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INSIDE ¦ July 2014

JULY 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 7

ON THE COVER

Court Ordered Oxford County Free of Fossil Fuel Page 24

Plus

Vermont's Vision for Community-Scale Wood Heat Page 30

And

Bioenergy Pans Out In Gold Country Page 18

www.biomassmagazine.com

With his hands full of wood pellets, Oxford County Administrator Scott Cole stands outside the county courthouse, which has installed a state-of-the-art pellet boiler heating system in its basement. PHOTO: TRISH LOGAN, TRISH LOGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

06 EDITOR’S NOTE Buy Local, It’s Cheaper By Tim Portz

07 INDUSTRY EVENTS 08 BUSINESS BRIEFS 10 Q2 BIOMASS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE 52 MARKETPLACE

18 POWER

16 NEWS

17 COLUMN EPA, White House Signal Biomass Support By Bob Cleaves

18 FEATURE Fire Threat Turns Energy Asset Placer County, Calif., will utilize forest slash to reduce wildfire risk and open-pile burning while generating renewable power. By Anna Simet

20 CONTRIBUTION Tucker RNG: Little Machine, Big Impact After more than a decade of development, a distributed-scale, fast pyrolysis system is producing power at ReVenture Park in Charlotteville, N.C. By Maureen Essen, Caroline Morris and Nate Anderson Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for anyone outside the United States. To subscribe, visit www.BiomassMagazine.com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational. com. Advertising Biomass Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Biomass Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@ bbiinternational.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Managing Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to asimet@bbiinternational. com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

PELLETS 22 NEWS 23 COLUMN The Beauty of Local Wood Heat By Maura Adams

24 FEATURE Pellets Warm County Seats After many decades of oil use, the Oxford County Courthouse in South Paris, Maine, is utilizing local and renewable heat. By Tim Portz

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 3

ASTEC WOOD

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INSIDE ¦

ADVERTISER INDEX¦

JULY 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 7

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo

56

2015 International Biomass Conference & Expo

53

Agra Industries

26

Airoflex Equipment

28

Astec, Inc.

4

BBI Project Development

54

Continental Biomass Industries, Inc.

42

CPM Wolverine Proctor, LLC

46

Dieffenbacher Fagen Inc.

30

8 2

Hurst Boiler & Welding Co. Inc.

27

KEITH Manufacturing Company

7

New Holland Agriculture

9

Parr Insturment Company

50

Pellet Fuels Institute

55

PHG Energy

34

Retsch, Inc.

44 & 45

SAMSON Materials Handling Ltd.

43

Seeger Green Energy, LLC

15

Terex Environmental Equipment

35

TerraSource Global (Jeffrey Rader)

12

Tramco, Inc.

14

Uzelac Industries

38

Vecoplan LLC

13

Vector Systems Inc.

22

WASTECON 2014

36

WB Services, LLC

16

West Salem Machinery Co.

37

Wolf Material Handling Systems

51

THERMAL 28 NEWS 29 COLUMN Wood Stove Politics: Democrats, Republicans and Unlikely Bedfellows By John Ackerly

30 FEATURE Vermont’s Wood Heat Renaissance Since the 1980s, Vermont’s wood heat ambition has made it a national leader and role model for other states. By Anna Simet

BIOGAS 38 NEWS 39 COLUMN Community Digesters: Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies By Surya Pidaparti

COPYRIGHT © 2014 by BBI International

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) July 2014, Vol. 8, Issue 7. Biomass Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biomass Magazine/ Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.

40 FEATURE California Craft Brews and Biogas Bargains In a bid to utilize waste and slash energy costs, California beer makers are looking toward biogas energy. By Chris Hanson

ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS 46 NEWS 47 COLUMN Pathway to Nowhere

TM

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling

By Michael McAdams

48 DEPARTMENT Mobilizing Pyrolysis Portable pyrolysis units are helping solve some of the economic challenges involved in biomass energy projects. By Kolby Hoagland

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 5

¦EDITOR’S NOTE

Buy Local, It’s Cheaper Every year, I look forward to the distributed and onsite bioenergy projects issue of Biomass Magazine. It has become an annual favorite of our staff, readers and advertisers, and for good reason. Biomass was the earliest source of light and heat, warming and illuminating small bands of ancient humans. Today, it continues to excel as an energy source in smaller appliTIM PORTZ cations. This month’s stories clearly demVICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT onstrate that biomass streams are being & EXECUTIVE EDITOR tportz@bbiinternational.com captured and converted in myriad ways to deliver heat and power to their host environments. What I find particularly exciting is that strong economic advantage was a commonality amongst this month’s stories. In “California Craft Beers and Biogas Bargains,” (page 40) staff writer Chris Hanson's appropriately titled feature, we learn that in the exploding craft brewery sector, anaerobic digestion is often the most economic wastewater treatment solution available. Biomass offers the same economic advantage in providing building heat, as Managing Editor Anna Simet reveals in “Vermont’s Wood Heat Renaissance” (page 30). In the article, Tim Maker, now CEO of Community Biomass Systems, said of his early days in the Biomass Energy Resource Center, “When we first started, we usually saw a 30 to 35 percent fuel cost reduction from oil to wood chips. At the peak, it had grown to an 80 percent cost savings. It’s eased back a little now, to about 70 percent, but that’s still the real driver.” That’s still the real driver, which should be music to the ears of everyone who cares about this industry. Most of us are drawn to this industry because we believe that for our energy cycle to be sustainable, it needs a continued, steady progression toward biogenic, rather than geologic, carbon inputs. For almost everyone else, biomass-derived energy has to make economic sense to attract their attention. The externalities and true costs of carbon arguments, while extremely valid, do little to move people. Industries need low-priced energy. Counties need to reduce their heating expenses. Brewers want cost-effective water treatment solutions, and consumers want cheaper power. This month’s stories prove that in the right situations, biomass doesn’t just compete with fossil inputs from a cost perspective, it dominates.

6 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

EDITORIAL PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF Tom Bryan tbryan@bbiinternational.com VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR Tim Portz tportz@bbiinternational.com MANAGING EDITOR Anna Simet asimet@bbiinternational.com NEWS EDITOR Erin Voegele evoegele@bbiinternational.com STAFF WRITER Chris Hanson chanson@bbiinternational.com COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann jtellmann@bbiinternational.com MAPS & DATA MANAGER Kolby Hoagland khoagland@bbiinternational.com

ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund jsatterlund@bbiinternational.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elizabeth Burslie bburslie@bbiinternational.com

PUBLISHING & SALES CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan mbryan@bbiinternational.com CEO Joe Bryan jbryan@bbiinternational.com VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS Matthew Spoorr mspoor@bbiinternational.com MARKETING DIRECTOR John Nelson jnelson@bbiinternational.com BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Howard Brockhouse hbrockhouse@bbiinternational.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Chip Shereck cshereck@bbiinternational.com CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Beaudry jbeaudry@bbiinternational.com TRAFFIC & MARKETING COORDINATOR Marla DeFoe mdefoe@bbiinternational.com

INDUSTRY EVENTS¦ 2014 Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference JULY 27-29, 2014

Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate Orlando, Florida The PFI Annual Conference is the annual opportunity for members of the densified biomass fuel industry to gather for three days of educational opportunities, vendor exhibits and networking. Attendees include manufacturers, retailers, industry suppliers, government officials, and more. If you would like to be added to the email distribution list for the PFI Conference, please send an email to pfimail@pelletheat.org 703-522-6778 | www.pelletheat.org

National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo OCTOBER 13-14, 2014

Hyatt Minneapolis Minneapolis, Minnesota Produced by BBI International, this national event will feature the world of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals—technology scale-up, project finance, policy, national markets and more—with a core focus on the industrial, petroleum and agribusiness alliances defining the national advanced biofuels industry. With a vertically integrated program and audience, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products. 866-746-8385 | www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com

International Biomass Conference & Expo APRIL 20-22, 2015

Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota Organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Magazine, this event brings current and future producers of bioenergy and biobased products together with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s a true one-stop shop—the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com

International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo JUNE 1-4, 2015

Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota The FEW provides the global ethanol industry with cutting-edge content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-tobusiness environment. The FEW is the largest, longest running ethanol conference in the world—and the only event powered by Ethanol Producer Magazine. 866-746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 7

Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS

Superior Industries adds territory sales managers Superior Industries has appointed Kevin Krieger as territory sales manager throughout the Mountain and Northwest regions of the U.S. He most recently served as a territory manager for Fenner Dunlop. The Humphrey company has also appointed Bill Humphrey as territory sales manager throughout the Great Lakes and Ohio River Valley regions. He was most recently employed by Aggregates Manufacturing International. Krieger Krieger and Humphrey will work closely with dealers in their respective regions to bring innovative conveying equipment to bulk materials producers.

Rotary Dryer

Mascoma adds scientific advisory board member Mascoma Corp. has added Johannes Pieter (Hans) van Dijken to its scientific advisory board. Van Dijken is a microbiologist and yeast researcher. He currently serves as a professor emeritus of industrial microbiology at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Van Dijken has consulted for Mascoma since 2007. Babcock & Wilcox to acquire Megtec The Babcock & Wilcox Co. has announced its subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group Inc., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire industrial process solutions provider Megtec. Megtec, which employs approximately 600 people in 10 countries, will operate as B&W Megtec, a wholly owned subsidiary of B&W PGG. The purchase was expected to close June 30. The acquisition is expected to expand B&W PGG’s role as an environmental products and solutions provider beyond its historical focus on utility markets, to a variety of

m rgy Syste e n E t a e H

industrial applications for customers the company has not traditionally served. Genomatica adds executive vice president Genomatica has appointed Kaspar Evertz as its executive vice president, commercial. He will lead the company’s business development, licensing and technology transfer teams with a focus on licensing its process technologies, and the Evertz delivery and execution of those licenses. He also will be responsible for securing strategic partners to support the development of additional commercial processes through sponsored development programs. Evertz previously served as executive vice president and managing director of industrial projects at Ferrostaal AG GmgH.

PelletPress

Biomass Pelletizing & Energy Systems Pellet Plants | Dryers | Furnaces | Steam Boilers | Thermal Oil Heaters | Cogeneration Dieffenbacher USA, Inc. 2000 McFarland 400 Blvd. | Alpahretta, GA 30004 Phone: (770) 226-6394 | mail@dieffenbacheratl.com 8 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

www.dieffenbacher.com

BUSINESS BRIEFS¦

Professor wins NSF award Tae Seok Moon, an assistant professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a prestigious Faculty Moon Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation for his project, titled “Engineering Biological Robustness through Synthetic Control.” Moon received a five-year $400,000 grant to understand the principles of biological robustness by using synthetic DNA in basic bacteria cells. The research could have implications for biofuel production and several other industries.

technology Institute and the Michigan State University Bioeconomy Institute worked with Verdezyne to run the bio-based DDDA process at the 4,000-liter scale. This production confirmed the scalability of Verdezyne’s process and produced polymer-grade material for potential customers and partners. Attorney named as Rising Star Anna Wildeman, an attorney at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, has been named one of Super Lawyers Magazine’s 2014 Washington, D.C., Rising Stars. She is a member of Michael Best’s Energy Practice Wildeman Group and Agribusiness, Food Processing & Distribution Group.

Verdezyne reaches production milestone Verdezyne Inc. has produced more than Andritz to market Tornado 1 metric ton of biobased dodecanedioic acid Pulper technology Andritz Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of the (DDDA) using its proprietary yeast platform and downstream process. The Michigan Bio- international technology Group Andritz,

signed an agreement with Bolton-Emerson Americas LLC giving Andritz exclusive rights to market and sell the Tornado Pulper for solid and liquid fuel applications, as well as biochemical processes. ABC presents projects of the year The American Biogas Council has named Stockton, Iowa-based AgriReNew and Stanley, N.Y.-based Lawnhurst Energy LLC as the Agricultural Biogas Projects of the Year. Harvest Power’s Energy Garden in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., was named Merchant Biogas Project of the Year. The ABC named the Michigan State University South Campus Anaerobic Digester in East Lansing, Mich., as the Institutional Biogas Project of the Year, while the Village of Ridgewood Biogas project in Ridgewood, N.J., won Biogas Project of the Year. SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, if available) to Business Briefs, Biomass Magazine, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also email information to evoegele@bbiinternational. com. Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.

