PTXI 2014

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MoistTech had a great time at the International Powder Bulk Solids Conference and Exhibition in Rosemont IL.
It was great to demonstrate the most advance technology for Instant On-line, Off-line and Laboratory moisture instrumentation.
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MoistTech on Canadian BIOMASS

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Banking on Pellets 

In just five short years, British Columbia’s Pinnacle

Bill Tice
Written by Bill Tice
The latest pellet plant to grace British Columbia’s Cariboo country has been up and running now for just over a year.  In that time, the plant staff has forged an economic and environmental success story in what has been an extremely tough period for a region that relies heavily on the forest industry for its economic strength.

The plant, called Meadowbank, is the latest addition to British Columbia-based Pinnacle Pellet, a home-grown company that has blossomed from producing just 60,000 tonnes/year of wood pellets from one plant in 2004 to a group of five plants that today churns out a combined volume of close to 750,000 tonnes of wood pellets annually.

“Just at this plant alone, we are capable of producing over 200,000 tonnes of wood pellets on an annual basis,” says Jack Levesque, plant manager at the new facility, which is strategically located about 70 km south of Prince George and adjacent to the major north–south thoroughfare for the province, Highway 97.

Plant manager Jack Levesque has been at the Meadowbank plant for just over a year.

Levesque is like a proud parent as he shows off the plant.  “This is a very efficient facility,” he explains.  “It was designed on a small footprint, which minimizes material handling and streamlines the process.  We can operate 24 hours/day, seven days a week, with a total of just 24 people.”

A Ravenous Diet
In addition to the efficiency of the new plant, Levesque says the facility’s ravenous diet of sawmill residuals has had the environmental benefit of extinguishing several sawmill burners in the region.  In the past, these burners were the main method of disposing of unwanted sawmill waste.  “We’ve shut four burners down since we started up,” he explains.  “That includes the Dunkley Lumber mill just next door to us, Canfor’s Clear Lake Sawmills near Prince George, and both the Conifex and Northern Interior Forest Products burners in Fort St. James.”

Most of the sawmill residuals from nearby mills are trucked to the Meadowbank plant by Arrow Transport in trailers with walking floor systems.  Residuals from further afield, such as the fibre making the four-hour trip from the mills in Fort St. James, are shipped in larger B-trains.  The plant also uses what Levesque calls “mill grind”, which is essentially solid waste products from sawmills, including trim blocks, bark, and log ends.  This material is trucked to the pellet plant, and then an on-site Peterson 4710 portable grinder owned by Pinnacle and a Morbark drum grinder operated by a contractor process the material to usable fibre for the plant.  “This is essentially any solid wood waste that sawmills can’t use, but we can,” Levesque explains. 

Another growing source of fibre for Meadow-bank is bush waste, which includes stumps and limbs left over from logging activities.  Currently, this represents up to 30% of the fibre required for the plant, but Levesque says they expect that number to grow in the future.  He adds that the bush waste is ground at the logging block to a four-inch size and then further refined at the plant with a large stationary hogger manufactured by West Salem Machinery.

The plant’s production process features six Andritz Sprout pelletizers that process the wood fibre into quarter-inch pellets.

Production Flow
The mill’s dependence on fibre is evident from the huge piles of sawdust, mill waste, and logging debris that surround the infeed to the plant, and the continuous flow of trucks that back up to the facility’s hydraulic tipper where their trailers are emptied.  A pair of Cat 950 wheel loaders moves most of the fibre from the storage piles to one of the mill’s three infeed bins, one of which is reserved for shavings that have been placed in covered storage on arrival at the plant, as they are already dry and can bypass Meadowbank’s drying process.

From the infeed bins, all material goes to one of two Bliss hammermills, where the fibre is further refined to a more consistent product that is better suited to pellet production.  Next are the mill’s massive dryers, a pair of M-E-C S1360 single-pass drum models that measure 60 feet long and 13 feet in diameter.  

The next step is for the material from the dryers to be fed into a surge bin and then to one of six Andritz Sprout pelletizers, where natural resin from the wood binds the product together, and metal dies form the quarter-inch round pellets.  From the pelletizers, the pellets drop to a cooling bin and then a vibrating conveyor system that features Optimil screens, where any fines drop out.  The fines and any leftover dust are collected and used to power the mill’s dryers.  The finished pellets go to either a 3,000-tonne storage silo or a 100-tonne rail load-out silo, both manufactured by Westeel.  The load-out silo sits above a CN Rail spur that can accommodate up to 27 rail cars.  The rail cars are loaded using a method similar to grain handling.

Smaller but necessary equipment used in the Meadowbank plant includes Grecon spark detectors that are positioned at various points in the process, rare earth magnets for detecting any metal that may have been inadvertently introduced to the system, two MoistTech in-line moisture sensors to check the moisture content of the product coming out of the dryers, and a Baldor 500-kW generator.  Levesque says the generator is an important safety feature, as in the event of a power outage, it will automatically kick in, powering the dryers and the fans that keep the product moving through the system.  “If everything just stopped it could create a fire hazard in the dryers, so this is a critical piece of equipment for us,” he explains.

