Page 1


Barrels of


Distillers and Brewers Are Making Sure Their Waste Doesn’t Go to Waste

Biomass Energy & Fuel Prep Systems From Concept To Completion

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APRIL 2009



FEATURES ..................... 24 PROFILE Wood Pellet Prowess Under Chris Sharron’s skillful watch, the output at Western Oregon Wood Products has climbed from 300 tons of product per year to 320,000 tons. By Anna Austin

30 FEEDSTOCK The Politics of ‘Dirty’ Wood The recycling of pressure-treated and painted wood, often called “dirty” wood, is complicated—some states don’t even allow the combustion or burning of clean wood. However, as long as the construction and demolition industry churns it out, recyclers will be looking for ways to make use of it. By Ron Kotrba

36 INDUSTRY Barrels of Biogas Brewers and distillers have discovered the benefits of recycling their waste into renewable energy. By Ryan C. Christiansen

42 DESIGN Louisiana Paper Plant Adapts For Biomass A redesign project offers a paper manufacturing facility the opportunity to utilize a wide array of biomass sources. By Trotter Hunt PROFILE | PAGE 24

DEPARTMENTS ..................... 07 Advertiser Index 08 Editor’s Note Gearing Up for the Biomass Conference By Rona Johnson

10 CITIES Corner The Case for Incrementalism By Tim Portz

11 Legal Perspectives Loan Guarantees Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 By John Eustermann

13 Industry Events 14 Business Briefs 18 Industry News 47 EERC Update Fungibility 101 By Ted Aulich

48 Marketplace


advertiser INDEX











STAFF WRITERS Susanne Retka Schill Kris Bevill Erin Voegele Anna Austin Ryan C. Christiansen STAFF WRITER & PLANT LIST MANAGER Bryan Sims ONLINE EDITOR Hope Deutscher COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann E-MEDIA COORDINATOR Megan Skauge

2009 Fuel Ethanol Workshop


2009 International BIOMASS Conference & Expo

50 & 51

4B Components, Ltd.

SALES DIRECTOR Matthew Spoor SALES MANAGER, MEDIA & EVENTS Howard Brockhouse ACCOUNT MANAGERS Clay Moore Jeremy Hanson Chip Shereck Tim Charles Marty Steen Bob Brown


Action Unloaders


Agra Industries






BRUKS Rockwood


Christianson & Associates PLLP


Continental Biomass Industries


Energy & Environmental Research Center


Ethanol Producer Magazine




Hunt, Guillot & Associates


Jeffrey Rader Corporation



Mid-South Engineering Company



ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund


GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Elizabeth Slavens Sam Melquist Jack Sitter


Percival Scientific, Inc.




Quality Recycling Equipment, Inc.


Robert-James Sales Inc.


The Teaford Co. Inc.


Vecoplan LLC


West Salem

Subscriptions Subscriptions to Biomass Magazine are available for just $24.95 per year within the United States, $39.95 for Canada and Mexico, and $49.95 for any country outside North America. Subscription forms are available online (www., by mail or by fax. If you have questions, please contact Jessica Beaudry at (701) 746-8385 or jbeaudry@


Duratech Inudstries International, Inc.

Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. To place an order, contact Subscriptions at (701) 746-8385 or subscriptions@biomassmagazine. com. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact Christie Anderson at (701) 746-8385 or canderson@

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 or to receive our Editorial Calendar & Rate Card, please contact Howard Brockhouse at (701) 746-8385 or hbrockhouse@

Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or e-mail to jsobolik@ Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.


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NOTE Gearing Up for the Biomass Conference


want to remind each of you, if you haven’t done so already, to register for BBI International’s 2009 International Biomass Conference & Expo, which is being held April 28-30 in Portland, Ore. To give you a little preview of what to expect, Staff Writer Anna Austin has written a feature called “Wood Pellet Prowess” about West Oregon Wood Products Inc. (see page 24). The company is on the tour agenda along with Clean Water Services, which specializes in producing power through anaerobic digestion and gas recovery, and Summit Natural Energy Corp., which makes ethanol from food processing waste. West Oregon Wood Products uses waste material from sawmills to make wood pellets, fire logs and animal bedding. The owner of the business, Chris Sharron, says the tour will give conference attendees a “good feel for what the whole process entails, from the drying operation right through to the pelletizing operation.” Sharron has plants in Columbia City, Banks and Dillard, Ore. The tour will be held at the Banks, Ore., facility. The conference tracks cover every type of biomass feedstock you can think of, including crop residues, dedicated energy crops, forest and wood processing residues, livestock and poultry wastes, municipal and urban wastes and landfill gas, and food processing residues. I know that times are tough and money is tight, but with the potential benefits for the renewable energy industry in the government stimulus package and in President Barack Obama’s budget, it’s more important than ever to keep abreast of new technology, biomass sources and funding opportunities. This is also a great opportunity to connect with others in the biomass business, and those who seek to get into the business and may require your expertise. You will also have access to biomass experts from academia, policymakers, technology and project developers, and the people who produce biomass. To register for the conference, get a look at the agenda or just to find out what Portland has to offer you, go to

Rona Johnson Features Editor



June 15 - 18, 2009 Denver Convention Center | Denver, Colorado, USA

WHERE E T HANOL’S NE W ERA BEGINS No longer is the world of ethanol confined to grain. C ellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels are the future, and that future star ts now. For a quar ter centur y, the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo has delivered not only the largest ethanol event in the world, but the finest. Join the industry this summer for the FE W ’s 25th Anniversar y in Denver. I t ’s where the ethanol industr y ’s new era begins.

CITIES corner The Case for Incrementalism


grow increasingly troubled by the trend of public sentiment that any and all clean energy developments must get it 100 percent right the first time. It also seems that any clean energy opportunity that experiences growing pains becomes the target of immense criticism, doubt and abandonment. Furthermore, many clean energy systems that are connected to a legacy fossil-fuel-based technology are sometimes painted with the same brush as the fossil fuel technology they seek to improve upon. For example, the planned coal plant with the biomass requirement in Iowa, which I mentioned in last months column. The project has been scuttled, stalling the development of a biomass infrastructure within the state. Corn-based ethanol has been the victim of a steady and unrelenting assault by a number of interests including the environmental lobby, the food industry and Big Oil. I believe that much of the doubt and negative press surrounding the ethanol industry is connected to our inability to come to terms with the incremental nature of the journey of change we are on; in this instance the evolution of a biomass-based liquid fuels infrastructure. The biofuels of today are an improvement upon the biofuels of yesterday, but pale in comparison to the efficiency, sustainability and promise of the biofuels of tomorrow. I was seven years old when my parents bought me my first computer. It was a Commodore VIC 20 and had 5 kilobytes of installed memory. Internal hard drives, e-mail, and the


Internet were barely being imagined at that time. Still, the VIC 20 was wildly popular and was the first personal computer to sell more than 1 million units, according to Wikipedia. Now, of course, I’m able to research the VIC 20 and learn that it was the first personal computer to sell 1 million units while driving down the road using a wireless, handheld computer. Have we forgotten the steady incremental journey we experienced with personal computing? Or, is the current pace of progress with personal computing—seemingly warp speed—responsible for our more widely applied expectations—especially to clean energy—for rapid change? Our collective memory is short and we struggle to remember the first laptop, much less a clunky suitcase-sized computer with barely one e-mail’s worth of memory. Whatever the reason for our impatience, we should be mindful that while we would all welcome an instantaneous and abrupt shift in the creation of our much-needed energy, we are more likely in for an arduous journey full of obstacles, some that we can anticipate and plenty that we can’t. Tim Portz is a business developer with BBI International’s Community Initiative to Improve Energy Sustainability. Reach him at tportz@ or (651) 398-9154.



Loan Guarantees Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 By John Eustermann Eustermann


n Feb. 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a $787 billion economic stimulus package that contains $60 billion of loan guarantees by the U.S. DOE for certain renewable energy projects and transmission projects. The ARRA creates a new Section 1705 to the DOE’s Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, a program originally authorized by Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005). Section 406 of the ARRA amends Title XVII of EPAct 2005 to add this new Section 1705 which temporarily directs the Secretary of Energy to use the $6 billion in appropriated funds to make guarantees under the loan guarantee program established under Title XVII of EPAct 2005 for only the following categories of projects, which must commence construction not later than Sept. 30, 2011: Renewable energy systems, including incremental hydropower, that generate electricity or thermal energy and facilities that manufacture related components Electric power transmission systems, including upgrading and reconductoring projects Leading-edge biofuel projects that will use technologies performing at the pilot or demonstration scale that the secretary determines are likely to become commercial technologies and will produce transportation fuels that substantially reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to other transportation fuels (up to a limit of $500 million). Section 1705 effectively prevents the $6 billion under temporary authority from being

used to make loan guarantees for the innovative technology projects described in Section 1702 of EPAct 2005. Currently, the DOE has a pool of 16 potential innovative technology projects. This number, however, is expected to be whittled down to 11 in a matter of weeks. It is worth noting, however, that to date, the DOE has not approved and disbursed a single loan guarantee under the innovative technology program of EPAct 2005. Shortly after the signing of the ARRA, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu stated that he was ready to put some of the stimulus package to work within months. This desire and the sense of urgency created by the fact that the loan guarantees are limited to projects that commence construction by Sept. 30, 2011, suggests that the DOE will be limited as to how much time, effort and consideration can be given to time-consuming rulemaking. As such, it is expected that, although some streamlining of the application process will take place, the loan guarantee regulations of Section 1702 will likely prove to be, for the most part, the model adopted for purposes of how the DOE solicits, evaluates, approves and monitors the new loan guarantee program. One exception, however, has been established: under the 1705 program, applications shall be evaluated on a rolling basis. This is a departure from the prior program in which submission deadlines were established and applications were evaluated side-by-side against each other. In light of these facts and circumstances, the project developer interested in submitting an application should consider compiling the necessary project submission materials in the manner established under Section 1702 so that upon the issuance of final rules govern-

ing the new ARRA loan guarantee provisions, an advantage to being an early applicant may be garnered as financially viable projects may be subject to a first-come, first-served evaluation process. The application process, for the most part, is expected to be as follows: Pre-application: Requires general information about the project, its sponsor(s), and the financing plan. Application: Some of the pre-applicants will be invited to submit applications. The applications require far greater detail as to the project and the financing plan. Term sheet: The successful applicant will receive a DOE-issued term sheet setting forth the material terms and conditions of a definitive loan guarantee agreement. Execution of a conditional commitment: Once the applicant, DOE and qualified lender agree on the material terms of the term sheet, the term sheet becomes a conditional commitment. Execution of the loan guarantee agreement: Once the conditions of the conditional commitment are met, the parties will execute an agreement incorporating the terms. Although a considerable number of issues still need to be ironed out with regard to ARRA and the expanded loan guarantee program, the prospective borrower is wise to share in the DOE’s sense of urgency and commence pulling together key project specific data. John Eustermann is a partner with Stoel Rives LLP. Reach him at or (208) 387-4218.


