Are you looking to maximise the efficiency of your wood resource industry?

If so, then harnessing the power of combined heat and power (CHP) is a must. Combined heat and power (CHP) is becoming increasingly popular in the wood resources industry to generate renewable energy while capturing valuable wastes.

CHP technology has been used for decades in manufacturing and agriculture, but its application in the wood resources industry has demonstrated tremendous potential on multiple levels. Not only can CHP reduce production costs by using fuel more efficiently, but it also reduces carbon emissions significantly when compared with standard plant infrastructure setups, making it an economically viable solution with strong sustainability credentials.

This comprehensive guide will explore why implementing this technology within the wood resources industry is essential, provide helpful information about CHP systems and discuss where you can find effective solutions for your business. CHP can make all the difference in keeping your operations running smoothly, from reducing emissions and increasing energy savings to providing more reliable service for residential and commercial consumers.

With this guide in hand, you’ll have everything you need to get started with CHP today!

The Basics of Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

Combined heat and power (CHP) is a system that simultaneously produces electricity and heat through one single process.

This process combines two energy conversion systems, such as a heat engine or solar thermal collector, with an electric generator, enabling the use of multiple fuels like natural gas, woody biomass, coal, oil, refuse-derived fuel, or biofuels. CHP systems are advantageous in terms of energy efficiency since they can reduce energy consumption by up to 30%, making them one of the most cost-effective solutions for various industrial processes.

Furthermore, CHP systems provide considerable support to local network stability by helping to prevent interruptions in energy supply due to grid instability or demand peaks and improving controllability over generation schedules.

The Following is a Definition and Explanation of the Reasons for Use:

The term “CHP” refers to any technology that produces both thermal (heat) and electrical energy from the same source material simultaneously.

The main reason behind its use is to increase overall efficiency during the production process while decreasing emissions of pollutants into the environment. This can be achieved through either a direct or an indirect method—direct being when generation takes place directly between fuel combustion and mechanical work, while indirect refers to any other form, such as steam turbines or gas turbines, where additional steps are required before electricity generation.

Using CHP systems means less fuel is needed, and fewer emissions are released into the atmosphere, improving air quality while reducing waste management costs significantly.

Knowing Your System’s Requirements and What It Can Do

Utilising Combined Heat and Power (CHP) in the wood industry requires a thorough understanding of the system’s requirements, capabilities, and strengths.

CHP systems are most efficient when designed to match the facility’s load profile in size, capacity, and energy demands. Organisations can significantly improve their energy efficiency while reducing costs by optimising their CHP system to meet their energy needs.

Additionally, understanding the various CHP systems available is essential for selecting a system that best serves an organisation’s needs. Numerous technologies can be used to create a CHP system, such as steam turbines, microturbines, internal combustion engines, gasifiers, and more.

As such, it is essential that organisations assess their existing infrastructure as well as explore different options before making any decisions regarding their CHP solution.

Load Profiles

An essential component of designing an efficient combined heat and power system is understanding the load profile for the facility or organisation where it will be deployed.

A load profile is a detailed analysis of how much energy is consumed during peak times versus non-peak times within a given space over time. This type of data helps identify where inefficiencies exist and allows for more precise predictions about future usage patterns, which can inform design choices for creating an optimal combined heat and power system.

Load profiles also help inform decision-makers about potential fuel sources and appropriately sizing equipment to ensure maximum efficiency for each application. Additionally, by closely examining current load profiles and future trends associated with changing usage habits or new technologies coming online, organisations can be better prepared to maximise operational effectiveness through optimised maintenance scheduling or even changes in working methodology that could result in additional gains in overall performance efficiency.

Operating Strategies

In terms of operating strategies, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems can generate both heat and electricity simultaneously by using the same fuel source.

These systems are often employed in wood processing plants to reduce energy costs and increase overall efficiency. CHP systems employ a variety of techniques for optimising their operation, such as varying the ratio of heat output to electricity generation according to demand, coordinating two or more plants to avoid overgeneration or underfeeding, sharing excess electricity with other facilities, providing ancillary services such as frequency regulation or grid support, and utilising cogeneration technologies that transform energy into mechanical force before converting it into electricity.

