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“The ABS provided the right mix of industry, academia, and interested investors, committed to building and expanding the role of algae in biofuels, feeds, and products. Collaborations and partnerships developed at ABS will influence the field and industry for decades to come.” Ryan Dorland, Ph.D., Cellana LLC

“This conference is at the forefront of the latest and most-up-and-coming industry. From exhibitors, to speakers, to attendees, the conference bridged the gap between the unknown and achievable.” Erica Mason, M-E-C Company


06 EDITOR’S NOTE Where the Biomass Story Begins 2013 Algae BIomass Summit


2013 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo 13 2014 International Biomass Conference & Expo


Biomass Industry Directory


Biomass Power Map


Bruks Rockwood


CPM Roskamp Champion






Himark bioGas


Hurst Boiler & Welding Co. Inc.


Jeffrey Rader Corporation



CPM Wolverine Proctor, LLC

Fagen Inc.

By Tim Portz



McBurney Corp.


MEGTEC Systems Inc.


Pellet Mill Magazine


PHG Energy


RUD Chain




Vecoplan LLC


West Salem Machinery Co.


Williams Crusher


POWER 10 NEWS 11 COLUMN Prime Time for Tax Parity By Bob Cleaves

12 COLUMN Meeting the Multiple-Source Feedstock Challenge By Joshua J. Stanislowski

14 FEATURE Preparation Protocol To ensure it meets boiler specs, Koda Energy’s fuel is processed and refined at two sites before it reaches a cogeneration plant. By Anna Simet COPYRIGHT © 2013 by BBI International

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) August 2013, Vol. 7, Issue 8. Biomass Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biomass Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.

22 PELLETS 20 NEWS 21 COLUMN Maine Follows New Hampshire’s Fuel-Switching Lead


Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling

By Bill Bell

22 FEATURE Keeping Pace with Pellet Trade Georgia’s Port of Brunswick is one of many ports expanding and upgrading to meet explosive pellet export demands. By Tim Portz





The Largest Biomass Conference in North America

THERMAL 26 NEWS 27 COLUMN How the BTU Act Will Change the Industry By Joseph Seymour

March 24-26, 2014 Orlando, FL


28 NEWS 29 COLUMN Biogas as a Transportation Fuel: A Strong Start By Amanda Bilek

32 ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS 30 NEWS 31 COLUMN Cooperation Drives the Algae Opportunity By By Mary Rosenthal

32 FEATURE The Cornerstones of Advanced Biofuels Recent breakthroughs in biomass pretreatment may help lower biofuel production costs. By Chris Hanson

Biomass Power & Thermal | Pellets | Biogas | Advanced Biofuels

At the 2013 event in Minneapolis…

100% of the exhibitors

positively rated the quality of the entire conference On the Cover: Koda Energy's Mike Marsollek and Stacy Cook stand in front of the covered feedstock pile at the Shakopee, Minn., handling and preparation facility.

August 2013



Koda Energy’s Proprietary Fuel Prep Process Page 14


Breakthroughs in Biomass Pretreatment

96% of exhibitors

made valuable contacts

“I will go again next year & I will get more sales directly from contacts made at this conference.” – Justin C. Miller, Scott Equipment

“Great show to attend. Excellent opportunity to network with industry execs and professionals as well as catch up on industry topics and developments.” – Matt Weidner, Weidcom

“This is a ‘must attend’ event if you are developing biomass to energy projects. All the burning issues were covered in the conference and the important equipment of exhibitors would recommend providers have an expo booth.” this conference – Guillermina Perez del Castillo, Abengoa


Page 32


The Port of Brunswick Transforms for Pellet Trade Page 24

866-746-8385 |




Where the Biomass Story Begins In mid-June, a powerful summer storm tore through large swaths of Minneapolis, wreaking havoc on the city’s urban forests. Downed limbs and trees littered the city’s boulevards and interrupted power service for tens of thousands of homes. The echoes of TIM PORTZ the storm still reverberate at Ft. SnelVICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR ling, where a wood waste-handling cility accepts truck after truck of fallen trees. To almost anyone else, the accumulated piles would seem to present the city with a massive disposal problem, but standing amidst the detritus with Mike Marsollek, Koda Energy’s director of supply chain, eyeing the front-end loaders and tub grinders working the pile, a carefully orchestrated process reveals itself. For him, the site holds only one thing: future Btus. The process to wring the energy from this tangle is a simple one. The art and science of mechanically preparing wood residue streams for delivery to a boiler are well-developed, and as Anna Simet’s feature, “Preparation Protocol” (page 14) illustrates, are vital aspects to the profitable operation of any facility making heat and power from biomass. But what about the incredible potential for biomass streams to contribute to liquid fuel and chemical markets? If this industry is going to establish itself as a relevant contributor to these markets, grab real market share, and deliver on its promise as a source for environmentally benign fuels and chemicals, the processes that prepare biomass streams for later conversion must become as well-understood by industry pros as mechanical pretreatment is by Marsollek. In a continuation of this issue’s focus on pretreatment and material preparation, Chris Hanson’s feature “The Cornerstones of Advanced Biofuels” (page 32) catches up with a sampling of the industry’s research efforts in the pretreatment approaches being pursued to unlock the soluble sugars bound up in miscanthus, sugarcane bagasse, corn stover and other abundant biomass streams. His feature digs into the work researchers around the world are conducting to find a pathway to the cost-effective pretreatment of these recalcitrant feedstocks, so their potential as fuel and chemical inputs can be realized. This issue of Biomass Magazine provides evidence that the key to widespread deployment of biomass-to-energy production lies in the perfection of the very first conversion step that a feedstock stream undergoes. The challenge now lies in bringing the commercial viability of pretreatment enjoyed by the heat-and-power sector to our industry’s fuel and chemical endeavors.



ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elizabeth Burslie


EXTERNAL EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Shane Chrapko, Himark Biogas Stacy Cook, Koda Energy Benjamin Anderson, University of Iowa Gene Zebley, Hurst Boiler Andrew Held, Virent Inc. Kyle Goerhing, Eisenmann Corp. Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for any country outside of the United States, Canada and Mexico. To subscribe, visit or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-7465367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or Advertising Biomass Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Biomass Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 701-746-8385 or Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Contributions Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.


National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo September 10-12, 2013

CenturyLink Center Omaha Omaha, Neb. Proving Pathways. Building Capacity. Produced by BBI International, this national event will feature the world of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals—technology scale-up, project finance, policy, national markets and more—with a core focus on the industrial, petroleum and agribusiness alliances defining the national advanced biofuels industry. Register by August 20th and save $200 on conference registration rates. 866-746-8385 |

Algae Biomass Summit

September 30-October 3, 2013 Hilton Orlando Orlando, Fla. This dynamic event unites industry professionals from all sectors of the world’s algae utilization industries including, but not limited to, financing, algal ecology, genetic systems, carbon partitioning, engineering & analysis, biofuels, animal feeds, fertilizers, bioplastics, supplements and foods. 866-746-8385 |

International Biomass Conference & Expo March 24-26, 2014

Orlando Convention Center Orlando, Fla. Organized by BBI International and coproduced by Biomass Magazine, the International Biomass Conference & Expo program will include 30-plus panels and more than 100 speakers, including 90 technical presentations on topics ranging from anaerobic digestion and gasification to pyrolysis and combined heat and power. This dynamic event unites industry professionals from all sectors of the world’s interconnected biomass utilization industries—biobased power, thermal energy, fuels and chemicals. 866-746-8385 |