industry events Sustainable Bioenergy

European Renewable Energy

April 1-2, 2009

April 2-3, 2009

American Square Conference Centre London This conference will examine new trends in the bioenergy market, solutions to the food-versus-fuel debate, “next-generation” biofuels, biomass for power generation, and the development of biorefineries and how they are influencing investment decisions in Europe. The agenda will include question-and-answer panels, and more than 30 industry experts sharing their experiences and what new opportunities are available in biomass, biogas and sustainable biofuels. +44 (0)20 7251-9151 conferences/2009/SustBio09/intro.htm

Hilton Berlin Berlin This conference will give attendees an overview of each area of the renewable energy sector: finance, governments, construction, operation and technology. The event will also take an in-depth look at a number of case studies examining the implementation of new projects across Europe, including the opportunities and challenges of large-scale biomass power generation. +44 (0)20 7176-6226

The Future of Biofuels

BioPower Generation Americas

April 4-8, 2009

April 22-23, 2009

Snowbird Resort Snowbird, Utah The goal of this meeting, being supported by DuPont, will be to share a broad perspective defining the critical needs of the biofuels industry, and to highlight cutting-edge research and development efforts that are defining the next generation of biofuel processes and products. Agenda topics will include next-generation advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol; and the feedstocks needed for those fuels. (800) 253-0685

Bourbon Convention Ibirapuera São Paulo, Brazil This inaugural event is the fourth edition of the global BioPower Generation series. It will highlight the developments and opportunities in Latin America’s biomass power generation market, and look at the entire biopower generation value chain to assess the main opportunities for this continually growing sector. Experts will provide insight into the biomass-for-power generation industry, and international case studies will show how Latin America can benefit from growing global markets. +55 (11) 2161-2200 biofuelsmarkets/biopower_generation_americas.html

BioCycle International Conference

International Biomass Conference & Expo

April 27-30, 2009

April 28-30, 2009

Town & Country Resort San Diego This international conference brings together leaders in research and management of projects and facilities that turn municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes into marketable resources, including compost and soil products, renewable energy, biofuels and soil remediation tools. More than 70 speakers from around the world will address food-waste recycling, compost use, anaerobic digestion and more. (610) 967-4135

Oregon Convention Center Portland, Ore. This event, sponsored by BBI International Inc., will focus on six major biomass sectors: crop residues; food processing residues; municipal solid waste, urban wastes and landfill gas; forest and wood processing residues; livestock and poultry wastes; and dedicated energy crops. Attendees will also be able to tour West Oregon Wood Products Inc., Summit Natural Energy Corp. and Clean Water Services’ Rock Creek Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility. (701) 746-8385

International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

European Biomass Conference & Exhibition

June 15-18, 2009

June 29-July 3, 2009

Denver Convention Center Denver Registration is now open for this 25th annual event, which will also include the second Advanced Biofuels Workshop. As a whole, the conference will once again offer business development and networking opportunities, one of the largest industry expos and an industry-leading educational forum. Agenda information will be available as the event approaches. (701) 746-8385

CCH-Congress Center Hamburg, Germany This 17th annual event will highlight the latest breakthroughs in the biomass field. Agenda topics will include biomass resources; the conversion to heat, electricity and products; fuels from biomass; markets; and policy and sustainability. There will also be an exhibition featuring various companies and products in the industry. +39 055-5002174



BRIEFS Canadian companies to build Alberta-based biogas facility

Alter NRG, Air Products sign joint development agreement

Canadian companies StormFisher Biogas and ECB Enviro North America Inc. are partnering to construct a 3.2-megawatt biogas facility in Lethbridge, Alberta. The plant’s feedstocks will be supplied by local livestock operations, meat and food processing industries, restaurants, and schools. Once operational, the facility is expected to offset more than 17,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide while creating enough energy to power more than 3,000 homes. Construction is expected to begin this spring, with energy production beginning in 2010. BIO

Alter NRG Corp. and Air Products and Chemicals Inc. have signed a joint development venture agreement to pursue renewable energy opportunities in North America and Europe. The agreement gives Air Products and Chemicals the right to license and incorporate Alter NRG’s proprietary Westinghouse plasma gasification technology with its oxygen enrichment and synthesis gas pretreatment technology in renewable energy facilities. Air Products and Chemicals will initially use a variety of feedstocks to create syngas for power, heat and steam generation. BIO

Joint venture to market biogas technology GLV Inc., a Canadian-based provider of water treatment, and pulp and paper solutions, recently announced the creation of a North American joint venture with Hong Kong-based Global Water Engineering Ltd. to market its anaerobic digestion technologies. The new entity, Global Water & Energy LLC, will be based in Austin, Texas. GLV will own 70 percent, while Global Water Engineering will own the remaining 30 percent. Global Water Engineering has granted GW&E an exclusive and perpetual license to market its selection of processes for the anaerobic treatment of industrial wastewater and organic waste, and for the conversion and handling of biogas to produce energy. BIO

Finnish forestry research centers to integrate operations VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Oy Keskuslaboratorio-Centrallaboratorium Ab (KCL), a research facility owned by Finnish forest industry companies, have signed a letter of intent to combine their research and laboratory operations. The integration would ultimately create a strong innovation center for the forest industry and extend research into new areas of growth: bioenergy and biorefineries. Full implementation of the project requires funding from the Finnish government, and approval from the Ministry of Employment, the Ministry of Economy and VTT’s board of directors. BIO


Agri-Tech Producers licenses torrefaction technology South Carolina-based Agri-Tech Producers LLC has secured an exclusive license for a torrefaction technology developed by North Carolina State University. Torrefaction is a process in which biomass is heated in a low-oxygen environment, which causes volatile organic compounds, water and hemicellulose to separate from cellulose and lignin. The process creates a carbon-neutral fuel that is easier to transport and store. Agri-Tech Producers is working with manufactures to develop torrefaction machines that will utilize the licensed technology. The machines are expected to be commercially available near the end of 2009. BIO

Liberty Energy targets ‘biosolids’ Liberty Energy Inc. is looking for $90 million to finance a 6.5-megawatt biomass power plant in Hamilton, Ontario, that will use “biosolids,” or treated sewer sludge, and other forms of biomass as feedstocks. The Ontario Power Authority has agreed to purchase the renewable power from the proposed plant once it’s operating. Permits are in place, according to Liberty Energy, and the company anticipates long-term tipping agreements with other local municipalities, as well. It aims to convert 500 metric tons (approximately 550 tons) of biosolids and 150 metric tons (165 tons) of other biomass per day. Ewing Bemiss & Co. will help to secure financing. BIO


BRIEFS Fibre Brain hires general manager Paul Bichler has been hired as general manager of Fibre Brain Co., a start-up company that intends to own and operate a wood pellet manufacturing plant employing 30 full-time people in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Fibre Brain submitted an application to the province of Ontario for a license to manufacture the wood pellets. The facility, expected to be in operation by fall, will produce approximately 32,000 tons of wood pellets annually. BIO

Siemens to install water treatment plant at ethanol facility in Thailand Siemens has been awarded a $10 million contract from Advance Agro Ethanol, a subsidiary of Advance Agro Public Co. Ltd., to provide process and electrical equipment for a wastewater treatment plant at AAE’s ethanol plant in Thailand. The system includes pretreatment, using filter press technology to remove suspended solids; pre-acidification; anaerobic digestion; aeration; secondary clarification; dewatering; chemical dosing units; and a biogas flare stack. Biogas generated from the wastewater is expected to save AAE more than $5.5 million per year for a three-year return on investment. BIO

EPA honors Kimberly-Clark for biomass use

Iowa manufacturer Vermeer passes away

Health and hygiene giant Kimberly-Clark Corp. made the U.S. EPA’s list of the top 50 largest green power users for its use of wood waste in a cogeneration boiler to produce electricity. The EPA estimated the company offsets the carbon dioxide emissions of 29,000 cars in producing more than 220 million kilowatt-hours of biomass-derived power, or approximately 7 percent of the company’s annual electrical use. Kimberly-Clark was ninth on the list among participating Fortune 500 companies. BIO

Iowa manufacturing veteran Gary Vermeer, 90, died Feb. 2 in Pella, Iowa, where he kept his hand in farming for more than 60 years as his company grew into an international manufacturer of agricultural, construction, environmental and industrial equipment with dealerships in more than 60 countries. He is best-known for the invention of the company’s round baler. He got his start in labor-saving devices with the invention of a wagon-hoist for unloading corn. BIO

Steiger joins Ze-gen AllGreen develops biomass power in India AllGreen Energy India Pvt Ltd. has begun construction of the first three of 10 biomass power plants to be built in India over the next three years. Each facility will produce 6.5 megawatts of electricity using pyrolysis technology patented by the Indian Institute of Science. India-based Energreen Power Ltd., which has licensed the technology, will act as the engineering, procurement and construction provider. The gasification technology, based on an open-top downdraft design, will use GE Jenbacher generators. ITC Ltd.’s Agri Business Division will provide the biomass feedstock. BIO

Boston-based Ze-gen Inc. named Richard Steiger as vice president of engineering and construction. In this capacity, he will oversee the company’s project-specific engineering activities, including the operation of a demonstration-scale facility in New Bedford, Mass., that gasifies municipal solid waste into synthesis gas. He will also supervise the construction and operation of Ze-gen’s first commercial-scale facility, which is expected to come on line in the first quarter of 2011. The company is negotiating two Steiger or three locations, Steiger said. BIO




Global Energy acquires WoodTech, plans gasifier

Sud-Chemie’s corporate headquarters in Munich, Germany

Dow, Süd-Chemie to develop catalysts The Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich., and Süd-Chemie Group of Munich, Germany, will begin a joint research program in April to develop catalysts that can be used to convert synthesis gas derived from biomass into hydrocarbons for the production of liquid fuels and chemicals. Dow scientists in Terneuzen, Netherlands, will work with Süd-Chemie scientists in Germany and the U.S. to focus on making the process of converting syngas to hydrocarbons more efficient and economically viable. BIO

Qteros founder receives “Women to Watch” award Susan Leschine, founder of biofuel company Qteros (formerly SunEthanol) and a University of Massachusetts, Amherst professor, has received a Mass High Tech: The Journal of New England Technology Women to Watch Award. The award, in its sixth year, honors women who excel in technological innovation, entrepreneurship and community involvement. Leschine was recognized for her discovery of the Q Microbe in a wetlands area near the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. The Q Microbe can generate cellulosic ethanol from a variety of plant materials. She was honored along with nine other women at an award ceremony March 12 at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass. BIO