SMART IS

HELPING ALTERNATIVE ENERGY BECOME MAINSTREAM. PROUDLY SUPPORTING AMERICA’s ENERGY INDEPENDENCE.

NEWHOLLAND.COM/NA

© 2014 CNH Industrial America LLC. All rights reserved. New Holland Agriculture is a trademark registered in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affi liates. New Holland Construction is a trademark in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affi liates. NHBM06149440

Biomass CONSTRUCTION UPDATE Biomass Power

Pellets

Biogas

Advanced Biofuel

Torrefied Biomass in Production on Commercial Scale by Kolby Hoagland

Completion of wood pellet production facilities Enviva Pellet Southampton and Vulcan Renewables, as well the FCPC Renewable Generation and UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digestion biogas facilities, were celebrated in Q2 of this year. The biomass power sector saw monumental accomplishments, as Drax Power Station began firing one of its three boilers completely on biomass, and Atikokan Generating Station, Eagle Valley Clean Energy and the Biomass-toEnergy Plant entered commissioning phases. Biogas facilities Sacramento BioDigester and The Plant verify the expansion of food waste systems in the sector. In the advanced biofuel sector, cellulosic ethanol plant Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas and renewable diesel facility Green Energy Products are currently undergoing commissioning. At Abengoa's plant, lignin residue

resulting from the manufacturing process will be combusted on site to generate biomass power. The pellet section of the Biomass Construction Update notes the arrival of torrefied and Black Pellet production on a commercial scale with the construction of the Merrit Wood Pellet & Torrefaction Plant by Diacarbon Energy, and Selma Conversion by Zilkha Biomass Energy. Diacarbon is incorporating a proprietary pyrolysis technology, while Zilkha is installing its steam explosion technology. While employing distinctly different processes, both Diacarbon and Zilkha will produce a densified wood product that handles and combusts like coal while possessing the emission qualities of biomass. The biomass installations included in the update do not denote an exhaustive list of biomass construction projects, but ones of promi-

AMITE BIOENERGY PHOTO: TIM PORTZ

nent standing across the biomass-to-energy sectors. With construction season pushing into high gear, more projects will reach completion, while others move from the drawing board to sinking concrete and steel into the ground. If you would like your project included in the update please send an email to khoagland@bbiinternational.com.

Atikokan Generating Station, Ontario Power Generation Inc.

Drax Power Station, Drax Group plc

Location

Atikokan, Ontario

Location

Drax, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Engineer/builder

Aecon, Doosan, Nordmin

Engineer/builder

Shepherd Group

Primary fuel

Industrial pellets

Primary fuel

Industrial pellets

Boiler type

Suspension fire system

Boiler type

Pulverized fueled boiler

Nameplate capacity

211 MW

Nameplate capacity

630 MW

Combined heat & power

No

Combined heat & power

No

Government incentives

10-year PPA

Government incentives

ROCs

IPP or Utility

Provincial utility

IPP or utility

IPP

Groundbreaking date

October 2012

Groundbreaking date

July 2012

Start-up date

Q2 2014

Start-up date

April 2013 (1st unit)

Commissioning of the material handling systems is underway. Project is on target to reach commercial operation in early summer.

The first two of four storage domes, rail receipt/unloading, and distribution systems are complete and are serving the first converted unit.

Eagle Valley Clean Energy, Evergreen Energy

Biomass-to-Energy Plant-Green Energy Team LLC, Standardkessel Baumgarte Group

Location

Gypsum, Colo.

Location

Lihu'e, Hawaii

Engineer/builder

Wellons Inc.

Engineer/builder

Standardkessel GmbH, Germany

Primary fuel

Forest restoration residue

Primary fuel

Woody biomass

Boiler type

Stoker

Boiler type

Stoker

Nameplate capacity

11.5 MW

Nameplate capacity

7.5 MW

Combined heat & power

Yes

Combined heat & power

No

Government incentives

Federal 1603 grant

Government incentives

No

IPP or Utility

IPP

IPP or Utility

IPP

Groundbreaking date

November 2012

Groundbreaking date

January 2013

Start-up date

December 2013

Start-up date

Fall 2013

The facility was placed into start-up service in December.

10 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

Procurement and manufacturing are complete. Balance of plant and instrument, electrical and control installation is ongoing. System-related commissioning has begun.

CONSTRUCTION UPDATEÂŚ Enviva Pellets Southampton LLC Location

Franklin, Va.

Design/builder Feedstock

Project Complete

Vulcan Renewables LLC Location

St. Augustine, Fla.

Unavailable

Design/builder

Vulcan Renewables

Hardwood and softwood

Feedstock

Softwood

Pellet grade

Utility

Pellet grade

Premium and industrial

Fire prevention technology

Unavailable

Fire prevention technology

Water Deluge System

Annual capacity

500,000 metric tons

Annual capacity

150,000 short tons

Exporting

Europe

Exporting

Europe and Korea

Export port

Enviva Port of Chesapeake

Export port

Port of Jacksonville

Groundbreaking date

July 2012

Groundbreaking date

January 2013

Start-up date

1st half of 2014

Start-up date

February 2014

Project is under commercial operation.

Construction was complete in February.

Allendale Pellet Plant

Amite BioEnergy, Drax Biomass International Inc.

Location

Allendale, S.C.

Location

Gloster, Miss.

Design/builder

Unavailable

Design/builder

Haskell Company

Feedstock

Southern yellow pine mill residue

Feedstock

Southern yellow pine

Pellet grade

Industrial and EN Plus

Pellet grade

Industrial premium pellets

Fire prevention technology

Firefly

Fire prevention technology

Fire Eye

Annual capacity

60,000 metric tons

Annual capacity

450,000 metric tons

Exporting

Europe

Exporting

U.K.

Export port

Unavailable

Export Port

Port of Greater Baton Rouge

Groundbreaking date

May 2014

Groundbreaking date

August 2013

Start-up date

October 2014

Start-up date

Q1 2015

Project Complete

Site work is done and concrete work is beginning.

The project is continuing on schedule, targeting the first quarter of 2015 for the start of commercial operations, with full capacity to be reached six months later.

Fram Renewables Fuels - Hazlehurst

Merritt Wood Pellet and Torrefaction Plant, Diacarbon Energy Inc.

Location

Hazlehurst, Ga.

Location

Merritt, British Columbia

Design/builder

Astec Inc.

Design/builder

Ausenco/Diacarbon

Feedstock

Softwood

Feedstock

Sawmill residuals

Pellet grade

Residential and industrial

Pellet grade

Wood pellets and torrefied wood briquettes

Fire prevention technology

GreCon

Fire prevention technology

Unavailable

Annual capacity

500,000 short tons

Annual capacity

50,000 metric tons wood pellets, 35,000 torrefied wood

Exporting

Europe

Exporting

Pellets to Korea

Export port

Port of Brunswick

Export port

DeltaPort

Groundbreaking date

Feburary 2013

Groundbreaking

April 2014

Start-up date

January 2014 (line 1)

Start-up date

September 2014

Construction of line 1 is under commissioning. Civil and electrical work is in progress for lines 2 and 3. Lines 4 and 5 will be constructed in 2015.

Retrofitting of the existing pellet plant is underway, with installation of the torrefaction equipment to begin in June.

Morehouse BioEnergy, Drax Biomass International Inc.

Selma Conversion - Zilkha Biomass Selma

Location

Beekman, La.

Location

Selma, Ala.

Design/builder

Haskell Company

Design/builder

Zilkha Biomass Fuels

Feedstock

Southern yellow pine

Feedstock

Mostly softwood, some hardwood

Pellet grade

Industrial premium pellets

Pellet grade

Zilkha Black Pellets/premium

Fire prevention technology

Fire Eye

Fire prevention technology

Spark Detect./Supprs, HRD powder

Annual capacity

450,000 metric tons

Annual capacity

300,000 metric tons

Exporting

U.K.

Exporting

Europe

Export port

Port of Greater Baton Rouge

Export Port

Port of Mobile

Groundbreaking date

August 2013

Groundbreaking date

April 2014

Start-up date

Q2 2015

Start-up date

Q1 2015

The project is continuing on schedule, targeting Q2 2015 for the start of commercial operations, with full capacity to be reached six months later.

Construction is underway and on schedule.

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 11

Biomass Power

Pellets

Biogas

Advanced Biofuel

FCPC Renewable Generation, LLC Waste-to-Energy Facility Location

Milwaukee, Wisc.

Builder Pellet mill

Project Complete

UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digestion (READ) Location

Davis, Calif.

Symbiont Inc., Miron Constr., Biothane

Engineer/Builder

Peabody Engineering, Otto Construction

Food processing waste

Substrate(s)

Food and ag waste

Feedstock

Anaerobic membrane bioreactor

Digester type

Three-stage, high-solids liquid digester

Type of pellets

H2S media treatment system

Gas cleaning technology

Unison Solutions

Fire prevention technology

500 scfm

Biogas production capacity

150 scfm

Production capacity

Combined heat and power

Biogas end use

Electricity

Exporting/location

2 MW

Power capacity

925 kW

Groundbreaking date

October 2012

Groundbreaking date

May 2013

Start-up date

Q1 2014

Start-up date

February 2014

The facility is currently in commercial operation.

Project is complete and operating.

The Plant, Bubbly Dynamics LLC

Sacramento Biodigester, CleanWorld

Location

Chicago, Ill.

Location

Sacramento, Calif.

Engineer/Builder

Eisenmann Corp.

Engineer/Builder

Peabody Engineering, Otto Construction

Substrate(s)

Food and brewery waste

Substrate(s)

Pre- and post-consumer food waste

Digester type

Continuous mixed, horizontal-plug flow

Digester type

Three-stage, high-solids liquid digester

Gas cleaning technology

Biological desulphurization

Gas cleaning technology

BioCNG

Biogas production capacity

42 scfm phase 1; 83 scfm phase 2

Biogas production capacity

350 scfm

Biogas end use

Combined heat and power

Biogas end use

Electricity and vehicle fuel

Power capacity

500 kW

Power capacity

190 kW

Groundbreaking date

November 2012

Groundbreaking date

June 2013

Start-up date

Q2 2014

Start-up date

Q3 2014

Construction continues on schedule.

Project Complete

Phase 1 is complete, and phase 2 construction continues on schedule. When complete, the digester will produce electricity and 700,000 gallons per year equivalent of renewable transportation fuel.

Wood Hogs and Screens Jeffrey Rader® EZ-Access® Wood Hogs are designed for safe, fast and easy access to

hammers, rotors and liners, allowing routine maintenance to be performed safely, easily and with minimal downtime. Our EZ-Access technology even lets operators remove the wood hog’s rotor without moving the feed chute. Plus, our heavy-duty rotor discs allow maximum flexibility of hammer arrangements, up to 3, 4 or 6 rows for premium efficiency on smaller products, while our Duratip® high-alloy hammers with replaceable tips provide increased shredding action and quick change-outs.

Rader® Disc Screens (RDS) are the

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Handling a World of Materials

CONSTRUCTION UPDATEÂŚ UW Oshkosh Foundation, Rosendale Biodigester LLC Location

Rosendale, Wisc.

Engineer/Builder

BIOFerm Energy Systems

Substrate(s)

Dairy manure

Digester type

Complete mix

Gas cleaning technology

Biological Desulphurization, moisture removal, activated carbon filtration

Biogas production capacity

380-475 scfm

Biogas end use

Combined heat and power

Power capacity

1.4 MW

Groundbreaking date

July 2013

Start-up date

February 2014

System is ramping up to full feeding, with a goal of reaching full potential within the next few weeks.

UW Oshkosh Foundation, Rosendale Biodigester LLC PHOTO: BIOFERM ENERGY SYSTEMS

Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas LLC, Abengoa Bioenergy U.S.

Enerkem Alberta Biofuels LP

Location

Hugoton, Kan.

