Wood Pellet Workhorses
Press Manufacturersâ€™ Innovative, Resilient Designs Satisfy Growing Industry Page 20
Plus: Significance of Site-Specificity in BACT Equipment Decisions Page 12
Modern Outdoor Wood Heaters Clean Up Image Page 28
INSIDE ¦ August 2014
AUGUST 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 8
Wood Pellet Workhorses
Press Manufacturers’ Innovative, Resilient Designs Satisfy Growing Industry Page 20
Significance of Site-Specificity in BACT Equipment Decisions Page 12
Modern Outdoor Wood Heaters Clean Up Image Page 28
ON THE COVER UNIT NO. 24: Georgia Biomass's massive throughput is made possible by a series of Andritz pellet presses set in sequence.
06 EDITOR’S NOTE The OPEX/CAPEX Dance By Tim Portz
07 INDUSTRY EVENTS 08 BUSINESS BRIEFS 44 MARKETPLACE
12 POWER 10 NEWS 11 COLUMN Railroad Ties: An Essential Biomass Power Fuel By Bob Cleaves
12 FEATURE One Size Doesn’t Fit All What constitutes Best Available Control Technology varies by project, and many factors must be considered during solution analyses. By Anna Simet
PELLETS Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for anyone outside the United States. To subscribe, visit www.BiomassMagazine.com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational. com. Advertising Biomass Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Biomass Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@ bbiinternational.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Managing Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to asimet@bbiinternational. com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.
18 NEWS 19 COLUMN The Many Benefits of Replacing Coal With Wood Pellets By William Strauss
20 FEATURE Pressing for Success Offering a variety of options, pellet press manufacturers are readily responding to the needs of growing wood pellet markets. By Tim Portz
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 3
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AUGUST 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 8
2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo
2015 International Biomass Conference & Expo
BBI Project Development
Continental Biomass Industries
CPM Roskamp Champion
Hurst Boiler & Welding Co. Inc.
Javo U.S.A., Inc.
KEITH Manufacturing Company
Mayfran International, Inc.
New Holland Agriculture
32 & 33
TerraSource Global (Jeffrey Rader)
Vector Systems Inc.
Warren & Baerg Manufacturing Inc.
West Salem Machinery Co.
THERMAL 26 NEWS 28 FEATURE Warming Up to Outdoor Wood Heat Outdoor wood heater manufacturers are cleaning up their product image and striving for unprecedented emission reduction and efficiency rates. By Katie Fletcher
BIOGAS 34 NEWS 35 COLUMN Renewable Fuel Standard Rules Give Boost to Biomass By Amanda Bilek
36 FEATURE No Separation Anxiety Numerous technologies exist on the market to separate and clean biogas for natural gas grid injection or production of vehicle fuel. By Keith Loria COPYRIGHT © 2014 by BBI International
Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) August 2014, Vol. 8, 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.
ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS 40 NEWS 41 COLUMN High Stakes for Biomass in EPA By Matt Carr
42 DEPARTMENT Imagination for Mechanization
Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling
Whatever machine a biomass operation may require, New Holland likely has a top-of-the-line model ready for work. By Anna Simet
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 5
The CAPEX/OPEX Dance The theme of this month’s issue is equipment, which can be easily deduced from reading the stories our team produced. A secondary theme also becomes apparent, one that points to equipment providers as being this industry’s biggest allies in controlling operating expenses. Throughout this issue, the professionals our team interviewed all echoed the same TIM PORTZ VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT refrain: Without the right equipment, the & EXECUTIVE EDITOR profit margins made producing biomass email@example.com energy products will erode and eventually disappear. Ricardo Hamdan, quoted in Keith Loria’s page-36 biogas feature, sums up this month’s edition in seven words, saying, “It is an OPEX versus CAPEX game.” The trick is finding the right balance. During interviews I conducted for the page-20 feature about pellet presses, CPM’s Scott Anderson shared that in a competitive bidding situation, he doesn’t always find himself the lowest cost option. “If our capital expense is higher, we’ve got to demonstrate our value through a lower overall operating expense,” he says. For Anderson and for many other professionals, paying a premium for a particular piece of equipment will pay dividends down the road in reduced operating expenses. Articles in this edition highlight operating expense differences that run the gamut from nuanced to stark. Also, while writing my piece on pellet presses, I learned that Bliss Industries has dedicated considerable design time to synchronizing roll wear. The strategy behind that is if rolls wear out in synchronicity, they can all be replaced at once, minimizing downtime and thereby reducing operating expenses. The OPEX advantages outlined in Katie Fletcher’s page-28 thermal feature emanate from a fuel switch, and are easier to discern. The outdoor wood boilers featured in her piece liberate homes, businesses and livestock operations from fossil fuel dependency and their inevitable price volatility. I’d like to thank the many industry professionals who worked with our team as we put together this month’s stories. I often apologize to sources and explain that my team and I have to be generalists. This issue, with all of its references to adsorption, catalysts, v-belts and hydronic heaters, required the help, guidance and patience of the OEM community. To their credit, they answered our calls, took our questions, and helped us shape them into stories many in the industry can benefit from reading.