ADF Engineering opens Omaha office ADF Engineering Inc., an engineering and consulting firm for the renewable fuels industry in Miamisburg, Ohio, has opened a branch office in Omaha, Neb., where Mario Ancona will be the site/project manager. He previously worked for Altra Inc., where he gained experience in project management, business development, consulting, engineering, and design/build activities for the ethanol, corn milling and food industries. He earned an industrial mechanical engineering degree at the Instituto Tecnológico de Mérida in Mexico. BIO 16 BIOMASS MAGAZINE 4|2009


Global Energy Systems, a subsidiary of Global Energy Holdings Group Inc., announced it has acquired wood fuel company WoodTech LLC in Cherokee County, Ga., which produces 900,000 tons of biomass products annually, including wood chips and wood fuel. WoodTech will expand operations to 1.2 million tons this year, while Global Energy plans to install a wood gasification plant adjacent to WoodTech’s facility to produce synthesis gas to power a turbine that will produce 20 megawatts of electricity. BIO

Hayes joins USDA/DOE joint committee Dermot Hayes, a professor of economics and finance, and the Pioneer Hi-Bred International chairman in agribusiness at the Iowa State University College of Business, has joined the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee, jointly administered by the USDA and U.S. DOE. During his three-year appointment, Hayes he will advise the Biomass Research and Development Board, which coordinates research and development activities relating to biofuels. The committee was established by the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000. BIO

Blade Energy Crops releases switchgrass guide Blade Energy Crops, a seed brand of Ceres Inc., has released a 20-page guide, titled “Planting and Managing Switchgrass as a Dedicated Energy Crop 2009,” which summarizes the most recent data and experiences from the company’s energy crop trialing network. The free resource details switchgrass variety selection and planting considerations; fertility, pest and weed management in post-established years; timing, frequency and methods of harvesting; and growing incentives. Ceres Communications Manager Gary Koppenjan said energy crops such as switchgrass provide new options for growers, especially for underperforming acres, but there is a learning curve. “This guide seems to be a good resource to get the process started,” he said. BIO


BRIEFS DuPont Danisco hires four DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC added four members to its management team recently. Kyle Althoff has become director of feedstock development. He will assist in plant siting and develop grower delivery business models, as well as help formulate feedstock strategies. Most recently, he managed client projects at BBI International Inc. Stuart Thomas was named director of technology development. Previously, he was business development manager for DuPont Clean Technologies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Barbara Fatina has joined DuPont Danisco as chief financial officer. She most recently served as vice president of operations and chief financial officer of Verety LLC. Keith Brazzell was named site manager of DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol’s cellulosic ethanol plant under construction in Vonore, Tenn. Most recently, he served as plant manager of Tate & Lyle’s facility in Loudon, Tenn. BIO

EGB, NextStep enter biomass supply agreement Nebraska-based Energy Grains Biomass LLC has signed a multi-year agreement to supply NextStep Biofuels Inc. with an unspecified amount of corn stover for 40 MMgy of cellulosic ethanol production. EGB contracts local farmers for corn stover, according to company President Paul Kenney. “It’s a turnkey operation,” he said. “Farmers show us where to go, and our crews come in and do everything. We will get as much as we need off the farmers’ fields through the winter. It will be very unique, as we will be pelletizing the corn stover.” BIO

Engle to lead Telles Metabolix Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. appointed Robert Engle as general manger of Telles, the companies’ joint venture aimed at commercializing a line of Mirel-brand bioplastics. Previously, he served as vice president of affiliate management for Ticona, an engineering polymers business. Telles’ first commercial-scale Mirel production facility is under construction next to ADM’s 237 MMgy wet corn mill ethanol plant in Clinton, Iowa. Construction is expected to be complete by the second quarter of 2009, according to Metabolix spokesman Brian Ruby. BIO

Catalyx pilots two-way osmosis system Catalyx Inc. is developing what it calls a two-way osmosis system to treat difficult wastewater, such as what results from carpet or textile dyeing, which can have high biochemical and chemical oxygen demand. Large amounts of water are often required in carpet and textile manufacturing, and in many other processes. Catalyx’s system can purify wastewater streams without chemicals, which are sometimes used in conventional wastewater treatment. Once two-way osmosis is complete, the concentrated, organics-rich wastewater could be used as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion or boiler fuel. BIO

Verdezyne partners with Syngenta, adds vice president Syngenta Biotechnology Inc., a North Carolina-based crop breeder, and Verdezyne Inc., formerly CODA Genomics Inc., signed a research and development agreement in February, in which Verdezyne will synthesize novel genes for testing the optimized expression of enzymes in Syngenta plants. Using advanced computational algorithms, Verdezyne will design and synthesize novel gene libraries for engineering proteins, metabolic pathways and microorganisms that will aid in manufacturing platform chemicals and biofuels. Verdezyne also recently appointed Damien Perriman as vice president of business development. Previously, he was senior commercial leader for The Dow Chemical Co.’s Bioscience Platform. BIO

Enerkem names vice president Enerkem Inc., a Montreal-based synthesis-gas-to-ethanol company, has added Jocelyn Auger to its management team as vice president and general counsel. He has more than 10 years of corporate and legal experience, having previously worked at BCF LLP, an independent law firm in Canada, where he was cochairman of the Business & Technology Practice Group and responsible for the law firm’s information technology operations. His experience also includes intellectual property licensing, joint ventures, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and other commercial transactions. BIO 4|2009 BIOMASS MAGAZINE 17


NEWS A group of academia in the U.K. has created a £27 million ($38 million) Sustainable Bioenergy Centre through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The collaborative effort includes six research hubs at the University of Cambridge, The University of Dundee, The University of York, Rothamsted Research and two centers at the University of Nottingham. Another seven universities and institutes, and 15 industrial partners, are contributing, as well. Research activities will encompass multiple projects toward developing sustainable bioenergy production. Crop work will focus on improving yield and the quality of nonfood dedicated energy crops. Other project partners will target barley straw, working on altering the lignin for more efficient processing. One group will examine the marine wood borer as a source of robust enzymes, while others will work on optimizing pretreatment and fermentation strategies for lignocellulosic ethanol production. Some will work toward improving the bacterial


Collaborative effort launches Sustainable Bioenergy Centre

Miscanthus and other dedicated energy crops have been studied at Rothamsted Research in the U.K.

conversion of biomass to biobutanol, while others will examine the social and economic sustainability of the various bioenergy approaches. “The U.K. has a world-leading research base in plant and microbial science,” said BBSRC Chief Executive Officer Douglas Kell. “The BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre draws together some of the world’s top scientists in order to help develop technology and understanding to support the

sustainable bioenergy sector. The center is taking a holistic systems-level approach, examining all the relevant areas of science needed for sustainable bioenergy, and studying the economic and social impact of the bioenergy process. By working closely with industrial partners, the center’s scientists will be able to quickly translate their progress into practical solutions to all our benefit and ultimately, by supporting the sustainable bioenergy sector, help to create thousands of new ‘green collar’ jobs in the U.K.” Industry partner Graham Mackay, chief executive of SABMiller PLC, called the effort an important contribution to fighting global warming. “The benefits of biofuels have been somewhat obscured by the negative effects of purpose-grown crops,” he said. “However, at SABMiller, we believe that the development of sustainable biofuel could prove to be one of the most important contributors to solving the energy and climate challenges.” -Susanne Retka Schill

Legislative initiatives benefit biomass industry President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law Feb. 17. Approximately $43 billion of that will be used to support energy projects that will save and create jobs, while laying the groundwork for long-term economic growth. Many of the energy components contained within the stimulus package are expected to benefit the biomass industry. Perhaps most importantly, the legislation extends the production tax credit (PTC) for qualified biomass and municipal solid waste facilities through 2013. The bill permits taxpayers to claim an investment tax credit (ITC) in place of the PTC for certain projects that come on line between 2009 and 2013. It also eliminates the reduction of the ITC for property financed by subsidized energy financing or tax-exempt private activity bonds. In addition, taxpayers are permitted to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury in place of claiming 18 BIOMASS MAGAZINE 4|2009

tax credits for certain properties placed in service between 2009 and 2010. The package also provides funding for certain hazardous fuels reduction projects on federal lands, and allows the U.S. Forest Service to award up to $50 million in competitive grants as incentives to increase the use of biomass from federal and nonfederal forested lands. In addition, the legislation provides $6 billion for the Innovation Technology Loan Guarantee program, which was authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This program will provide loan guarantees for renewable technologies and transmission technologies. The $6 billion is ultimately expected to support more than $60 billion in loans for these types of projects. Members of Congress are also considering legislation that would create a federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The majority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources re-

cently released an outline for a proposed federal RPS that would ultimately require 20 percent of energy sold to retail customers by 2020 to be sourced from renewable resources. A similar proposal was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. House Resolution 890 would require 25 percent of energy to be sourced from renewable resources by 2025. In addition, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation that aims to promote the development of biogas through tax incentives. The Biogas Production Incentive Act of 2009 would encourage greater production by providing manufacturers with a tax credit of $4.27 for every 1 million British thermal units of biogas produced. The legislation, S. 306, was introduced Jan. 22 and referred to the Committee on Finance. -Erin Voegele


NEWS Recently, Biomass Magazine noticed an uptick in German biogas projects moving forward. Here is a summary of those plans. RWE Innogy, the renewable energy subsidiary of utility RWE AG, and the Westphalia-Lippe Agricultural Association plan to build plants that would produce biogas from liquid manure. The biogas will be fed to the public natural gas pipeline and sold by RWE Innogy’s sister company RWE Energy. The first plant in Münsterland, Germany, will be commissioned in 2010. KTG Agrar AG has commissioned its 11th biogas plant, bringing the company’s total biogas plant power rating to 7.5 megawatts. Located in Putlitz, Germany, the new 700-kilowatt facility will also produce heat for drying grain, and district heating for 300 homes. The plant produces biogas from corn silage, millet, grass and straw. EnviTec Biogas AG, headquartered in Lohne, Germany, said it expects its biogas plant sales to increase from €150 million to €200 million ($193 million to $258 million) during 2009. The company also announced that it has developed a catalytic process for


German biogas business, R&D continues

The Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems has developed a pilot-scale biogas plant, which the institute said is 85 percent efficient for producing heat and electricity from agricultural waste.

reducing formaldehyde in biogas. The technology can be retrofitted to existing EnviTec plants. UTS Biogastechnik GmbH, headquartered in Munich, Germany, has spun off three divisions into separate companies. UTS Biogas GmbH, with offices in Saxony and Bavaria, Germany, will handle German projects; UTS International GmbH will handle international business; and UTS

Products GmbH, located in Lippetal, Germany, will handle product development and production. Schmack Biogas AG has won a €10 million ($13 million) contract from Nawaro Engineering GmbH, a subsidiary of Nawaro BioEnergie AG, to build a plant to process 460,000 metric tons of energy crop fermentation residues per year at Nawaro’s BioEnergie Park Güstrow in Güstrow, Germany. The plant should be operational in November. Finally, the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems has developed a pilot-scale biogas plant that the institute said is 85 percent efficient for producing heat and electricity from agricultural waste. The facility uses enzymatic hydrolysis pretreatment to speed decomposition and fermentation times by 50 percent to 70 percent, and produces 30 percent more biogas. A high-temperature fuel cell converts the biogas to heat and electricity. -Ryan C. Christiansen

