Volvo to Test Biomass Burning for Electric-Machine Charging

Dec. 28, 2023
BioCharger will convert heat energy from burning wood waste into battery power.

Volvo Construction Equipment is working with Air Burners to develop and test the BioCharger, a portable machine that burns biomass waste such as wood into energy. The unit provides off-grid power using air curtain burning.

Volvo proved out the charging capabilities of the BioCharger with its new 23-ton crawler excavator, the EC230 Electric.

“This collaboration with Air Burners for the BioCharger allows us to demonstrate one of the more non-conventional sources to fast-charge our equipment in off-grid locations,” said Ray Gallant, VP of sustainability and productivity services for Volvo, in a statement.

Read also: Sustainability is More than a Buzzword

The BioCharger first minimizes the amount of particulate matter entering the atmosphere as the biomass burns. Then, it converts residual heat energy into electric energy and stores it in a Battery Storage Module. Finally, a charging mechanism allows the unit to charge electric vehicles and construction machinery.

Air Burners consulted with Rolls-Royce in developing the Battery Storage Module, a 450-kWh charging station that can recharge multiple battery-electric machines and tools, from chainsaws to excavators. The BioCharger creates and stores enough energy daily to recharge three to six battery-powered machines, according to Air Burners. In addition, the BioCharger retains enough energy to start itself and continue the cycle the next day.

“While electric machinery becomes increasingly popular in the fight against climate change, when it comes to forest management, we must have practical solutions for charging electric machinery away from traditional power sources,” said Brian O’Connor, president of Air Burners, in a statement. “The Air Burners’ BioCharger provides that solution and manages wood waste, all done in an economical and environmentally conscious way.”

Unlike biomass power plants, the BioCharger is a fully portable machine that can be relocated to a new site and be operational in approximately six hours. The machine accepts whole logs, root balls, pallets, crates, and any other clean wood or vegetative waste without sorting, crushing, or grinding. Air curtain burners also do not require any secondary fuel sources like natural gas, reducing costs and easing installation, according to the company. 

About the Author

Rod Sutton

I have served as the editorial lead of Construction Equipment magazine and since 2001. 

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