sustainability of forest operations,” Einola stressed.

Production efficiency key to sustainability

During the on-line event, he was asked if there were any attempts to include alternatives to diesel train technologies like hydrogen battery fuel cells.

“We are no different from other non-road equipment as we are looking at ways to replace diesel. The diesel engine is not an easy energy driver to use today because of its emissions and complex exhaust after treatment systems, but to be honest I think that currently we need to focus first on improving the machines’ efficiency, and then the next step would be to look at the energy recovery possibilities so that we do not waste energy in the process. Then I believe that the hybridisation will be the way to go and this could include electric power trains.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the infrastructure to charge the batteries on-site or refuelled with hydrogen, I believe. The quickest way to ensure a cleaner fuel footprint in using alternative fuels would be to use non-fossil diesel fuel replacements which also could be wood-based renewable fuels. That’s the big picture,” he concluded.

This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 720757.