International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 9-12, 2014

Indiana Convention Center Indianapolis, Ind. Celebrating its 30th year, the FEW provides the global ethanol industry with cuttingedge content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-tobusiness environment. The FEW is the largest, longest running ethanol conference in the world—and the only event powered by Ethanol Producer Magazine. 866-746-8385 |



Professor recognized for biofuel work Fengqi You, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern You’s research University, received the has been widely published in 2013 Northwesternacademic journals. Argonne Early Career Investigator Award for Energy Research. You was selected for the honor due to his proposal to investigate the design and optimization processes and supply chains for advanced drop-in hydrocarbon biofuels. He will receive $100,000 over three years. Wisconsin construction firm adds superintendent Construction management firm CG Schmidt Inc. has added Tim Williamson to

its Madison, Wis., office as superintendent. Williamson’s responsibilities will include maintaining the overall project schedule, overseeing project quality and safety, and supervising all work on-site. His first project with the firm will be the Springfield Digester, the second community anaerobic digestion system in Dane County, Wis. Williamson has 11 years of onsite management experience as both a project manager and superintendent.

three years to advance progress on his discovery of a process for making biobased plastics and chemicals. Dauenhauer and his team will use inorganic catalysts, such as low-cost zeolites in high-temperature processes for converting wood, grasses and agricultural byproducts into monomers to make plastics and chemicals through rapid, nonbiological methods.

Engineer wins DuPont award Paul Dauenhauer, a University of Massachusetts Amherst chemical engineer, has been awarded with the 2013 DuPont Dauenhauer’s Young Professors research is focused Program. He will on biochemical receive $75,000 over and bioplastic

BioPower Operations adds executive BioPower Operations Corp. has added Marco A Baez-Vasquez to its team as its first chief scientist and chief technology officer. Baez-Vasquez joins the company after having tested and verified for commercial purposes BioPower’s patented technology to convert biomass, farm and organic wastes into class A fertilizer, ethanol



and other bio-based products. In his new position, Baez-Vasquez will be responsible for managing technology and technological innovation, transfer and sub-licensing, as well as directing partnerships and collaborations. He has operational technological management experience gleaned from various positions within the biotechnology, biopharma, life-sciences, chemical, renewable energy, and agrifood research sectors. European Bioplastics elects board members The General Assembly of European Bioplastics has elected new board members. Francois de Bie of Purac will serve

de Bie

as the board’s chairman, while Mariagiovanna Vetere of Natureworks and Stefano Facco of Novamont will serve as vice-chairpersons. Additional members of the board include Jürgen Keck of BASF, Peter Brunk of Biotec, Rainer Schweda of Braskem and Johnny Pallot of Roquette.



Grant writer recognized Sarah Aubrey, principal and owner of Indiana-based Prosperity Consulting LLC has been awarded the Indiana Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award. Prosperity Consulting is a full-service funding

opportunities firm that aids corporations, communities and other groups with obtaining funds through the use of government or foundation programs. Aubrey plans to Aubrey is a certified publish a new book grant administrator and this year. has written more than 400 successful grants in 38 states. The majority of her clients pursue projects related to renewable energy, energy efficiency or energy technologies. Aubrey will also publish a book later this year that outlines her Five-Step Prosperity Process for grant writing for entrepreneurs and business owners. SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, if available) to Business Briefs, Biomass Magazine, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also email information to Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.

Boiler Fuel Feed Systems Mechanical Boiler Feed Systems Custom-designed systems for feeding biomass or alternative fuels, including woody biomass, agricultural, or refuse derived fuels into boilers and kilns.

Pneumatic Boiler Feed Systems Ruggedly built high-pressure, low-pressure, and vacuum conveying components for use in pulp and paper mills or biomass systems and for boiler direct injection systems. For additional information:


Phone: (864) 476-7523 Email: Web:

The brands comprising TerraSource™ Global (Gundlach Crushers, Jeffrey Rader, and Pennsylvania Crusher) are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Hillenbrand, Inc. (NYSE: HI) © 2013 TerraSource™ Global. All Rights Reserved.

Handling a World of Materials

PowerNews Report predicts growing bioenergy production The International En- World renewable and bioenergy power capacity ergy Agency has released projection (GW) its second annual MediumTerm Renewable Energy Market Report, predicting that renewable energy will increase by 40 percent over the next five years and account for nearly 25 percent of the global power mix by 2018. Biomass power will comprise a portion of this increase. According to the report, bioenergy production in the U.S. increased last year, reaching 12.1 gigawatts (GW) of capacity and accounting for 1.5 SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY percent of the power mix. The IEA predicts that bioenergy capacity will Canada, Mexico and Chile to reach 99 terawatt increase 12.4 GW this year, and increase steadily hours (TWh) by 2018. Production is also through 2018, when the U.S. will be home to an expected to increase in the Organization for estimated 14.4 GW of bioenergy capacity. Economic Cooperation and Development Taken together, the IEA said it expects countries of Europe to increase, reaching 192 combined bionenergy production in the U.S., TWh by 2018.


ReEnergy retrofits, opens Ft. Drum plant ReEnergy Holding’s 60 MW Black River plant in Fort Drum, N.Y., has celebrated its grand opening. ReEnergy acquired the facility in 2011 and retrofitted it to burn biomass as its primary fuel, rather than coal. The plant will sell renewable energy credits to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority under New York’s renewable portfolio standard. The company has also announced five of its plants in Maine and New York, have achieved certification under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. In addition to the Black River facility and the 22 MW ReEnergy Lyonsdale plant in Lyons Falls, N.Y., they are: the 37 MW Renewable Fort Fairfield plant, the 39 MW ReEnergy Livermore Falls plant, and the 48 MW ReEnergy Stratton plant, all in Maine. ReEnergy is the first company solely devoted to electricity production to be certified under the SFI Standard.


Prime Time for Tax Parity BY BOB CLEAVES

Tax reform, while still a long shot, is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill. In late June, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, sent a joint letter to their colleagues in the Senate announcing a new approach to tax expenditures. Instead of the old way of doing things—assuming all incentives were “in” and arguing over which ones to cut—Baucus and Hatch were going to “zero out” the tax code. This approach assumes that all incentives are “out” and requires Senators to present a convincing case for the incentives that are most important. While there are never any legislative guarantees, this may be a good opportunity for a renewable energy source with a compelling story, such as biomass. While biomass qualifies for some tax credits, our industry doesn’t come close to the status of the other renewable energy sources. In the case of Section 45 credits, biomass facilities qualify for only half the tax credit rate compared to other renewable energy sources. And because of the long lead time in developing projects, the stop/start nature of extending Section 45 means that the technologies with the shortest development timeline—e.g. wind—benefit more than other technologies. A dramatic illustration of this disparity is the socalled 1603 Treasury grant, where, over the life of the program, biomass received a mere fraction of the funding awarded to other energy sources while supplying a disproportionately larger share of the power. The lack of funding and ambiguous tax situation makes it harder for us to build new facilities, attract outside investment for construction and, probably the most common challenge, update older or aging facilities with the latest efficient technology. This is a perennial topic that we keep revisit-

ing, partly because the credits we’ve received so far are only temporary. Therefore, this is a battle we continue to fight every two years or so, dedicating valuable resources that could be better allocated elsewhere. Biomass Power Association provided oral and written input to the Ways and Means Committee Working Group on Energy Tax Reform earlier this spring. We presented four simple suggestions for improving parity among renewable energy sources and giving biomass the credit it deserves. Our suggestions included: • Renewable electricity tax incentives should be made permanent. • The credit rate should be harmonized for all technologies under Section 45. • Congress should recognize the value of existing biomass facilities by extending their current credit period from five to 10 years. • The tax code should be modernized to promote the refurbishment of obsolescent facilities and to acknowledge the value of cofiring of biomass with fossil fuels. As we are all aware, biomass punches above its weight. It’s one of the only sources of renewable energy that, in most cases, pays for its own fuel. Particularly as forest fire season is upon us, the power of biomass is considerable as a forest fire prevention method that can save millions of dollars, as well as lives. The “zero out” approach being employed by Sens. Baucus and Hatch will certainly inspire the usual mad dash of lobbying, but in the end, it’s our hope that biomass will stand out as an energy source truly deserving of its tax incentives. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association