All pellets from Meadowbank are transported by rail to the Port of Vancouver, where they are loaded onto ships for major markets in Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

Planning and Construction
Pinnacle Pellet’s president Craig Lodge says that the design, planning, and construction of the Meadowbank plant took just over 10 months and was a team effort.  He notes that the actual construction was done in about 100 days, but planning, permit approvals, and securing suitable fibre contracts took the extra time.  While building the plant, Lodge says they turned to other Pinnacle plant managers and internal specialists for input, and worked closely with major contractors that included Del-Tech’s BID Construction Group in Prince George, Service Electric in Quesnel, and Allied Blower in Williams Lake. 

As for the timing and location of the Meadowbank plant, Lodge says they have three basic requirements when looking for a location for a pellet plant.  “We need access to raw material, we need access to a power supply, and we need access to a rail line.  In this case, we had all three.”

Lodge also notes that the best scenario is to be close to a host sawmill for the raw materials, and Dunkley Lumber, which is just 4 km away, fit the bill.  “We have a company objective to grow the business when suitable opportunities arise, and Dunkley had an uncommitted supply of sawmill residuals,” he explains.  “It was a good fit.”

He also says the process has been getting easier with each facility they build.  “When we built the Meadowbank plant, we enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t the first time through this process for us,” he says, referring to their past track record, which includes building three successful greenfield pellet plants – the two south of Meadowbank at Quesnel and Williams Lake, and another plant to the northwest in Houston, B.C., that is jointly owned by Pinnacle, Canadian Forest Products (Canfor), and the Moricetown First Nation.  The company’s only other pellet plant was an existing plant they acquired in Armstrong, B.C.  “Every time we build a plant, we gain experience and we take the best of what we have learned and incorporate it into our next project,” Lodge adds.

As for plant manager Levesque, he came on board in August 2008, when most of the construction was complete.  He says that although he missed the permitting, approval, and construction stages, he was here to experience the plant’s start-up curve first hand.  “We had our challenges, but we had a great group of people and we got through it,” he says.  “It was a tough winter in terms of weather – very harsh, long, and cold – so it took some work to get the dryers where we wanted them.  And with all of the sawmill shutdowns and curtailments last year, we had to make sure we had a sufficient source of fibre.”

Looking Ahead
Looking down the road, both Levesque and Lodge say they foresee steady growth in biomass and the wood pellet industry over the next decade.  “We believe the utilization of biomass will continue to grow,” says Lodge, who grew up in a logging family in Fort St. James, B.C., and is a forester by profession.  “Biomass is environmentally friendly, it is derived from a source that is ultimately renewable, and pellets will continue to play a key role in the industry as they provide an efficient way of providing fuel for biomass power.”

It’s an opinion shared by many, especially in Europe, Japan, and Ontario, where Lodge says wood pellets are increasingly viewed as a substitution fuel for coal or other fossil fuels.  With an investment in Meadowbank of nearly $25 million, it’s also an opinion Pinnacle is banking on. •

Bill Tice is Canadian Biomass’ western editor based in Vancouver.  In addition to working in the forest industry for such companies as Canfor and West Fraser, Bill has been covering the forest sector for more than 20 years.

For more on biomass with MoistTech: 

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2014 International Biomass Conference

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Biomass Conference & Expo
MoistTech had a huge turn out at the 7th annual International Biomass Conference & Expo in in Orlando, Florida.
 International Biomass Conference & Expo in in Orlando, Florida
All thing BiomassInsensitive to material variations such as particle size, material height and color, the IR-3000 online process moisture analyzer provides continuous, reliable readings. It’s one-time calibration, maintenance free, drift free optical design allows operating personnel to confidently make immediate process adjustments based on real-time measurements.
With thousands of measurements per second, MoistTech’s IR-3000 online moisture detector allows users to optimize their on-line process and dramatically improve product quality, providing both energy savings and potential increased productivity with lower material losses.
The IR-3000 uses state-of-the-art components allowing installation in the most extreme locations. Additionally, with MoistTech’s product loss software capability where small gaps, inert material, foreign objects, belt or screw conveyors are removed from the measurement calculation this providing the most accurate true moisture reading.

BioEnergy and PELICE 2014

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As a proud Silver Sponsor for the BioEnergy Fuels & Products Conference &Expo  MoistTech had a great turn out at BioEnergy and PELICE 2014 in Atlanta Georgia at the Omni CNN center. Thanks everyone who stopped by the booth, it was great meeting everyone. 

Omni CNN centerControlling the amount of moisture in wood products is a critical concern of the forest industry.  An excess of moisture can have a large impact on final product quality and production. With MoistTech’s NIR moisture sensor, wood product manufacturers can adjust moisture levels on real time information lowering raw material and fuel costs, higher yields, and more uniform products. Moisture control will become even more vital as mills begin to expand their production to include niche products and processing requirements become more stringent.