In addition, CHP systems can be configured with intelligent controls that measure real-time operational performance and adjust accordingly. By employing these various strategies, CHP systems can provide reliable power while lowering emissions and maximising efficiency.

System Capabilities That the Owner Will Require

For owners looking to install a Combined Heat and Power system in their wood processing plant, there are several key requirements they should consider.

The size of the system will depend on factors such as the amount of electricity needed for operations and the level of cooling required from the heat output. Additionally, owners must ensure that their chosen system has enough capacity to handle peak loads if necessary.

Furthermore, owners should consider if any additional system capabilities might benefit their operations, such as variable speed drives for efficient operation or backup power sources in case of emergency outages. Lastly, if any potential changes in regulations or policies occur in the future, an owner may need to update their system accordingly to remain compliant.

By considering all these factors, owners can ensure they install a reliable Combined Heat and Power system that can meet all their needs now and into the future.

Different Types of CHP Systems

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems are energy-efficient technologies that enable simultaneous electricity and thermal energy production from a single fuel source.

Common examples of fuels used in CHP systems include natural gas, biomass, and geothermal energy. These systems are designed to be highly efficient, typically achieving an overall efficiency rate between 80 and 90%.

Depending on the application, several CHP systems are available, including reciprocating engines, microturbines, fuel cells, and boilers.

Thermal Energy Recovery

Thermal energy recovery is essential to any CHP system since it allows for additional savings by utilising thermal energy that would otherwise be wasted.

Some standard methods for thermal recovery include capturing waste heat from exhaust gases, which can then be used for space heating or hot water needs. Another method involves using waste heat to drive absorption chillers, which can be used for cooling needs.

These methods can reduce environmental impact by lowering emissions from the initial fuel source while also saving energy.

CHP Cycles

A key component of combined heat and power systems is understanding how they operate in terms of their cycles.

These cycles generally follow three phases: the combustion phase, expansion phase, and exhaust phase, although more complex processes may also be implemented depending on the application. During the combustion phase, fuel is burned to create thermal energy, which is then converted into electrical energy during the expansion phase via a generator or other devices such as a turbine or motor.

Finally, during the exhaust phase, any remaining thermal energy is recovered along with any emissions that must be expelled from the system to complete the cycle.

Topping Cycle

A “topping cycle” is a process of producing electricity from a heat-producing system.

This type of combined heat and power (CHP) system uses thermal energy to efficiently create electrical energy. The main components of a topping cycle are a generator, turbine, condenser, and cooling tower.

The thermal energy source powers the generator, producing electrical energy that is then sent to a turbine. The turbine converts the electrical energy into mechanical power, which drives the condenser that extracts heat from the thermal source.

This heat is then transferred to a cooling tower, where it is converted into liquid or gas form and discharged back into the environment. Top-cycle CHP systems have several advantages over traditional power generation systems, including greater efficiency, lower cost, and reduced pollution levels.

For example, compared to conventional electricity production techniques, topping cycles can achieve more than 80% efficiency, which means more electricity can be produced for less fuel input, reducing cost and emissions. Furthermore, since topping cycles rely on only one primary thermal energy source, they require less maintenance than other power production technologies, such as coal-fired plants, meaning there are fewer up-front costs.

Additionally, because topping cycles operate at relatively low temperatures compared to other forms of power production, they generate significantly fewer pollutants, making them an ideal choice for wood applications where air quality may be a concern.

Bottoming Cycle

The bottoming cycle efficiently uses the waste heat from an industrial process to generate electricity.

It works by taking the heat generated by the process and using it to power a steam turbine, which drives a generator to produce electricity. This allows for more efficient energy use, as the same amount of energy can be used for work and electricity production.

Additionally, due to their closed-loop nature, bottom-up energy systems require less maintenance and emit fewer emissions than other forms of energy production, making them more environmentally friendly.

Combined Cycle

Combined heat and power (CHP) is a technology that combines a conventional thermal power plant with a bottoming cycle to generate both electrical and thermal energy from the same fuel source.