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EDITORIAL PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF Tom Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR Tim Portz email@example.com MANAGING EDITOR Anna Simet firstname.lastname@example.org NEWS EDITOR Erin Voegele email@example.com STAFF WRITER Katie Fletcher firstname.lastname@example.org COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann email@example.com
ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund firstname.lastname@example.org GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elizabeth Burslie email@example.com
PUBLISHING & SALES CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org CEO Joe Bryan email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS Matthew Spoor firstname.lastname@example.org MARKETING DIRECTOR John Nelson email@example.com BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Howard Brockhouse firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Chip Shereck email@example.com CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Beaudry firstname.lastname@example.org TRAFFIC & MARKETING COORDINATOR Marla DeFoe email@example.com
AUGUST 26-28, 2014 Gaylord Texan Dallas, Texas WASTECON is the premier solid waste industry-focused conference that brings attendees the latest news, education, advancements, and products in one place. The Solid Waste Association of North America’s 52nd Annual WASTECON Conference is in Dallas, Texas, from August 26-28, 2014. 800-GO-SWANA (800-467-9262) | www.wastecon.org
National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo OCTOBER 13-14, 2014
Hyatt Minneapolis Minneapolis, Minnesota Produced by BBI International, this national event will feature the world of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals—technology scale-up, project finance, policy, national markets and more—with a core focus on the industrial, petroleum and agribusiness alliances defining the national advanced biofuels industry. With a vertically integrated program and audience, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleumderived products. 866-746-8385 | www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com
International Biomass Conference & Expo APRIL 20-22, 2015
Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota Organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Magazine, this event brings current and future producers of bioenergy and biobased products together with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. Truly a one-stop shop, this event is the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo JUNE 1-4, 2015
Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota The FEW provides the global ethanol industry with cutting-edge content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-to-business environment. The FEW is the largest, longest running ethanol conference in the world, and the only event powered by Ethanol Producer Magazine. 866-746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com
Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS
Elevance names board member Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc. has announced Steven Mills will join its board of directors. Mills is experienced in the fields of accounting, corporate finance, strategic planning and mergers and acquisitions. Mills He previously served as chief financial officer of Amyris Inc. and as senior executive vice president of performance and growth at Archer Daniels Midland Co. Dyadic appoints board member Dyadic International Inc. has appointed Michael Tarnok to its board of directors. He will also serve on the companyâ€™s audit and compensation committees. Tarnok has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical inTarnok
dustry across many key areas including finance, operations and marketing. He is chairman and former interim CEO of Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. and spent the majority of his career at Pfizer Inc.
automation to two waste-to-energy plants and two biomass-to-energy plants, all in the U.K.
