Lifting equipment manufacturer, Demag Cranes & Components Ltd, has installed a specialist bale handling crane system at Drax Power Limited’s new biomass processing facility at Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire. The prototype plant has been established to process wheat, barley and rape straw, which are by products from arable farming in the region. The plant processes straw, which is a recognised biomass material, into fuel pellets for co-firing with coal, as part of Drax’s carbon emissions reduction programme, at the company’s power station, located just 3 miles from the biomass processing facility.
To meet the specific materials handling requirements of the pellet production process, Demag installed at 29m span, double girder, automatic crane system, rated at 22 tonne SWL. Mounted on the crane is a specialist 12 tonne bale handling grab unit.
The 24 hour production process involves the receipt of up to 400 tonnes of raw straw delivered to the plant each day. Bales are unloaded from delivery lorries by the Demag crane, with operator control via a user friendly, remote controlled joystick. The system unloads twelve straw bales, with a total weight of 8 tonnes, per lift. Once unloaded, sensors check the bales to ensure moisture levels are within pre-set tolerances and, if accepted, the crane switches to automatic mode and deposits the bales within the 1,700 sq m storage area to a positioning accuracy of 15mm. The crane system also automatically lifts and moves straw bales from the storage area to the pellet production conveyor, when sensors indicate replenishment is necessary.
Drax’s decision to specify the Demag system followed a visit, by Drax personnel, to a similar Demag installation at a biomass processing facility in Denmark.
The nearby Drax Power Station is the largest, newest, cleanest and most efficient coal fired facility in the UK. With an output of 4,000 megawatts, the station meets approximately 7% of the UK’s demand for electricity. The planned annual production of 100,000 tonnes of straw pellets, at the Goole plant, will replace around 60,000 tonnes of coal used in the power generation process and reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by some 120,000 tonnes.
Drax already has plans to develop further pellet plants, increasing its capacity for the production of locally sourced biomass pellets. The company has set an overall target of producing 12.5% of its output from renewable and sustainable products by mid 2010, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by over 2.5 million tonnes annually.
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Demag Cranes & Components Ltd, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 1QZ
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