Day 12: Inverness College – UHI and Balcas plant

Day 11: Findhorn Eco-Village
October 5, 2016
Day 13: Presentations in Stromness and Field work at the Stromness Museum
October 7, 2016

Day 12: Inverness College – UHI and Balcas plant

Group 1 Summary

Today visit start from University of the Higlands and Islands Inverness College. Melanie Smith as Head of Research and Development start the discussion. University of the Highlands and Islands consist of 15 college partners spread in Scotland. Inverness College has programmes for supporting unit for non degree, such as vocational and internship. Together with other college, they do video conference lecture. Then we discuss with Eric Verspoor on molecular approaches for sustainable fisheries. This molecular approaches is working well for enduring overexplotation fishing. Inverness college is preparing for environment DNA technique to check the population genetic and also for studying evolution. They take the water sample and then analyze the dna from all organism that live in that water. They also do business from research they conduct, as sorting fish by sex. They looking for DNA fragment that responsible for sexist and search the pattern, using Zero Agarose Gel apparatus. They can do 9 plates of 96 wells in once.
The group then move to Balcas company, the biggest wood pellet maker in UK. The source of the pellet using log wood that claimed the woods are come from unused wood. The production capacity is about 350 tons pellet per day. If it’s come woody waste will be great because generated the electricity instead of the wood pellet. This company produce their own electicity and also contribute 5-8 Mega Watt to the National Grid. Then the group move to Scrabster Harbour to continue the journey towards Stromness, Orkney.

Group 2 Summary: University of Highlands and Islands Inverness College (UHI IC) and Balcas Timber

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Today we checked out of the hotel after breakfast. We went to the University of Highlands and Island Inverness College at 08:50. At 09:15 we arrived at the university, while waiting for the start of the meeting with the board of campus, we took pictures around campus. This campus has a new modern and artistic building, as well as the arrangement of campus environment. People who comes or have an activity in this campus must be feel comfort.

The meeting starts at 09.40, opened with a brief introduction about the research activities at the university by the Head of Research and Postgraduate Development UHI IC, Melanie Smith. After that, we were splited into two group. The first group were introduced to the genetics laboratory facilities and research activities in it by Director of Rivers and Lochs Institute, Eric Verspoor. The rest stay in class and have discussion with Melanie Smith. At 10.40 both group were swaped. One of the most attractive tool in it genetic laboratory is a Next Generation Sequencer which is important for genetic and molecular research. Last we were delivered around to see the main building.

The Afternoon session was dedicated to visit Balcas, a leading timber products supplier which has pioneered biomass renewable energy in the British Isles. We learned about wood pellet fuel production and also bioenergy based bioresources. The field tour were facilitated by Scott, Gary, and some employee of Balcas. Activities in Balcas ends at 14:45 and we continue the trip to the port of Scrabster. At 19:00 we crossed from Scrabster harbor towards Stromness by Northlink Ferry. We arrived in Stromness at 20:30, we were greeted by Peter from Aquatera and then delivered to the Ferry Inn for an overnight stay.

Group 3 Summary

University of Highland and Island, Inverness College

1. Introduction about focus study on Inverness College such as forestry, fisheries, marine sciences, collaborating training and aquatic biodiversity of fresh water.
2. Visiting laboratory of campus such as, genetic that divided into four room and equipped with PCR, ZAG, EDNA, and sequencer (Sanger and next generation).
3. Orientation building facilities guided by Euan Bowditch; gym, caffe, etc.


1. Contribute 300.000 T of carbon reduction annually
2. Produce renewable electric and wood pellets for heat
3. Pellet plant process
4. Energy plant for Invergordon
5. Wood sources from company
6. Wood Chip 800 ton/day
7. Electric 20%, wood pellet 80%
8. Resulted 5-8 MW electricity
9. Pellet production 321 ton/day and 110.000 ton/year
10. 360 workers for 3 sites
11. Collaboration between Academy

Group 4 Summary: Visit to University of Highlands and Islands (UHI), Inverness College and Balcas

October 6th 2016

Inverness, Scotland

In the morning we visited University of Highlands and Islands (UHI), Inverness College.  Dr. Melanie Smith explained about research in Inverness College.  UHI has 13 partners in research and they build communication network among all the partners.  Then, we devided into two groups to see laboratory facilities, guided by Dr. Eric Verspoor.  The lab we visited was Biomag (Biodiversity Management Applied Genomics) Lab.  After that, Euan Bowditch led the next tour around the campus, especially to Forestry research unit.  In this unit they focus on biodiversity, forestry education, entomology, especially pine moth, and tree health.

In the afternoon we visited BALCAS in Invergordon, which produce renewable electricity and wood pellets. We devided into two groups to see around the plants. First we saw presentation session about the factory, then Scott and Gary lead the tour. During the tour we saw wood processing in log yard section, then moved to Boiler Plant Process and Pellet Plant Process. First, logs are chopped into chips with 5 sharp blades. The second process is separating the clean and dirty wood chips. The 20% of clean wood chips then are dried from 50% moisture to less than 5% moisture. Next, the wood chips were pressed into pellets with certain moisture and temperature. The pellets then are stored in a big silo. The other 80% of clean wood chips are boiled to produce electricity.

From BALCAS we went north to Scrabsters, then took ferry to Stromness in Orkney Islands.


Group 5 Summary

Visit To Highland and Island University

The first visit to the highland and island university college inverness and were greeted by Melanie smith and vaspoor. Melanie explains that the UHI has a main campus in inverness and only occupy the new building in 2015. After the introduction of melanie, we were divided into two groups and then visit one of the laboratories, genetic laboratories. A visit to the genetic laboratory guided by Eric Vespoor which is one of the researchers on marine biodiversity and river or lock. In the laboratory eric describes the function of each tool in genetics laboratory. After the introduction and visit our laboratories are given a little introduction about the state of UHI by Euan Bowditch and then we visited the main building of the UHI to see some facility such as staff room, classrooms, cafeteria, auditorium art and also several sports facilities such as Gym and field indoor basketball.

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Picture activity at the Highland and Island University


The next visit is to Balcas. Before visiting the Balcas we took a break for lunch.


Visit to Balcas

visit to Balcas begins with a report to the guard post and then use the PPE that is provided by the Balcas. Once ready we were escorted into a meeting room to hear the introduction and also about safety while in Balcas. The Introduction by Lewis. After the we were divided into two groups to visit and see first hand the work processes in Balcas. The first group guided by Scott who drove us to the initial processing of the manufacture of wood pallets. in this initial processing we visited the place of loading timber, a control room,  and a  shelters semi-finished materials. After the groups in the change again for the visit to the next building. The next visit group guided by gerry first visit conducted in semi-finished building materials processing, after that, towards building containing a wood pallet making machine, where pakcing, storage warehouses, control rooms and power plants from Balcas.

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 Picture activity at the Balcas Ltd.