ABO announces executive director, new board members The Algae Biomass Organization has Metso announces security solution, announced the apsoftware improvements, new orders pointment of a new Metso has announced its security busiexecutive director and ness solution, which provides the necessary the election of eight safeguards to protect automation systems members to its board from attack by cyber threats and malware. The of directors. The ABO companyâ€™s security business solution includes has named Matthew regular assessments of the installations with Carr as executive direcaudits to identify and help eliminate vulnerabili- tor. He has more than Carr ties. Key risk mitigation techniques, includa decade of policy and ing firewalls and virtual private networks, are advocacy experience, supplemented with virus-protection software most recently serving custom configured to the automation system. as managing director Metso also recently announced its ExperTune of the industrial and PlantTriage software now performs continuenvironmental section ous assessments of the performance of model as the Biotechnology predictive controls (MPC). In addition, the Industry Organization. company announced it has been awarded four Newly elected board Lakeman repeat orders from CNIM group to supply members are Michael
m rgy Syste Heat Ene
Biomass Pelletizing & Energy Systems Pellet Plants | Dryers | Furnaces | Steam Boilers | Thermal Oil Heaters | Cogeneration Dieffenbacher USA, Inc. 2000 McFarland 400 Blvd. | Alpahretta, GA 30004 Phone: (770) 226-6394 | firstname.lastname@example.org 8 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
Lakeman, associate technical fellow at Boeing Commercial Airplanes; Martin Sabarsky, CEO of Cellana, Inc.; and Emilie Slaby, senior business development manager at the Scoular Co. Re-elected board Sabarsky members include Mark Allen, vice president of integrated carbons solutions at Accelergy Corp.; John Benemann, CEO of MicroBio Engineering Inc.; Tom Byrne, president and CEO of Byrne & Co. Ltd.; B. Gregory Mitchell, Slaby research scientist at the University of California San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Joel Murdock, managing director of Strategic Projects at FedEx Express.
CBI expands workforce Continental Biomass Industries has hired Bill Dicey as service manager. He has 20 years of experience in parts and service management and will lead the service department in expanding the comDicey pany's service offerings and elevating the CBI customer experience. Wayne Pearson has been hired as materials manager. Pearson has more than 25 years of materials management background and will Pearson lead the development of a highly flexible materials team focused on reducing lead times and improving stock service levels. CBI has also promoted Nate Eskeland to parts manager. He has worked at CBI for 11
years and will lead the companyâ€™s parts department in improving the distribution of parts to customers and dealers, ensuring order accuracy and timely deliveries. In addition, Tim Griffing has returned to the company as a stationary sales engineer covering North America. He has more than 20 years of experience in the design of sales and stationary systems for the wide range of markets CBI services.
Griffing SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, if available) to Business Briefs, Biomass Magazine, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also email information to evoegele@bbiinternational. com. Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.
Renewable Feedstock Processing Systems A worldwide leader in size reduction technology for bioenergy, Vecoplan works with individual customers to design, engineer, manufacture and implement technologically advanced, material specific, and application specific shredding, ferrous and non-ferrous removal, size and density separation, screening and classification technologies and extremely efficient conveyor and bulk material handling, metering, storage and unloading technologies. Contact Vecoplan today to learn more about our existing systems or to arrange a visit to one, or several, of our installations.
vecoplanllc.com AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 9
PowerNews EPA proposes Clean Power Plan In June, the EPA released a proposal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce emissions by 30 percent when compared to 2005 emissions levels. With regard to biomass, the proposal specifically recognizes “that biomass-derived fuels can play an important role in CO2 emission reduction strategies.” The proposal would implement the plan through a state-federal partnership that includes specific goals for each state. According to the EPA, the proposal is designed to provide each state with flex- SOURCE: U.S. EPA ibility in meeting its specific goal. The agency has also stressed that the state goals are not requirements on individual electrical generating units. Rather, each state has broad flexibility to meet the rate by 2030 by lowering the overall carbon intensity of the power sector in the state. States will be required to develop compliance plans. These plans can include, but are not limited to, demand-side energy efficiency programs, renewable energy standards, efficiency improvements at plants, co-firing or switching to natural gas, transmission efficiency improvements, energy storage technology, retirements, expanding renewables or nuclear, market-based trading programs and energy conservation programs.
Texas bioenergy plant restarts operations NRG Energy Services LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy Inc., was selected by InventivEnergy LLC to restart the Aspen Power biomass plant in Lufkin, Texas. NRG will also operate and maintain the facility once it’s online. InventivEnergy is an asset management firm overseeing the plant. The 50 MW Aspen Power facility began operations in August 2011 and idled in 2012 due to market economics. The plant takes in locally sourced wood waste as fuel and employs a stoker type boiler with particulate emissions abatement and has selected catalytic reduction for NOx control. The facility can consume an estimated 525,000 tons of logging debris and municipal wood waste annually. According to NRG, work to restart the facility began in mid-May and commercial operations were anticipated to begin in late July.
