Review of worldwide standards for solid biofuels

Pieter D Kofman, Danish Forestry Extension, Senior Consultant Wood for Energy, Coford 2016, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dublin, Ireland

There has been a substantial increase in the amount of biomass being used for energy in Europe.  As trade between countries and even continents becomes more widespread, it is necessary to create international standards to facilitate buying and selling biomass fuels.

The European standardisation organisation, CEN has a mandate from the European Commission to develop standards for solid biofuels, under Technical Committee (TC) 335 Solid Biofuels. At the same time a large European project - BIONORM - has been funded under the EU Framework RTDI Programme, to carry out research to provide a scientific basis for the standards. After CEN completed most of the work to create European standards, a decision was made to move these standards to a worldwide level using ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, which develops and publishes international standards. This work is being taken forward by a new Technical Committee: ISO TC 238. It comprises experts from Europe involved in the CEN process, with additional participation from US, Canada and some Asian countries. TC 238 has taken the existing European standards as the basis for the ISO standards.

All the ISO standards within TC 238 are developed under the so-called Vienna Agreement, meaning that all standards developed will also become European Standards (ENs). New EN ISO standards will replace existing EN standards. 

Solid biofuel covers many fuels including woody biomass (chips, hogfuel, firewood, wood pellets, briquettes), herbaceous biomass (straw, grass, miscanthus etc.), fruit biomass (olive stones, cherry pips, grape waste, nut shells etc.), aquatic biomass (algae, seaweeds), as well as a group called “blends and mixtures”. Solid biofuel excludes all animal-based biomass (manure, meat and bone meal and such-like materials); these fuels will be dealt with by other standardisation committees. (Demolition timber is classified as hazardous waste and is not included in the solid biofuel category.)

From a working document (WD) the standard is developed into a Committee Draft (CD). The CD is then put up for balloting to become a Draft International Standard (DIS). Comments received during the ballot are then incorporated in the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS). At this stage only editorial comments can be made, which are then considered before the standard is finally published.

During the process drafts are not available to the general public. Input is confined to experts working on the drafts and the national mirror committees, which discuss the drafts at country level.

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