Whole tree transportation system for timber processing depots
The growing demand for alternative energy has led those interested in producing sustainable energy from renewable biomass such as timber to devise new concepts to satisfy those demands. The concept of timber processing depots, where whole stem trees will be delivered for future processing into wood products and high quality energy fuel, has led to the reevaluation of current timber transportation methods and whether they can feasibly transport unprocessed trees in an efficient, legal, and safe manner. Modifications for standard double bunk log trailers were developed to accommodate tree length, unprocessed southern yellow pine. The first design was a swinging gate design, and the second was an extendable bolster design. These modification designs ensured that tree crowns were contained within the trailer to prevent contact with and damage to other vehicles while in transport. Consideration of criteria including modification weight, load force analysis, ease of attachment and detachment, and overall feasibility determined which of the two trailer modification designs was chosen for trial load testing. The selected design was fabricated and attached to a standard two bunk log trailer which was loaded to its maximum volume capacity with chip and saw and pulpwood size Pinus taeda. Axle weights were recorded three times for each load of timber: unprocessed, trimmed, and delimbed and processed to a merchantable top. Net load weights and anecdotal observations were used to determine that transporting whole tree chip and saw and pulpwood sized loblolly pine on the modified trailer was unfeasible.