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Railroad Ties: An Essential Biomass Power Fuel BY BOB CLEAVES
Every year, millions of railroad ties in the U.S. are replaced. The wood that keeps trains on track is subject to a significant amount of wear and tear from constant train traffic and weather exposure. To keep the train system safe and reliable, these ties must be replaced every so often with new ones. So what happens to the used railroad ties? Sometimes they are sold for repurposing, providing a source of wood for furniture building, landscaping and other small craft industries. The volume of replaced railroad ties, however, requires a larger-scale solution. Many biomass power facilities have discovered an ideal fuel source in railroad ties, as their benefits are compelling. Railroad tie fuel (RTF) allows biomass boilers to operate more efficiently by complementing higher-moisture fuels like forestry residues. In turn, this enhances healthy forests, promotes recycling for urban wood, allows states to meet renewable energy goals, and reduces methane emissions that would otherwise occur if the ties were left to decompose or be landfilled. As a result of a 2006 case, Natural Resources Defense Council vs. the U.S. EPA, EPA was forced to develop regulations to define what constitutes “fuel” and what is considered “waste.” Earlier this year, the agency issued a draft rule clearly designed to encourage the continued use of RTF. The agency noted the fuel value of railroad ties as a “nonhazardous biomass alternative to fossil fuel.” Nevertheless, the draft rule creates a convoluted test—called the “legitimacy criteria”—that has the net effect of disqualifying potentially 80 percent of all RTF used by the biomass industry. EPA’s proposal limits the use of RTF to boilers, where so-called contaminant levels are similar to fuel oil. Only boilers that currently, or at one time, have installed a fuel oil delivery system can use railroad ties. This disregards the key facts that the emissions are the same whether a boiler uses natural gas or fuel oil, and the agency has, for years, encouraged the energy sector to replace fuel oil with cleaner-
burning natural gas. The net effect of the rule is to restrict railroad ties to only boilers currently or formerly equipped with fuel oil guns. For boilers that do not fit into this category—and there are many—the industry will be forced to spend millions of dollars to install oil systems that will never be used and has a sole purpose of meeting regulatory criteria. Regardless of whether the boiler uses natural gas or fuel oil, the environmental performance is identical. So for identical boilers using railroad ties, the one cofiring with natural gas will be considered using a “waste” while the other cofiring with fuel oil will be considered a “fuel.” In fact, if EPA’s draft rule is adopted in its current form, the environment is ultimately the loser. If railroad ties cannot be used for energy, their fate is a landfill. According to industry estimates, railroad tie fuel would fill an entire football field, 70 stories high, every single year. That material would decompose, creating 1.65 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. Biomass Power Association, along with several of our members who rely on railroad ties to keep their facilities running, submitted comments to the EPA on its proposed rule. Our members alone use approximately 815,000 tons of railroad ties per year, distributed among 13 facilities in seven states. In many cases, this material accounts for 25 percent or more of the facility’s fuel consumption. Under the current drafting of the EPA’s rule, the fuel relied on to generate a significant portion of their power would be disallowed. We are confident that we can find a workable solution and are working with the EPA and our members to ensure the continued use of RTF by biomass facilities. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.biomasspowerassociation.com email@example.com
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 11
A rotary regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) installation by Eisenmann uses a bed of ceramic material to absorb heat from the exhaust gas. The captured heat is used to preheat the incoming process gas stream and destroy air pollutants emitted from process exhaust streams. PHOTO: EISENMANN
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One Size Doesn’t Fit All Best Available Control Technology solutions vary according to project characteristics and site specificities. BY ANNA SIMET
hen We Energies completed its control technology review, or Best Available Control Technology analysis, for its 50-MW biomass power plant now operating in Rothschild, Wis., it evaluated numerous combustion technologies, ultimately selecting a circulating fluidized bed (CFB). That was for several reasons, not the least of which was low generation of nitrogen oxide (NOx), says Terry Carrol, We Energies asset manager. “It allows a much more controlled temperature profile throughout the combustion zone, so the generation of uncontrolled NOx is lower than many other technologies. It also promotes complete combustion of fuel, has excellent fuel mixing and low residence time—the three keys of combustion: time, temperature and turbulence.” CFB technology is considered state-of-the-art for biomass combustion because of its ability to accommodate biomass’s heterogeneous nature, as it often varies in moisture and ash content, Carroll adds.
