Recent History – 2001
June 18, 2001
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
The opening of a dry kiln at South Peace Secondary School (SPSS) was celebrated Friday not with a ribbon cutting but by pushing in the first sling of lumber to undergo the treatment at the facility. Teacher Jamie Maxwell and student Chris Batusek did the honours as representatives from the Ministry of Forests, SPSS and the Kiwanis Enterprise Centre looked on. Dry kilns are a vital to the lumber industry, Maxwell said, because they allow wood to be dried without warping or cracking, and because they’re faster than air drying.
“Everybody has to dry wood,” he said. Yet dry kilns are a rare item in B.C. schools. Along with showing students a key part of the lumber manufacturing process, they also learn several skills. “They learn how to monitor and adjust a monitoring schedule for wood, so whatever group of students assigned the task of drying the wood would be out here each day making moisture measurements and then graphing that and then seeing if moisture loss is too fast,” he said.
The kiln at SPSS differs from conventional kilns in that it is based on refrigeration technology – it is a dehumidification device and removes liquid water from the air by making it condense in an evaporator coil.
“The chamber is not vented as in the conventional kilns we all see in sawmill towns where great billowing clouds of water vapour and heat are released,” Maxwell said. “As it is never vented and so never loses heat it is a very energy efficient device and only requires a 120 volt 15 amp circuit.” The device and chamber are only meant to go to 120 degrees fahrenheit and so regular woodframe construction materials are able to be used in the construction of the chamber with a few precautions. The chamber is capable of taking 12-foot long lumber.
Work began on the kiln, housed in an existing building at the south end of the school in the technological education compound in September. Metalwork students Lesley Schwertner and Jarry Lichti welded together the rail car and track, and Ruedi Bachman and Justin Sheets installed the track, assembled and painted the railcar and finished the chamber accessories. The school district supplied the tradesmen and the materials to complete the renovation. Power, insulation, sheathing and the special kiln chamber were added. In all, $8,000 was budgeted for the work. Along with supplying wood for the students’ use, Maxwell said the kiln can also be used by local businesses for custom drying. He doubts that doing so will impose on anyone’s market because the kiln is so small.
To Maxwell’s knowledge there is only one other dry kiln facility in the Dawson Creek area, and it’s used to keep the owner in enough wood to manufacture his own products. Maxwell regards the kiln as another step in developing the WoodLinks wood products manufacturing program, which will start this September at the school. WoodLinks is an industry-education partnership meant to introduce specific training for the wood industry at the high school level. Maxwell said this means gaining familiarity with forestry, sawmilling, wood drying, pulp and paper, cabinet and furniture making, panel products like oriented strand board, medium density fibreboard and plywood, and engineered wood products such as trusses and I-joists. “The students must understand that the wood industry is really broad and varied,” Maxwell said.
Anyone who has questions about the project of the WoodLinks program can contact Maxwell at 782-5585 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.