Producing about 220,000 tons of charcoal per year with the projection of reaching 450,000 tons per year as of 2012 is not an easy task. It demands extensive research and development (R&D). About 2% of the Aperam BioEnergia revenue is invested in this area, which is also supported by the best forestry research entities in Brazil.
These are the main R&D activities:
- Selection and production of high-performance genetic material;
- Production of saplings via vegetative propagation;
- Soil mapping in order to determine the best mineral nutrition and soil handling processes;
- Rational pesticide usage (herbicides and insecticides) based on specific monitoring techniques;
- Planning of silviculture – focused on forest growth – and harvesting operations;
- Mechanization of heavy duty activities involving wood and charcoal transportation;
- Continuous evaluation of environmental aspects related to silviculture.
Aperam BioEnergia has recently completed an important project concerning the development of a burning system for carbonization furnace fumes. This procedure enables using the involved energy in wood drying, reducing the gas emissions to the atmosphere and increasing transformation yield.