“Some technologies don’t lend themselves to that sort of fuel diversity over time.” Other BACT mechanisms We Energies chose include selective catalytic reduction and a fabric filter baghouse. “The SRCR (selective regenerative catalytic reduction) system is a widely understood and available control for NOx,” Carroll says. An SRCR doesn’t have a catalyst bed, such as a larger installation like a coal power plant does, so ammonia is injected directly into the boiler at just the right temperature—1,400 to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit—a range in which the ammonia reacts with NOx and dissolves it back into water and nitrogen, reducing emissions in the flue gas stream. A fabric filter baghouse was chosen due to its extremely high particulate collection efficiency, a decision that We Energies made to ensure it would comply with pending Boiler MACT rules, which were undergoing the final rulemaking process at the time.
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 13
How a Baghouse Works Baghouses consist of four basic components: a filter medium (fabric), filter cleaning device, collection hopper and shell. These cylindrical bags hang vertically in fabric filter shells. The number of bags in each shell varies from a few hundred to a few thousand or more. Dirty gas is pushed (positive pressure baghouse) or pulled (negative pressure baghouse) through the fabric filter by a fan. As
the gas passes through the filter, dust in the gas stream collects in a dust cake on the inside or outside of the bags. When the bags are cleaned, the collected particles fall into a hopper and are removed. Baghouses come in three main classifications, based on how they are cleaned—pulse jet, mechanical shaker and reverse air. SOURCE: U.S. EPA
While We Energies’ aforementioned control technology decisions may be categorized as devices, contrary to what its title suggests, Best Available Control Technology does not simply refer to equipment selections. Rather, as defined by the U.S. EPA under the Clean Air Act, it is an emission limitation based on the maximum degree of reduction of emitted air pollutants achievable through currently available methods, systems, and techniques while taking economic, energy, environmental and other costs into consideration. While equipment choices are factors in BACT determinations, other project aspects are also considered. In the case of We Energies, that includes good combustion practices, storage and handling systems, and even paved roads for dust mitigation. “All of our biomass handling systems are in enclosures,” Carroll explains. “Our conveyor galleries are completely enclosed, as is the fuel storage building, and we have a very extensive set of dust collection points. All of the conveyor galleries, fuel receiving hoods, and conveyor transfer points are under negative pressure and pulled into a dust collector—a fabric filter baghouse of its own, a smaller version for which bags collect the cake, they pulse, drop it into a cone and it’s conveyed out.” Yet another BACT mechanism put into place at We Energies is a lime injection system. “Upstream of the baghouse we inject hydrated lime, which floats around in the exit off-duct and clings to the baghouse, where it is able to capture any sulfur dioxides or chlorides that come in with the biomass,” Carroll says. “That was also put 14 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
We Energies performed an extensive BACT analysis for PSD-regulated emissions generated at its 50-MW biomass power plant in Rothschild, Wis. One BACT selection chosen was a fabric filter baghouse (bottom left). PHOTO: WE ENERGIES
into place in anticipation of IB MACT rules. I’m not sure we’d need it today, but we like having it, it’s inexpensive to operate and it does a good job of allowing us to get an extra dose of air cleanup. While some biomass power plants may end up utilizing many of the same technology choices We Energies made, state BACT requirements vary, and one particular emission control device is not an across-the-board solution for any specific emission.
BACT Basics “You’ll hear people say, regenerative selective catalytic reduction is BACT for NOx, and that’s not correct at all,” explains Douglas Morrison of Environmental Law Northwest. “BACT for NOx is the emission limit that could be achieved over the life of the unit if RSCR or some other technical and economically feasible control device is installed. It is an emission limitation—not a control—that represents the lowest achievable emissions considering energy, environmental and technological issues, that the unit can meet over its lifetime. That’s a critical point.”
