Two Wood-Burning Plants Being Built in Georgia

GeorgiaFlag1An Alabama company is building two wood-burning electricity plants in Georgia. This article from the Athens (GA) Banner-Herald says state environmental officials have approved one of the two applications for the GreenFuels Holding Company’s plants expected to produce a total of nearly 140 megawatts of electricity.

The company filed its application for a 58 megawatt plant near Colbert about two weeks ago. State officials won’t begin to evaluate it for another couple of weeks, until a 30-day window has passed when the public can make formal comments, said Eric Cornwell, the Air Quality Branch’s program manager for stationary source permitting.

GreenFuels has a policy to not comment publicly to media, said GreenFuels vice president Steven Ingle.

But much of what the company has planned is outlined in documents on file with the state detailing their predicted emissions of pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrochloric acid.

GE Provides Biomass Gasification for Project

GEPowerWaterGE is providing an integrated biomass gasification solution to power a bioenergy plant in California. This news release from the company says it struck the deal with Western Energy Systems and San Francisco-based Phoenix Energy to provide this for the North Fork project, the next in a series of bioenergy plants that Phoenix Energy is building in the state.

GE’s integrated biomass gasification solution includes an Ecomagination qualified, 1-megawatt engine and biomass gasification system. Phoenix Energy and GE have collaborated to design and implement this solution statewide.

For the North Fork project, Phoenix Energy will use the GE gasification solution to convert excess forest biomass to electricity, heat and biochar, supporting the state and federal efforts to reduce wildfire risk, eliminate wasteful pile and burn management practices and improve carbon sequestration. The renewable biomass is procured locally from U.S. Forest Service and CalFire managed lands. With GE’s process, the carbon in the biomass is left mostly in solid form as biochar. This biochar is then put back into California agriculture to improve soil health and water retention and can also be used as carbon filter media. GE will provide an integrated biomass solution including the gasifier, gas conditioning system and engine.

“GE is the first company to offer us a single end-to-end solution on the complete biomass system, rather than piecing it all together from multiple vendors. This is game changing for the forested communities,” said Phoenix Energy CEO Greg Stangl. “By working together, GE has given us the confidence that this is the right solution to use throughout California to produce sustainable local energy from local biomass, creating local jobs.”

The North Fork project received a $4.9 million California Energy Commission grant as part of a larger plan to support further deployment of bioenergy in the state.

Algae Biomass Summit to Highlight Comm’l Potential

ABOScientists and industry innovators will be talking about the commercial potential of algae at the upcoming 9th Annual Algae Biomass Summit, taking place in Washington, DC. This news release from the Algae Biomass Organization says the summit happens Sept. 30th-Oct. 2nd and features nearly 30 oral presentations on the business strategies, technologies and sustainable production methods that are bringing to market algae-based products, such as fuels.

“The leaders of the algae industry and research community are gathering in Washington, DC for the very first time at this year’s Algae Biomass Summit to highlight the unprecedented progress we have seen in algae’s potential to impact a number of multi-billion dollar markets,” said Al Darzins, Program Chair for the Algae Biomass Summit. “Companies from around the nation, and the world, are unveiling new production and process technologies, new facilities, new purchase agreements and other milestones. The commercial potential of these projects in terms of revenues, jobs and production yields will be hot topics at this year’s summit.”

The summit will have four tracks and more than 100 live presentations.

More information is available here.

Swedish Mill Dumps LPG to Put in Biomass Boiler

Waggeryd1A pulp mill in Sweden is ending its use of non-renewable LPG in favor of a biomass boiler. This news release from Waggeryd Cell says it will invest about $7 million to run the flash dryer on biomass, expected to be up and running next March and reducing the mill’s fossil carbon dioxide emissions by 85 percent.

Waggeryd Cell produces bleached CTMP and ever since start-up in 1989 the whole production has been flash dried using LPG as heat source. When the new boiler has started in September 2016, LPG will be totally replaced by bioenergy. It is a grate boiler with an effect of about 12 MW. The supplier is Urbas, an Austrian company specialising in systems designed to extract energy from wet and coarse wood fuels from sawmills, woodworking factories and general forestry thinning. It is a turnkey project and Urbas is responsible for the whole delivery, including projecting, mounting and start-up.

