Biomass and MSW

Achieve net-zero goals by leveraging the innovative Jen-Zero™ technology, designed for seamlessly feeding biomass and waste materials into high-pressure reactors.

Biomass and MSW Overview

As greater emphasis is being placed on green energy, renewables, and sustainability, biomass consumption is rapidly increasing. Biomass is a general term used to describe a variety of materials including wood chips, pellets, saw dust, milled switch grass, corn stover, etc.  From a material storage and handling perspective, these materials can exhibit various handling challenges.  Materials such as milled corn stover are very light and often exhibit nesting tendencies that result in discharge issues from hoppers and silos, whereas materials such as woodchips exhibit strong interlocking tendencies.  Pellets may undergo attrition and generate dust, which can pose an explosion hazard.

Municipal Solids Waste (MSW) is a feedstock which has flow characteristics that are similar to biomass materials.  As such, MSW feedstocks also experience similar flow issues during handling.  Whether it is feedstock receiving, stockpile reclaim, silos or feed hoppers, or feed-systems to pressurized reactors, unless properly designed, these systems can experience flow problems such as flow stoppages, limited live storage capacity, feed rate limitation, etc.  Similarly, if the feeder and transfer chutes are not designed properly, they can result in flow problems.  These problems in the feedstock receiving area can be avoided by properly designing or retrofitting the storage and handling systems.

Tree logs being hauled.

Logging Truck hauling tree logs.

Pile of wood chips

Pile of wood chips in storage.

Woodworking in a sawmill

Woodworking in a sawmill


Biomass & MSW Services

We have been at the forefront of developing reliable feedstock handling technology for various types of biomass feedstocks including corn stover, switchgrass, miscanthus, woodchips, sawdust, pellets as well as MSW and other waste steams. Typical handling applications involve receiving of feedstock at the plant, storage of feedstock, handling in the yard, feeding to drying process, feeding to size-reduction as well as feeding to pressurized reactors or boilers.

Whether you are reclaiming biomass for co-firing or direct combustion, feeding bio-feedstocks for thermochemical reactions, or converting biofuels or recycled content into syngas or liquid fuels, Jenike & Johanson can help you achieve reliable material flow and required throughput.


Watch this video about our work with the Los Alamos Labs on creating a smart chute to handle biomass in a commercially viable means:


Common Biomass & MSW Industry Challenges

Low bulk density of biomass and waste feedstocks means large volumes of these feedstocks are required to be handled. This significantly increases the importance of achieving reliable flow. Handling of these feedstocks can be difficult due to the interlocking behavior of the stringy and elongated particles. Poor flow of biomass in hoppers and storage equipment is routine. Many biomass feed-stocks are cohesive and thus prone to erratic feed into processes. Material flow obstructions will lead to process inefficiencies, thermal generation interruptions, and increased equipment maintenance. In addition, biofuel consistency can vary drastically, increasing processing complexity and need for specialized equipment for size reduction, screening, and drying. Proper selection of biomass, wood, or paper storage and feeding equipment is critical for this industry given the large amounts of material handled at a plant and the materials’ tendency to rot, spoil, and spontaneously combust. Dust explosions are also common given the materials’ strong ignition potential.

A rathole formed in a vessel processing sawdust.

Wood shavings forming a rathole.

Interior view of factory buildings for urban waste treatment and recycling.

Interior view of factory buildings for urban waste treatment and recycling.


Common Materials Handled

Here is a shortened list of some of the most common bulk materials we have successfully handled in the Biomass & MSW industry to date. Please reach out to us if you’d like to discuss our experience with your specific material.



  • Wood chips and wood bark
  • Sawdust and shavings
  • Switch grass
  • Corn stalks (stover), cobs
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Refuse derived fuel
  • C&D debris, wood pallets
  • Hay and straw
  • Algae and aquatic grasses
  • Recycled cardboard
  • Paper pulp and paper scrap

Biomass & MSW Industry Clients

Some of the clients who we have successfully provided bulk material engineering services for in the Biomass & MSW industries.

  • International Paper
  • Weyerhaeuser
  • KiOR
  • Kamyr
  • Smurfit-Stone
  • Evergreen Community Power
  • Irving Pulp & Paper
  • Zilkha Energy
  • Duke Energy
  • ABB CE Services
  • Amoco Chemicals
  • Arkansas Eastman
  • BioEnergy
  • Buckeye Cellulose
  • Catalytic
  • Celgar Pulp
  • Celanese Fibers
  • Celotex
  • Champion
  • Dravo Engineers
  • Ecodyne
  • ETG Environmental
  • Foster Wheeler Energy
  • Henkel Corp
  • Hoechst Celanese
  • ITT Rayonier
  • Kamyr
  • Kay Musical Instruments
  • Lincoln Pulp & Paper
  • Power Recovery Systems
  • Procter & Gamble
  • PyroPower
  • Sprout Waldron
  • Stock Equipment
  • Tennessee Eastman
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Trigen-Syracuse Energy
  • Union Camp
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Watkins Engineering
  • Westvaco
  • Weyerhaeuser
Jenike & Johanson engineer
Jenike & Johanson engineer

Do You Need an Engineer to Help You With Biomass and MSW?

Reach out to our experienced team of engineers who will provide consulting, testing and engineering services!

Meet Us at Bulk Material Engineering Events

Find out when and where we’ll be presenting our latest findings and trainings.