It could become the next great fuel source from the agricultural community. A Nebraska-based biomass supplier and manufacturer has debuted a product it touts as “Coal from the Farm.”
Next Step Biofuels, Inc. has launched PowerPellets, a green fuel made from corn stover – all the leaves, cobs and stalks leftover after the corn is harvested – that burns like coal and will help with that state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard laws that require utilities to generate more of their power from renewable sources:
Next Step COO Russ Zeeck explained that PowerPellets solve the logistical and operational problems that have thus far prevented wide-scale use of biomass to generate electricity. “Utilities have long been aware of the environmental benefits of burning biomass, but they’ve had a hard time adopting it,” said Zeeck.
“PowerPellets overcome the three major problems that utilities have had with biomass. First, unlike raw biomass, PowerPellets are easy and affordable to ship and store. Second, unlike other pelletized biomass, PowerPellets are hard and friable which means they pulverize and feed just like coal; PowerPellets can be folded into a coal-fired plant’s operations with little or no additional capital.
And, third, because Next Step makes PowerPellets from corn stover – America’s most abundant source of renewable biomass – there is a deep, reliable and price-stable supply.”
Next Step Biofuels says the PowerPellets were recently tested and found to do what was claimed of them during rigorous testing conducted at the Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota.
Next Step plans to negotiate with several utilities to supply PowerPellets starting next year.