Location

Edmonton, Alberta

Engineer/builder

Abengoa

Engineer/builder

Enerkem

Process technology

Proprietory process

Process technology

Proprietary thermochemical

Biofuel product

Cellulosic ethanol

Biofuel product

Cellulosic ethanol, biomethanol, biochemicals

Feedstocks

Corn stover, wheat straw, switchgrass

Feedstocks

Sorted MSW

Production capacity

25 MMgy

Production capacity

38 MMly

Type of RIN

D3

Type of RIN

D3

Coproducts

21 MW of biomass power

Coproducts

N/A

Goundbreaking date

September 2011

Goundbreaking date

August 2010

Start-up date

January 2014

Start-up date

2014: methanol; 2015: ethanol

Project is virtually complete. Boiler and 21 MW cogen plant commissioning was completed in December. Commissioning of the ethanol plant is underway.

Commissioning of the Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility is nearing completion. In early June, plant start-up was imminent.

DESIGNING INNOVATION

Renewable Feedstock Processing Systems A worldwide leader in size reduction technology for bioenergy, Vecoplan works with individual customers to design, engineer, manufacture and implement technologically advanced, material specific, and application specific shredding, ferrous and non-ferrous removal, size and density separation, screening and classification technologies and extremely efficient conveyor and bulk material handling, metering, storage and unloading technologies. Contact Vecoplan today to learn more about our existing systems or to arrange a visit to one, or several, of our installations.

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vecoplanllc.com JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 13

Biomass Power

Pellets

Biogas

Advanced Biofuel

Green Energy Products, WB Services Location

Sedgwick, Kan.

Engineer/builder

WB Services

Process technology

Proprietary technology

Biofuel product

ASTM 975 biomass-based diesel

Feedstocks

Distillers corn oil, organic fat, oils and greases

Production capacity

3 MMgy

Type of RIN

1.7 D4 RINs per gallon

Coproducts

Steam and biogas

Goundbreaking date

Q1 2013

Start-up date

May 2014

Commissioning of the plant has commenced and is going well.

Green Energy Products PHOTO: WB SERVICES

Project Liberty, POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC Location

Emmetsburg, Iowa

Engineer/builder

Poet Design and Construction

Process technology

Enzymatic hydrolysis

Biofuel product

Cellulosic ethanol

Feedstocks

Crop Residue

Production capacity

25 MMgy

Type of RIN

D3

Coproducts

Biomass power

Goundbreaking date

March 2012

Start-up date

First half of 2014

Construction is nearing completion. Work is primarily on the back end of the process, the anaerobic digester and solid fuel boiler.

JETBELTTM An efficient system requiring less horsepower than other systems. Used for dry bulk handling requirements in a variety of products.

PHOTO: POET-DSM

MODEL G Built standard with 10-gauge construction to accommodate large capacities of free-flowing materials. Provides years of trouble-free service under extreme applications.

TRAMROLL™ Enclosed belt conveyor with innovative features such as self-reloading and self-cleaning tail section, and multiple inlets. The heavest-duty design in the industry.

MODEL RB Designed for self-cleaning and quiet operation with a u-shaped trough for handling soft stock or materials that are easily crumbled or broken.

316.264.4604 tramcoinc.com UK +44 (0) 1482 782666 14 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

Project Liberty

BUCKET ELEVATOR Centrifugal Discharge design used for the bulk handling of free-flowing fine and lose materials with small to medium size lumps. Built-to-last for the toughest requirements. BULK-FLOTM The heavy-duty chain conveyor designed specifically for processing applications such as; wet and sticky, varying sizes and densities, and abrasive or corrosivematerials.

Euro-Tramco BV +31 33 4567033

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CONSTRUCTION UPDATEÂŚ Quad County Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Quad County Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Location

Galva, Iowa

Engineer/builder

Nelson Engineering

Process technology

Quad County Corn Processors - ACE

Biofuel product

Cellulosic ethanol

Feedstocks

Corn fiber

Production capacity

2 MMgy

Type of RIN

D3

Coproducts

Solid biomass fuel

Goundbreaking date

July 2013

Start-up date

June 2014

All major equipment has been installed. Piping is being hydro-tested and insulated.

PHOTO: QUAD COUNTY CORN PROCESSORS

Southeast Renewable Fuels LLC Location

Clewiston, Fla.

Engineer/builder

Uni-Systems of Brazil

Process technology

Fermentation

Biofuel product

Advanced biofuel (ethanol)

Feedstocks

Sweet sorghum

Production capacity

20 MMgy

Type of RIN

D5

Coproducts

25 MW biomass power

Goundbreaking date

June 2013

Start-up date

January 2015

The project remains on schedule. Foundation work continues, and all equipment has been ordered and is arriving onsite.

Three Decades of International Renewable Energy Leadership Come to us for solutions that span project development, planning/financing, and project supervision after plant commissioning. Q Q Q Q Q Q Q

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JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 15

PowerNews 2012-’13 economic impact No. of U.K. supply chain jobs

No. of companies in U.K. supply chain

Sector turnover (£ millions)

Liquid biofuels

3,510

200

530

Anaerobic digestion

2,640

140

360

Biomass boiler/wood stove

4,510

210

600

Biomass CHP

2,180

140

370

Biomas power

3,320

170

500

Mixed energy from waste

6,550

340

830

SOURCE: RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATION

Report highlights UK bioenergy impact The U.K.-based Renewable Energy Association has published the results of an analysis that determined the renewable energy supports more than 100,000 jobs in the U.K. and has attracted almost £30 billion ($50.95 billion) in investment since 2010. The report found the U.K. biomass power sector employed approximately 3,320 people in 2012-’13 across the supply chain, with 170 U.K. companies active in the supply chain. Sector turnover was £500 million. Annual generation is expected to increase from 9,275 gigawatt hours in 2013 to 22,826 GWh in 2020.

Installed capacity is expected to grow from 2,024 MW in 2013 to between 2,505 GW and 3,366 GW, depending on which government forecast is referenced. The biomass combined-heatand-power (CHP) sector in the U.K. employed an estimated 2,180 people across the supply chain in 2012-’13, with 140 U.K. companies active in the supply chain. The sector turnover was an estimated £370 million. The report also includes data on biofuels, anaerobic digestion, biomass heating and mixed energy from waste.

Proposed Nebraska project to produce biomass fuel, energy A proposed project under development by Southwest Renewable Resources aims to develop a unique biomass production facility and up to 25 MW of bioenergy capacity in South Sioux City, Neb. The planned facility would house a manufacturing operation for SSR’s patent-pending Southwest Renewable Fuel. The resulting fuel would be fed directly into a cogeneration power unit. The exact size of that unit has not yet been determined, with 15 MW and 25 MW configurations currently being considered. SRR’s biofuel is a mix of biomass and polyethylene plastic. According to Tracy Willson, senior partner of SRR, the fuel is waterproof. In addition to wood and other types of cellulosic biomass, the process can also incorporate nonrecyclable municipal solid waste. Earlier this year, the Nebraska cities of South Sioux City, Wakefield and Wayne, along with the Northeast Public Power District, entered a memorandum of understanding with SRR. The four public entities and SRR have agreed to work together to supply electricity to the three cities and NPPD via the biomass-fired cogeneration system.

Technology to Amplify Plant Value

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POWER¦

EPA, White House Signal Support for Biomass BY BOB CLEAVES

On June 2, U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy unveiled the Obama administration’s highly anticipated Section 111(d) carbon emission reduction rules for existing power plants. The Biomass Power Association was watching this announcement carefully, as it marks the first of a series of EPA rules due out this summer that will have a big impact on the biomass industry. After reviewing the proposed rules, our reaction is cautiously optimistic. The 645-page proposal, known as the Clean Power Plan, leaves it mostly to individual states to design their own carbon reduction strategies that, when combined, will create a 30 percent overall reduction of carbon emissions from existing power plants by the year 2030. The landmark plan sets what are, in effect, the first national renewable energy targets that have been implemented as a response to climate change. While the rules are controversial and will be debated throughout the 2014 campaign season, they represent a significant shift in energy policy that will undeniably benefit renewable energy sources. This includes biomass. The framework specifically mentions biomass several times in a positive light, in one place stating, “Burning biomass-derived fuels for energy recovery can yield climate benefits as compared to burning conventional fossil fuels.” The Clean Power Plan closely follows the National Climate Assessment released in May by the White House, which contained a chapter on bioenergy that was also very supportive of biomass. The report recognized bioenergy as “one component of an overall bioenergy strategy to reduce

emissions of carbon from fossil fuel, while also improving water quality, and maintaining lands for timber production as an alternative to other socioeconomic option.” Critically, the report noted the role of biomass in keeping forests healthy enough to continue to serve as a carbon “sink” that can capture hundreds of millions of tons of carbon per year. It also observed that bioenergy has the potential of displacing a not insignificant 30 percent of the nation’s current U.S. petroleum consumption. Based on these signs, it appears that the administration foresees a continued and expanding role for bioenergy in our nation’s energy mix. However, one question looms large. For the nation to fully embrace biomass, the EPA’s Tailoring Rule decision becomes even more crucial. Biomass will need to be recognized under the Clean Air Act as a renewable source of energy with a favorable carbon profile when compared to fossil fuels. It will be extremely tough to meet the ambitious new carbon reduction targets without biomass as an option for forested states looking to add a baseload, renewable source of energy. It will be even harder to keep forested lands maintained and at a lower risk of wildfire without our industry, as the USDA is well aware. While we are not out of the proverbial woods yet, we have good reason to be encouraged by the recent signals from the White House and the EPA. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.biomasspowerassociation.com bob@biomasspowerassociation.com

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 17

¦POWER

DEPARTMENT

FUELING THE FIRE: The Angora Ridge Forest Fire in south Lake Tahoe, Calif., burned 3,100 acres of forestland and destroyed many homes.

Fire Threat Turns Energy Asset Cabin Creek Biomass Energy will reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire in Placer County while producing 2 MW power, heat and biochar. BY ANNA SIMET

A

visit to the current Placer County website yields a powerful image of a forest fire overtaking a home, with this boldfaced banner: “Fire season is coming…are you ready?” There, Internet users are offered a variety of steps to take to increase the chances of their homes surviving a wildfire. Though wildfire awareness and preparedness seem to improve every year, occurrences of devastating wildfires continue to rise, and predictions are pointing to 2014 as potentially being the worst wildfire season on record. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, between Jan. 1 and May 3 alone, CAL FIRE has responded to over 1,200 wildfires that have charred

18 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

nearly 2,700 acres. In an average year during the same period, CAL FIRE typically responds to fewer than 600 wildfires. As a response to increasing wildfire severity, hazardous forest fuels reduction activities are being advocated and pushed for more than ever, a mitigation method that not only helps reduce the spread of fires, but also poses numerous other benefits, including the potential production of renewable heat and power. Placer County, in northeastern California is getting close to realizing that benefit, as it is in the process of rolling out a 2-MW combined-heat-and-power plant at Lake Tahoe’s Cabin Creek, which will be fueled entirely by wood generated as a result of hazardous forest fuel removal.

POWER¦

Brett Storey, Placer County biomass manager, has been orchestrating the project since its inception. He was hired in 2006 to find an economic use for the region’s biomass thinnings, something other than open burning, and serious project evaluations on the bioenergy plant were initiated in 2009. From the beginning, one important consideration was the optimal size of the facility. “The size was based on how much fuel we could sustain over the life of the project, which could be up to 40 years, and we also looked at the transmission capabilities of the current lines and the potential to increase that, as well as regulatory agency emission allowances,” Storey says. “That’s how we ended up with a 2-MW system.” A study commissioned to determine how much fuel was available within a 30-mile radius of the proposed plant indicated over 100,000 bone-dry tons annually, roughly six times more than the facility would need. With such an abundance of fuel available, a much larger facility could be built, but the current transmission line could only handle up to 2.7 MW. “The cost and time it would take to go through the environmental process for the transmission line would make it unacceptable from an economic standpoint,” Storey says. Forest waste will be ground and screened in the forest, hauled to the site by truck and then dried and sent through a Phoenix Energy gasification system. The cleaned up syngas will be sent through a GE Jenbacher engine to create power, and the resulting biochar—about 500 tons annually—will be sold under contract as a soil amendment or a means of water filtration. In the future, Storey says heat produced on site may be purchased by three or four nearby, county-owned buildings. “They will be upgrading and have expressed interest in purchasing the waste heat off of this project, so, ultimately, in about five years we will be a full-service operator using everything we can squeeze out of this facility.” He adds that the plant location is in a former landfill area, and no homes are around it. “Just natural forest all around,” he says, noting that the onsite storage area will be large, as material for six months will have to be stockpiled. “We’re not allowed to go into the forests in the winter to grind and haul, so we’ll be delivering six extra months material, in addition [to everyday fuel] to keep running 24/7 all year.

