Development of international standards for solid biofuels formally started in 2008 under ISO Technical Committee 238 (ISO/TC238). To date, a total of 23 standards have been published and an additional 20 projects are in various stages of development. These international standards will ensure a level playing field among stakeholders and will help eliminate unfair competition in the market place.
ISO Technical Committee 238 met April 24-29, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to advance the development of new standards and such ongoing projects as those focusing on safety (including residential handling and storage of wood pellets; large-scale handling and storage in industrial applications; and guidelines for fighting fires, and avoiding the risk of asphyxiation due to oxygen depletion, in pellet storage facilities). Once approved and published, these standards may be used in Europe, North America and other parts of the world.
The interest for thermally-treated and densified biofuels—produced by torrefaction, steam explosion or hydrothermal carbonization—is increasing and a standard has been proposed through ISO TC 238 Working Group 2, Fuel specifications and classes. However, at the Kuala Lumpur meeting, it was agreed that the development of a standard should be deferred and, in the meantime, take the form of a technical specification, until technologies are further developed and validated for commercial use, and the material better understood, prior to publication of an international standard for these types of solid biofuels.
Additional new standards are under development for determination of ash melting temperature, absorptivity and grindability of thermally-treated biofuels as well as for calibration of optical analyzers for determination of particle size distribution.
At the same time, ISO/TC300 has just been created to develop standards for solid recovered biofuels. Similar to the initial plans for ISO/TC 238, the new ISO Technical Committee plans to pursue quality and test specifications for biofuels made from demolition wood, municipal waste and other lower grade materials. Liaisons have been put into place to keep the lines of communication open between the two committees. The U.S. and Canadian delegations, in close cooperation, have looked after the interests of producers and users of solid biofuels in North America. Active participation in the development of ISO standards is important to protect North American interests and to secure fair trade with Europe and other markets around the world.
Attending the meeting from Canada was Staffan Melin (Chair, from the Wood Pellet Association of Canada); Maurice Douek (Co-Chair, from FPInnovations); and Babak Owlam (from the Canadian Standards Association (CSA)).
Additional details on ISO/TC238 may be found at: http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_technical_committee.html?commid=554401.