“This is yet another of the environmental investments we have done since we began modernising the mill fifteen years ago,” says Ulf Karlsson, MD Waggeryd Cell. “By replacing LPG for our flash dryer with heat from the new biomass boiler we will reduce our emissions of fossil carbon dioxide by 85 % at the same time as we reduce our costs. The boiler will be fuelled by sawdust, oversized wood chips and fibre residuals from our process as well as bark and fuel wood mainly supplied from our owner ATA Group’s sawmills.”

Urbas has been designing, building and pioneering energy systems for use of biomass fuels for more than 20 years.

A Toast to Making Ethanol from Grape Biomass

univofadelaideRaise your glass in a toast to some researchers from Down Under, as they have figured out how to make ethanol out of some of the leftovers from wine-making. University of Adelaide researchers in Australia showed they could make about 100 gallons of ethanol by fermenting a ton of grape marc – the leftover skins, stalks and seeds from wine-making.

Global wine production leaves an estimated 13 million tonnes of grape marc waste each year. Nationally it is estimated that several hundred thousand tonnes are generated annually and it is generally disposed of at a cost to the winery.

“This is a potentially economic use for what is largely a waste product,” says Associate Professor Rachel Burton, Program Leader with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

PhD candidate Kendall Corbin analysed the composition of grape marc from two grape varieties, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. She also investigated pre-treatment of the grape marc with acid and enzymes.

Ms Corbin found that the majority of the carbohydrates found in grape marc could be converted directly to ethanol through fermentation with a yield of up to 270 litres per tonne of grape marc.

What was leftover from this ethanol-making process is suitable as an animal feed or fertilizer.

PHG Energy to Build Waste-to-Energy Plant in TN

PHG Energy (PHGE) will be constructing a new biomass gasification plant that will convert more than 30 tons of composted material per day into thermal energy and biochar. Sevier Sold Waste (SSWI), located in Pigeon Forge, TN, contracted the PHG Energy. SSWI operates a garbage composting plant that processes more than 10,0000 tons per year from the Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. All the municipal solid waste (MSW) is processed through the plant, with 60% of it being made into compost. The carbon footprint of the facility will be reduced by over 450 tons of CO2 emissions each year, according to EPA calculators.

PHG Energy's Large Frame Gasification Unit (PRNewsFoto/PHG Energy)

PHG Energy’s Large Frame Gasification Unit (PRNewsFoto/PHG Energy)

“This new installation will help us reduce the amount of compost we need to transport by converting it into a biochar material, creating a new revenue stream for us,” said Tom Leonard, director of SSWI. “The energy from the gasification system will be used in a thermal oxidizer promoting odor control in the buildings and will allow us to defer other upgrades. This represents a significant savings from our current disposal and operating costs.”

PHGE’s gasification plants employ a thermo-chemical process that cleanly converts biomass to a combustible fuel gas. Around 90% of the biomass that is gasified in the PHGE system becomes fuel gas, and the only remaining residue is the charcoal-like biochar, that in SSWI’s case will be sold to a local industrial user as a renewable source of fuel to displace coal consumption.

The cost of the Pigeon Forge facility is $2.25 million. The project has been awarded a $250,000 Clean Energy Tennessee Grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The project will showcase PHGE’s second installation of its Large Frame gasifier, believed to be the world’s largest downdraft unit and capable of more than 60 tons per day throughput.

“This project is important to us for several reasons,” noted PHGE President Tom Stanzione. “This is our second municipal project to receive approval this year and demonstrates the growing confidence in our technology. We have a strong research and development commitment to converting MSW to energy and reducing landfill usage, and this is another significant step in that process. It is also very important to us that we have been able to prove the commercial value of our biochar as a commodity, and that it has become a positive factor in the economic equation of our systems.”

U of North Dakota Gets Biomass Research Funding

My Approved PortraitsFederal funding to the tune of $250,000 is headed to the University of North Dakota for research to study biomass as a biofuel and solar energy absorption by nanoparticles. North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp welcomed the research dollars.

“North Dakota has a rich heritage of conservation and we must continue to develop and use our natural resources responsibly,” said Heitkamp. “That also means continuing to invest in new technologies and supporting North Dakota’s renewable energy potential including wind, solar, and advanced biofuels, and these federal funds will help UND continue such critical research.”

The funding is made available through the National Science Foundation to work with their International Research Experience for Students for Technologies to Mitigate Global Climate Change.

Scottish Whisky Used to Power Homes

Scottish Whisky is being used to power homes. Well, not exactly the whisky, but the by-products, such as energy, as being used to power communities. The project, The Rothes CoRDe, part-owned by The Combination of Rothes Distillers, is leading the distilleries program.