Study: 90-billion-gallon RFS achievable Sandia National Laboratories and General Motors Corp. have released a report that indicates a U.S. renewable fuels standard (RFS) mandate of 90 billion gallons of biofuels by 2030 is achievable and sustainable. The report, titled “The 90 Billion-Gallon Deployment Study,” was compiled using a systems dynamic model that analyzed the complete supply chain, including land availability, transportation, storage and conversion processes. Sandia’s Transportation Energy Center Director Bob Carling said the study was centered on ethanol, although other fuels are applicable to the model. The ethanol industry was deemed more mature compared with other biofuels. Carling said the underlying assumption of the study was that if the U.S. is going to invest in new petroleum-based domestic production, it would cost approximately

the same as investing in biomass-based fuel production. The 90-billion gallon ethanol target will require approximately 60 billion gallons of gasoline, one-third of the projected amount of transportation fuel required in 2030. “The projections from the U.S. DOE and others say that in 2030, the country will need about 180 billion gallons of gasoline,” Carling said. West said the purpose of the project was to assess feasibility, implications, limitations and enablers of large-scale biofuel production in the U.S. Middle-of-the-road assumptions were used in the study, rather than the most optimistic or pessimistic. A key conclusion, according to West, was that the production of 45 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year by 2030 would require approximately 480 million tons of dry biomass, less than half of which would come from dedicated energy crops.

“They can be grown on land that is currently idle or being used as pasture as opposed to actively being used as cropland,” he said. “This is assuming technological progress in the conversion processes, resulting in an average yield of 95 gallons of ethanol per ton of dry biomass.” West said Sandia also found that biofuel capital expenditure necessary to achieve 60 billion gallons of total biofuel production capacity per year by 2030 would be approximately $250 billion. “This is large, but quite similar in magnitude to investments required to establish and maintain the equivalent production of domestic petroleum,” he said. The study concluded that cellulosic biofuels can compete with oil priced at $90 per barrel. -Anna Austin



NEWS Biomass-based robot to feed, power itself

In January, more than 100 representatives of countries worldwide congregated in Bonn, Germany, for the founding meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an organization formed to promote a rapid transition toward the global and sustainable use of renewable energy. Seventy-five countries signed IRENA’s founding document. IRENA’s primary objectives include: facilitating access to reliable data on the potential of renewable energy, best practices, effective financial mechanisms and cutting-edge technological expertise; providing practical advice and support for both industrialized and developing nations in order to help them build their regulatory frameworks and building capacities; developing comprehensive solutions that foster all types of renewable energy and consider various renewable energy policies on local, regional and national levels; considering specific environmental, economic and sociocultural conditions; and involving stakeholders from the energy industry, academia, institutions and civil society. Notable speakers at IRENA’s meeting included Andris Piebalgs, energy commissioner for the European Commission; Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, federal minister for Germany’s Economic Cooperation and Development; and Sigmar Gabriel, federal minister for Germany’s Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Representatives from the American Council on Renewable Energy attended the founding meeting of IRENA as an invited observer. The U.S. was represented by a member of the U.S. State Department Embassy in Berlin. Biomass Magazine was unable to confirm whether the U.S. is considering membership in IRENA. “It is a major aim of the member states to involve the U.S. in the new agency,” according to the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The process of establishing key personnel within IRENA is underway. The agency is expected to be functional by summer, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety said.

-Anna Austin

-Bryan Sims



Maryland-based Robotic Technologies Inc. has contracted with Florida-based Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. to develop a biomass engine system capable of obtaining and ingesting biomass to produce energy to power itself. The $850,000 project is a Small Business Innovation Research effort funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Robotic Technologies President Robert Finkelstein described the patent-pending Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, the concept of which was first developed in 2003, as a biologically inspired, organism-like robotic vehicle that finds and processes biomass in a manner similar to eating. Therefore, it won’t need conventional refueling, but is capable of running on convention fuels when needed. The contract with Cyclone Power Technologies consists of two phases. Within six months of the first phase, Cyclone Power Technologies will build and deliver an engine containing a biomass combustion chamber for demonstration purposes. In phase two, the company will build and deliver the biomass trimmer, gatherer and feeder system to work with its engine power source. Through the duration of the project, the EATR will be tested to demonstrate its ability to identify suitable biomass sources of energy, such as wood, grass or paper, and distinguish them from unsuitable materials such as rocks, metal or glass. Its ability to spatially locate and manipulate sources of energy—cutting, shredding to size, grasping, lifting and ingesting—will also be tested, as well as its ability to convert the biomass into sufficient electrical energy. The robotic arm and an end effector will be attached to the robotic mobility platform directly or affixed to a platform towed behind the vehicle. It will have sufficient flexibility, extend sufficiently from the platform, and have a sufficient payload to reach and lift appropriate materials in its vicinity. “The end effector will consist of a multi-fingered hand with sufficient degrees of freedom to grasp and operate a cutting tool, such as a circular saw, to demonstrate an ability to prepare biomass for ingestion, and to grasp and manipulate biomass for ingestion,” Finkelstein said. The robot may generate 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity for every three to 12 pounds of dry vegetation it ingests, which translates to two to eight miles of driving or more than 80 hours of standby. According to Finkelstein, 150 pounds of vegetation could provide sufficient energy for 100 miles of driving. “Our contract with DARPA requires an initial demonstration by April 2010,” Finkelstein said. “We expect to have a prototype EATR vehicle by April 2011. An operational system could be available by 2012 or 2013.”

More than 100 countries attended the first IRENA meeting in Bonn, Germany. Seventy-five countries signed the founding document.

IRENA organizes in Germany


NEWS Sainsbury’s, a U.K. supermarket chain, aims to divert food waste from landfills for fuel and electricity production.

UK to divert food waste from landfill for bioenergy

Royal Cosun, Avantium to further biofuel, bioplastic development

Sainsbury’s, a U.K. supermarket chain, aims to become a zerowaste company by year’s end by processing its food and meat waste into bioenergy. The initiative began in January in Scotland with approximately 42 tons of food waste per week from 28 stores being diverted to make biofuels and electricity. In making the announcement at the Zero Waste Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Jan. 21, Alison Austin, Sainsbury’s environment manager, said each ton diverted from the landfill will generate enough power for 500 homes and save three tons of carbon dioxide compared with fossil fuels. “Scotland is at the forefront of our wider U.K. plan to completely cut out dependence on landfills,” she said. “This is the first step in a plan that will see Sainsbury’s stop using landfills for food waste by this summer and stop using landfills completely by the end of the year.” Sainsbury’s is the first to sign up with long-time renderer PDM Group for both meat and food waste processing. PDM Group developed biomass power technology when the country faced the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad-cow disease) outbreak a decade ago. The company developed bubbling fluidized bed combustion technology capable of destroying the animal proteins in carcasses to be incinerated in BSE eradication efforts. PDM Group opened its first meat and bonemeal combustion plant in Widnes, England, in 2000, and it now handles approximately 2,000 metric tons of food waste per week. The system generates eight megawatts of power to the electrical grid, and supplies steam from a combined-heat-and-power system to an adjacent chemical factory. Along with generating power, the facility extracts and recycles waste vegetable oils for use in its own facility, and supplies oil for biodiesel production to U.K.-based Argent Energy Ltd. PDM Group is expanding its renewable energy capacity in Widnes to handle an additional 100,000 tons of meat and food waste per year, doubling its generating capacity. Construction of a second energy and recycling center at the company’s rendering plant in Nuneaton, England, is expected to be complete in two years. It received permission earlier this year to construct the first of a planned system of anaerobic digesters across the U.K. to handle the anticipated growth in food-waste recycling. The first anaerobic digester, located in Doncaster, England, is expected to begin taking Sainsbury’s food waste in late 2009. The plant will handle approximately 45,000 metric tons of food waste per year with a two-megawatt generating capacity.

Two Netherlands-based companies, Royal Cosun and Avantium, have agreed to collaborate in further developing bioplastics and biofuels from agricultural wastes. Under the collaboration, Royal Cosun, developer, producer and seller of food products and ingredients, will manage the front-end work of selecting, isolating and purifying nonfood carbohydrate streams from unspecified ag wastes. Meanwhile, Avantium will develop a chemically catalyzed back-end process to convert carbohydrates and sugars from cellulose and hemicellulose into what it calls “furanics,” or furan-based compounds, which can then be used as a building block for bioplastics or biofuels production. Gerald van Engelen, business development manager of corporate development for Royal Cosun, told Biomass Magazine that the joint investigation aims to identify a more specific ag-waste stream down the road. “There are a lot of ways to hydrolyze carbohydrates from waste streams,” he said. “We are working to find the best, cheapest way.” Royal Cosun and Avantium began initial discussions approximately three years ago. Those discussions were more “explorative,” van Engelen said. “Then it went quiet for about a year, and then about a year-and-a-half ago, we met again.” Phase one of the collaboration will take two years. Van Engelen said developing a research and development plan will take up to six months of that time, in addition to obtaining research results and determining the feasibility of future work. He acknowledged that this won’t be a quick developmental process. “Exportation of technology resulting from this could take years,” he said. Avantium has been working on the development of furanics for years and described them as “heteroaromatic compounds derived from a key intermediate molecule called HMF, or hydroxylmethyl-furfural.” The company said HMF is the precursor to many valuable building blocks, noting that despite decades of study, an economical approach to producing HMF has yet to be achieved. Through its work though, Avantium said it has found new and improved catalytic routes to specific furanics. The partnering companies also anticipate overcoming the food-versus-fuel issues with first-generation biofuel production, in addition to solving the technical hurdles associated with secondgeneration biofuel production that exist today. -Ron Kotrba

-Susanne Retka Schill



NEWS Stonehedge Bio-Resources Inc. is looking to convert hemp into a viable biomass energy crop. In January, the Ontario-based company received $2 million from U.K. investors to construct an industrial hemp processing facility in Northumberland County, Ontario. According to John Baker, founder and chairman of Stonehedge Bio-Resources, the company has been involved in the plant genetics and breeding of various hemp species for more than a decade, and has been commercializing the crop for myriad industrial uses for the past three years. “We have found that hemp has multiple uses as a biomass crop,” he said. “It can also sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.” Baker anticipates breaking ground for the facility in April or May. Commissioning and start-up could begin within 12 to 15 months after that. The plant may employ up to 27 people within the next two years, he added. Hemp straw would be sourced from an


Stonehedge Bio-Resources to build hemp processing facility

Stonehedge Bio-Resources Inc. is using hemp to produce this replacement to pink fiberglass insulation.