While there is no definite BACT solution for any given pollutant, some states do have presumptive BACT, says Brandon Mogan, project engineer at Geosyntec Consultants. “That’s simply because there’s been enough BACT analyses done for those types of emission sources and pollutants that there is a fairly good understanding of what will be economically feasible. In states that have presumptive BACT, you can say “We’re going to install an SCR” and that’s considered BACT, and you don’t have to go through the whole BACT analysis process. In other states, you can’t do that, you must go through the process.” So where does the process begin? The very first step is determining pollutants that require BACT, according to both federal and state rules. Federal rules require BACT as part of the PSD New Source Review process. “The Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program applies to new, major stationary sources or major modifications at existing major stationary sources,” Mogan says. “So if I’m building a new plant, I look at all of the emissions generating equipment I’m going to have and calculate my potential to emit. If I have potential to emit over 250 tons per year of any regulated pollutant, then I’m considered a major source under PSD. The only exception for that are greenhouse gases; that’s a different threshold.” If deemed a major source, a developer must go through the whole the PSD process, including a BACT analysis, for every pollutant that will be emitted in what is noted as “significant quantities.” What constitutes “significant quantities” is defined in the PSD rules, for each regulated pollutant. “Some have different significant thresholds, some are much lower than 250 tons,” Mogan says. “For example, NOx is 40 tons per year.” States can be stricter, but not less restrictive, than federal requirements. Many states have even established their own BACT requirements, some which require BACT for even minor sources. “In Wyoming, they say that basically any new source will have to apply BACT, but they do use presumptive BACT,” Mogan says. “Other states just adopt the federal rules, so BACT is not required unless you are a major source.” After emissions subject to BACT are identified, the next step in a BACT analysis is an evaluation of all control devices that could potentially be considered BACT. Once that’s complete, ones that aren’t technically feasible for an application should be eliminated from consideration, Mogan says. “Recently I did a project for a combustion turbine, and some can use steam injection or water injection to control NOx. This particular unit couldn’t be modified because the combustion chamber was too small for water injection, so we eliminated that one; it wasn’t technically feasible.” Once technically unfeasible options are eliminated, remaining devices should be ranked from highest efficiency to lowest efficiency. In areas of nonattainment, it is required that developers use U.S. EPA Lowest Achievable Emission Rate Standards, the most stringent air pollution standard above BACT. If LAER does not apply, a BACT analyses proceeds with an economic study that examines the annual cost of the selection and considers capital costs, maintenance and operating costs, and annual costs of operating the control device versus the amount of pollution control achieved AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 15
BIOMASS GRINDING & CUBING SYSTEMS
BACT vs. LAER “There are several other notable differences between BACT and LAER. BACT is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, where LAER is more uniform for a class or category of source. This case-by-case evaluation of BACT has a large scope of concerns, including energy, environmental and economic impacts. The LAER definition is very rigid and narrower, allowing little argument in the decision other than what is "achieved in practice" and what is the class or category of source. As a result, highly similar sources can have different BACT requirements, but should not, in theory, have different LAER requirements.” –California Air Resources Board
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from the scenario. “The actual number is dollars per ton of pollutant removed,” Mogan explains. “If that number is too high, you determine that control scenario is economically unfeasible and eliminate it. You may also look at secondary environmental impacts—for example, if you use a thermal oxidizer to control carbon monoxide, you’ll make CO2, which is a secondary impact associated with using the thermal oxidizer. At the end of the day, you’ll have a control scenario that you’ll argue is BACT.” Most states require developers to follow the top-down procedure, which is intended to derive the most stringent limit possible. “You should work through that process, although legally speaking, it’s not mandatory, just guidance,” Mogan explains. “If whatever process you go through gets you to a BACT emission limit that is defendable and supportable, it doesn’t matter, but if you don’t follow it, there will be a lot of suspicion about how you got your numbers.” In brief, the EPA defines the top-down process as a method in which all available control technologies are ranked in descending order of effectiveness. The applicant first examines the most stringent, or top alternative, which is established as BACT unless the applicant can demonstrate, and the permitting authority in its informed judgment agrees, that technical considerations, or energy, environmental, or economic impacts justify a conclusion that the most stringent technology is not achievable in that case. If the most stringent technology is eliminated, then the next most stringent alternative is considered.