Low-Carbon Profile The environmental footprint of the plant has been carefully considered throughout the development process, Storey adds, including an emissions analysis of forest thinnings piles openly burned in several areas, compared to what the potential emissions profile of the facility would be, taking into account everything from “the chainsaw hitting the tree to grinding and hauling of the trucks to our facility.” The results, which were not actually based on gasification but old boiler technology, were still much more favorable than open burning, according to Storey. “We know that gasifica-

tion reduces those emissions further, but we wanted to show a worst-case situation. In the worst case, if you put that forest wood through our facility instead of open burning, there’s an 88 to 90 percent emissions reduction…on the GHG side, it’s about an 18 percent reduction.” Numerous project partners and supporters who have come together to help advance the project, Story says. Placer County is an equity partner, the leaseholder of the site and will be the fuel delivery operator. “The reason we want to do that is because the U.S. Forest Service is our fuel agreement partner, and what we were able to do is sign a master fuel stewardship agreement—a 10-year contract that allows us to work on national Forest Service land and remove the material.” That’s being done on a cost-share basis, he adds. “They figured out what it costs them to open burn [the fuel], so they’ve added that cost to the agreement, making our cost low enough to make it economic for our developer, Tahoe Regional Power Co.” In addition, the facility will take in fuel from a community fire district in the area, which currently has a need to dispose of the material. “They don’t know what to do with it, so they will want a contract with us as well,” Storey says. However, the majority of fuel—95 percent—will come from the Forest Service. Phoenix Energy, the gasification technology provider, will be the eventual owner and operator of the project, and already has two operating small-scale biomass gasification plants in the state. In CEO Greg Stangl’s opinion, these systems are ideal for deployment in California. “I believe there is a great opportunity for small, community-scale biomass plants to produce clean, renewable energy for California, and our third plant shows the technology is gaining momentum,” he says. “The piling and burning forest biomass in the open is a complete waste of a resource and bad for air quality, but it is often the only economic option for local communities.” Electricity from the $12 million project, which was partially funded with a $1.5 million U.S. DOE grant, will be purchased by Liberty Energy. Cabin Creek Biomass Energy is slated for construction next summer, with an operational goal of early 2016. It’s a small, simple facility,” Storey adds, “but we believe it’ll be a trendsetter for forest regions throughout the U.S.��� Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine asimet@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4961

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 19

¦THERMAL

CONTRIBUTION

Tucker RNG system inventor Richard Tucker (right) and Nate Anderson, project director of the Rocky Mountain Research Station Biomass Research Development Initiative, stand in front of Tucker RNG. PHOTO: ROCKY MOUNTAIN RESEARCH STATION

Tucker RNG: Little Machine, Big Impact Public and private collaboration has resulted in a unique and highly efficient distributed-scale fast pyrolysis system. BY MAUREEN ESSEN, CAROLINE MORRIS AND NATE ANDERSON

W

hen the Tucker RNG thermal conversion unit connected to the power grid for the first time April 23 in Charlotte, N.C., Richard Tucker, president of Tucker Engineering Associates, could feel the weight of the world coming off his shoulders. After more than a decade of developing his high-temperature, fast pyrolysis system, he was finally seeing it export electricity for the first time. This installation marked a significant step toward commercializing a new and exciting conversion technology, and demonstrates the success of a long-term, public-private partnership.

“It was a really great moment to see the machine doing exactly what it was designed to do,” Tucker says. “This has been a long journey for us and we couldn’t have done it without the help of the U.S. Forest Service, The ReNewable Gas Company, and ReVenture Park. Seeing the electricity produced as a result of this technology made it all worth it.”

Tucker RNG The Tucker RNG system was initially designed by Tucker over a decade ago. Its research and development has included not only Tuck-

The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers.

20 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

THERMAL¦

er’s engineering firm, but public agencies and other private companies. Tucker and the team invented solutions to a host of technological challenges that had previously kept pyrolysis from being widely adopted, such as the production of tars, and nagging issues in material handling and gas cleanliness. The patented, high-temperature pyrolysis system is a distributedscale biomass conversion technology capable of processing a broad range of feedstocks to produce high-Btu gas for a variety of uses, such as steam or electricity generation via an off-the-shelf genset. Heating feedstocks to up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in an environment devoid of outside air, this technology uses a proprietary gas upgrading and cleaning system to further refine its gas, producing energy-dense renewable natural gas with 600 to 850 Btu per standard cubic foot, depending on feedstock properties. In addition, the system yields a high carbon byproduct with an 80 to 95 percent fixed carbon content and usable process heat for on-site applications, such as drying feedstock. The Tucker RNG system is highly customizable, able to process between 20 and 250 dry tons of biomass per day depending on equipment configuration, which allows the technology to be scaled appropriately to meet specific and changing needs. The Tucker RNG System is especially well-suited to applications where it can be used to reduce energy costs, process waste feedstocks, and produce heat and electricity for customers interested in green energy. The system is uniquely engineered for economically efficient renewable gas production, and designed and sited in an environmentally conscious manner. While the unit can use a wide variety of feedstocks, including municipal solid waste and refuse-derived fuels, using woody biomass decreases total carbon emissions and lessens the environmental impact of the energy produced compared to other sources, including coal. The system also reduces net carbon emissions by capturing heat and carbon generated in the conversion process.

Collaborative Approach Tucker RNG’s operating outputs and commercial design suitability have been independently evaluated by third-party engineers and scientists, and by the U.S. Forest Service. The commercialization of this technology is an example of a successful public-private research and development partnership. In addition to major private funding, the development of the Tucker RNG system was partially funded by a research joint venture with the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Biomass Research Development Initiative. The joint venture provided opportunities for the company to cooperate with researchers and capitalize on the existing efficiencies and engineering of the Tucker RNG system, as well as develop new knowledge that will facilitate decision making by industry, policymakers and other stakeholders. “This project is the perfect opportunity to grow ongoing research relationships between the forest industry, the U.S. Forest Service and Tucker Engineering Associates,” says Nate Anderson, project director for RMRS BRDI. “It is a chance to contribute to a technology that has

the potential to increase renewable energy production, create jobs and minimize the environmental footprint of producing energy from woody biomass.” In addition to providing funds to help bring the technology to market, the resources of the BRDI project have allowed scientists to conduct a full life-cycle assessment of the Tucker RNG system’s products and compare their environmental impacts to fossil fuel alternatives. The team is also examining the environmental impacts of harvesting woody biomass from forest ecosystems, developing catalysts for liquid fuel and chemical production, developing new products and applications for wood-based carbon products and assessing the potential economic impacts of system deployment. Private investment has also played a key role in developing and launching the first commercial installation of the Tucker RNG system. Specifically, Tucker Engineering Associates partnered with The ReNewable Gas Company to develop projects domestically, and entrepreneurs at ReVenture Park purchased the first installation of the Tucker system. This location and the business partnership with ReVenture Park, situated on a former Brownfield Superfund site, helped support the remediation of the large industrial park, resulting in positive impacts on the environment and the local community. While the RNG company is in the final stages of commissioning the first installation at ReVenture Park, Charlotte’s first eco-industrial park, it is also hosting a myriad of visitors from around the world who are interested in the technology. RNG will take on the role of developing projects, both directly and through partnerships, in the U.S. The team of people who supported the first commercial installation, which includes private investors and government groups like the Rocky Mountain Research Station, sees a bright future for the technology. “For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of working on this project has been seeing the different government and private entities come together to bring Richard Tucker’s technology to fruition,” says Van Morris, president of RNG. The team has also received additional support from other RMRS and USDA technology development programs. These collaborations have produced a unique and highly efficient distributed scale thermal conversion system. The group will continue to work together into the future to develop new and viable energy technologies and projects. Authors: Maureen Essen Human Dimensions Research Associate University of Montana – College of Forestry and Conservation US Forest Service – Rocky Mountain Research Station maureenaessen@fs.fed.us Caroline Morris Director of Marketing & Public Relations,The ReNewable Gas Company Caroline@RNGnow.com Nate Anderson Research Forester Rocky Mountain Research Station USDA Forest Service

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 21

PelletNews DOE grant supports biomass research at HSU Humboldt State University, along with 15 regional partners, has received a $5.88 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct innovative biomass research. The award was made under the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, a collaborative effort between the DOE and the USDA. Under the grant, a team of academics, industry partners and forestland managers led by HSU Forestry Professor Han-Sup Han will build on existing research on the conversion of forest residues into renewable fuel and other valuable bio-based products. The three research areas will be feedstock (processed forest residues) supply, mobile conversion technologies, and economic life-cycle analysis. The feedstock supply group will be led by Han, the lead principal investigator on the grant. Han’s group will focus on the economics of converting forest residue into high-quality feedstocks. The mobile conversion technologies group, led by Arne Jacob-

RESEARCH LEADER: HSU forestry professor Han-Sup Han will lead the collaborative effort. PHOTO: HUMBOLDT STATE UNIVERSITY

22 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

son, director of HSU’s Schatz Energy Research Center, will study biomass conversion technologies that convert slash or wood chips into biomass fuels and products at or near collection sites in the forest. Ted Bilek, an economist with the USDA Forest Service, will lead the economic life-cycle analysis group. Bilek’s team will perform economic analyses and conduct a life-cycle analysis documenting the economic benefits and other environmental effects related to utilizing forest residues.

Rentech acquires major US pellet producer Rentech Inc. has acquired all three of New England Wood Pellet’s manufacturing facilities, a $34.5 million investment that adds 240,000 tons to the company’s annual pellet output. New England Wood Pellet, founded in 1992, has built facilities in Jaffrey, N.H.; Schuyler, N.Y. and Deposit, N.Y. Rentech cited several reasons for the acquisition, including New England Wood Pellet’s strong financial profile, the fact that the company commands an approximate 15 percent share of the market for heating pellets in the Northeast U.S. and is well-known to many popular retailers, and the transaction expands Rentech’s current wood pellet offerings to the domestic market. Rentech will maintain New England Wood Pellet’s brands, including its bagged New England Wood Pellet and Warm Front brands. Julie Dawoodjee Cafarella, vice president of investor relations and communications at Rentech, said the company will also retain all employees of the Jaffrey, Schuyler and Deposit facilities. The New England Wood Pellet acquisition comes one year after Rentech’s assumption of Georgia-based Fulghum Fibers Inc., the leading provider of contract wood chip processing services in the U.S. The company is also in the process of converting two Wawa and Atikokan, Ontario, wood processing facilities into wood pellet plants.

PELLETS¦

The Beauty of Local Wood Heat BY MAURA ADAMS

The pace of change is really picking up when it comes to use and acceptance of wood pellets and chips for heat in the Northeast. And that’s a good thing, because the region has a voracious appetite for fossil fuel, consuming 84 percent of the home heating oil used in the U.S. It’s estimated that the Northern Forest region spends $6 billion per year on imported fossil fuel. Beyond concerns about cost, supply and the environment, depending on fossil fuel is a bad choice: 78 cents of every dollar spent on home heating oil leaves our local economy. That’s why the Northern Forest Center has made advancing biomass heat a top priority and is working with a wide range of collaborators to catalyze the market for high-efficiency, low-emission wood pellet boilers for homes and small-scale commercial installations (ideal for businesses, nonprofits and housing facilities). The center—a nonprofit organization working across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York—and many others believe we can build an energy economy that brings substantial economic benefits to rural communities, reduces dependence on heating oil, cuts net CO2-emissions over time, and supports healthy, working forests while protecting public health and forest sustainability. When people switch to wood pellets, 100 percent of the money they would have spent on oil stays in the regional economy. Home and business owners save 40 to 50 percent on their fuel bills, and what they do spend buys pellets grown and produced in the region. Demand for pellets creates jobs in the pellet mills and further down the supply chain for loggers, foresters and truckers. The mills create an important market for lower grade wood, which helps forestland owners with the cost of stewarding their forests. We’ve shown how biomass wood heat can benefit the region through the Model Neighborhood Project. Over the past two years, participants in the original Model Neighborhood Project in Berlin, N.H., have saved $120,000 and avoided adding 700 net tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The total positive economic impact of the project to date is more than $450,000. Participants in Berlin—and now also in Farmington and Wilton, Maine—have proven the new, high-efficiency boilers to be reliable, cost-efficient and easy to use. And they’re sharing their stories. They’ve hosted tours, welcomed media coverage and championed the systems to potential adopters.