Using waste heat and traditional combustion processes, CHP systems can produce more electricity with fewer emissions than conventional plants. In addition, CHP systems are cost-efficient because they use less fuel than traditional methods while still making electrical and thermal energy from the same source.

As such, CHP plants are becoming increasingly popular with businesses and organisations looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact while still affordably meeting their energy needs.

The Following is an Overview of the Prime Movers

The prime mover is a critical component of combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

Its purpose is to convert fuel or thermal energy into mechanical energy, usually in the form of shaft power. The most common forms of prime movers are steam turbines, reciprocating internal combustion engines, and combustion turbines.

This energy can be used to power other mechanical devices such as pumps, fans, and compressors, or it can be used to power a generator for electricity generation. However, it is essential to note that converting one form of energy into another is not a perfectly efficient process; there are always inefficiencies that lead to the production of waste heat as well.

The efficiency and control of the input and output energy depend mainly on the type of prime mover used. Steam turbines are typically used in large-scale industrial applications since they have high efficiency levels and provide precise control over output power and heat transfer.

For smaller-scale applications, reciprocating internal combustion engines have high levels of flexibility when controlling the input fuel source because they can run on liquid fuels like diesel and gas, as well as biomasses like wood chips and sawdust. Combustion turbines are more commonly found in cogeneration plants due to their high efficiency levels; however, this type of prime mover has limited scalability due to its complicated design structure, which makes them difficult to install for small-scale operations.

Steam Turbines

Steam turbines are the oldest and most widely used prime mover technology for power plant and industrial applications, operating on a process of reducing the pressure of a flow of steam to generate mechanical energy.

There are many different designs and configurations of steam turbines available, but two essential designations to consider are the number of stages and outlet conditions. The number of stages refers to the amount of pressure reduction within the device; generally, those with fewer stages will be less efficient than those with more stages.

The second designation is based on the outlet condition of the steam, either non-condensing or condensing. Non-condensed steam has a higher energy potential than its condensed counterpart under equivalent conditions.

At the same time, a non-condensing turbine (also known as a back-pressure turbine) operates by releasing steam at or above atmospheric pressure. By contrast, a condensing turbine operates in conjunction with a condenser, which creates a vacuum, allowing even greater thermodynamic efficiency.

The design choices made when using steam turbines can significantly impact their overall performance; for example, due to their lower efficiency levels, larger turbines may need additional cooling systems or better insulation when compared with smaller turbine alternatives to maintain optimal performance levels. Additionally, due to the nature of their design, it is also essential to factor in environmental impact when making decisions regarding installation locations, particularly if opting for non-condensing designs, as they can release large amounts of hot water vapour into their surroundings unless steps are taken to mitigate this issue.

Internal Combustion Engines

Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE) are a common type of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology used in the wood industry for years.RICEs use an internal combustion engine to generate electricity and extract heat from exhaust gases, which can be used to process steam or hot water.

This power generation method is more efficient and cost-effective than traditional methods. RICEs typically produce between 20 and 50 percent electrical efficiency, making them a viable option for industrial CHP applications.

RICEs are relatively easy to maintain, making them an attractive choice for operations requiring more skilled personnel or expertise in process and maintenance.

Combustion Turbines and Microturbines

Combustion turbines and microturbines are other types of CHP technology that have become increasingly popular in the wood industry.

Combustion turbines use a high-pressure system to convert fuel into mechanical energy to generate electricity. In contrast, microturbines are smaller-scale versions of combustion turbines that use a single turbine stage instead.

Both technologies offer high efficiency levels compared to traditional methods; combustion turbines typically produce around 40-60% efficiency, while microturbines produce about 15-30%.

Fuel Cells

Fuel cells are a type of power generation technology that has the potential to revolutionise the ways that electricity and heat are produced.

Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert the chemical energy found in fuels such as hydrogen, natural gas, and propane into electrical energy. The process of generating electricity does not involve combustion, meaning that it is more efficient than traditional power generation methods and produces fewer polluting emissions.

