Up to 20 million tons of waste wood biomass per year is left unused in Finland, mainly in the forests during forestry operations, because supply and demand does not meet. As a consequence of high heat energy prices, the looming threat of climate change, the greenhouse effect, and due to global as well as national demands to considerably increase the proportion of renewable energy, there is currently tremendous enthusiasm in Finland to substantially increase pellet production. As part of this European objective to increase the eco- and cost-efficient utilization of bio-energy from the European forest belt, the aim of our research group is - by means of multidisciplinary research, especially through chemical methods - to promote the development of Nordic wood-based pellet production in both the qualitative and the quantitative sense. Wood-based pellets are classified as an emission-neutral fuel, which means that they are free from emission trading in the European Union. The main fields of pellet research and the chemical toolbox that has been developed for these studies, which includes a new specific staining and optical microscope method designed to determine the cross-linking of pellets in the presence of various binding compounds, are described in this paper. As model examples illustrating the benefits of this toolbox, experimental data is presented concerning Finnish wood pellets and corresponding wood-based pellets that include the use of starch-containing waste potato peel residue and commercial lignosulfonate as binding materials. The initial results concerning the use of the developed and optimized specific staining and microscopic method using starch-containing potato peel residue as binding material are presented.
Landfills are significant sources of atmospheric methane (CH(4)) that contributes to climate change, and therefore there is a need to reduce CH(4) emissions from landfills. A promising cost efficient technology is to integrate compost into landfill covers (so-called "biocovers") to enhance biological oxidation of CH(4). A full scale biocover system to reduce CH(4) emissions was installed at Fakse landfill, Denmark using composted yard waste as active material supporting CH(4) oxidation. Ten biowindows with a total area of 5000 m(2) were integrated into the existing cover at the 12 ha site. To increase CH(4) load to the biowindows, leachate wells were capped, and clay was added to slopes at the site. Point measurements using flux chambers suggested in most cases that almost all CH(4) was oxidized, but more detailed studies on emissions from the site after installation of the biocover as well as measurements of total CH(4) emissions showed that a significant portion of the emission quantified in the baseline study continued unabated from the site. Total emission measurements suggested a reduction in CH(4) emission of approximately 28% at the end of the one year monitoring period. This was supported by analysis of stable carbon isotopes which showed an increase in oxidation efficiency from 16% to 41%. The project documented that integrating approaches such a whole landfill emission measurements using tracer techniques or stable carbon isotope measurements of ambient air samples are needed to document CH(4) mitigation efficiencies of biocover systems. The study also revealed that there still exist several challenges to better optimize the functionality. The most important challenges are to control gas flow and evenly distribute the gas into the biocovers.