Catalyzing Change

biomass heat include reliable retailers, qualified installers and technicians, pellet manufacturers, bulk delivery pellet suppliers, acceptance by real estate and insurance industries, attractive financing options and supportive public policy, including alternative energy rebates for new biomass installations. More and more, these essentials are available in the northern New England, especially in northern New Hampshire and western Maine near the Model Neighborhood Projects. Two years ago, a high-efficiency residential pellet boiler was a rarity. Now, there are nearly 300 installed in Maine and New Hampshire. Since September, Efficiency Maine has distributed over 120 rebates for residential pellet boiler installations, helping drive costs down and increase familiarity with these systems. This success is a model for how policy, industry and social connections can combine to drive the market. As demand has gone up, the average price of installed residential boilers in Maine has dropped by $3,000, a 17 percent decrease. Moving to chip-based systems for larger installations, the state of Vermont has generously funded schools to shift from oil to biomass and now about 30 percent of Vermont schoolchildren attended wood-heated schools, and the average school has cut its fuel costs by over 50 percent. In Colebrook, N.H., the center has been working with the town to research the feasibility of installing a biomass district heating system that could provide heat to buildings along Main Street and at some large facilities, including the hospital.

Regional Impact—A Triple Play Each one of these installations is an important step toward realizing the vision of an energy economy that brings substantial economic benefits to rural communities, reduces dependence on heating oil, cuts net CO2 emissions over time, and supports healthy, working forests. Wood heat is not new to the Northeast, but wood heat that burns at 85 percent efficiency through systems that are thermostat-driven—entirely automated or nearly so—is a game changer. It makes wood heat more convenient and efficient than ever before. With a cost per Btu that is significantly lower than oil, heat from wood is now in a position to compete against the dominance of oil in the region. Author: Maura Adams Program Director, Northern Forest Center kshort@northernforest.org http://www.northernforest.org/renewable_energy.html

More than a few things need to happen for new technology or systems to take hold. Some of the essentials for JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 23

¦PELLETS

382,000 BTU OF PELLET HEAT: With an office just across the hall from the boilers, Oxford County employee Ed Curtis is able to keep close tabs on the county’s pellet-driven heating systems. The system is comprised of three OkoFen boilers that share the load. Only on the coldest days of winters will Curtis hear all three boilers fire up to serve the heat load.

Pellets Warm County Seats A century-old courthouse in western Maine’s Oxford County transitions away from oil and toward pellet heat. BY TIM PORTZ PHOTOS BY TRISH LOGAN, TRISH LOGAN PHOTOGRAPHY.

24 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

PELLETS¦

F

or more than 100 years, the red brick Oxford county courthouse in South Paris, Maine, warmed judges, commissioners, clerks, auditors and inmates with fossil fuel-derived heat. Those days are over. The courthouse, built in 1895, has just emerged from its third winter of utilizing locally produced wood pellets to heat its occupants and daily visitors. Funded largely by an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program that was a part of the stimulus package officially known as the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the new heating system has nearly halved the county’s annual heating expense. “The genesis of the project can be traced back to the stimulus package,” recalls Oxford county administrator Scott Cole. “We tried to get it going in 2010, but we realized we didn’t have the administrative capacity to handle it, so we punted one more year and we went after it with gusto in 2011, and succeeded.” The project was broader and more involved than simply swapping out the existing heating oil boilers with new pellet boilers. The courthouse, MAXIMUM CONTROL: County technicians can quickly assess all of the control points of the a 17,000-square-foot, two-story structure that is boiler system including run time, flue gas temperature, water temperature and level of modulation. situated over a basement was bleeding warm air through large, single-pane windows and a poorly insulated attic. This attracted the immediate attenLargely, two boilers are able to generate the heat that the building tion and effort of the project engineer, Rick Grondin of Integrated Enthermostats call for. “Occasionally, the third boiler kicks on the coldergy Systems. “We used some of the money to insulate the attic,” he says. “Instead of putting in one more boiler, I first looked to reduce the load est days,” adds Grondin. and used dense-packed cellulose insulation in the attic.” Further driving down the load was a move away from steam fed Fuel Storage Challenges radiators to a forced hot water system. “It takes a lot less energy to make The tight spaces in the boiler room also created fuel storage chal140 degree water than it does to make 215 degree water,” Grondin notes. lenges for the project team. “Fuel storage is tough here,” says Cole. After the completion of the attic insulation and window projects, “The footprint of the building is not conducive to putting in a large the heat load requirements were determined, and Grondin went to work silo, which would have been ideal.” Space around the building is at a on satisfying the new heat load. Complicating the issue was the building’s premium, and snow removal already presents a challenge for Cole and limited space for its heating infrastructure. “We had a very small boiler his team, so a decision to move fuel storage inside of the building was room for all of this,” says Grondin. Through a competitive process, the made. “We really tried to find a place to put a 30-ton silo. In my opincounty arrived at a system centered around the use of three pellet boil- ion, that would have been preferable. We just couldn’t do it. Parking is ers of Austrian design. “The OkoFen boilers offered a solution that ad- tight. The last thing we needed was one more obstruction outside of dressed all of the problems.” the building, so we had to convert some space in the basement. I think OkoFen is an Austrian boiler manufactured, assembled and distrib- we are a little undersized, but we had to have it that way,” says Cole. uted in North America under a licensing agreement by Maine Energy In an average winter, the pellet boilers at the courthouse can be Systems. Austrian manufacturers are global market leaders in pellet boiler expected to consume somewhere between 65 and 70 tons of pellets. design and manufacturing and their products are beginning to gain mar- If the external silo Cole favored were feasible, around half of the anketplace momentum in the U.S. and Canada. nual usage could have been stored onsite, meaning that only one pelGrondin and the county decided upon three separate boilers that let delivery would have been necessary each heating season. Instead, would be connected to the same hot water delivery infrastructure. The two fabric storage bags were deployed into the boiler room with a boilers work together, communicate with one another and share the an- total storage capacity of just over 16 tons. The county now takes fuel nual heating work load. Each boiler is capable of delivering 191,000 Btu deliveries of between 8 and 10 tons of pellets seven or eight times in per hour at full power. “The boilers are staged,” says Grondin. “When a given heating season. Pellets are delivered by Maine Energy Systems you have a very low load, one fires and then it modulates up to the next pellet delivery trucks, and pneumatically blown through hoses into the load requirement. If it can’t meet the load at full power, the second boiler waiting storage bags in the courthouse. fires and ramps up. If the load still isn’t met, the third boiler fires up.” JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 25

¦PELLETS

NONTRADITIONAL STORAGE: Project engineers preferred to have one fabric pellet storage bag per boiler, but space constraints dictated system design to two bags placed side-by-side.

THE COUNTY PELLET SEAT: After three heating seasons in the books, other cities and schools within the county are taking notice of the success and ease of the pellet solution and deploying their own biomass solutions.

Navigating the Learning Curve All heating systems require some attention and technical acumen for the operators, and both Grondin and Cole recall a learning curve for the Oxford county maintenance staff. “The first year is more or less a learning experience for the facilities person, because it is something a little different,” says Grondin. “But really, the only thing they need to concern themselves with is making sure they have pellets to burn, 26 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

PELLETS¦ ordering pellets and making sure that when the ash containers get full, they get emptied.” Grondin is quick to point out the misconceptions surrounding the technology and its ease of use. “These are fully automated. When thinking about these types of solutions, people tend to think of wood stoves with all of their manual operations, manual adjustments during a fire and then the manual cleaning. This is the other end of the spectrum in the extreme. Maybe not as good as gas or oil in terms of low maintenance, but it’s pretty darn close,” he says. For Cole, it was important to develop some technical know-how for the systems in-house. “The operation and maintenance is certainly trouble free. That said, it is good to have someone on the staff with a little training in troubleshooting the system. Someone has to really embrace the system and not just call on outside help right away,” he says, adding, “It’s not an enormous leap (relative to operating an oil-fired boiler), and it is certainly worth the savings.”

because we didn’t have to amortize the cost of the capital,” says Cole. With such a prominent building installing a pellet-fired heating solution and enjoying the economic benefits, it is no surprise that cities and schools in the county are taking notice. “Since the county installed its system, several of the town offices have gone to pellets as well, which is cool,” reports Cole. This momentum also has the net effect of getting more and more of the HVAC technicians in the area comfortable with these pellet technologies. “What we are noticing now, after having gone through three winters, is

the familiarity with pellet boilers in the field of technicians has gone up,” Cole says. “It’s pretty cool. It’s happening. It’s definitely happening.” Finally, Cole points to the growing pellet supply chain in the area and the positive economic impact of using local resources to heat local buildings. “It’s definitely a fuel that makes sense for this part of the world,” he adds. Author: Tim Portz Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine tportz@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4969

Half-Priced Heat While Oxford County didn’t need to be convinced of the environmental benefits of a transition to pellet-derived heat, the budgetconstrained county needed the project to deliver some savings, and the sooner, the better. Before the transition to pellets the courthouse’s heating oil boilers consumed somewhere between 8500 and 10,000 gallons of heating oil each winter. With recent heating oil prices fluctuating between $3.50 and $4.00 per gallon, heating the building was costing the county between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Cole points to a comparison of 118 gallons of fuel oil and one ton of pellets, each delivering about the same amount of Btu. At a price of $3.50 per gallon, the heating oil Btu would cost $413. The county currently enjoys a three-year contract for pellets at $219 a ton, delivering a nearly 50 percent reduction in total heating cost. “We’ve cut our fuel costs in half,” notes Cole.

Stimulus Hastens Economic Benefit Cole reports the project cost the county right around $300,000, with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant contributing $235,000. The remaining funds were contributed by the county. “We could realize our savings much quicker because of the grant, JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 27

ThermalNews Net fuel cost comparison Price per unit Grass bales (assumed price of $80 per ton at farm gate, and $30 per ton transportation costs) Wood chips Natural gas

Unit

Net cost per mmBtu

$110.00

ton

$11.18

$65.00

ton

$8.81

$7.00

Mcf

$8.38

Grass pellets

$200.00

ton

$17.79

Wood pellets

$230.00

ton

$17.83

Propane

$2.10 gallon

$29.32

#2 Fuel oil

$3.50

$31.80

gallon

SOURCE: GRASS ENERGY IN VERMONT AND THE NORTHEAST, WILSON ENGINEERING

Energy grasses show potential for thermal energy in Vermont A recent report published by Wilson Engineering on behalf of the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative explores the potential of growing and harvesting energy grasses for thermal energy in Vermont. Four different grass energy project models are evaluated in the paper, including an in-depth analysis of the comparative advantages and disadvantages of each. The paper explores a closed-loop model, a small-scale, on-farm model, a regional model, and a consumer model. The report indicates the regional processing model would make sense for Vermont.

28 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

It includes a central processing plant that would purchase baled biomass from local farmers and process that feedstock into cubes, briquettes or pellets for delivery to commercial or institutional thermal installations. The report also notes millions of acres of idle and marginal lands in the Northeast are conducive for growing these energy crops. As the market for bioenergy products develops, they could provide am impact source of feedstock for heat, fiber or liquid fuels production.

UK opens biomass fuel registration Biomass fuel suppliers serving the U.K. thermal market are now able to register their fuels as sustainable by applying to the government’s Biomass Suppliers List. The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change said the list will ensure biomass supported under the Renewable Heat Incentive is sustainable. Beginning this fall, biomass fuels used under the RHI must certain greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction thresholds. Producers and traders of wood fuel who wish to access the growing RHI market can apply for free to the BSL. Small and micro enterprises will be able to use a new simple carbon calculator developed to make the process as easy as possible for small businesses. Larger enterprises will be able to use the U.K. Solid and Gaseous Biomass and Biogas Carbon Calculator to calculate the GHG emissions associated with their fuel. Individuals and businesses that self-supply their fuel are also encouraged to register as self-supplier.