Meeting the Multiple-Source Feedstock Challenge BY JOSHUA J. STANISLOWSKI

It has long been understood that commercially available, large-scale gasifiers are an imperfect fit for biomass conversion. In the past, fuel sourcing, preparation, and feed problems—combined with unique ash properties and tar production—made it very challenging to reliably operate a large gasifier on renewable sources. Is this still true today? Researchers at the Energy & Environmental Research Center are not convinced, and they are gathering the data to make their case. A multifaceted team of engineers and scientists at the EERC is performing tests to demonstrate that there are near-term opportunities for large-scale biomass gasification. The team is focused on testing the performance of coal and biomass blends in systems that mimic commercially available gasifiers. The testing at EERC is in support of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology’s efforts to identify alternative sources of liquid fuels for military applications. To date, several pilot-scale test campaigns have been completed at EERC that demonstrate the ability to gasify various sources of biomass blended with various ranks of coal. The testing is in support of CCAT’s work for the U.S. government to help identify potential alternative sources of liquid fuels that have an equal or better carbon footprint than traditional liquids. By developing systems that can produce alternative liquid fuels and power, the U.S. military sees the potential for improved energy security, competitive fuel costs, increased efficiency, and environmental sustainability. Cofeeding biomass with coal and utilizing CO2 capture technologies will allow CO2 emissions from these advanced energy technologies to be minimized. When CCAT originally set out to develop this project, one of the main goals was to ensure that the technologies being considered were near-term and supported commercially. To meet these goals, CCAT put together a highly qualified team, in addition to EERC, that includes the U.S. DOE, Arcadis/Malcom Pirnie, Avetec Inc., and world-renowned experts in gasification technologies. EERC is working with the CCAT team to develop the key data needed to prove reliability and

availability by performing coal and biomass gasification test runs in the EERC’s pilot-scale transport reactor integrated gasifier (TRIG) and a small, pilot-scale entrained-flow gasifier. The TRIG technology is currently being installed commercially as part of the Kemper County (Miss.) energy facility, a 582-megawatt integrated gasification combined-cycle facility. Hundreds of entrained-flow gasifiers are operating at commercial scale around the world today, and the technology is supported by large companies such as Shell, Siemens, and General Electric, to name a few. The team believes that the focus on commercially available systems is of critical importance. Because commercial systems are very large and would require vast amounts of biomass, the team believes that coal-biomass blends up to a maximum of 30 percent by weight represent the highest blend ratio that would be fed to the gasifier. In addition, to ensure that the blending requirements could be met year round, the team is developing data on various sources of biomass that include wood, corn stover, switchgrass, and other opportunity feedstocks that could be sourced around the globe. Each of these sources of fuel has unique challenges and opportunities based on the basic properties of the biomass. The pilot-scale testing has shown promise that these fuels can be operated reliably in commercial gasifier designs if the physical and chemical properties of the material are understood prior to injecting into the gasifier. This project, and the technical and economic information it generates, could help open doors for real-world conversion of coal and biomass to liquid fuels. This may help improve investor confidence and bring advanced technologies one step closer to the commercial marketplace. The testing at the EERC is expected to continue through the end of the year.

The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing official policies, endorsements, or approvals either expressed or implied, of the Defense Logistics Agency or the U.S. government.


Author: Joshua J. Stanislowski Research Manager, EERC 701-777-5087

August 20

The Advanced Biofuels Event of the Year!

One FREE Producer Pass Per Biofuels Facility Deadline: August 20 Ethanol | Biodiesel | Advanced Biofuels | Cellulosic

Primed for Market Expansion Make your plans to attend the 2013 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo in Omaha, Nebraska. With 70 first generation biofuels facilities within 250-miles of Omaha all capable of utilizing bolt on technology, and the largest cellulosic ethanol plants in the country currently under construction or about to go online, the region is primed to prove new technology and produce advanced biofuels.

Conference includes: • 65+ Comprehensive Presentations • 3 Program Tracks: - Pathways & Partnerships - Inputs & Supply Chains - Money & Markets • Important Industry Update • Educational Expo Hall • Networking Opportunities

Contact us: or 866-746-8385


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IT ALL STARTS HERE: A backhoe and tub grinder work together on reducing the pile of urban wood waste at the Ft. Snelling wood handling site in Minneapolis. The site has received hundreds of truckloads of downed trees and limbs as the city continues to clean up after a destructive summer storm. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ



Preparation Protocol Biomass fuel used at Koda Energy must be dried, sized and ground according to specifications for a proprietary fuel blend recipe. BY ANNA SIMET





n Shakopee, Minn., Koda Energy generates heat and power on a 76-yearold campus of Rahr Malting Co. The energy plant began operations in 2009 and is very new compared to Rahr, but the Shakopee Mdewakanton, the other project partner, have a rich history in the region and have called it home for hundreds of years. In 2006, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Rahr partnered to develop Koda Energy, and the plant was built by Norcross, Ga.-based McBurney Corp. on the southwest edge of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. It provides Rahr Malting with its thermal requirements, replacing natural gas, and supplies an average of 12.5 MW of electricity to the grid, though its maximum capacity is 23.4 MW. About 20 percent of the facility’s fuel comes from neighbor Rahr, and other sources include oat hulls from General Mills, wood, grass seed and corn cobs. The fuel mix burned at the plant is a specific blend of materials designed to

MAINTENCE IS KEY: Work crews perform on-the-spot maintenance to the site's tub grinder, replacing the grinder's teeth as they wear down over time.

Rotary Dryer

y System g r e n E t a He


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POWER¦ maintain a consistent heat output and limit emissions, and Koda Energy has deployed two satellite biomass preparation facilities that ensure it meets specifications upon delivery to the boiler.

