Spokane Journal of Business

Qualterra delivers milestone unit to Vaagen Timbers

Device to reduce carbon yield, energy demands for CLT manufacturer

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Qualterra Inc., a Pullman, Washington-based agricultural biotechnology company that operates a research farm in the Spokane area, has announced the delivery of the company’s first biomass processing unit to Vaagen Timbers LLC, a major milestone for both companies.

Vaagen Timbers manufactures cross-laminated and glue-laminated timber products at a facility located about 70 miles north of Spokane, in Colville, Washington. 

The timber company will use the biomass processing unit to process a variety of agricultural and timber waste materials into biochar, a clean and economical soil amendment that can improve soil health and crop yields while saving water and reducing the need for fertilizer.

The biomass processing unit delivery is a major milestone for both Qualterra and Vaagen Timbers, says Qualterra CEO Mike Werner, in a press release.

“Commitments to sustainably and responsibly processing natural resources like timber are shared visions of both of our companies,” Werner says.

Russ Vaagen, CEO of Vaagen Timbers, says in the release that, “This innovative biomass processing unit allows us to get the most utilization from our woody byproducts in a sustainable and carbon smart way.”

One biomass processing unit can process 450 tons of plant material to create about 112 tons of biochar per year, Werner previously told the Journal.

The biomass processing unit, in combination with a new dehumidification kiln made from cross-laminated timber, was purchased with support from a Wood Innovations Grant from the U.S. Forest Service.

The unit also produces biogas, which can be captured and used to generate electricity through gasification technologies. Vaagen Timbers will use the energy created from the unit to heat the mill’s wood drying kiln.

Representatives of Qualterra declined to comment further, and Vaagen Timbers representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.

Vaagen Timbers has 108 employees and operates one of only a few cross-laminated timber companies in Washington state. 

Qualterra had 26 employees as of last November. The company was established in 2010 as NuPhy Inc.

Erica Bullock
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Reporter Erica Bullock has worked at the Journal since 2019 and covers real estate and construction. She is a craft beer enthusiast, who loves to garden and go camping with friends.

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