area of 15,000 to 20,000 acres within a 60mile radius of the processing facility. The company’s equipment would be capable of processing approximately seven dry tons per hour, depending on the amount of shifts and downtime needed during its first year of operation. “We are aiming at an output of about 40,000 to 50,000 tons of hemp de-

rived from 17,000 acres in our first year of operation, but it will take time to ramp up,” Baker said. According to Baker, hemp is a desirable biomass feedstock due to its variety of applications in different industries. It could serve as a replacement for pink fiberglass insulation in houses; it could be used to produce “hemcrete,” a biobased masonry composite containing hemp and concrete; and it could be a biodegradable and recyclable fiber-based composite in automobile door panels. Baker said the company will initially market hemp in Canada as a pelletized fuel that could be implemented at coal-fired plants looking to reduce their carbon footprints. Stonehedge Bio-Resources may also look into hemp as a cellulosic ethanol feedstock due to the plant’s inherently high cellulosic value. -Bryan Sims

New York-based energy woodchip supplier Green Energy Resources Inc. recently announced the signing of a two-year, $50 million contract to supply woodchips to an unnamed entity in Sweden. Green Energy Resources will ship the recipient approximately $2 million worth of woodchips each month. According to Joseph Murray, Green Energy Resources president and chief executive officer, the first batch of woodchips would be shipped as soon as the company could secure an icebreaker, a special-purpose ship designed to navigate ice-covered waters. Before the woodchips are exported, they must be treated to kill any pests or insects in the wood. According to Murray, the woodchips that his company is shipping to Sweden must be heat-treated as chemical fumigation is not currently permitted for woodchips bound



Green Energy Resources exports woodchips to Sweden

Green Energy Resources Inc. prepares woodchips for shipment.

for Europe. Green Energy Resources has developed a process to do this. While Murray said he can’t share specific details about the process, he said the real advantage is “it’s relatively inexpensive.”

Regulations require that wood bound for export must be heated to a temperature of 56 degrees Celsius (132.8 degrees Fahrenheit) for a period of 30 minutes, Murray said. In addition, each export shipment of woodchips must gain federal approval from the USDA. “Each time you make a shipment, you have to go through the [approval] process,” he said. According to Murray, the USDA recently approved the company’s first shipment of treated woodchips. Green Energy Resources currently ships woodchips out of Linden, N.J., and has plans to activate its Baltimore port within the next few months. The company is also considering the purchase of at least one woodchip carrier ship -Erin Voegele



Biomass projects receive funds Many different U.S. and Canadian biomass-related projects received funding from governments or private organizations recently. In Wisconsin, the state Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy Program awarded a $200,000 grant to Action Floor Systems LLC, maker and distributor of wood floors such as basketball courts, to replace its natural-gas-fired boiler and old wood boiler with a new wood-fired biomass boiler. Installation, provided by Pennsylvania-based AFS Energy Systems Division Inc., was recently completed. The company uses wood waste from its floor manufacturing business as boiler fuel. The Energy Harvest program and Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program contributed $7.2 million and $6.5 million, respectively, in grants to five biomass projects in Pennsylvania. Southern Alleghenies Conservancy Inc., on behalf of Pleasant View Farms, will receive $480,479 for an anaerobic digester and electrical generation systems. The Indiana County Conservation District will receive $46,950 to increase capacity

of the Brookside Diary anaerobic digester from 80 to 107 kilowatts. The Lackawanna River Basin Sewer Authority will receive $397,961 for two 65-kilowatt micro-turbines to produce electricity from unused anaerobic digestion gas at a wastewater treatment facility. Glendale School District will receive $350,000 for a biomass boiler, and the Snyder County Conservation District will receive $61,356 on behalf of Windview Farm for a manure-combustion, hot-water boiler for poultry barn heating. In Colorado, New Energy Economic Development grants were dispersed through the state Clean Energy Fund. The city of Greeley received $82,489 to perform a feasibility study of the development of a clean energy park that would employ anaerobic digestion, taking in food and ag-processing wastes from businesses in the Western Sugar Tax Increment Financing District. The Colorado Brownfields Foundation received $25,000 to model the use of multiple renewable energy technologies, including biogas generation, from an old landfill in Colorado Springs. The Greater Arkansas River Nature

Association and The Global Biomass Network Project Inc., two Salida, Colo.-based organizations, received $100,000 in matching funds to develop a gasification project at the Chaffee County landfill. The Maine Technology Institute awarded $20,750 in grants for pellet projects, including $12,000 to X Café LLC, which is seeking to pellet leftover coffee grinds from its roasting and extraction facility in Portland, Maine. Thermal Closure LLC received $8,750 to develop a new method of drying wood prior to pelletizing the material. In Canada, the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Community Futures Development Corp. will receive $63,000 under the regional development component of the Eastern Ontario Development Program for a pilot project to produce pellets from agricultural residues and switchgrass for use as industrial boiler fuel. In addition, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is investing $116,375 to research ways that farmers can convert crop residues such as straw into new uses such as fire logs. -Ron Kotrba

Postia placenta, more commonly known as brown-rot fungus, an organism that efficiently colonizes and decays wood, is unique in the way it breaks down woody biomass, according to the U.S. DOE Joint Genome Institute. The fungus can rapidly depolymerize the cellulose in wood without removing the lignin. Now, researchers at the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, Calif., and the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis., have translated the genetic code of the fungus so that its biomass-degrading enzymes might be leveraged to pretreat biomass for the production of biofuels, such as ethanol. According to the institute, the findings explain the biochemistry that makes the thread-like fungi uniquely destructive to wood. The genetic sequence provides


Genetic sequence of brown-rot fungus reveals enzymes

The thread-like Postia placenta fungus ramifies through wood cells.

researchers with a detailed inventory of its biomass-degrading enzymes. “P. placenta has, over its evolution, shed the conventional enzymatic machinery for attacking plant material,” said Dan Cullen, a scientist at the Forest Products Laboratory. “Instead, the evidence suggests that it utilizes an arsenal of small oxidizing agents that blast through plant cell walls to depo-

lymerize the cellulose. This biological process opens a door to more effective, lessenergy intensive and more environmentally sound strategies for more lignocellulose deconstruction.” The DOE and USDA laboratories previously sequenced the genome of white-rot fungi, which simultaneously degrades lignin and cellulose. “For the first time, we have been able to compare the genetic blueprints of brown-rot, white-rot and soft-rot fungi, which play a major role in the carbon cycle of our planet,” said Randy Berka, director of integrative biology at Novozymes Inc. in Davis, Calif., a participant in the study. “Such comparisons will increase our understanding of the diverse mechanisms and chemistries involved in lignocellulose degradation.” -Ryan C. Christiansen



Wood Pellet Prowess

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Sourcing Specifics The WOWP Columbia City operation has annual capacity of 50,000 tons of finished pellets, which requires 100,000 green tons of material coming into the plant for processing. The company uses waste residuals such as saw dust, planar shavings and wood chips from saw milling operations to produce the 120,000 tons of products it annually manufactures, which includes wood pellets, high-energy fire logs and animal bedding.




hen opportunity knocked, Chris Sharron opened the door—and pelletized it. Through sheer motivation and dedication, he has mastered the industry and created a successful business model. In 1981, 18-year-old Sharron and his brother, Francis, moved from Massachusetts to Oregon. His reasons for moving didn’t include an interest in what would eventually become his career. “My dad told me the fishing was great,” Sharron says with a chuckle. “And there was nothing tying me to the East Coast.” After the move, he began working at a forest products equipment manufacturing company that was using some equipment manufactured by Western Oregon Wood Products Inc. “In 1985, the owners of WOWP were talking about getting out of the business and selling it,” Sharron says. “My brother and I, at 22 and 23, had an interest in buying the business. Since I was working for a related business, I came to know them and had the opportunity to purchase it.” The brothers bought the business in 1986 and, since 1999, Chris Sharron has been the sole owner of the company, and now has three manufacturing facilities; two in Columbia City and Banks, Ore., and another in Dillard, Ore., that he owns jointly with Roseburg Forest Products. WOWP has grown from producing 300 tons of products in its first year, to 320,000 tons per year currently.

This trailer tipper is used to dump trailers that are not self-unloading.

Although WOWP still sources from sawmill operations, the lackluster U.S. housing market has prompted them to be on the lookout for other woody biomass sources. “Considering where the sawmill industry is today because of the slump in the housing market the past couple of years, there has been a lot of sawmill closures or curtailments,” Sharron says. “So there is a lot less of the residual product available. We’ve had to start looking—but haven’t had to implement it yet—into other sources, or streams of product directly coming out of the woods such as thinnings or slash from logging operations.” Sharron says used pallets and other urban waste stream wood could also be used in the future. “If the sawmill industry doesn’t get healthy sometime soon, we will be forced to go in that direc-


The Pelletizing Process The wood pelletizing process begins when the wood is hauled to the plant site in tractor-trailer loads. Although some tractor-trailers have live bottoms and are self-unloading, most of them aren’t self-unloading and require the use of a tipper, Sharron says. “This basically takes the trailer, lifts it up and dumps it.” When the company purchases materials the price is based on weight, not volume. Trailers are weighed on industrial scales upon arrival, and are weighed once again after dumping. This is done to calculate the net amount of material that was received, so the company only pays for the wood. Samples are taken from each load and are tested for moisture to determine how much it will cost to dry the green load. Often, the wood residuals that are purchased from green saw milling operations contain some of the natural moisture they held as trees, which can be 50 percent or higher. “On a green ton basis, sometimes we have to buy twice as much tonnage of raw material to get the desired amount of finished product,” Sharron says. “We also burn a portion of that wood at the facilities to generate heat for the drying process, so every bit of wood that comes in is used.” After the weighing process, front-end loaders are used to scoop up the raw material and feed it into bins then the pelletizing process begins. From the bins the material goes onto a conveyer where it’s exposed to large magnets that remove any ferrous metal. The next step is the drying process. “The material enters a rotary drum dryer, which is heated by natural gas, wood or a combination of the two,” Sharron says. Material that exits the dryer is passed over a screen system to pull out chunks of materials that are too large for pelletizing. The

larger chucks fall into a hammer mill and are ground into smaller sizes and the “accepts” in the middle portion of the screen are ready to go right to the pellet mills, Sharron says. The fine portion, which is used to fuel the dryer, is re-circulated to the burner on the dryer and used for in-house fuel. The accepts and hammer-milled material are mixed together before they enter the mills where the pellets are formed. The pellets are formed using heat and pressure. No additives, binders or glue are used in the process, Sharron tells Biomass Magazine. “They exit the mill hot and rather fragile, until we put them through a cooler,” he says. “It’s basically just a system to draw ambient air through the pellets to cool them, and allows them to bind up and prepare them to be packaged.”


tion,” he says. “And even outside of wood, there are other types of products we could use to make pellet fuel.”