Points A and B The Fort Snelling wood tipping and processing facility is where whole tree material is received from the City of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation trimming crews, as well as private tree-trimming crews within Hennepin County. There, initial resizing is performed, according to Stacy Cook, Koda Energy general manager. He says resizing at this point is necessary for two reasons. “First, woody biomass collected within Hennepin County is under quarantine for the emerald ash borer, and cannot be removed from the county prior to an accepted treatment protocol under an emerald ash borer compliance plan,” explains Cook. One of the accepted treatment methods is reducing the size of the wood material to the point where the insects cannot survive. Once it meets specification for size under

the compliance plan, it can be removed from the county. The second reason for initial resizing is related to logistics, says Cook. A 100-cubicyard semitrailer can haul 10 tons of whole tree and limb material. After it is resized, however, the same size trailer can haul 24 tons in the same space. “Fewer trips equals reduced transportation expense,” says Cook. As product is chipped, wheel loaders pick up piles of material and place them in a self-unloading semi-trailers for transport to the second facility, the 7-acre Koda Energy biomass processing and storage facility. “There, we process the material further by running it through our wood chip dryer, and we resize the chips to three-fourths of an inch,” Cook says. “Once it is dried and resized to meet our fuel specification, we keep it in a covered storage building until it is scheduled to be delivered into the Koda Energy plant. The Ft. Snelling site is open six days per week to receive waste tree material, and during that time product may be moving between all sites. Once treated at the process-

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ing and storage facility, it’s hauled to the CHP plant. “These deliveries occur every day of the week normally, and the number of loads can vary daily, depending on the specific volume fuel requirement that is required to supplement our other fuel sources,” Cook explains. “It undergoes pretty much the same process again—the dried fuel is under covered storage and loaded into the same type of trailer with a wheel loader, and then it’s sent into the CHP plant to be unloaded and fed into the process.” What’s the reasoning for having the facilities separate from the energy plant? “The entire footprint of our power plant is on a 2.5-acre site, so we don’t have the space available for preprocessing large quantities of material,” says Cook. “The processing and storage facility is only 7 miles from the plant, and is also valuable as a surge facility where we can store enough fuel to run our plant for an additional week beyond the storage capability at the power plant. About 30 miles away from Koda Energy, the Fort Snelling site has been an established wood tipping site used by the City

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s Power Generation Systems s Field Erected Boilers s Modular Boilers s EPC/Design Build s Engineering Studies s Emissions Compliance Projects s Construction Services s Operator Training s Start-up & Commissioning s Spare & Replacement Parts s Field Engineering Services s Condition Assessment s Maintenance & Repair


of Minneapolis for several years, and it’s close to the locations where the tree material is being removed. It’s also inside of the EAB quarantine area, Cook points out, reiterating that no whole tree material can leave the quarantine area without further processing. The fact that the processing and storage facility, which is located at the 20-acre SMSC organics recycling facility, is only 7 miles away from the power plant keeps processed fuel transportation costs low. Both facilities are key components in ensuring that the product delivered to the energy facility meets certain specifications for size and moisture content for the proprietary fuel blend used at the energy plant.

Meeting Specifications For the woody biomass component of Koda’s fuel blend, chippers and grinders are used to reach the specifications of three-fourths of an inch for size, and an MEC wood dryer is used to achieve less than 14 percent moisture content by weight. “We use several other types of fuel too, hulls from various grains, aged seed corn, undersized whole grain products, sunflower seed material, corn screenings, other grain dusts, and many other dry agricultural byproducts,” Cook says. “These grain-derived fuels are typically less than 10 percent moisture and the size of a kernel of wheat, and usually arrive meeting our specifications.” Koda also contracts with several pallet manufacturing companies to receive recycled pallet board material, most of which, Cook says, use horizontal wood grinders for size reduction and can meet the moisture specification without further processing. When fuel arrives at the CHP plant, it’s segregated by material type and combustion characteristics, including ash content, Btu value and alkali per million Btu. “The separate fuel types are then blended in a specific ratio so that the combined fuel recipe has favorable characteristics for our combustion process,” Cook explains. Drag conveyors move fuel from individual silos to four Bliss hammermills, which are commonly found in flour production facilities,



THWARTING MOISTURE: At the Shakopee facility, moisture levels are reduced from nearly 50 percent to less than 10 percent in the site's rotary dryer. After drying, they are stored in a covered holding area until they are loaded for final delivery.

and they process the material into a biomass flour. “We produce 20 to 25 tons per hour of biomass flour on average to feed our combustion process,” says Cook. The biomass flour is pneumatically conveyed into a metering bin on the boiler house, and then metered into the stream of primary air that conveys the fuel mixture to the burners and into the boiler. “In our process, we use a controlled and sustained dust explosion inside the furnace,” Cook adds. “That converts the chemical energy in the fuel into heat energy.” The resulting heat energy is used by Rahr Malting, and the power generated is distributed between Koda Energy and Rahr, with the balance supplied to Xcel Energy. Though currently experiencing downtime due to a late-April explosion, Koda is currently salvaging existing equipment not damaged in the event and will reuse it to build bigger, better and safer. The company is currently working a redesign of the fuel receiving, storage, and blending system, and is in the planning and funding stage for reconstruction, Cook adds. “We have

performed a thorough safety assessment on all potential aspects of the design to improve the safety factor of the fuel side of the plant.” In the meantime, Koda Energy is processing tree storm debris for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and providing the resulting wood chips to Minneapolis residents. Since a June 21 storm, the MPRB has hauled away more than 1,000 semi truckloads of boulevard and residential tree debris that has ash trees intermingled with other tree debris. Koda Energy is grinding and double chipping the material to meet the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's compliance standards for preventing the spread of emerald ash borer. “We try to be good neighbors in our community and provide service where it is feasible to do so,” Cook says. After all, in the Dakota language, Koda means “friend.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-751-2756

PelletNews Biomass Magazine launched a new webinar series in late June with a session focused on the growing European demand for American wood pellets. Executive Editor Tim Portz kicked off the event with an overview of his visits to the Georgia Power facility in Waycross, Ga., the Port of Brunswick in southeast Georgia, Port A BETTER FUEL: Conversion to biomass fuel is underway at the Drax Power Station in Selby, U.K. of Hull in the U.K., Dave Tenny, CEO and president of the and the U.K.-based Drax Power Station. national Alliance of Forest Owners, spoke Seth Ginther, executive director of about the ability of U.S. forests to sequester the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, carbon. “Our forests today are sequestering, showcased policy drivers and updates in on net, somewhere in the neighborhood of the European market. According to Gin800 million metric tons of CO2 every year,� ther, sustainable forestry practices in the U.S. and Canada, large quantities of natural Tenny said. That amount is roughly 12 percent of the U.S. total carbon emissions even, resources and a stable political climate after harvesting wood for building material, are three things that have made North energy use and paper production, he said. America a good source of biomass fuel.


LOI could result in Florida export operation


Webinar focuses on pellet export potential

The St. Joe Company has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Enova Energy Group that could lead to the development of a pellet export operation at the Port of Port St. Joe, Fla., approximately 100 miles southwest of Tallahassee. The LOI is contingent upon the Port of Port St. Joe receiving funding to complete maintenance dredging of the shipping channel, which is federally authorized to a maximum of 37 feet. According to The St. Joe Company, Enova Energy has expressed interest in transporting a minimum of 1 million metric tons of wood pellets per year, using the AN Railway to the Port of Port St. Joe. The company has also shown interest in using or developing port site facilities, provided that the port is capable of accepting vessels of adequate size for the shipment of its commercial wood pellets. The Port of Port St. Joe is well-positioned for bulk cargo shipments, offering access of rail, the U.S. Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the state and U.S. highways.


