Mastication

n. A fuel modification technique involving the use of heavy machinery to shred standing live and dead shrubs and tree saplings into small chunks.   

 

  • Discussion

 

Mastication is the shredding of standing trees and shrubs with a specially designed masitication head mounted on an excavator or on a bulldozer. The rapidly spinning mastication head breaks the standing live and dead material into smaller chunks and disperses it.

 

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While the masticated wood could be trucked off-site for use in generating energy, the high cost of hauling the masticated material to a power generating facility most often results in the chips being left on-site as mulch. Mastication dramatically compacts the fuelbed, which helps to moderate fire behavior under extreme fire weather conditions.  However, recent research has demonstrated that when the amount of masticated surface fuel is high, undesirable fire effects may result if the site does burn.