MoistTech even had a break from the show to install a few online sensors at another large bioenergy producer in Georgia. With 1000’s of installations MoistTech is the leader in the newest generation of online moisture gauges.

 online moisture gauges
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Tissue World Americas

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Tissue World
MoistTech had a great time in Miami last week at Tissue World Americas!
Tissue World Americas
MoistTech manufactures a range of on-line sensors and at-line instruments for moisture measurement and real-time moisture process control. The IR3000 is considered by many as being the flag ship of MoistTech’s IR Series of sensors. It has resulted in unmatched performance for tissue moisture measurement and control within all levels of the tissue industry. MoistTech’s independent instruments accurately measures moisture to within 0.05% accuracy. For better moisture control please visit and discover the IR3000 on-line sensor and the Lab 868 at-line/laboratory. Experience in the tissue process has allowed MoistTech to develop the most accurate on-line, non-contact moisture analyzer for use in processing and many other applications. These sensors are unaffected by product height, flow, ambient light, and temperature and are renowned for their rugged design and ability to withstand the harsh environments of the tissue process.
MoistTech’s IR Series


For more on how MoistTech can improve the quality in your tissue manufacturing:


Online measurements of coating thickness

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Paper moisture measurements are critical throughout most stages of the paper making and converting process as manufacturers are constantly adjusting moisture to maintain the quality of their product. Additionally, online measurements of coating thickness are very important on webs during the manufacturing process allowing users to eliminate waste, reduce energy usage and produce quality products within specification 100% of the time.

Snaxpo 2014

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SnaxPo 2014
MoistTech had a great turn out at SNAXPO 2014 in Dallas Tx.
SNAXPO 2014 in Dallas Tx
 MoistTech has thousands of installations worldwide in a wide variety of chips and snack food productsWe offer both online for the continuous readings of NIR moisture measurement and laboratory NIR moisture sensors for spot tests near lines or in your quality control labsOffering a wide variety of instruments including sanitary food grade models that employ a food grade polymeric lens or sapphire windowThe IR3000 has higher accuracy than any other systems.Conveyor product gapsrandom impurities and burnt product have no effect on the accuracy of the measurement readings. Realizing that many food processing companies use many primary reference measurementseither inhouse or out sourcedMoistTechs NIR moisture sensors are easy to setup and useInstant measurements provide manufacturers 100% inspection and savings in cost.
IR3000 has higher accuracy
What an honor that America’s 43rd president George W. Bush was a speaker at the show! 
George W. Bush
Tasty samples set up all around the show!
samples set up


samples set up
  samples set up
Thanks to Rudolph foods there was a simulated race car at the show!
Rudolph foods


Thank you everyone who stopped by our booth, and for more info on moisture in snack food 
moisture in snack food


We are looking forward to SNAXPO 2015, March 28-31 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Orlando, Florida. 


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MoistTech will be attending food processing expo 2014, in Sacramento CA.
 Booth #1106
Controlling the amount of moisture in bakery dough is an important consideration for bakers. Too little or too much moisture impacts production and quality. By installing MoistTech’s IR3000 NIR Moisture Sensor after the dough mixer or after the dough has been formed, manufactures can continuously monitor the moisture content to make adjustments as needed. Bakers strive to have the best finish products. Maintaining the correct moisture content in dough can improve quality and consistency, as well as prevent processing difficulties, decrease waste and cutting energy costs during the drying and baking process.

Moisture levels in bakery dough can also affect the taste, appearance, stability and shelf life. Additionally, variation and excess moisture in dough can result in discoloration in the final product , burning and out of specification of product. Testing moisture during this time will allow adjustments to be made so that manufacturers have the highest quality. Whether finished products have too much or too little moisture is a main concern for bakers as some food items are sold by weight, which reduces costs. Moisture can also lower the fat content and reduce carbohydrates. However, having too much moisture can make the item taste stale of even worse contributing to bacteria/mold growth.

Measuring moisture content throughout the process also provides bakers cost savings in energy and fuel costs, as well as having less product waste. Any excessive water that is added must be evaporated in the oven to produce products within a specified moisture range, which results in longer bake times. With continuous NIR online moisture testing, manufacturers can monitor moisture levels which they in-turn, can precisely control ovens to optimize the production process with minimum energy requirements as well as preventing over cooking.

With the help of industry partners and 30 years of knowledge, MoistTech has thousands of installations worldwide on bakery dough. We offer both online for the continuous readings of NIR moisture measurement and laboratory NIR moisture sensors for spot tests near lines or in your quality control labs. Offering a wide variety of instruments including sanitary food grade models that employ a food grade polymeric lens or sapphire window which are designed to meet strict hygiene, regulations and safety requirements of food manufacturing environments. Additionally, conveyor product gaps, random impurities and burnt product have no effect on the accuracy of the measurement readings.
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MoistTech Show Features

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MoistTech has attended some great shows and we will be attending many more! We will keep updating our list to provide our customers with the information to see in person our line of NIR Moisture Sensors. Stop by our shows and please let us know if you are coming! See you there.
For a list of our upcoming shows: MoistTech Trade Shows


MoistTech has attended shows



Attended shows
MoistTech Booth


MoistTech at show
Great MoistTech Booth
MoistTech Info Booth


MoistTech Information Booth.


MoistTech Europe Booth
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