Maine Follows New Hampshire’s Fuel-Switching Lead BY BILL BELL

The energy-related actions decisions made by Maine’s recently adjourned state legislature perhaps reflect similar discussions in other states. Prior to commencement of the legislative session, experienced lobbyists predicted a veto-driven standoff between Republican Gov. Paul LePage and the sizable Democrat majority in both houses. They predicted the exceptions would be the budget, where stalemate means a state shutdown, and perhaps a major environmental bill, for which suburban and coastal Republicans might join with Democrats to override a gubernatorial veto. The observers were right about the budget, where a careful and difficult compromise between appropriations committee members was vetoed by an angry governor, but overridden. The other major veto override, however, came on what became known as the Omnibus Energy Bill. More than anything else, Maine’s legislators felt that energy was the most important subject on which they needed to work out differences and show progress. Equally significant was the high priority within the energy bill—to lower heating costs for Maine citizens. Maine’s governor set a tough tone by pronouncing that Maine’s energy agency should “be more concerned about Mainers heating bills than about curlicue light bulbs.” To the dismay of the energy audit and insulating industrial complex, the governor and his energy director made a convincing political case for lowering heating costs by fuel-switching, particularly by providing more homeowners access to natural gas and pellet heat. The successful energy bill compromise involved finding more funds for both efficiency measures and fuel switching. The increased efficiency funding will come primarily from a settlement surrounding the closing of Maine’s nuclear plant years ago. The fuel-switching financing will be derived from revisions in Maine’s participation in the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. So, which sectors of the heating industry will benefit from the new emphasis at the state energy agency? At its first meeting after the new energy bill went into

law, the agency put solar, natural gas, electric heat pumps, and biomass (pellet stoves as well as boilers) on the table. In contrast to all of the other heating systems costing between $3,000 and $5,000, pellet boilers retail at a much higher price, therefore requiring a much higher consumer incentive if sales are to be effectively boosted. It’s up to the pellet boiler industry to make their case. Part of this case will certainly be New Hampshire’s example, where the state public utilities commission has an ongoing pellet boiler incentive program providing rebates of 30 percent or $6,000, whichever is lower, to homeowners. Another good example is the Berlin, N.H., Model Neighborhood Project, assisted by the Northern Forest Center, in which incentives have enabled nearly 50 homeowners to generate huge cost and carbon emission savings by switching to pellet boilers. If political support counts, the 2 to 1 majority, by which both houses of the Maine legislature passed a measure supporting the pellet boiler industry, may be that industry’s best card. While showing clear support for fuel switching, the Maine legislature took a rain check on the chance to make controversial choices between renewable energy systems. Programs relating to hydropower, onshore and offshore wind power, tidal and solar power, and biomass energy are all to be “studied” between now and December by a special legislative commission, particularly with regard to Maine’s renewable energy credit portfolio. Again following New Hampshire’s example, where thermal biomass last year was added to the renewable energy credit program, thermal energy credits will be part of this “summer study.” This stuff is getting complicated. Author: Bill Bell Executive Director, Maine Pellet Fuels Association 207-752-1392



LOADING UP: The cargo vessel Koningsborg is loaded with wood pellets. Once full, it will pass under the Sidney Lanier Bridge and head east across the Atlantic to the Port of Hull, where its pellets will be unloaded and eventually moved by rail to the Drax Power Station.



Keeping Pace with Pellet Trade The Port of Brunswick is one of many upgrading and expanding to meet Europe’s surging pellet demands. STORY AND PHOTOS BY TIM PORTZ


.S. Highway 82 follows a predominantly western course, away from the port complex at Brunswick, Ga., running first slightly northwest and then doglegging to the southwest. It ambles through Glynn, Brantley and Ware counties before arriving in Waycross, Ga. This 60-mile stretch of highway traces a path through some of the densest stands of southern yellow pine in the country. Together, these three counties boast nearly .5 million forest acres, most of them privately owned and actively managed for delivery to the area’s forest products complex, including area pellet mills. East of the Port of Brunswick lies the Atlantic Ocean, and the world’s fastestgrowing pellet market. Linking this incredible forest biomass resource to power generators in the United Kingdom and northern Europe, which seek a less carbon-dense fuel are port terminals like the East River Terminal at the Port of Brunswick.


¦PELLET In August 2011, the Georgia Ports Authority and Logistec, a Montreal-based stevedoring and terminal operations company, announced a shared investment in the East River Terminal to facilitate the rapidly growing export market for wood pellets. Commenting on the project, Curtis Foltz, GPA executive director said, “The significant expansion and installation of new infrastructure at East River Terminal will accommodate Georgia’s export for biomass fuels and create jobs throughout Georgia’s transportation, logistics and forest industries.” Investing in this critical piece of infrastructure has proven to be wise and timely, as the demand for wood pellets has increased as predicted, contributing to the highest cargo levels the GPA has ever experienced. In April, 2.4 million tons of cargo passed through Georgia’s ports, a new record. Tonnage moving through the East River Terminal increased 14 percent over the same time frame in the previous year, reaching nearly 670,000 tons. The growth in East River’s tonnage was led by biomass fuels, validating the 2011 investments. A critical component of the investments was a deepening of the shipping channel from 30 to 36 feet. Expounding on the ramifications of that improvement, David Proctor, Logistec terminal manager, says, “The GPA also dredged from 30 to 36 feet, which will increase our capability of bringing in larger vessels for pellet exports. With a 30-foot-depth, you can only get maybe 15,000 or 16,000 tons of any kind of cargo into the Port of Brunswick. With the expansion and the deepening of the channel

CURBING DUST: As pellet tonnage increases at the port, so must the efforts to control dust. The chute in the foreground delivers the first tons of pellets directly to the bottom of the vessel's hold, minimizing dust generation.

ROAD, RAIL AND SEA: The East River Terminal is situated amidst robust road and rail arteries like U.S. Highway 82, facilitating the efficient transport of wood pellets to the port’s storage facilities.



PELLET REST STOP: Pellet inventory is kept dry and protected from the elements in storage barns at the East River Terminal until it is loaded onto vessels for the trans-Atlantic journey.

down to 36 feet, we are capable at this time of moving close to anywhere from 35,000 to 40,000 tons of wood pellets in a vessel. “There are economies of scale with the larger-size vessels, and this additional draft allows us to attract a new target market when serving the large-size utility companies overseas.” Already a significant piece of Georgia’s forest products industry, pellet producers in the state manufacture over 1 million tons of pellets each year. Current production levels, however, pale in comparison to the nearly 3 million tons of production capacity currently planned or under construction. Virtually all of this new capacity is being developed to serve the growing European market. Georgia’s port operators are feeling the momentum, too, and Proctor notes, “We continue to prospect for new opportunities, and there are many interested parties that we are pursuing.” As production capacity in Georgia increases, its ports are keeping pace, ensuring the critical market access necessary to maximize the opportunity that fuels growth in both the state’s forest products and port sectors. UP AND AWAY: Powerful conveyors carry pellets out of covered storage to waiting vessels moored to the terminal’s berths.

Author: Tim Portz Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine 651-398-9154


ThermalNews South Carolina regional biomass resources Economic development region

Timberland acres (in millions)

Pine pulpwood (in million tons)

Hardwood pulpwood (in million tons)

AdvantageWest Economic Development Group




Charlotte Regional Partnership




Piedmont Triad Partnership




Research Triangle Regional Partnership




Eastern Region




Southeast Commission




Northeast Commission




Report details NC forestry resources The Biofuels Center of North Carolina has completed a statewide woody biomass assessment in cooperation with Gelbert, Fullbright & Randolph Forestry Consultants and North Carolina’s seven economic development regions. The resulting report, titled the “Statewide Woody Biomass Project,” outlines three areas of analysis for each of the seven economic development regions. First, it quantifies wood resources on a county-bycounty basis, including price points, land use


changes and regional competition for woody biomass. Second, the analysis determines the best location for biofuels industrial sites and assesses the infrastructure available at each site. Finally, the report refines the wood resources to support bankable data for each location. On a statewide basis, more than half of North Carolina’s land is forested, with approximately 90 percent of its 17.6 million forested acres under private ownership.