Pictured is a bulldozer at WOWP’s Columbia City, Ore., plant’s pile management operations.

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Simple, Yet Challenging Although the pelletizing process is relatively simple, there are several underlying challenges, Sharron says. “Pelletizing pro-

cesses in general are the same,” he says. “A few small things might be done a little bit differently, but it’s essentially the same.” The process involves a series of many components, and material handling between each of those components. The challenge involved, according to Sharron, is to keep all of the components working and moving in the right direction every second, every minute and every hour of every day. All of the WOWP plants operate 24 hours, seven days a week. “It’s an energy-intensive process that results in a rather low-value product, relative

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After the cooling process, the pellets are screened to sift out the fine materials such as dust and small pieces of pellets, which are re-circulated through the mills. The finished pellets go through the packaging system where they are bagged, placed on pallets, stretch-wrapped, put into inventory and ready to be sold.

The finished pellets are bagged, placed on pallets , stretch wrapped and ready to be sold.

to all of the energy that goes into making pellets, and relative to its weight in the end,” Sharron says. “You make some money by producing volume, and this means being in production all the time. So that’s where the challenge is, not unlike any other manufacturing processes, whether you’re making widgets or chocolate chip cookies. Work has to be done minute after minute.” The other big challenge that some wood pelletizing companies face is product seasonality. Most of the products that WOWP sells are used in residential heating applications. “Although we hope to see them develop, our markets are not yet commercial or industrial applications for process steam or power, where every day a customer needs a certain amount of fuel,” Sharron says. “Right now we’re coming out of our season, and we’ll have a long dry spell until next September when that market starts calling for our product again.” To maintain the company’s sources of raw material, keep employees working, and build enough product and inventory to meet the demand in the next season, facilities must run year-round, even in the spring and summer. “Cash

PROFILE flow becomes an issue during those times of year, because we can’t call up sawmills and say we’re done for now, but will call again next September,” Sharron points out. “They’ll find somebody else who will take the stuff year-round, so we have to be consistent—and we can’t lay our people off and expect them to come back the next season.” Furthermore, competition to obtain raw materials can be stiff. “Finding enough raw material to work with every day, with all the sawmill curtailments and closures—it has always been a challenge,” Sharron says. “These markets have always been kind of up and down, and there are competitors for these residuals—not just pellet plants, but particle board plants, pulp mills, nurseries, animal and livestock raising facilities, and horse barns and stalls, which use that type of material. That’s always been a challenge—meeting daily and seasonal needs.”

the pellet shortage headlines. That in turn created a surplus. “It’s frustrating, because the shortage wasn’t as big of a problem as it was made out to be,” he says. “There are cycles that suggest that people need do their homework and make sure there is a market, or they will really suffer with those cash flows and trying to penetrate the market.”

Tour of the Banks Facility Attendees of the 2009 International Biomass Conference & Expo in Portland, Ore., April 28-30, will have the opportunity

to get a first-hand look at WOWP’s pellet plant in Banks. The plant is near a sawmill that is currently not in operation during the off-season. “Attendees will be able to see a rather unique design—the way this plant is so compact—and they will get a good feel for what the whole process entails from the drying operation right through to the pelletizing operation.” Sharron says. BIO Anna Austin is a Biomass Magazine staff writer. Reach her at aaustin@ or (701) 738-4968.

Meeting Demand Not surprisingly, demand fluctuates year to year and influences how much product a pellet producer manufactures. “The residential pellet market has been around since the mid-80s,” Sharron says. “It goes through cycles and has not experienced very steady growth over the past 20-plus years.” When fossil fuel costs rise, people are driven to look for alternative fuels, such as pellets, to heat their homes. During those times, the demand for wood fuel rises. “The next year or the year after that, fossil fuel costs may level out and there isn’t a lot of interest anymore, so things will slow down,” Sharron says. “If someone is looking at getting into this business, they need to consider this.” Sharron remembers when they had a pellet shortage in the western U.S. because some producers expanded their markets and shipped a lot of product to the Midwest and the East Coast. Although the market quickly corrected itself, the next season, fuel was kept closer to home. In the meantime, many new pellet producers came on line basing their decisions on 4|2009 BIOMASS MAGAZINE 29



Pressure-treated and painted, or what is commonly referred to as “dirty” wood, is often off limits for productive reuse and relegated to landfills. Stakeholders in the construction and demolition industries talk about the politics and economics holding back the potential these prolific waste streams possess in the renewable energy sector and, more importantly, what can be done to make use of this resource. By Ron Kotrba






ew Hampshire banned the use of construction and demolition (C&D) waste, whether it’s clean, unadulterated wood waste generated at construction sites or “dirty” wood—the pressure-treated and painted variety of lumber. In Massachusetts there is a moratorium on using C&D waste. In Portland, Ore., the city prohibits any use of painted or pressure-treated woods except in “incidental” quantities. In New York, the state court of appeals shot down an appeal from a biomass plant that wanted to burn clean wood chips in the case of Laidlaw Energy & Environmental Inc. v. Town of Ellicottville. The appellate court upheld the trial court’s refusal to accept the biomass plant status in permitting as being “carbon neutral” because the company did not have a “sustainable fuel source management plan” in place; and the court argued that the distance the chips had to be transported hadn’t been considered in the company’s revelation of the plant’s carbon footprint. Obstacles exist prohibiting the use of dirty wood—and in the Laidlaw case clean wood—in local and state regulations across the United States. Despite these prohibitions on the combustion or burning of these types of materials, the C&D industries keep generating it. So what should be done with all this wood? According to Jim Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Taylor Biomass Energy LLC and head of the Construction Materials Recycling Association, the material received by a C&D facility, where sorting and separating mixed debris occurs, on average is about one-third clean and unadulterated wood; one-third glued and pressed boards; and one-third pressure-treated and painted woods. For Taylor, the politics behind the limited outlets for dirty wood are more than just regulatory in nature. As a businessman, Taylor has personal politics to contend with, and as president of the CMRA he must consider the politics of the industry he represents. His company is expecting to break ground this spring on a state-of-the-art biomass gasification plant in Montgomery, N.Y.


‘From a [British thermal unit] basis, you need 2 tons of whole tree chips per 1 ton of C&D. So there’s actually the potential for more emissions using whole tree chips,’ because twice as much needs to be burned to produce the same amount of energy.

Unlike the oxygen-rich combustion of dirty wood for energy in a boiler or incinerating it at a burn plant, gasification holds a lot of promise for increased utilization of dirty woods. The anaerobic or oxygen-free environment significantly reduces emissions, which is much less costly than controlling emissions at the back end of the plant. “I know many of my industry counterparts are capable of burning or combusting painted or pressure-treated wood,” he says. Even so, Taylor says he’s made a personal choice not to use dirty wood to fuel his new gasification facility. “We wanted to develop the most environmentally sound process out there today and, by keeping pressure-treated and painted woods out, we believe we can do that,” Taylor says. “From our approach, we are voluntarily staying out of the pressure-treated and painted woods market.” He says it’s not a decision based on regulations, or policy. “It’s a personal decision,” Taylor tells Biomass Magazine. “Our waste chronology is to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover the energy content, and landfill or incinerate last. That’s how I drive my business.”

Dangerous Emissions? Shane Carpenter with Continental Biomass Industries Inc., a company in New Hampshire that engineers and sells industrial biomass processing equipment, says even though emissions from gasification are much less abundant and dangerous than effluent from



Continental Biomass Industries classifies C&D wood into “A” and “B” wood categories. “A” is clean, unadulterated wood, and “B” is the pressure-treated or painted, “dirty,” wood. Shown above is the interior of a C&D processing facility where “B” wood is isolated.

combustion or incineration, there is a deficiency in gasification technologies proven to work on a large enough scale to process more than a thousand tons a day. And, with a growth-stunting recession in full swing, the cost is definitely a concern. Tad Wollenhaupt, president of Massachusetts-based Air One Inc., a company that develops industrial dust and odor control systems, says to build a 200-plus ton per day gasification plant it could cost more than $100 million.

“For these projects it is about economics—that’s my opinion,” Wollenhaupt says. Carpenter adds to this, saying, “Economics is a big factor, yes, but we probably have not focused enough on the politics involved, the local politics. People are saying, ‘I don’t want this stuff being burned in my backyard.’ I think there’s this feeling that the emissions coming from utilizing this type of dirty wood are very dangerous.”




“Hogged� fuel is shredded up wood that gets its name from the hog grinder that processes it.

In September 2007, the University of New Hampshire published a comprehensive paper on the life-cycle analyses of C&D woods, in which the authors leveraged existing research along with data from Greg Wirsen of Green Seal Environmental Inc. to profile the emissions from clean and dirty C&D woods in different applications. “A facility with an advanced air pollution control system combusting 10 percent C&D derived biomass mixed with virgin wood had lower dioxin emissions than a facility combusting 100 percent virgin wood,� the authors wrote. “Furthermore, the levels of arsenic and dioxin emissions were well below levels found at municipal solid waste combustors and below all applicable regulations.� Arsenic is used when manufacturing pressure-treated wood, and is one of the concerns about using that material. In addition, the UNH study cited University of Maine test data that compared emissions from burning three different concoctions of fuel: 100 percent clean wood; 90 percent clean wood with 10 percent C&D wood and “penta (PCP)-treated� wood; and


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FEEDSTOCK 50 percent “penta (PCP)-treated” wood and 50 percent C&D wood. “In all cases, the stack emissions during the trial burns were far below Maine’s ambient air guidelines and New Hampshire stack emission limits,” the UNH paper states. A facility equipped with an advanced emissions control system combusting 10 percent C&D wood with 90 percent virgin wood had levels of arsenic and dioxin emissions “well below” levels detected at municipal solid waste (MSW) combustion plants “and below all applicable regulations.” “From a [British thermal unit] basis, you need 2 tons of whole tree chips per 1 ton of C&D,” Wirsen says. “So there’s actually the potential for more emissions using whole tree chips,” because twice as much needs to be burned to produce the same amount of energy.

New Ways to Use an Old Problem Taylor, who has decided to exclude pressure-treated and painted woods from his commercial-scale gasification plant once

it is operational, says he will still use woods with creosote and glue, and he has a plan to deal with the dirty wood. “We’re going to find new uses for pressure-treated and painted wood in a new wood product,” he says. “We’re finding another recycling avenue for pressure-treated and painted woods.” When asked for specifics, Taylor says, “Talk with me again in three months.” Perhaps one avenue for these materials is to chip them up and, with the application of glue, make press board. In places like Maine, where Wirsen says some pulp and paper mills with the right pollution controls can burn dirty wood— “hogged fuel” as it’s called because the wood is ground up in a “hog” grinder—the solution could very well be dilution. Wollenhaupt backs this up in reference specifically to MSW-to-energy plants. “You could mix C&D wood into these trash-to-energy plants and gain some energy value out of it,” Wollenhaupt says. “That’s a whole different industry,” Carpenter says, referring to MSW plants. “May-

be they’re slow in wanting to commingle their solid waste with the wood we’re talking about but I think a mixture would be great. And I think it would really alleviate a lot of questions as to where this wood should go. Ultimately we could really sort of loosen up some of the restrictions and get some of these MSW plants onboard—and there’s like 70 or 80 of them around the country. If we started looking at what they could do with some of this material, it would help to alleviate some of the strain these C&D process facilities have on them; specifically the transportation costs that are included with having to get rid of this material—it’s huge. But we’re not there yet. It would be great to create some conversation between these waste-to-energy facilities and the recycling associations—the CMRA—about creating a fuel that would make sense for both entities.” BIO Ron Kotrba is a Biomass Magazine senior writer. Reach him at rkotrba@bbiinternational .com or (701) 738-4942.