THERMAL¦

Wood Stove Politics: Democrats, Republicans and Unlikely Bedfellows BY JOHN ACKERLY

Wood stoves are finally getting attention in Washington, D.C., and they will get even more next year. Most of the focus surrounds the U.S. EPA’s proposed regulations, but residential heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) tax credits are also on the chopping block. The sides are not as evenly drawn as one might expect. Some conservative Republicans supported wood and pellet stove tax credits this year, and some of the most liberal Democrats urged the EPA to soften its emission regulations. Republicans are mostly concerned with the economic impacts of these policies on industry, and Democrats with the health impacts of wood smoke. So far, Congressional strategy of the stove industry has been to mobilize support of Republicans, most of whom are friends of fossil fuels. Such is the topsy-turvy world of wood stove politics. It gets stranger. People who heat with wood and pellets mainly do it because it’s cheaper than the alternatives. The attraction of newer stoves—the ones that industry will build in coming years—is that they can be more efficient than the old and will save consumers even more money. Demonstrably higher efficiencies are key in motivating consumers to replace an older stove sooner. Despite this, industry is fighting against consumer hangtags that would list the efficiency of the appliance. Even more surprising and counterintuitive is that the EPA is also proposing to eliminate consumer hangtags, but at the same time is spearheading ever more detailed and clear consumer hangtags for Energy Star products, automobiles and other things. Here is the dilemma of reducing stove emissions, and it’s not too different from power plants: regulation only covers new stoves and grandfathers all older ones, which produce far more smoke. Industry makes a legitimate point that the focus should be on retiring older stoves, not making new ones marginally cleaner than they already are. Industry trade group Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association may end up going to court with a legal challenge that the EPA has not “adequately demonstrated” that making stricter emission standards is the “best system of emission reduction” because it didn’t sufficiently show that the alternative of retiring older stoves isn’t a better system of emission reduction.

Here is another example of the extreme topsy-turvy nature of wood stove politics: if a court sided with HPBA and directed the EPA to regulate existing stoves, conservative Republicans supporting the industry would flee in droves. One of the only tenets that the Obama administration has to move these regulations forward with Republicans is the assurance that existing stoves will be grandfathered and with no requirement to remove them or stop reinstalling old ones purchased on the secondhand market. Industry favors voluntary, not regulatory, measures to remove old stoves from operation. On a national scale, that would cost hundreds of millions. If that were the solution, there would be little support from conservative Republicans who are not fans of “cash for clunker” type programs. (As some predicted, a program audit found it was not an efficient way to reduce carbon output.) Of all of the letters to the EPA from conservative Republicans, none suggested any large-scale funding to tackle the problem of existing stoves, and even HPBA has not put effort into that solution. Democrats and moderate Republicans have been more supportive of stoves and boilers as a renewable energy solution and are making some progress at the state level. Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Oregon are starting or expanding rebate and change out programs. and other states will be joining that list. Democrats in charge of the EPA are moving much slower, if at all, and still seem to regard stoves mainly as a pollution problem, not an energy solution. The most likely result is an NSPS that enacts stricter regulations on new stoves and boilers, and a continuation of small, local programs that offer voluntary rebates to remove stoves from areas with particularly high levels of wintertime particulate matter. The result will be a very gradual reduction in wood smoke, as the EPA tries to balance practical and legitimate concerns. This will be less impactful than the Democrats wanted, and more intrusive than Republicans wanted. The real beneficiary will be consumers who heat with wood and pellets, who will finally have access to cleaner, higher-efficiency appliances. Maybe the EPA will even allow them to see that information on a hangtag. Author: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat jackerly@forgreenheat.org www.forgreenheat.org

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 29

¦THERMAL

30 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

THERMAL¦

Vermont’s Wood Heat Renaissance The Green Mountain State is a national leader in community-scale wood heat, but it didn’t happen overnight. BY ANNA SIMET

A

s world oil prices were on the brink of collapse back in the mid-1980s, Vermont was seeing its first successful wood chip-to-heat school installation come to life. Today, more than 40 schools in the small state of 625,000 people have adopted wood heat, and that’s just a snippet of the industry’s success story there. Though Vermont is still very much considered an oil state—three quarters of energy consumed in the state is petroleumbased, and No. 2 heating oil still dominates home heating—its portfolio of biomass thermal projects is extensive. Besides 46 schools, there are more than 40 public buildings, multifamily complexes, college campuses and businesses that have installed wood chip heating systems, and more than 120 bulk residential pellet installations.

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 31

¦THERMAL

Vermont's Wood Heat Feats

1

District heating systems

College campuses

Businesses

Public buildings

Low-income, multifamily complexes

What does it mean?

5 8

Wood thermal energy: · Supports local economy $43.6 million stays local annually · Saves on heating costs $149.1 million not spent on oil

14 15

Schools Bulk pellet residential boilers Multifamily Buildings in Vermont with Biomass Systems

3%

Current 32 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

30% Goal

Equals an additional 3 million liters of oil replaced annually

4

46

THERMAL¦

Wood-heated Public Schools 28% of undergraduates attend a wood-heated university

University Campus Sector

Middlebury Bennington GMC Goddard Norwich

10% 3% 3% 3% 8%

Others

During the 2010-’11 heating season, Vermont wood-heated schools cumulatively: • saved more than $2.6 million on heating costs, an average of $60,634 per school • used a total of 25,420 tons of woodchips • offset the equivalent use of more than 1.5 million gallons of oil • avoided a total of 17,095 tons of carbon dioxide emissions

Castleton State Lyndon State Johnson State Saint Michael’s University of Vermont

9% 9% 6% 9% 43%

120+

78%

of Vermont is forested 80%

privately owned

20%

publically owned

80,000 private landowners

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 33

¦THERMAL And it’s no coincidence that the origin of the word Vermont is thought to stem from the French phrase “les verts monts,” or green mountains. Nearly 80 percent of the state’s rolling terrain is covered by 4.6 million acres of forests, mostly privately owned, and that number is on the rise. In fact, the net growth of trees has exceeded removal since the first inventory in 1948, according to the Vermont Woodland Association. At the same time, forestry activities in Vermont annually contribute nearly $3.5 billion to the state, and are a significant driver

of the economy, including the workforce. A 2013 report from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation indicates that nearly 21,000 jobs in the state are directly impacted by Vermont’s forests. The success of the state’s burgeoning biomass thermal industry is associated with its heavy reliance on expensive oil, sustainable forestry and the multifaceted advantages that this abundant natural resource offers. But without the individuals who have worked tirelessly for decades to advocate for, ieducate about and implement wood heat,

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those characteristics would be meaningless to the industry. Foresters, state agencies and officials, environmental groups, nonprofits, equipment providers—and list goes on—have banded together to keep wood heat rolling, and it has resulted in the highest concentration of local, communityscale biomass thermal installations in the country. And for many, it’s not just a trend or profession, it’s a passion. That’s the case for Tim Maker, who is one of a small handful of people who have been around since the beginning. Maker was the founding executive director of the Biomass Energy Resource Center, the nonprofit largely responsible for driving the industry in Vermont, and has played a significant role in seeing numerous projects in other states to success.

Success Maker Maker has witnessed the evolution of wood heat in the state firsthand. Back then, it was a very small group of people working to illustrate some big ideas, he reflects. “At the start, you could count the people doing it on one hand,” he says. “All are still, to some capacity, involved to this day. There were just two vendors for equipment then, and they fiercely battled each other for each project that came up. That was a really important driver—it was somebody who really cared, and they were selling this stuff to make their livelihood.” Maker, 68, says he retired from BERC and the industry in 2009, but it didn’t last long. “Things were still so interesting that I just couldn’t [retire], but maybe I can in a couple more years,” he jokes. Now CEO of Community Biomass Systems, Maker, described by his colleagues as a wood energy pioneer who wrote the guidebook on intuitional wood heat systems, began his career in the industry in 1980 by working for a state energy audit program that was run through the University of Vermont Extension Service. When the program was defunded, Maker began his own consulting business, and at one point volunteered to be part of a small team advised by a local school board to determine a heating solution for the small, rural school. That’s where it all started.

THERMALÂŚ

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FEELING CHIPPER ABOUT BIOMASS: Vermont’s wood heat market has served as a support anchor for many subsectors, including chipping businesses. PHOTO: BIOMASS ENERGY RESOURCE CENTER

“We decided we’d look at everything, even renewables,� he says. “This was in 1985. We learned there were a couple wood chip heating plants in Vermont, and we observed them and ended up making a school board recommendation, which it took to the voters, and the bond vote passed unanimously. Nobody said no. We figured we were on to something.� Soon after, Maker decided to work wood heat into his consulting business, which was initially more about efficiency than heating technologies. “I went on to be the project manager of about one school system per year over the next 12 to 15 years, and I wrote a book about it for the Northeast Regional Biomass Program, and that was what led me to this relationship with the state, which I had been sort of partnering with for years to create BERC.� With a desire to package up Vermont’s wood heat successes and make it available outside of the country, the state energy office hired Maker to lay the groundwork for a nonprofit to do so, and BERC was founded in 2001. Maker took on the role of executive director six years after moving to a new position. At that point, the reins were handed off to Christopher Reccia, who is now commissioner of the Vermont Public Service Department. Reccia, who has also worked in renewable energy since the early 1980s, says he’s always had an interest in utilizing alternatives to fossil fuels, and emphasizes the importance of sustainable forest management. “The metaphor I have is within a garden, if one only picks the vegetables and not the weeds, eventually he will end up with all weeds. We have a lot of low-grade wood, and

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¦THERMAL if we keep taking out the timber only, we’ll have no market for the low-grade wood, and that’s all we’ll be left with. Using these low-grade wood resources helps provide added-value back to landowners.” Reccia says the PSD was a partner on the well-known “Fuels for Schools” program, which provided a 30 percent rebate to schools making energy improvement and was one of the main drivers for the influx of installations, and has always been supportive of wood heat. Its comprehensive energy plan, enacted in 2011, calls for 90 percent renewables by 2050 in all sectors—electricity, thermal and transportation, and Reccia believes wood heat has a strong role to play in meeting that goal. “I think biomass, at scale, is a really important component of the thermal piece for us.” The work of BERC and the popularity of wood heat installations at schools have provided a strong market for lowgrade wood, and that success has reverberated down the supply chain. It’s allowed chipping businesses to flourish, Reccia says, and it’s also serving as an anchor use for loggers providing that fuel. “Combined with the fact that Vermont is 80 percent forested, it’s a natural fit.” On top of the widespread economic benefits, many dollars are being saved. “When we first started, we usually saw a 30 to 35 percent fuel cost reduction from oil to wood chips,” Maker says. “At the peak, it had grown to an 80 percent cost savings. It’s eased back a little now, to about 70 percent, but that’s still the real driver.”