District heat added to Maine campuses The University of Maine at Fort Kent and the Maine School Administrative District No. 27 have broken ground on a $4 million biomass heating project located on the site of the former Fort Kent Armory. The project will feature two multifuel boilers and consume 1,000 tons of wood pellets per year. The majority of the fuel will be sourced from various providers within a 20mile radius of the campus. Once complete, the project will generate heat and hot water for 12 buildings located on the UMFK and Fort Kent Community High School campuses. There is also the potential for two additional locations within the school district to be added to the system. The installation is UMFK’s second biomass project. Last May, the university brought a $500,000 wood-to-energy system online. That system provides heat for the campus’s largest residence hall and an athletic complex.


How the BTU Act Will Change the Industry BY JOSEPH SEYMOUR

The BioLite CampStove has captured the imagination of the outdoor community, and for good reason. The small, compact camp stove (the size of a Nalgene water bottle) produces heat for cooking and power for charging USB-connected devices. Separately, the stove’s components are not groundbreaking: a combustion chamber, circulatory fan and thermocouple. Their integration and functionality, however, are changing the camping culture from packing up propane fuel and packing out empty canisters, to one that uses local fuels and also keeps one’s iPhone charged. Numerous testimonials praise the device’s convenience, though, oddly, many of those same stories express pleasant surprise that a wood-heating device could actually deliver on performance promises. A constant barrier to its broader use is the pervasive belief that using biomass (wood) for heating is primitive. But thanks to Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., we have a solution. On May 22, King and Collins introduced S. 1007, the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act, or BTU Act for short. Weeks later, Shaheen joined the bill, giving the measure increased legitimatecy and a tri-partisan appeal. Specifically, the BTU Act would recognize biomass thermal technologies within the renewable energy provisions of the federal tax code, correcting years of inequity among the renewables. One provision of the BTU Act would include highefficiency biomass heating technology in Section 25D of the Internal Revenue Code, the residential renewable energy 30 percent investment tax credit. The second provision is a tiered tax credit for 15 or 30 percent of the installed cost of biomass-fueled heating (or cooling) systems for commercial or industrial applications in Section 48 of the tax code. Together, these measures would—pardon the cliché—level the playing field for highly efficient and advanced biomass thermal technologies. Since that muggy spring Wednesday, I have made connecting with state and regional advocates and potential champions a priority. My members, the Pellet Fuels Institute, and others under the broad biomass tent, are telling their colleagues and Congress the story that the BTU Act could write, and it is a compelling one at that. According to an analysis from William Strauss of FutureMetrics consultancy, the BTU Act would actually generate substan-

tial income for the federal Treasury on top of reducing household and business energy bills. How, you ask, could a tax credit benefit both groups? The answer is no secret to millions of homeowners and hundreds of businesses utilizing locally sourced, renewable, and affordable biomass fuel. After accounting for fuel savings from switching from oil, the benefit of locally sourced fuels and its supporting supply chain, and also the savings circulating through one’s community, the Treasury could anticipate $40 million-plus in new revenue three years after its enactment. And that would be in addition to the more important benefits of several thousand new jobs, healthier forests, stronger rural communities, and an improved climate. If the BTU Act were a baseball team, its list of winwin-win qualities would put it in clear contention for the playoffs. But we are nowhere near October, figuratively or otherwise. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, have, as the Washington newspaper The Hill described, “adopted a blank slate approach that requires all their colleagues to make the case for their favorite tax breaks” as part of the Senate’s focus on tax reform. The deadline for comments was July 26, and it will be a measure of our industry’s passion to see if, finally, biomass thermal tax policy is included. An omission would come quite close to literally leaving money on the table. Positive testimonials sell more effectively than any form of marketing. Today’s advanced biomass thermal and combined-heat-and-power technologies are making believers in places like Berlin, N.H., Kennebec, Maine, and Deschutes County, Ore. The BTU Act would accelerate that market transformation nationally, bringing high-efficiency systems into the mainstream with a capital M. Consistent performance will yield additional sales and a growing market, countering the perception of biomass thermal as outdated or dirty. I have faith that this industry can respond to that pent-up market demand. If only I had as much faith in our legislators. But that, again, is what we are here for. Author: Joseph Seymour Executive Director, Biomass Thermal Energy Council 202-596-3974


BiogasNews Agricultural biogas yields Nm biogas 3

1 milking cow 20 m3 liquid manure/a


1 pig 1.5-6 m3 liquid manure/a


1 cattle (beef) 3-11 tons solid manure/a


100 chicken 1.8 m dry litter


Corn silage 40-60 green weight/ha


Grass 24-43 ton fresh matter/ha




WBA advocates for biogas development The World Bioenergy Association has published a fact sheet discussing the current and potential biogas supply on a global basis for a variety of markets, including electricity, heat and transportation fuels. The document emphasizes the great global potential for biogas, pointing to estimates that predict biogas could consist of approximately 6 percent of the world’s primary energy supply, or one-third of the current use of fossil-based gas.

The WBA is advocating for countries in both the developing and developed world to establish biogas development plans, with the target to utilize at least 30 percent of biogas potential by 2030. The fact sheet outlines the cost of select biogas products, gauging investment at approximately €5,000 ($6,035) for a 150 KW installation. It also details the composition of biogas by component percentage and discusses biogas potential by country according to feedstock.


Landfill gas facility opens in Ontario Moose Creek Energy has opened a 4.2 MW landfill gas-to-energy plant at the Laflèche Environmental Inc. facility in Moose Creek, Ontario. The facility is Energy Ottawa Inc.’s second joint venture with Integrated Gas Recovery Services Inc. The two entities also own the Trail Road landfill gas-to-energy plant in Ottawa. “This partnership is a win-win scenario,” said Bryce Conrad, president and CEO of Hydro Ottawa. “We’re turning a negative into a positive by harnessing landfill gas as a green energy source to power homes and businesses, while diverting greenhouse gas emissions in the process.” Energy Ottawa, a subsidiary of Hydro Ottawa, is the largest municipally owned producer of renewable power in Ontario. In addition to the two landfill gas plants, the power producer also operates six hydroelectric stations. The new landfill gas facility at Moose Creek is expected to generate enough electricity to power 4,000 homes while diverting more than 100,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.


Biogas as Transportation Fuel: A Strong Start BY AMANDA BILEK

In my last Biomass Magazine column, I wrote about the enormous potential of biogas in meeting our transportation needs and as a component of a diverse fuel mix. New projects and data are demonstrating that biogas as a transportation fuel is no longer a vision, but a market reality. Under both the federal renewable fuel standard 2 (RFS2) and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, biogas is an emerging contributor to a diverse, low-carbon fuel mix. While progress is encouraging, there is still a large amount of untapped potential, leaving plenty of room for expansion and opportunity for innovative project models. Starting with the RFS2, the first several months of 2013 have been an impressive growth period for biogas transportation projects. According to U.S. EPA data, biogas has generated nearly 2.3 million gallons of advanced biofuels in the first five months. Nearly 70 percent of those gallons were produced in March, April and May. The total advanced biofuel pool was 194 million gallons, and while the 2.3 million gallons of biogas fuel represents a small portion, steady growth in March, April and May is definitely a positive sign. Furthermore, the majority of advanced biofuel gallons is attributed to imports of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, whereas biogas gallons are supplied by domestic projects, representing an important economic development for many U.S. states. Previous analysis concludes the potential for using biogas as advanced biofuel is much larger than current use, demonstrating there is room for significant growth. In California, under the LCFS program, biogas is already helping to achieve program goals and is projected to make an even larger contribution in the future. In 2009, California established a policy to reduce the carbon intensity of the transportation fuel mix by 10 percent by 2020. According to the most recent program status review by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis, California displaced approximately 1.06 billion gallons of gasoline and 45 million gasoline gallon equivalents (gge) of diesel with lower-carbon fuels in 2011 and 2012. During that same period, the program recorded a net excess of 1.285 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent LCFS credits. The net excess credits represent nearly half of the credit obligation needed to meet the 2013 standard (a system of credits and deficits is used to ensure compliance with annual carbon reduction requirements).