Technical and Economic Feasibility In Port Angeles, where Morrison assisted Nippon Paper with its 20-MW biomass boiler project, environmentalists argued the project should have installed RSCR, which requires an external heat source to run the catalyst. “Port Angeles does not have natural gas, so that was a critical engineering, economic and technological issue that weighed against using RSCR for a basis for BACT emission limit,” Morrison says. “They weren’t going to ship in propane or liquid natural gas on a barge and set up additional storages to get a little extra NOx reduction; it just doesn’t make sense.” So while an RSCR might be BACT for another project, that wasn’t the case for Nippon Paper. Today, the Port Angeles facility is equipped with an electrostatic precipitator (ESP), heat recovery systems, NOx controls and is a low-emitting unit, Morrison says. But during the development and permitting stages, it struggled with its BACT decision, mostly
on account of environmental group appeals. “They challenged all of our BACT decisions, air permits and how we calculated emissions, but we won it all.” Mogan reiterates the significance of factoring in technical feasibility, as one of his clients working to install a 6-MW biomass boiler to supply process heat for the greenhouses at their facility, and was required to perform a BACT Analysis for PM, PM10, NOx, and CO. One of the control devices identified for the control of PM was a baghouse, which are typically installed on larger units at facilities that have full-time boiler staff to monitor potential fire or safety issues. The greenhouse, however, did not have such a staff member. “It was deemed technically unfeasible from that standpoint,” Mogan says. “In our case, the secondary controls scenario, an ESP was very close in terms of control efficiency. “ During the BACT determination process, the U.S. EPA’s BACT Clearinghouse database provides helpful guidance, as it is a publically available collection of BACT and other technology-based decisions. However, problems may arise when permit limits representing a different project’s BACT decision are posted, and a similar project chooses those limits without doing proper due diligence. “A lot of times those plants aren’t even built—largely because they can’t meet those limits,” Morrison says. “[Clearinghouse posts] don’t establish a valid basis for a BACT decision, though that’s the way it’s done in a lot of instances. For example, one might find a 0.01 NOx limit in Vermont, and try to meet that. But taking a closer look, that plant in Vermont never got built, or it just started operating, and has no data to show it can actually comply with that limit. Going to the BACT Clearinghouse and cherry-picking out the lowest limit for each pollutant isn’t a good permitting practice—it will result in plants that don’t get built.” Furthermore, emissions from one source should not be compared to another source. “An example with biomass is—and this is evident when you look at the Boiler MACT rules—different emission limits are set for different types of boilers,” Morrison says. “A vibrating grate stoker boiler has a very different emissions profile than a fluidized bed boiler, so if your choice is to install a grate-fed stoker boiler, you have to be real careful about using emissions profiles from one to set BACT. If your design is to build a coal-fired power plant, you don’t set BACT on the level of emissions that a natural gas plant is able to meet. Environmental groups will try to do this to drive your emissions limit as low as possible—cherry-pick low emissions profiles from other types of sources and try to get them imposed on your project.” Mogan emphasizes the importance of site-specific analyses for BACT. “It might turn out that because of the size of your emission source, or an existing source that you’re modifying, it will cost more to knock down trees to make a whole new pad for the control device, thus rendering it uneconomically feasible.” And vendor quotes generally provide generic numbers, rather than site-specific. “That [vendor quote] should be used as a starting point, and site-specific engineering and land costs should be added in,” Mogan says. “It’s your property—you know where your control device needs to sit, and that will dictate how much duct and piping you need to install. Or maybe you already have a pollution control system for your plant and you need to figure out what type of new equipment you’ll need to integrate new control system. These may be big factors in overall economic feasibility [of BACT solutions].” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine email@example.com 701-738-4961
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 17
PelletNews Cost per MWh of electricity (at the power station bus bar) Natural gas combined cycle
Conversion: Pulverized coal to pellets
SOURCE: FUTUREMETRICS; A COST EFFECTIVE, JOB CREATING, AND READY TO DEPLOY STRATEGY FOR BASELOAD DISPATCHABLE LOW CARBON POWER GENERATION
Analysis reveals low cost of biomass conversion A new report published by FutureMetrics shows that converting old coal plants to burn wood pellets provides a ready-to-go solution for meeting carbon mitigation goals while creating jobs. The white paper, authored by William Strauss, president of FutureMetrics, and titled “A Cost Effective, Job Creating, and Ready to Deploy Strategy for Baseload Dispatchable Low Carbon Power Generation,” discusses the costs of fuel switching to pellets compared to the costs of other pathways to lower carbon emissions. The analysis performed by Strauss reveals that converting an older pulverized
coal-fired power plant to wood pellets results in cost per MWh that is “surprisingly low and very competitive to other power generation methods.” With regard to price, Strauss noted that the cost of generation is primarily dependent on three factors, including the capital cost to build the plant, the fixed and variable operations and maintenance costs, and the fuel cost. While the analysis shows the cost of wood pellets is approximately 2.88 times the cost of coal on a per-Btu basis, the total cost of generation with wood pellet fuel is actually only 1.387 times more expensive than coal-based generation.