Foreseeing the Future Growth of Vermont’s biomass energy industry has been steady over the decades, and though some slight changes may be on the horizon, the consensus is that isn’t going to change any time soon. Since the 30 percent Fuels for Schools subsidy isn’t available, the rate of schools adopting wood heat technologies has slowed down, but that doesn’t mean a slow-down of the entire sector. “We have the beginnings of a vibrant pellet industry, pellets are starting to come into the smaller schools, and we have one pellet mill do-

36 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

THERMAL¦ ing really innovative work. Their business model is to be small—they procure their feedstock from within 30 miles and sell their pellets within 30 miles, and that’s pretty unusual.” There are some financial incentives for people to switch to pellet boilers in smaller applications, and that’s starting to take off, Reccia says. “The price differential between a pellet installation and oil, gas or propane has been a little harder, but federal tax incentives have helped there.” Reccia says he sees biomass energy use continuing to expand in Vermont, particularly using wood resources for thermal purposes, rather than large-scale, electric generation. “I think the efficient use of biomass, and the need to document sustainable harvesting practices is the most important factor to retain public acceptance and ensure the renewability of this resource over time,” he says. “That’s where some of the focus has been during the last several years. As carbon becomes more of an issue, being able to show that its lowcarbon will be important, and again, that goes back to sustainability.” Maker notes that the movement of colleges and large facilities transitioning to wood chip heat is really cost driven, rather than subsidy driven. “They’re really not getting any incentives from anybody. Maybe for a study, but after that, they’re doing it because the economics are so good. And there’s so much potential for communityscale district heating to take hold—one tremendous success has been the Montpelier district heating system just becoming operational now. They’re hard projects to develop and get going, but I’m hoping there will be more of that.” Part of Vermont’s continued success will be showing other states that they can follow suit, and that wood heat technologies are no longer a new or unfamiliar approach to heating, in the opinion of BERC Executive Director Adam Sherman. “Vermont is demonstrating how you can combine best-in-class projects, policies, legislation and programmatic support to achieve critical mass thresholds of market transformation,” he says. “A real theme that’s come out of numerous biomass thermal confer-

ences in the last year and a half is this notion of demonstration that it’s the new normal. It’s not fringe behavior, it’s not fringe technology. This is mainstream, and we have an opportunity to make it as normal as heating with oil, propane and natural gas. The technology is there, the economics are there, and we’re getting there with public understanding.” The fact that Vermont remains the largest consumer of No. 2 heating oil—despite its widespread adaptation of wood heat—is something that will keep the industry mov-

ing forward. “That’s going to motivate us to get to the next level,” Sherman adds. “We’ll continue work here, and Vermont will be a proving ground for the build-out of the biomass heating fuel market. What works here can be exported and adapted to the rest of the country.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine asimet@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4961

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 37

BiogasNews Landfill gas consumption for electricity generation, useful thermal output in all U.S. sectors (in million cubic feet) 2004

146,018

2005

143,822

2006

162,084

2007

168762

2008

196,802

2009

207,585

2010

219,954

2011

235,990

2012

259,564

2013

302,989

SOURCE: U.S. Energy Informaton Administration

Landfill gas-to-energy project begins production in Georgia A ribbon-cutting ceremony was recently held to commemorate completion of a landfill gas-to-energy project at the Pecan Row Landfill in Valdosta, Ga. The 4.8-MW project is expected to generate enough energy to power approximately 2,000 homes. Advanced Disposal partnered with Energy Systems Group to design, build, own and operate the project. Power produced at the facility will be purchased by Green Power EMC via a long-term power purchase agreement. Green Power is a nonprofit corporation comprised of 38 member-owned electric cooperatives in Georgia. The mission of the group is to facilitate the procurement and marketing of renewable energy in Georgia and make it available to member cooperatives. “This marks ESG’s third landfill gas project in Georgia, and our sixth in the United States, further exemplifying our strong focus on developing sustainable infrastructure solutions,” said Greg Collins, president of ESG.

38 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

GIB supports London AD facilities Two U.K. Green Investment Banksupported anaerobic digestion projects in London are progressing. In late April, GIB announced that the TEG Biogas plant in Dagenham has officially begun operations. The plant is the first project GIB invested in, via its Foresight-managed fund. The facility can produce 1.4 MW of electricity each year, which is being sold to the National Grid. Approximately 1.15 MW of residual heat produced at the plant will be used by a nearby plastic bottle recycling operation. In May, GIB announced a £7.5 million ($12.63 million) commitment in a separate £15 million anaerobic digestion and green waste composting plant under development in Enfield, just outside London. The investment is being made by Foresight, one of GIB’s fund managers. Construction on the plant was expected to begin in June, with full operations reached during the spring of 2016. Once operational, the plant will process 30,000 metric tons of food waste per year, sourced from hotel, restaurant, retail trade and local food manufacturers. According to GIB, the facility is expected to generate 7,400 MWh of renewable electricity each year.

BIOGASÂŚ

Community Digesters: Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies BY SURYA PIDAPARTI

Nearly 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is discarded. More than 36 million tons were sent to landfills in 2012. Landfilled waste is believed to be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and generates leachate that is hard to treat. A patchwork of regulations and initiatives has been implemented to divert the material from landfills to beneficial uses, the most common of which is composting, but only five percent is being diverted for that purpose. Another promising use is anaerobic digestion to generate biogas. In the U.S., there are about 1,500 digesters at sewage plants and 300 on farms. Success of farm and community digesters is mixed with a success rate of 60 to 80 percent. There are myriad factors that undermine the use of digesters. They include poor characterization of feedstock, lack of adequate construction and operating capital, and lack of process, application and operation understanding, among others. Digestion requires a proper balance of macro and micro nutrients, as well as an adequate supply of carbon to balance out oxygen and its surrogates. In addition, the feedstock has to be processed to a certain particle size to establish adequate substrate-to-microorganism contact. The processing system is feedstock dependent, and is a major component of digester costs. Feed materials often contain remnants of packaging, discarded prescriptions, inert materials and residual antibiotics. These contaminants can be toxic to the process and cause failures or suboptimal process. Frequently, digester operators collect any and all feedstocks that they can get. The variability in feedstock composition seriously impacts the viability of the digester. The reliability of the feedstock supply must be insured through long-term contracts. The underlying process in anaerobic digestion involves several steps and sets of organisms working in concert. Each of the groups of organisms in the system needs very specific conditions, including pH and temperature. And much like humans, critical nutrients and micronutrients comprise the critical enzymes in the organisms. The feed must have these elements in the correct proportions for the process to function. These organisms are the earliest forms of life on the earth that formed in the absence of oxygen. Oxygen and its analogues, antibiotics, fungicides are poisonous and can cause the process to fail. With traditional digester efficiencies, sale of the gas as a replacement for fossil fuels does not provide an adequate financial return. Consequently, digesters are heavily reliant on regulatory requirements, governmental funding and tipping

fees for viability. A digester project can be profitable and feasible, however, if the conversion efficiencies are increased, the gas or power could be sold as a premium fuel and the digestate sold as a fertilizer. After removal of carbon dioxide and other contaminants, biogas and its derivative, biomethane, are classified as a renewable fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This law and its corollaries require fuel marketers and petrochemical companies to blend renewable fuels into all fuel sold in the U.S. and create a marketplace for renewables. Under this scenario, it is possible to secure long-term purchase agreements from obligated parties for the biogas or biomethane, with the latter fetching a far better price that is several multiples of price for the heat value alone. Digestate contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as micronutrients in a form that can be easily absorbed by plants. Digestate also contains significant organic matter and microbial populations that enhance soil productivity. For this reason, there is a strong interest from the organic farm sector in using digestate as a fertilizer. A multifaceted approach is needed to overcome anaerobic digestion challenges. First, the solution must identify the potential feedstock and assess the potential for production of biomethane and fertilizer. The feedstock must be characterized to address the nutrient supplementation and processing needed, and the approach must identify and size a solution best suited to the feedstock. A financial model with potential revenues and costs must also be developed. Once a cost-effective solution is determined, it must be tested in a continuous mode in local conditions to validate effectiveness. The operation will identify changes necessary. Novus Energy LLC’s BioCatalytic system has been successfully deployed as a scale mobile plant to several industrial sites with biodiesel, food processing and chemical residues. The company is building a renewable energy plant in Boardman, Ore., that will convert agricultural biomass residues into 2.9 million cubic feet of biomethane, 700 gallons of 6-2-6 fertilizer and 250,000 gallons of clean water daily. Biomethane is being purchased by BP to fuel the natural gas bus fleet of San Diego Metro Transit. The fertilizer is being sold to organic farmers, and the water is being used to clean up discharges from the local industries. Author: Surya Pidaparti Vice President, NBC Systems, Novus Energy LLC surya@novus-energy.com 952-345-1068

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 39

¦BIOGAS

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BIOGASÂŚ

California Craft Beers and Biogas Bargains On-site biogas installations are saving craft brewers heat and water treatment costs. BY CHRIS HANSON

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 41

¦BIOGAS

W

hen ordering a frosty mug of their craft beer, consumers might enjoy its citrusy notes, the robust, roasted taste of a stout, or the bitterness of a signature hop blend. For some, the experience may be even more enjoyable knowing their favorite brewers are utilizing biogas technology to save on their operational costs, address water management issues and become sustainability leaders within their communities. Although anaerobic technology has already been embraced by larger brewers such as Anheuser-Busch, the smaller players are beginning to adopt that trend. “We are seeing more of the craft brewers starting to look toward putting in an anaerobic system, rather than pay surcharges or installing an aerobic system,” says Denise Johnston, vice president commercial at Biothane LLC. Biothane’s upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) and Biobed expanded granular sludge blanket (EGSB) technologies have been implemented in approximately 100 wastewater treatment operations located at both large and small beer breweries around the world.

42 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

“As our members grow in size, they have been looking for ways to increase their bottom line and become better stewards and citizens in their communities,” says Chris Swersey, technical brewing projects manager at the Brewers Association. By identifying with their communities, sustainability efforts have generally become more important within recent years, he adds. Within the group of craft brewers that are large enough to capitalize biogas projects, the technology has caught the interest of other members reaching that threshold. “Within the whole subset of sustainability efforts, biogas is starting to become an option for some craft brewers,” Swersey adds. “Not for a large number yet, but enough where we are starting to pay attention to it as an association.”

Biogas Potential Harnessing power from biogas has the potential to help one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. address sustainability objectives in energy consumption, solid waste and wastewater treatment. According to

the U.S. EPA, 70 percent of all U.S. brewers’ electricity consumption is for refrigeration, packaging and compressed air generation. Plus, U.S. breweries use an average 12 to 22 kilowatt hours to produce one barrel of beer. A brewhouse’s heating operation accounts for roughly 45 percent of all U.S. breweries’ natural gas and coal consumption, and takes 1.3 to 1.5 therms, or 130,000 to 150,100 Btu, to produce a barrel of beer, according to Brewers Association data. Smaller breweries tend to have higher kilowatt-hour-to-barrel numbers since smaller volumes cannot make up for the base energy requirements for a barrel of beer. Although energy consumption is one of the big issues facing the craft brewing industry, the greatest is water usage, Swersey says. The amount of water to brew a barrel of beer varies from each location, brewing processes and types of beer, and, on average, it can take roughly seven barrels of water for every barrel of beer. The majority of breweries discharge 70 percent of this incoming water through its effluent waste

BIOGASÂŚ

SWITCHING GEARS: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company will be replacing its fuel cells within the next year and is currently examining ways to better use its biogas capturing technology. PHOTO: SIERRA NEVADA BREWING COMPANY

W E

C O N V E Y

stream. AD technology helps breweries address wastewater objectives while generating a fuel from organic compounds for thermal or electrical power. In addition to biogas production, anaerobic pretreatment has lower operating costs, a smaller footprint and costs roughly the same, or sometimes less, than aerobic technologies, according to the Brewers Association. A 50-kiloliter UASB reactor is the smallest, entry-level AD system a brewery can use. Additionally, the 50 kiloliter unit is sized for breweries that annually produce 118,000 to 236,000 barrels of beer, and has an estimated installed cost of $700,000 to $1.2 million. In addition to capital costs, available space is weighed in the decision of anaerobic versus aerobic. “Nobody has a lot of free space, but some brewers are more space constrained than others,� Swersey says. “If you have a very limited footprint, you’re likely going to go with anaerobic even though it might cost you a little more than to go aerobic, because

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¦BIOGAS

INSIDE A BREWER: Water is a main ingredient within the brewing process, and better business practices help protect it. PHOTO: SIERRA NEVADA BREWING COMPANY

space is the limiting resource there. So a lot of our members may have grown really fast into the space they have, and they just don’t have a lot of open area on their facility.” Drought-stricken regions add extra pressure on breweries to conserve water and wastewater processing. “Particularly in California, water is an issue. We are in a drought year currently, and that is being talked about a lot,” says Tom McCormick, executive director of California Craft Brewers Association. “We know that in future years, water will be a rare commodity here in California, and it’s just best business practices for everyone to begin thinking about how to use less water.” “As these breweries, especially in California, continue to expand and grow, it’s increasingly adding pressure on their local, wastewater treatment infrastructure,” says Cheri Chastain, sustainability manager at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. “When breweries are looking to site a new facility or an expansion, they are often hit with these high wastewater fees that they weren’t expecting because it isn’t something that immediately comes to people’s minds. Anaerobic digestion is one way to help offset that cost because you can recover the initial capital investment a lot quicker by using the biogas.” Although anaerobic technology addresses wastewater issues, brewers may be unsure when to start thinking about implementing the technology. The Brewers Association suggests craft brewers, that produce 150,000 to 300,000 annual barrels of beer, should begin considering advanced wastewater pretreatment technology when annual sewer discharge costs reach $250,000 or more. 44 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