Of the net excess credits, 12 percent were generated from conventional and biobased compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. Using biogas as a transportation fuel is even more attractive under the California LCFS program because of the lower-carbon intensity of biogas as compared to gasoline or diesel, which provides regulated parties the ability to generate a greater amount of LCFS credits. So what is the future role of biogas under the LCFS? It could be significant, according to a study commissioned by California Electric Transportation Coalition and conducted by ICF International. The study examined three different scenarios for program compliance until 2020. Since the LCFS was first established, unanticipated changes in the energy market are having a larger impact on program implementation. Most notably, the increasing domestic supply of natural gas and low prices are making it economically attractive for heavy-duty diesel vehicles to convert to run on natural gas and/or purchase vehicles designed to run on natural gas. The report predicts that greater natural gas use in California’s vehicle market will pave the way for increased use of biogas. Under each of the three scenarios, biogas is anticipated to make up approximately 10 percent of the natural gas fuel pool. Depending on the scenario, biogas could supply as little as 7 million gge beginning in 2015 to as much as 111 million gge in 2020. Biogas is currently only a small sliver of total low-carbon fuel volumes produced in California, but given that different biogas pathways have been scored with some of the lowest carbon intensities, it is an attractive compliance option for regulated parties. Additional market development for natural gas transportation options could pave the way for increased biogas use. While biogas as a transportation fuel is still in the early stages of market adoption, the future is very bright for this lower-carbon option. Both the RFS2 and California’s LCFS are paving the way for a diversified fuel portfolio, and the potential of biogas as an emerging and valued component of that mix is becoming apparent. Early results are very encouraging. Stay tuned! Author: Amanda Bilek Energy Policy Specialist, Great Plains Institute. 612-278-7119


AdvancedBiofuelNews DOE to invest $13M in drop-in biofuels

GHG emissions (per mmBTu fuel) Giant reed (kgCO2e)

Napier grass (kgCO2e)

Nitrogen fertilizer






Phosphorus fertilizer



Potassium fertilizer















Electricity (irrigation)




EPA approves additional RFS fuel pathways The U.S. EPA has issued a supplemental final rule under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) pertaining to biofuels made from giant reed and napier grass feedstock. The rule contains a life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis of biofuels made from these feedstocks, along with a final regulatory determination that such fuels meet the 60 percent GHG reduction threshold needed to qualify as cellulosic under the renewable fuel standard (RFS). The rule also establishes a system of registration, recordkeeping and reporting

requirements designed to address concerns over the invasive potential of the species. Biofuel producers utilizing the feedstocks are required to demonstrate the growth of giant reed or napier grass will not post a significant likelihood of spreading beyond the planted area, or that the invasive risks are being managed and minimized through an EPA-approved risk management plan that includes means for early detection and rapid response to potential spread, among other provisions.

The U.S. DOE has announced a $13 million investment in four biofuel projects, with the goal of bringing next-generation biofuel production online faster, while driving down the cost of drop-in renewable fuels. Salt Lake City, Utah-based Ceramatic was awarded up to $3.3 million to support the development of an efficient electrochemical deoxygenation process to cost-effectively separate oxygen from bio-oil. Oak Ridge National Laboratory will receive up to $2.1 to use a microbial electrolysis process to remove hydrogen in water found in bio-oil. The technology will reduce the corrosivity of bio-oil and improve the efficiency of converting hydrogen and biomass to biofuels. The DOE will provide up to $4 million to the University of Oklahoma to investigate two methods to maximize the amount of renewable carbon and hydrogen that can be extracted from biomass and converted into a intermediate suitable for final upgrading into transportation fuel. Madison, Wis.-based Virent Inc. has been awarded up to $4 million to develop an innovative separation process using its BioForming technology to convert lignocellulosic biomass into hydrocarbon fuels. cleaning| BROWSE CATEGORIES

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Cooperation Drives the Algae Opportunity BY MARY ROSENTHAL

How does a new technology become a market opportunity? There may be no “secret” to making an innovative idea a market success, but those of us in the algae industry know that dedication and teamwork are common ingredients. Cooperation is a driving force behind our industry’s strategy to make more technology demonstrations possible, bring new products to market, and provide the industrial base for sustainable and renewable fuels, feeds and other products from algae. The algae opportunity has grown so rapidly due to breakthroughs funded by agencies such as the US. DOE and USDA, the zeal of ambitious entrepreneurs, hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital, and the commercialization power of institutional customers like the U.S. Department of Defense, FedEx, United Airlines and many others. Outside of the U.S., the Algae Biomass Organization is working with a coalition in Japan, coordinating meetings with their key energy and environment ministries and the USDA, DOE and U.S. Department of the Navy. One opportunity to join this team is coming up this fall when we gather for the annual Algae Biomass Summit in Orlando, Fla. From Sept. 30-Oct. 3, more than 800 algae leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, suppliers, researchers and government officials will be discussing the latest advances in algae commercialization, research and finance. New deals, contacts and breakthroughs are always expected at the industry’s largest conference. We are currently putting the finishing touches on the agenda, which will cover every aspect of the industry’s products, from fuels to feeds, to fertilizers and food products. We’ll hear about the latest devel-

opments in algae-derived biofuels from Paul Woods, CEO of Florida-based Algenol Biofuels, and CJ Warner, CEO and chairman of Sapphire Energy. Updates on companies commercializing highvalue algae-based feeds, nutritional products and specialty chemicals will come from leaders like Tim Burns, president of BioProcess Algae, Dan Simon, president of Heliae, and Mike VanDrunen, CEO and founder of Algix LLC. The summit comes at a time when the industry is seeing more laboratory breakthroughs move into the marketplace. Many companies are opening largescale demonstration and precommercial facilities, with expectations for expansions in the future. State and national policymakers are also taking notice. Arizona, Ohio and Iowa have all recently passed legislation to attract algae companies, and in January, Congress passed the first-ever algae biofuel tax credit. Algae is attracting more attention than ever because for the first time, we are seeing new production facilities come on line and a growing array of algaederived products, including biofuels, being offered to consumers. Our meeting in Orlando is the place to learn about the opportunities for algae entrepreneurs, researchers and investors around the globe. If you are not already on the team bringing these new innovations to life, I urge you to take a look at the agenda and join us at the summit. We will see you there. Author: Mary Rosenthal Executive Director, Algae Biomass Organization 763-458-0068



UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Miscanthus, after undergoing the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's ionic pretreatment process. PHOTO: LEAF ENERGY



The Cornerstones of Advanced Biofuels Novel pretreatment technologies are paving the way for the advanced biofuel industry. BY CHRIS HANSON




fficiently breaking down biomass feedstocks into useable materials for biofuels and chemicals is a crucial step any developer needs to consider when selecting the best pretreatment method. Jose Atilio de Frias, researcher at the University of Illinois’ Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, emphasizes that the importance of pretreatment is to remove or alter lignin, which acts as a type of glue that holds the biomass together but also inhibits the action of enzymes to release the sugars from cellulose. “So, if you introduce enzymes to the biomass without pretreatment, you will get little release of sugars,” he says. “Unless you do pretreatment, the whole biochemical scheme toward biofuels will not be accomplished.” Currently, one of the most common pretreatment methods is accomplished using steam explosion, but further advances and innovations in other pretreatment methods could diversify pretreatment options. In recent months, several breakthroughs and new approaches have been announced, one

BETTING ON BAGASSE: Australia’s Leaf Energy used sugarcane bagasse to develop its pretreatment process.

