Approximately 40 speakers and 70 exhibitor companies will participate in the Bioenergy Fuels & Products Conference & Expo to be held Tuesday-Wednesday, March 18-19 at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta, Ga. The event is expected to involve 500 industry professionals from the wood energy and fuels industries, including wood pellets, biomass power, biofuels, woody feedstock and harvesting.

“There’s really no other event like it in North America, in that it’s exclusively wood-related and it crosses into all wood-based energy and fuel groups,” says Rich Donnell, conference co-chairman and editor-in-chief of Wood Bioenergy magazine. “The response to this event in 2012 was so positive that we committed quickly to putting it on again in 2014. And of course you have to take into consideration its location, in Atlanta, Georgia, in a region of the country that is such a hotbed for the new generation wood energy and fuels industries.”

One of the unique features of the conference is the number of keynote speakers in the morning general sessions. “We approach this perhaps with a little more workmanship mentality,” Donnell says. “We provide a diverse lineup of keynoters each morning. There’s much to be learned from them. And we emphasize to them to talk about what the attendees ‘need’ to hear, not simply what they ‘want’ to hear.”

Another thing that separates this event from others, Donnell says, is its compactness. “It’s really a tight event,” Donnell says. “It’s basically a day and a half. You come in, you get out, and you’ve taken care of business.”

First-morning keynoters include: Rick Holley, CEO, Plum Creek Timber; Steven Hall, Senior Project Manager, ReEnergy Holdings; Huey Long, Senior Principal, Mountain Creek Group; and Malcolm Swanson, President, ASTEC.

Second-morning keynoters will be: Alicia Cramer, President, Westervelt Renewable Energy; John Campbell, Managing Director, Rollcast Energy; Bill Gaston, Principal, Wood Resource Recovery; and Seth Walker, Associate Bioenergy Economist, RISI.

Following the morning keynote sessions, the conference breaks into individual meeting room sessions that will focus on topics such as New Technologies; Products & Fiber; Industrial Wood Pellets; Fire Safety; Process Improvements & Fuel Handling; Project Support & Access; Dust Issues & Control; and Air Emissions Technologies.

All of the breaks between sessions and several food functions will be held on the exhibitor floor, where more than 70 exhibitors will promote a range of technologies, supplies and services. “This is really the core group of equipment vendors for the wood energy and fuels industries,” Donnell comments. “They offer the complete range of equipment. Just looking at the Gold sponsors you see a company such as Morbark, with its in-woods chipping and grinding machinery, to a company like TSI that offers torrefaction technologies.”

Exhibitors are classified as Gold, Silver or Bronze sponsors, depending on the package they purchased. Gold sponsors from the equipment community include Astec, Bruks Rockwood, Dieffenbacher, Morbark, Siempelkamp and Sigma Thermal/TSI. Also, Canadian Biomass magazine is a Gold sponsor from the media field, as are host magazines Wood Bioenergy and Panel World, as well as the “think-tank” host Georgia Research Institute.

Nearly 60% of the exhibitors will also participate in the Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference & Expo (PELICE), which will be held immediately following the Bioenergy Conference on March 20-21 and also in the Grand Ballroom North of the Omni Hotel.

The Bioenergy Conference & Expo has its roots in a half-day conference held in 2010 at the Omni Hotel, prior to the Panel & Engineered Lumber Conference & Expo. It became a full conference in 2012, again preceding the panel conference. “Everybody wondered about the idea of close-coupled conferences and expos because it had never been done,” Donnell recalls. “But everybody came out of 2012 really pleased with it, so we’re back at it in 2014.”

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