“A number of whisky companies are part of an industry consortium looking at sustainable ways of processing by-products from our distilleries,” explained Iain Lochhead, Operations Director for John Dewar & Sons Ltd., part of the Bacardi group of companies.  “We believe we are doing our part in protecting the environment of Scotland. Since we use natural ingredients to make our whisky, we want to leave our surroundings in the same pristine condition as we find them.”

draff from whisky production

The plant utilises draff which is a by-product of whisky production. This comes from 17 different distilleries and is mixed 50/50 with wood chips.

The Speyside area of the Scottish Highlands is home to around 50 whisky distilleries. Rothes, in the heart of that region, is the site of a new, blended-biomass plant that generates heat and power for local communities. It works by burning draff (the spent grains used in the distilling process) with woodchips to create steam-generating electricity.

“We generate 8.3 megawatts of electricity every hour of every day. We use some onsite and export the rest – enough for 20,000 people in 8,000 homes,” said Frank Burns, Managing Director, Rothes CoRDe. “We are powering all of the local communities.”

Another innovation is converting pot ale – the residue from copper whisky stills – into organic feedstock that local farmers use for their animals. “By recovering by-products from our distilleries, we turn them into material of purpose and value,” Burns said. “Ultimately, everything we make, whether it’s animal feed – or even the ash from our boiler process – goes back to the land or to the farm.”

David Williamson of the Scotch Whisky Association, added, “In the end, we want to take this industry forward, to invest and grow, but also make sure we preserve the natural environment we rely on to support Scotch whisky for many years to come.”

Michigan State IDs Water Usage by Biomass Crops

Researchers at Michigan State University have identified the amount of water used by some key biomass crops. This article from the school says the study, titled, “Comparative water use by maize, perennial crops, restored prairie and poplar trees in the U.S. Midwest,” recently published by Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), lead authored by Michigan State University professor Steve Hamilton, provides a new perspective on how planting different biomass crop species might impact terrestrial water balances.
WaterUseGraph
There were six biofuel species in this study including corn, switchgrass, miscanthus, a five species grass mix, an 18 species restored prairie mix and hybrid poplar. Four years of data are reported, which include a drought year (2012) and three years of near normal rainfall.

The climate and soils of rain-fed systems in the upper Midwest may limit crop productivity based on water availability. Two key questions were answered with this study:

How much water does each crop use?
Which crops are most efficient in converting water to biomass?

Water use

Average [evapotranspiration] (ET) over the four-year period showed the perennial cropping systems were not much different from the annual crop of corn. Mean growing-season ET increased in the following order: miscanthus < poplar < corn < prairie < switchgrass < native grass (Table 1), although the range of values was only about 4.5 inches. Notice that miscanthus and poplar trees had the lowest ET during the drought year of 2012. Previously, it was expected that perennial crops would require significantly more water, which could have deleterious effects at the watershed scale. This data disputes that theory and shows that planting perennial crops in the landscape with our climate and soils would not have significant adverse impacts.

USDA Offers Incentives for Biomass for Energy

usda-logoEnrollment is underway for farmers and forest landowners to get financial assistance for growing new sources of biomass for energy or biobased products. This U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) news release says the money comes from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

Biomass energy facilities or groups of producers may submit proposals for new BCAP project areas. Proposals will be accepted on www.grants.gov through Nov. 6, 2015. USDA will also allocate $7.7 million towards four existing BCAP project areas in New York, North Carolina, Ohio/Pennsylvania and Kansas/Oklahoma, targeting the establishment of an additional 10,500 acres of shrub willow, giant miscanthus, and switchgrass for energy. Project area sponsors include Chemtex International, Aloterra Energy LLC, Abengoa Biomass LLC and ReEnergy Holdings LLC. Farmers and forest landowners may enroll for biomass establishment and maintenance payments for these four sites through Sept. 25, 2015.

In June, USDA began accepting applications from foresters and farmers seeking financial assistance for removing biomass residues from fields or national forests for delivery to energy generation facilities; the deadline for those applications is Sept. 4, 2015. The retrieval payments are provided at a cost-share match of $1 for $1 up to $20 per dry ton with eligible crops including corn residue, diseased or insect infested wood materials, or orchard waste. The energy facility must first be approved by USDA to accept the biomass crop, and deliveries to the facilities can continue until Dec. 11, 2015.

So far, BCAP has provided incentives for producers across more than 48,000 acres in 71 counties and 11 different project areas.