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ADVANCED BIOFUEL¦ of which is ionic liquid pretreatments with The next step in developing this prebutadiene sulfone. treatment method will focus on optimization experimentation. Researchers may also try different levels of solids loading, de Frias Salty Solutions Some of the newest pretreatment in- adds. Halfway across America, the JBEI in novations involve the use of ionic liquids to break apart biomass into cellulose, hemicel- California is also developing an ionic liquid lulose and lignin. Ionic liquids, or liquid salts, pretreatment. Unlike the University of Illiare being researched at both the University nois’ butadiene sulfone method, the institute of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the is utilizing imidazolium chloride with mixed feedstocks. With its pretreatment technology, U.S. DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute. Initially, the university’s research using the institute is able to liberate 95 percent sugthe ionic liquid butadiene sulfone to pretreat miscanthus began for a different purpose. In the beginning, the lab was using the liquid to solubilize pure cellulose. What the researchers discovered was the biomass did not solubilize, but instead developed similar physical characteristics of pretreated material. “It actually looked very similar to what we used to do in our lab—two-stage, alkali-acid pretreatments—but in this case, one step,” de Frias explains. “Initially, we wanted to find a solvent to actively separate lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose,” adds Hao Feng, associate professor at the University of Illinois. “However, we also found it is probably better to use this as a pretreatment because we can recover it, we can recycle it, and that way we can have that green, sustainable production.” Using butadiene sulfone as a pretreatment offers several benefits. De Frias says the most important advantage of this method is that the solvent’s recovery process is industrially available at mild to higher temperatures. During pretreatment, he explains, the solvent decomposes into 1,3-butadiene and sulfur dioxide at 90 to 110 degrees Celsius (194 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit). In the presence of water, the sulfur dioxide changes to sulfurous acid. Together, the sulfurous acid and butadiene sulfone provide a “dual attack” to the plant cell walls, freeing over 90 percent of the hemicellulose, releasing 90 to 99 percent of the cellulose and almost 60 percent of the lignin. Once pretreatment is complete, the temperature is increased, and the heat breaks down the solvent, forming butadiene learn more... and sulfur dioxide. The two gases are then recombined to form the original butadiene sulfone.

ar yields from biomass in less than 24 hours, recovering roughly 95 percent of the ionic liquid. Blake Simmons, vice president of the deconstruction division at JBEI, says using these “molten salts” may provide additional benefits. He explains ionic liquids can produce high sugars yields from any feedstocks. “We’ve actually asked for feedstocks from folks that they think are really recalcitrant , including pine, and we can still efficiently liberate sugars from those,” says Simmons.

Biogas Biomass Natural Gas Propane Gas Biodiesel Digestion Landfill Gas Pellet Fuels

tel: 229.346.3545 AUGUST 2013 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 35

¦ADVANCED BIOFUEL dues, municipal solid waste,” says Simmons. “That’s pretty remarkable.” Another benefit of using ionic liquids, he explains, is it allows the opportunity to “dial in the chemistry” to match biomass pretreatment characteristics by correctly choosing the appropriate anion or cation, which may come from renewable sources and have low environmental and human toxicity. “So, even in the case of a spill, they won’t pose a threat to the environment or to the humans working at a biorefinery,”


Working with Idaho National Laboratory’s feedstock development unit, JBEI tested what Simmons refers to as a “witch’s brew” of feedstocks, comprised of corn stover, switchgrass, eucalyptus and pine biomass. What the researchers unexpectedly discovered was the mixtures performed better in pretreatment than single feedstocks. “Imagine if you had a biorefinery operating with ionic liquid technology that could handle any mixture that’s available regionally, be it yard trimmings, ag residues, tree resi-


Translating Ideas into Sustainable Solutions GUNNING FOR GLYCEROL: Ken Richards, Leaf Energy managing director, explains the company’s glycerol pretreatment was developed with bagasse and works with other feedstocks, although efficiency still needs improvement.


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says Simmons. “There are some other pretreatment chemicals that you certainly don’t want to have released into the environment or expose humans to.” Currently, JBEI is working with the industry to commercialize the technology. Simmons hopes sugars produced from ionic liquids will be marketable within three to five years. The biggest steps that need to be taken, he says, are more process engineering and scaling to minimize risks. “We are working with user facilities within the national lab complex, post start-ups and big industry to do that,” he adds. “We are very excited about the future of the process.” While work is being done to improve and research ionic liquid pretreatments, Leaf Energy Ltd. in western Australia is developing a glycerol-based pretreatment method.

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MEGTEC Systems Inc. | MEGTEC TurboSonic Inc. | | 36 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2013

ADVANCED BIOFUEL¦ tries in 2010, Leaf Energy collaborated with Queensland University of Technology and Syngenta to develop a glycerol pretreatment method. Alex Baker, chief operating officer, reports the pretreatment process can liberate over 90 percent of digestible cellulose in 24 hours. Ken Richards, managing director, explains the main benefits of using glycerol over acid pretreatments is that it delivers “more sugars faster” by dissolving the lignin using a relatively inexpensive reagent at low temperatures with standard atmospheric pressure. Compared to the standard steam explosion pretreatment process, the glycerol technology produces 30 percent more in enzymatic digestibility, says Richards. Explaining how the pretreatment process works, Simmons says crushed bagasse from a sugar processor is churned with the glycerol in a chamber. Dissolved lignin and glycerol are then pressed out, leaving the cellulose and hemicellulose. “It’s a really simple, easy process using a very cheap substance in glycerol,” he says. Presently, the pretreatment process has been used with sugarcane bagasse but Leaf Energy is aiming to use other regional feedstocks. When palm oil is processed, Richards explains, there are massive amounts of biomass waste. Scientifically speaking, he adds, the process would work with other types of biomass, but challenges lie with the different proportions of lignin that can vary widely in feedstocks from sugarcane bagasse to woody biomass. “It will work, but we’ll need to do a little work to get it to maximum efficiency.” Other recent developments, Richards notes, include processes to purify the used glycerol for reuse and to maintain lower costs.

investment and operational costs, I think you could lower the overall cost of production. That’s why it is very important.” Simmons believes the real challenge in biofuel production lies with inexpensive, sugar production from renewable, lignocellulosic feedstocks. He says if people are able to produce those sugars with a production cost lower or equal to corn and sugarcanederived sugars, that “all things become possible with those sugars in terms of fuels, chemicals and others.”

Advanced biofuel, such as cellulosic ethanol, could play a big role in the pressing carbon debates, says Richards. He adds that with lower production costs, decreased enzyme costs and better technologies, cellulosic ethanol “has a very, very big task going forward to help reduce carbon.” Author: Chris Hanson Staff Writer, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4970

Moving Forward Leaf Energy, JBEI and University of Illinois are all using different approaches to create digestible sugars, but all take aim at the same goal. "I think pretreatment is still the most expensive unit operation in biomass-to-biofuel production,” says Feng. “If you could lower the cost, including capital


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August 2013 Biomass Magazine  

August 2013 Biomass Magazine

August 2013 Biomass Magazine  

August 2013 Biomass Magazine