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OF BIOGAS There has never been a prohibition against innovation. Breweries, distilleries and related industries are using biomass and waste to produce renewable energy. By Ryan C. Christiansen 4|2009 BIOMASS MAGAZINE 37


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hirty miles north of New Orleans, the Tammany Trace recreational trail with its 31 bridges travels over bayous, streams and rivers, marking the path of the former Illinois Central Railroad along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. One stop along the trail is Abita Springs, La., the home of Abita Brewing Co., where you can pass through French doors to the tasting room to enjoy sample quaffs of Abita, Jockamo, Purple Haze, Restoration, Turbodog, Andygator, Abbey Ale, or one of several seasonal brews, a choice of harvest brews, or even root beer—all brewed using natural spring water from the Southern Hills Aquifer. If you choose to tour the 49,000-square-foot facility, brewery President David Blossman might show you how the brewery makes its beer—and how it converts brewery waste into renewable energy. Founded in 1986, Abita Brewing says it is the 30th largest commercial brewer in the nation. In 2008, the company expected to exceed 85,000 barrels of production and $16.5 million in revenue. Beer is brewed by first milling malted barley into grist to expose starches in the grain. The grist is then mixed with warm water to make mash. Enzymes in the mash convert starches to sugars. Sugary wort is then drained and the leftover mash is sprayed with hot water to sparge the remaining wort from the mash. The wort is then boiled with hops and run through a whirlpool to remove solid proteins and hops fibers. The wort is then cooled and fermented into beer using yeast. As the beer ages, the yeast settles and is drained off. Finally, the beer is filtered to produce a finished product. During the brewing process, anything that isn’t put into a keg or bottled is considered waste, including spent grain, spent hops, sugars, proteins and yeast.

“We have a lot of yeast because we make a lot more yeast than we can use,” Blossman says. Specialty brews that rely on raspberry puree or strawberry juice for flavor also produce waste from those ingredients. “And when we’re filtering and filling, we lose actual beer, too,” he says. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, which is why Abita Brewing is turning waste into energy. A portion of the waste Abita Brewing produces is turned into energy in the form of animal feed. Proteins from the brewery waste are mixed with spent grains and sold to a local dairy farmer. The rest “goes down the drain,” Blossman says, but not into a sewer. Instead, the waste is fed to a 570,000-gallon Siemens Water Technologies anaerobic digester, which can convert 75,000 gallons of brewery waste per day into biogas. The methane-rich gas is then fed to the brewery’s boiler, displacing the need for fossil fuel natural gas. Installed in April 2008, the system currently processes 45,000 gallons of brewery waste per day and produces 490 million cubic feet of biogas each month. Blossman says he is pleased with how well the digester works. “So far, we have been very successful in the quality of the gas,” he says. “We have tested it three or four times and every time it shows us that we have about 92 percent methane, which is incredible. We have a very clean gas.” Blossman notes that biogas can be very corrosive. “Ours isn’t, but we still go through the steps of drying it and putting it through an iron sponge, which is designed to take out any of the natural acids that are in the gas, which keeps it from pitting the steel of our boilers,” he says. Prior to installing the digester, Abita Brewing used an aerobic system to treat wastewater, Blossman says. “It was a good system and it worked,” he says, “but we were outgrowing the system pretty quickly, and so we

INDUSTRY needed to add capacity. And when we decided to add capacity, we decided to change technologies and go to an anaerobic system.” Besides being able to capture and Blossman use biogas, moving to an anaerobic digester has provided Abita Brewing with additional benefits: the system requires less manpower, less energy and it smells better, too.

“In an aerobic system, you have a population of bugs that actually grow a lot more,” Blossman says. “It’s like yeast, it keeps growing and growing and you have to constantly take solids out of the system and dewater them, whereas in the anaerobic system, you don’t have nearly the growth of the bugs. “The other thing is that it requires a lot less energy,” he says. “The aerobic system had these huge air blowers to stimulate the aerobic bacteria and that required energy. “And I like the fact that it is totally sealed and we have an odor recovery sys-

y MillerCoors Sees theBeaut of Anaerobic Digesters

Anaerobic digesters are also being used at much larger breweries. The MillerCoors LLC Shenandoah Brewery in Elkton, Va., produces 7 million barrels of beer annually. The brewery also produces waste, which is fed to two ADI Systems Inc. anaerobic digesters at the facility. The first 6 million gallon digester was built in 1994 and the second 12 million gallon unit was built in 2000, according to Graham Brown, president of ADI Systems. Brown says the biogas produced by the digesters is fed to the brewery’s boilers and heat is recycled back into the digesters, “which makes the digesters work better,” he says, “and which reduces energy requirements. The beauty of it is they don’t use conventional fuel to supply the heat to the digesters. They use the digesters’ own energy to do that.” MillerCoors completed a $300 million upgrade and expansion of its modern brewery in 2007 and has now awarded a contract to ADI Systems Inc. to design and build an aerobic membrane bioreactor there to treat the effluent from the digesters. The new system, which will replace the existing conventional activated sludge system at the site, will help MillerCoors meet new, stricter ni-

trogen and phosphorous discharge limits that are being established to reduce the nutrient load on nearby Chesapeake Bay. The new bioreactor will be able to treat 2.5 million gallons of effluent per day and is expected to be fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2009. Brown says the membrane bioreactor is smaller, more reliable, and produces cleaner effluent than conventional aerobic treatment systems. While conventional systems rely on gravity to separate bacteria from water, the new system filters bacteria out of the water by pulling effluent through membranes. “When you rely on gravity, occasionally, the solids don’t separate well,” Brown says, “because they weigh slightly more than water, and so you’re talking about a delicate balance in the settling velocity inside the tank. [A membrane] is more reliable, because you’re relying on a physical barrier that bacteria can’t penetrate. You get a very clean discharge.” The polished water produced using a good conventional aerobic treatment system might have 20 milligrams of solids per liter, Brown says. Using membranes, “you have essentially zero,” he says.


INDUSTRY tem, and so we’re better neighbors now,” he says. “When an aerobic system is operating perfectly, you won’t have much of a smell, but inevitably you do—I know from experience that you do—whereas with this system, we haven’t had one complaint from a neighbor. You just don’t smell it, because everything is enclosed. Anything that you’re losing, you don’t want to lose, because that’s gas and you want to keep it.” Switching from an aerobic to an anaerobic treatment system wasn’t cheap. Blossman says the anaerobic digester cost Abita approximately $1.5 million, whereas a similar-sized aerobic system would have been $900,000 or less. “But in the long run, we thought it was a better fit for us,” Blossman says. “We liked the idea of using our own gas. We try to be as green as we can around here and we have had the luxury of being in business for 23 years and so we can do these kinds of things. If we had tried to do it 15 or 20 years ago, we


wouldn’t have had the resources to do it. But now, we don’t have to be as picky about our payback.”

Bacardi Limited Breweries aren’t the only ones recycling waste for energy. Distilleries, too, are producing energy along with spirits. Bacardi Limited, which has 31 plants around the world, makes Bacardi rum, Grey Goose vodka, Dewar’s blended scotch whiskey, Bombay Sapphire gin, Cazadores tequila and more. The company also produces energy. According to Stephen Harvey, global environment, health and safety director for Bacardi, the company has patented its own technology for using anaerobic digestion to treat rum distillery wastewater and to produce energy from biogas. The company has licensed its technology to several other companies, including Cervecería India Inc. in Puerto Rico and Brugal & Co., C. por A. in Santo Domingo.

Harvey says the company’s first anaerobic digester was commissioned in 1982 at Bacardi’s largest distillery in Cataño, Puerto Rico, with additional digesters built in 1992, 2000 and 2003. The system, engineered by Black & Veatch Holding Co., treats 1.2 million gallons of still bottoms, unfermented molasses and water from the distillery each day and has the capacity to treat 2 million. The 7 million cubic meters of biogas produced annually is fed to boilers to make steam, which is used in the distillery to make rum. “Last year, the Cataño plant derived more than 30 percent of its energy requirements from naturally created biogas,” Harvey says. “[We] avoided consuming more than 5 million liters of nonrenewable fuel oil, which would have generated more than 16,000 metric tons of CO2. The distillery is currently investing nearly $7 million to build a cogeneration facility, which will produce electricity from the biogas, to further enhance the site’s energy efficiency and lower its carbon footprint.” Another Bacardi facility that uses anaerobic digestion is the Martini & Rossi plant in Pessione, Italy, near Turin, which produces 12 million cases per year and is Bacardi’s largest bottling operation. Harvey says the system, which was engineered by Biotechnical Processes International Ltd., was commissioned in 1998 to treat wastewater produced during blending, filtration, clarification and bottling operations, mostly from washing equipment. The wastewater contains sugars, vermouth, alcohol and other dissolved organics. The system treats 200,000 gallons per day at capacity. The 180,000 cubic meters of biogas produced annually is fed to a cogeneration facility that produces electricity and hot water. The electricity powers the wastewater treatment system and also the production area. The hot water supplies 50 percent of the heat for the treatment system. Overall, the Martini & Rossi operation is renewable intensive, where “92.5 percent of operational waste is recycled,” Harvey says, “including solids such as paper, wood, glass, cartons, metal and plastic.” A third Bacardi facility with an anaerobic digester is Gemini Distillers, a Bacardi


A Cocktail of Renewable Energy Projects City Brewing Co. LLC: This beverage production and packing company in LaCrosse, Wis., packages 50 million cases of beverages each year. Work began in January to install a $3 million, 3 million kilowatthour combined-heat-and-powerunit to generate electricity from biogas produced by the brewery’s existing anaerobic digester, used for wastewater treatment. Historically, the biogas has been flared. Electricity will be fed to the grid and used to offset power needs for the Gundersen Lutheran health system facility. Heat will be used to heat the digester. Combination of Rothes Distillers Ltd.: This consortium of Scotch whiskey companies—with brands including Cutty Sark, Chivas Regal, Glen Grant, Old Pulteney, Crown Royal and Ben Riach—is planning to build a £35 million ($45 million), 7.2 megawatt biomassfired combined-heat-and-powerplant in Morayshire, Scotland. The plant will be built around Helius Energy PLC’s proprietary GreenFields- and GreenSwitch-branded processes to convert draff, pot ale and woodchips into heat and electricity. The target for completion is late 2010 or early 2011.