BIOGAS¦ Revamping Current Systems To address its growing pains, the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, Calif., looked toward anaerobic and aerobic technology to clean up wastewater and take pressure off the local waste water treatment infrastructure. “The municipality got to a point where they couldn’t handle the loading anymore,” Chastain says. “So either we had to install the system and handle the load here or pay additional money to the municipality to upgrade their system.” In 2002, the brewery constructed its waste water treatment facility with Biothane’s 132,000-gallon UASB anaerobic digestion technology to treat outgoing effluent and capture biogas. More than 95 percent of the captured biogas is used to fuel the brewhouse boilers, Chastain says. “We’re capable of producing and using up to 70 standard cubic feet of biogas per minute.” After being treated by the UASB, the wastewater is further processed by the facility’s conventional activated sludge system, Johnston explains. According to Sierra Nevada’s 2012 sustainability report, the brewery’s wastewater becomes comparable to the effluent water from residential zones at the end of the treatment process. In 2005, the brewery installed hydrogen fuel cells, which are powered by natural gas, and is capable of generating up to 1 MW of electricity. The brewery currently does not use biogas to fuel the fuel cells because the current cleaning skid lacks the design to pipe the biogas into the fuel cells, Chastain explains. “There was no storage for gas. It just comes straight off the digester into the cleanup skid and right into the use point,” she adds. “There wasn’t any storage either pre- or postcleanup, and that would create a variable pressure going into the fuel cells, which don’t handle that [variable pressure] well.” The brewery’s fuel cell contract expires within a year, and the company is investigating other ways to enhance its biogas usage. “After a year, the fuel cells will be coming out,��� Chastain says. “So we are looking at replacement technologies, what we can replace the fuel cells with, and hopefully we can better use our biogas to generate electricity.” As more craft breweries come on line and become thriving businesses, brewers will look toward technology producers to build their standing within their community and make the entire process more efficient. “I know there is a lot of interest out there, and there surely is a lot of potential,” Swersey says. “We’re going to hit 3,000 breweries in the U.S. this year. When that happens, they all start small and they grow. As those breweries hit a certain size, they’re going to need to take steps to maximize their efficiency and control their costs and to control their resource consumption as much as possible. Biogas is just one tool of many in the potential toolbox.” “We’re not seeing any major obstacles to implement the technology,” Johnston adds. “There’s certainly some permitting they have to go through. From a regulatory standpoint, even if they plan to use all the generated biogas, you still must have a flare, which needs to be permitted. So there are some permitting requirements, but again, all of our systems have been permitted without any delays or problems.” Author: Chris Hanson Staff Writer, Biomass Magazine chanson@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4970

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 45

AdvancedBiofuelNews Navy, Pudue team on renewable energy

Airbus, KLM complete 10-hour biofuel flight In May, the longest biofuel flight to date completed by an Airbus aircraft took place. An Airbus A330-200 operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines completed a 10hour flight from the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba on a blend of 20 percent biofuel. The flight was the first in a series of 20 long-haul commercial flights in the context of the European initiative called ITAKA, or the Initiative Towards sustAinable Kerosene for Aviation, which aims to speed up the commercialization of aviation biofuels in Europe. ITAKA is funded by the European Union and is designed as a collaborative project that aims to produce sustainable aviation fuel and test its use in existing systems and normal flight operations. The project also aims to link supply and demand by establishing relationships among feedstock growers and producers, biofuel producer, distributors and airlines. Airbus’s major role in the testing is to collect data before, during and after the flight on the engine fuel system, engine performance, and other factors. Airbus also provides insights into the use of nonpetroleum-based fuels compared to traditional fuels.

46 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

The U.S. Department of the Navy and Purdue University recently signed a statement of cooperation agreeing to work together to convert up to half of the Navy and Marine Corps' energy consumption to alternative sources, including biofuels, by 2020. “The Department of the Navy and Purdue have a deep interest in working together to reduce reliance on carbon-based fuels and energy sources,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “Not only does this help decrease our dependence on fossil fuel, it makes our Navy and Marine Corps a better warfighting force.” “Together, the Navy and Purdue will focus on promoting more efficient production and refinement of advanced biofuels and sharing and discussing the results of testing and demonstration projects involving the certification of advanced alternative fuels in aviation and marine engines,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “We also will pursue agricultural and other biobased feedstocks that will ensure the most economically viable production of advanced alternative fuels.”

ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS¦

Pathway to Nowhere BY MICHAEL MCADAMS

When the renewable fuel standard (RFS) was greatly expanded in 2007 (termed the RFS2) to include advanced and cellulosic biofuels, little was known about what new, innovative technologies would become available. By contrast, ethanol from corn or sugarcane and biodiesel from soybean oil had existed for more than a century. To address future innovation, the RFS2 included provisions that called upon the U.S. EPA to review and approve regulatory pathways by which new fuels and technologies can participate in the mandate, and generate tradable biofuel credits called renewable identification numbers (RINs). In reviewing pathway petitions, the EPA considers feedstock, conversion technology, finished fuel molecule, and greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts relative to petroleum-based fuels. To qualify as an advanced biofuel, the RFS2 stipulates a minimum reduction in GHG emissions by 50 percent, and 60 percent for cellulosic biofuels. The question for today is: Seven years after passage, have the pathway provisions of the RFS2 been successful? Unfortunately, we are nowhere close to where we should be. Currently, the EPA is averaging approximately two years to approve a new pathway. The reason behind this lengthy process is that the agency insists it must do everything by regulatory rulemaking. Rulemaking entails a fullblown administrative review and sign-off by related agencies, including, but not limited to, the U.S. DOE, USDA and U.S. DOD. Under this approach, all bets are off for pathways that have political forces lined up against them. Such pathway petitions may languish for years without either an affirmative or negative determination. This has been the fate of several proposed pathways, including those for biogenic oils, palm oil, palm fatty acid distillates and sorghum biomass. However, one should note that other EPA programs do not take this approach, such as the Toxic Substances Control Act’s chemical approval process, which limits the review to 90 days, at which point the product is automatically approved barring any adverse findings. Today, the EPA has a total of 38 pending pathways. In acknowledgement of the problem, the agency recently issued a program announcement titled, "Improving the Petition Process for New Renewable Fuel Pathways." We are pleased EPA is exploring options to streamline this program. One concern to note is that in the document, the EPA states, "We expect the process (of review) to take six months. During this time, we suggest that par-

ties considering new petitions pursuant…delay their submissions until the new guidance is provided." In other words, there will be some additional delay as EPA moves to make improvements. Also noteworthy, in its guidance, the EPA states that new pathways will be based on the following criteria: • Ability to contribute to the cellulosic biofuels mandate. • Potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a per gallon basis (such as nonfood feedstocks). • Ability to contribute to near-term increases in renewable fuel use (consideration of the ability of the fuels to be used in the existing fuel distribution network). On a positive note, the Pathways II Rule has been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget for final review after two years at the EPA. The actual language of the rule remains confidential until such time as all the agencies have concurred. Only then will we see which pathways are included for approval and which were deep-sixed. Based on conversations with EPA, I expect butanol and biogas, among others, to be included in the regulation. In conclusion, the pathway delays are a significant problem for the industry. For those attempting to raise capital, banks prefer enterprises with an approved pathway prior to making an investment in the technology. Some former companies have gone out of business while waiting for their pathway to be approved. For those of you currently submitted in the process, the EPA is now indicating that they may require you to resubmit depending on the outcome of their revisions to the pathway review process. All of these factors create delay and uncertainty and undermine otherwise promising biofuel technologies. The Advanced Biofuels Association has made pathways one of our highest advocacy priorities. We urge all of you who are impacted by regulatory delays and uncertainty to contact the EPA directly. Further, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly. For now, we remain in the struggle together to build the advanced and cellulosic industry and alter the future of energy. Author: Michael McAdams President, Advanced Biofuels Association Michael.mcadams@hklaw.com www.advancedadvancedbiofuelsassociation.com

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 47

ÂŚADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS

VESTED BIOMASS INTEREST: Western Renewable Technologies and Amaron Energy demonstrated mobile pyrolysis units at an event held in early May at SDS Lumber Company.

48 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS¦

PYROLYSIS PRODUCTS: The WRT and Amaron units generated syngas, bio-oil (left) and biochar (right) during the demonstration.

Mobilizing Pyrolysis Adding mobility to pyrolysis systems could improve project economics. STORY AND PHOTOS BY KOLBY HOAGLAND

T

he biomass industry produces a highly diverse range of energy products and chemicals from an array of biogenic feedstocks. Despite the diversity across feedstocks and products, bioenergy producers share the inherent challenges of aggregating and storing biomass. Regardless of type or origin––whether a chemical is being produced from switchgrass, or heat or electricity is being coaxed from forest residue––biomass feedstocks have less density and a shorter shelf life than their fossil fuel counterparts. Throughout the aggregation and storage phases, biomass projects are burdened with the necessity of keeping biomass dry and efficiently stored more so than projects that

utilize fossil fuels. Biomass must be harvested, often from across a landscape, transported to an energy installation, and stored where it is susceptible to spoilage. Acknowledging these difficulties and seeking solutions are what brought numerous industry stakeholders together at an event sponsored by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, at the SDS Lumber Company campus in Bingen, Wash., in early May. At the event, demonstrations were run of two commercially available mobile pyrolysis units, provided by Western Renewable Technologies and Amaron Energy. Attendees could view the units in full operation and speak with company representatives about the

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 49

¦ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS generated syngas is often used to power the pyrolysis unit, thus reducing the need for an outside fuel to power the process, other than at startup. By altering the temperature and residence time of biomass in a pyrolysis reaction chamber, operators are able to generate varying ratios of syngas, bio-oil, and biochar from biomass. The specifics and nuances of the pyrolysis process technology are highly guarded trade secrets, but the WRT and Amaron units were accessible to attendees, offering solutions to some of the industry’s most pressing issues. The cost of transporting biomass feedstocks to bioenergy installations is often the culprit that tips the balance sheets of biomass PYROLYSIS POTENTIAL: The oil from WRT’s technology has multiple potential applications depending on the projects into the red. By addfeedstock, including undergoing refining for use in transportation fuel or used as heating oil. ing mobility to the pyrolysis possibilities of overcoming district barriers Pyrolysis offers a potential solution to process, the WRT and Amathat hinder the advancement of biomass transportation and storage issues by trans- ron Energy units will enable producers to projects. Given the regional setting, most forming biomass into a denser product that preprocess biomass into syngas, bio-oil, and of the attendees were interested in greater is less susceptible to spoilage. By heating biochar at a landing site near the harvest site utilization of forest residue, but the dem- biomass in an oxygen-deprived environ- of the biomass, as opposed to transporting onstration of mobile pyrolysis technology ment, the pyrolysis process creates syngas, it to a centralized location far from the harhas implications across the broader biomass bio-oil, and biochar from any type of bio- vest site. An operation that converts forest industry. mass, regardless of moisture content. The

50 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY 2014

ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALSÂŚ

PORTABLE PROCESS: A look inside Amaron Energy's mobile pyrolysis unit.

BIO-OIL: The oil condenser on WRT's unit.

residue into heating oil, for example, could partially render the bio-oil in the forest and transport it to a refiner for further processing, while utilizing the syngas to power the pyrolysis process, and spreading the biochar back into the forest to improve forest soil quality. There is a considerable amount of research on the beneficial use of bio-char in soil health, as well as carbon sequestration and remediation. While bio-oil and syngas also have distinct opportunities of their own, market penetration of pyrolysis technology in the biomass industry is in its infancy. The demonstration of WRT and Amaron Energy's mobile pyrolysis technologies confirms the arrival of commercial mobile pyrolysis options, offering the industry an opportunity to perform a portion of the biomass-to-energy conversion process near the harvest location, and alleviate adversities that hinder the advancement of the biomass industry. Author: Kolby Hoagland Data and Content Manager, BBI International khoagland@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4966

JULY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 51

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July 2014 Biomass Magazine