Georgia Biomass Explosion

From the Florida Times Union and, a brief story about the explosion at Georgia Biofuels.  Pelletizers, dryers, grinders, pellet coolers, dust collection systems, and storage silo's are main concerns for safety systems to prevent fires and explosions at biomass pellet plants. This fire appears to have started in one of the pellet mills or "pelletizers" which extrude wood dust into pellets at high speed creating friction and heat. The fire was then likely transferred to the pellet coolers and dust collection systems which contain combustible dust in suspension causing the deflagration.

-Jeff Nichols

Overheated assembly caused Georgia Biomass explosion |

Wood pellet production should resume today at Georgia Biomass, which was crippled by a dust explosion last month. The plant is near Waycross.
"We're ramping up now ... starting the equipment and getting it all ready to go," plant manager Ken Ciarletta said about noon Tuesday.
No one was injured in the early morning explosion June 20, which damaged some of the processing equipment at the plant that employs about 80 people.
An investigation revealed that an overheated roller/bearing assembly in a pelletizer sparked the blast at the factory, Ciarletta said.
No employees were laid off while production was shut down at the plant, he said.
As equipment was repaired and modifications made to prevent a recurrence, employees went through training and worked in other areas of the plant, he said.
He wouldn't reveal the cost of the damage, saying it was proprietary information. Ciarletta did say "the capital damage was comparatively low and has been repaired."
Georgia Biomass is a subsidiary of RWE Innogy of Germany, one of the top five electricity and gas companies in Europe. An estimated $175 million investment, the plant is in the Waycross-Ware County Industrial Park about five miles west of Waycross off U.S. 82 and U.S. 1.
The plant began operating May 12. Using yellow pine timber from throughout Southeast Georgia, its goal is to produce about 750,000 tons of wood pellets annually. Wood pellets are used as fuel - a cleaner-burning substitute for coal - primarily in Europe.



  1. I was told by insiders that this area was not protected - my question is "WHY NOT???"

  2. This plant is producing fuel! And any time they move or manipulate the product, they are creating fines, dried wood flour in this case, commonly known as combustible dust!

    A fire requires the addition of oxygen and an ignition source. All mechanical devices in the plant such as mills and conveyors, as well as any heat generating equipment such as dryers and mills, can and will create sparks and embers causing ignition. An explosion will require the addition of combustible dust dispersed within a confined space such as a conveyor, cooler, dust collector or storage bin.

    When you combine this combustible dust with oxygen and ignition sources, in these confined spaces within the process, you have a recipe for disaster!

    Over the years, we have helped protect many of these type plants from fires and explosions. A good review of the process and existing safety systems is in order.

    We operate in four distinct disciplines. Fire Prevention, typically utilizing Spark/ember/heat/flame/temperature Detection and & Extinguishing Systems, in all mechanical and pneumatic conveying systems; as well as Fire Protection, and Explosion Prevention and Protection systems, for added layers of protection in all drying, grinding, pelletizing, hoppers, bins, coolers, silos, dust collectors, etc.

    With proper analysis, design and application, these plants can be made safe. You can reduce the probability of risk, as well as the severity of any consequences.

    With the addition of proper engineering controls, training, and housekeeping, this plant can be made safe. After all, our goal is for every American worker to go home safe at the end of his shift.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Fire Triangle, Fire Tetrahedron and Dust Explosion Pentagon

Sawdust fuelled most sawmill fires

Introducing the NFPA 652 Combustible Dust Standard