partner, in Nanjangud, India. Gemini supplies alcohol to Bacardi, and Bacardi owns and operates a distillation unit there to produce rum. The anaerobic digester was commissioned in 1990 to treat 110,000 gallons of still bottoms per day, with capacity to treat 130,000. The 3 million cubic meters of biogas produced annually is burned to generate high-pressure steam to power a turbine to generate 90 percent of the distillery’s electricity. Exhaust steam is used to distill rum. The system originally was a fixed-film, random media technology built by Shakthi Sugars Ltd., later changed to an

Koda Energy LLC: A cooperative venture between Rahr Malting Co., which produces malts for the brewing industry, and the Minnesota-based Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, started producing energy in February at its $60 million, 24-megawatt biomass power facility in Shakopee, Minn. The primary feedstock is oat hulls from General Mills Inc. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.: This Chico, Calif., brewery has partnered with E-Fuel Corp. to use Efuel 100 MicroFuelers to make ethanol from brewery waste. Testing will begin in the second quarter of 2009. The Edrington Group: Distillers of The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and other brands, are backing Scottish Bioenergy Cooperative Ventures Ltd., a company in St. Cyrus, Scotland that builds, sells and operates photobioreactors for capturing carbon dioxide emissions to grow algae feedstock for the production of biodiesel. Scottish Bioenergy plans to build a photobioreactor at Glenturret Distillery in Crieff, Scotland, capable of converting 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide into 6,000 liters (1,600 gallons) of biodiesel per year.

arranged media technology built by Lars Enviro Pvt. Ltd. “All three sites benefit from deriving a stable source of energy from what would otherwise be a waste stream,” Harvey says. “Biogas is a sustainable form of renewable energy that helps Bacardi reduce its carbon footprint with the added benefit of providing the sites cost stability at a time when fossil fuel prices have seen considerable fluctuation.” BIO Ryan C. Christiansen is a Biomass Magazine staff writer. Reach him at rchristiansen@ or (701) 373-8042. 4|2009 BIOMASS MAGAZINE 41




Louisiana Paper Plant Adapts For Biomass The complete replacement of a fuel delivery system provided a Louisiana paper manufacturing facility with the biomass-based renovation it needed. By Trotter Hunt


biomass boiler at a Louisiana paper manufacturing facility was recently renovated. The project included the complete replacement of the fuel receiving, storage and retrieval systems for a wood-fired boiler. The four-year project began by

scope and estimate, which culminated in the client obtaining the necessary funding to proceed with the project. In addition to the project’s detailed engineering, Ruston, La.-based Hunt, Guillot & Associates, through its on-site services division, also provided construction management and

The facility owners believe that as biomass fuel use increases, the ability to receive rougher or less-processed material will allow it to obtain fuel at competitive prices. performing a study of the existing fuel delivery system at the plant. Material handling specialists analyzed the capability of the existing system, identified the bottlenecks and recommended solutions to increase the ability to deliver more fuel to the boiler while providing better storage and material retrieval options. While there were some gains to be had by modification of the existing system, the long-term solution to meeting the client’s desired feed rate to the boiler was a complete replacement of the fuel delivery system. This study formed the basis of a funding grade

start-up expertise to the client’s project management team.

The Project’s Scope Hunt, Guillot & Associates was selected to perform the detailed engineering for the new fuel handling and delivery system. As the facility was an existing operation, the site selected for the new system was remote from the boiler, thus necessitating long conveyor lengths to deliver material to the boiler. The design was for the system to be able to process and store 150 tons per hour of incoming wood material, in addition to handling and

storing the plant-generated material on a 2 million-cubic-foot storage pile. The storage pile was sized to provide the plant with approximately 10 days of onsite storage, available to be processed and ready for retrieval for the boiler. The plant’s owners stipulated the ability to be able to process a wide variety of incoming quality of materials. The facility was already receiving material from in-woods grinding operations, bark from offsite wood yards, saw mill waste and wood chips. The facility owners believe that as biomass fuel use increases, the ability to receive rougher or less-processed material will allow it to obtain fuel at competitive prices. Engineers successfully designed the receiving system to be able to handle the receipt of materials ranging from finely ground sawdust to blocks 108 inches long. The chains in the oversized truck dump hopper were equipped with a variable speed drive that allowed the unloading time to be decreased when better quality material was received. Engineers also specified wide conveyor belts with skirted side boards to minimize spillage. Conveyor head boxes were sized to allow the extra length materials the ability to transition between the conveyors. A scalping screen was installed ahead of the grinder. However, the grinder was

The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).




The foundation design included provisions for the 2 million-cubic-foot stacker reclaimer that was supported on 70-foot deep auger cast piles.

sized to process the full 150 tons per hour of material. Metal detection and removal capability was designed into the system. The major components of the system included a new truck dumper, screen and grinder, a circular stacker reclaimer and all of the interconnecting conveyors to supply the biomass to a new fuel bin in the boiler building. The reclaim system was designed to retrieve, weigh and deliver 80 tons per hour of fuel to the boiler, utilizing an over-pile chain reclaimer, and conventional idler belt and air-supported belt technology. The bark reclaim conveyor, at 750 feet long, also provided an emergency feed hopper to allow the plant to continue to feed fuel to the boiler. It also provided a magnet for secondary tramp metal removal and the scale to provide the weight of the material supplied to the boiler.


The 1,250-foot long air-supported belt is one of the longest continuous spans in the country. It was routed through the middle of the operational pulp and paper mill. Air-supported belt technology utilizes a cushion of air to support the belt and the conveyed material on the carry side of the belt. It also uses a cushion of air on the return side of the belt, resulting in a conveyor with only five rollers for its entire length. The cable tower technology that is utilized to support the air-supported belt allows for a maximum of 250 feet between towers. This allowed the entire 1,250-foot length of the conveyor to be installed with only six intermediate supports between the heat and tail. Use of this technology resulted in substantial savings to the plant in reduced amounts of support steel and installation labor. Hunt, Guillot & Associates’ engineering and purchasing groups issued equipment specifications, proposed bidders lists and inquired the equipment for the plant, supplying bid tabulations and recommending vendors. The project’s foundation design included an elevated concrete structure to support the 800 horsepower grinder, the foundation and access ramp for the 75-foot truck dump platform, and the foundation design for the 2 million-cubic-foot stacker reclaimer that was supported on 70-foot deep auger cast piles. Plant power was received at 13,800 volts at a new electrical control room and distributed to end users. Programmers supplied the necessary programmable logic controllers (PLC) programming to operate the systems, interfaced with other PLC-based systems, designed the graphics for the operator control station and interfaced with the plant’s existing distributed control network.

Construction Expertise in construction management was provided to the project

management team at the beginning of the construction phase of the project. The primary effort was to provide for coordination of the multiple contractors and sub-contractors involved in the construction, thus ensuring that the project schedule would be met and result in a successful start-up. An onsite controls engineer and programmer were also provided during the start-up sequencing to immediately resolve any control issues. The efforts resulted in

the project being completed with no unplanned operational interruptions to the facility. Start-up was on schedule and done safely. BIO Trotter Hunt is the relationship manager at Hunt, Guillot & Associates LLC. Reach him at or (318) 2515929.



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Fungibility 101 Fungibility is a word rarely heard on the street, but it is common verbiage in the oil refining industry. It refers to the ease with which two fuels can be blended together without raising concerns about how the blended fuel will behave in pipelines, tanks and engines. Two fuels with similar chemistries are likely to be fungible with each other, while two fuels with different chemistries are less likely to be fungible. For an example of how fungibility plays out in the marketplace, consider ethanol and gasoline. While they’re both viable spark ignition engine fuels, each has its own unique set of properties. Gasoline is a mixture of hundreds of individual molecules containing carbon and hydrogen, and ethanol is a single molecule containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The presence of oxygen—in combination with ethanol’s small molecular size—gives ethanol chemical properties that differ sufficiently from those of gasoline to result in a major fungibility issue. Although we’ve got lots of favorable experience with gasolineethanol blends in automobile tanks and engines that were designed to accommodate these two fuels, pipelines were designed to accommodate only gasoline and other hydrocarbon fuels. Pipeline operators are generally reluctant to transport ethanol because of the possibility that its unique chemistry may pose a corrosion risk. The viability of pipelining ethanol has been studied and debated for years, and defendable arguments have been made on both sides of the issue. However, until sufficient data and experience are acquired to definitively establish its viability, pipelining ethanol is unlikely to be as widely practiced as pipelining gasoline. Regardless of how the issue is eventually resolved, it vividly illustrates the difficulty of introducing a new, chemically different fuel into the commercial marketplace, and the importance of real and/ or perceived fungibility issues with the new fuel. Because resolving fungibility issues is expensive and time-consuming, many renewable fuel developers are focused on the development of biofuels that match the chemistry of their petroleum-derived counterparts as closely as possible. Petroleum refin-

ers interested in biofuels are also interested in fungibility, because fungible biofuels enable maximum leverage of high-capital-investment fuel production and distribution infrastructure. One example of the fungibility-driven biofuels development work ongoing around the world is a partnership between the Energy & Environmental Research Center and Tesoro Companies Inc., a San Antonio-based oil refiner with seven refineries in the western U.S. One of Tesoro’s refineries is located in Mandan, N. D. The EERC and Tesoro recently Aulich initiated a project to figure out how best to integrate renewable oil- and petroleumrefining technologies at the Mandan refinery. The project will utilize upper Midwest-grown crop oil feedstocks including crambe, a drought-tolerant oilseed with demonstrated viability throughout western North Dakota and the surrounding region. Unlike soybeans, canola and other oilseeds, crambe produces an industrial (non-food-grade) oil, and it grows well with lower fertilizer and pesticide inputs. Another feedstock to be utilized is camelina, a lowinput oilseed well-suited to the more arid regions of the northern Great Plains and an excellent rotational crop with a short growing season. The project goal is to tailor EERC-developed renewable oil-refining technologies as necessary to achieve maximum efficiency compatibility with Tesoro’s petroleum refining technologies, thereby helping to reduce Tesoro’s carbon footprint by producing commercial, renewable, fungible fuels. While fungibility is important in automobile fuel, it’s even more important in aviation fuel. In the words of an old stunt pilot, “When your engine stops on the highway, you pull over onto the shoulder and call somebody. When your engine stops in the air, it can ruin your whole day.” BIO Ted Aulich is a senior research manager at the EERC. Reach him at or (701) 777-2982.




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Biomass Magazine - April 2009  

April 2009 Biomass Magazinie

Biomass Magazine - April 2009  

April 2009 Biomass Magazinie