As a result, fuel cells offer an efficient, sustainable solution for generating electricity and heat from a single source. In addition to providing a reliable power source, fuel cells can also generate thermal energy from hot water or steam.

This makes them an ideal choice for wood processing plants that utilise combined heat and power (CHP) systems to reduce their operating costs and carbon footprint.

Stirling Engines

Stirling engines are another type of CHP system that has been gaining popularity in recent years due to their efficiency and relatively low cost of operation.

Stirling engines operate on the principle of external combustion, requiring no internal fuel source to generate power. Instead, they use an external heat source, such as solar radiation or burning biofuels, to produce mechanical energy, which can be converted into electrical energy.

Stirling engines have the unique advantage of running on renewable energy sources such as geothermal or biomass fuels. This makes them well-suited for applications with limited or unavailable access to traditional fuels.

Stirling engines require minimal maintenance compared with other CHP systems, making them an attractive option for facilities looking for more cost-effective solutions for generating electricity and heat from a single source.

Organic Rankine Cycle

The Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) combines heat and power systems that utilise organic, low-boiling-point fluids and operate like a typical steam cycle.

These systems are typically used for small-scale residential, commercial, and industrial installations. The primary advantage of ORCs over traditional steam cycles is their high efficiency due to the significantly lower operating pressures required.

In addition, they can be more cost-effective in specific applications due to their more straightforward design and fewer components compared to other prime movers. ORCs can also be used in cogeneration applications, where the thermal energy from the engine’s waste heat exhaust is recovered to increase overall efficiency further.

Specific designs of ORCs include single-flash systems, double-flash systems, triple-flash systems, economiser systems, and turboexpander-driven systems. Each method has advantages depending on application needs, including cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and power output requirements.

When considering an ORC system for a given application, it is essential to consider whether it will provide the desired power output and efficiency level while also providing enough operational flexibility to meet changing demand requirements. It is also necessary to assess how well the chosen fluid can stand up to degradation over time and whether any additional safety features, such as pressure vessels or fire protection measures, need to be included.

Finally, proper maintenance should be considered when evaluating an ORC system, as any deficiencies in this area can lead to excessive wear and tear on components, which could result in costly repairs down the line.

Woody Biomass Fuels

Woody biomass is an attractive source of renewable energy because it produces fewer emissions when burned than fossil fuels.

Woody biomass fuels include wood chips, wood pellets made from sawdust or other untreated wood waste materials, bark, agricultural residues like corn stalks, forestry residues from logging operations, urban wood waste such as construction lumber scrap, mill wastes like sawdust or shavings, paper pulp sludge, charcoal briquettes made from sawdust, yard clippings collected for composting, and herbaceous biomass such as energy crops explicitly grown for bioenergy production like switchgrass or alfalfa. Each type of woody biomass has different characteristics that make it better suited for particular applications over others, including moisture content levels, to name one factor that affects its storage properties and combustibility when burning it for heat or power generation purposes.

For example, cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass has higher moisture content levels than corn stalks, so using this material requires more drying before being used for biofuel production to increase its product yield value through reduced losses resulting from evaporative water loss during processing stages. Furthermore, some types of woody biomass can be co-fired with coal in existing power plants, helping reduce emissions since burning two types of solid fuels instead of one increases overall plant efficiency while reducing pollutant emissions like sulphur dioxide, which is considered harmful when released into the atmosphere, especially at large concentrations present during high volumetric burn rates experienced during peak hours associated with traditional utility power plants that rely only on coal as their primary source of thermal energy input resource.


Combined heat and power (CHP) systems offer a highly efficient way to utilise fuel energy while simultaneously providing thermal energy in the form of steam or hot water.

Several types of CHP prime movers are available, each with unique benefits and drawbacks. The essential factor in choosing a particular type of system is understanding your application’s specific requirements and operating strategies.

With this comprehensive guide, you should now have a better understanding of how CHP works and what options are available for harnessing this powerful technology in your wood resources industry applications. Please contact us if you are interested in learning about CHP systems and how they can benefit your facility.