Drax to expand US pellet production As part of its 2013 investor call in February, the Drax Group plc revealed plans to develop up to 2 million tons of additional pellet capacity, primarily in the U.S. Recent announcements in South Carolina and Mississippi indicate the company is moving forward with those plans. Abbeville County, South Carolina, has passed an ordinance that would allow Drax Biomass, a subsidiary of the Drax Group, an option to purchase a 119-acre tract of land for the development of a new pellet plant. According to information released by the county, the proposed pellet manufacturing plant would be located approximately 3 miles from Calhoun Falls, a town on the western border of the state. Drax is also proposing to build a second pellet plant in Mississippi. Documents recently filed with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality state that a unit of Drax is planning to build a pellet plant near Magnolia, Mississippi. The project, proposed under the title Pike BioEnergy LLC, would be located on a 103-acre site.
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The Many Benefits of Replacing Coal With Wood Pellet Fuel BY WILLIAM STRAUSS
Use of fossil fuels is driving a rapid increase in the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans. The combustion of coal, petroleum products and natural gas, as well as land use changes are, in a matter of a few centuries, releasing carbon that was captured over hundreds of millions of years. There is overwhelming consensus that if we are to mitigate the impacts of increasing CO2 concentrations, we need to change how we create energy. But there is also fear that in doing so we will inhibit economic growth and harm business. There is a simple and ready-to-deploy way of mitigating carbon from power generation that is good for growth and business. It is by converting older coal power plants to wood pellets. The cost of power from the converted plants is about the same as power generated from natural gas, and the strategy results in creating, rather than destroying, jobs. As a bonus, the strategy also provides a motivation to sustain and expand our working forests. One might think that there is no way that using wood pellets for fuel in a power plant can compete with fossil fuels. That would be true if the cost of the fuel were the only input to the total cost of generation. If only fuel cost mattered, utility-scale wind and solar power would be free, and nuclear power would be cheap. There are four key components to the equation that calculates the total cost of generation: repayment of the capital cost to build the plant, the fixed and variable operation and maintenance (O&M) costs, the fuel cost, and the plantâ€™s capacity factor. For nuclear plants, there is a fifth component: decommissioning costs. The capacity factor is a ratio of how much power the plant actually generates versus what it could generate if it ran at 100 percent output every day of the year. Capacity factor matters because the cost of each megawatt-hour generated has to contain a portion of the repayment of the capital cost. Lower capacity factors, such as those for wind and solar, put a higher capital cost repayment burden on each megawatt-hour. Conversion of a pulverized coal plant to a pulverized wood pellet plant is relatively straightforward. Coal plants grind the coal into dust and then pneumatically transport that dust to wall-mounted burners in the boiler. The coal dust combusts very rapidly; almost like a liquid fuel. Grinding pellets into dust and using them in essentially the same hardware has been proven to be technically feasible. For example, Englandâ€™s largest power plant has converted two of its six 650-MW boil-
ers to use wood pellet fuel instead of coal. That plant is generating reliably and just as many megawatts are being generated from pellet fuel as from coal. The U.S. has 428 pulverized coal power plants larger than 50 MW, typically aged. For those plants to keep running, most will have to upgrade pollution control systems to meet sulfur, mercury and NOx emissions limits. The good news is that all of those older plants are fully paid for. That means that the initial capital cost component of the total cost equation can be ignored. The amortized capital cost is by far the largest contributor to the total cost of generation. Assuming that plants older than 35 years are fully paid for, even with pellet fuel 2.9 times more expensive per million Btu than coal, a converted coal plant generating power with pellets creates electricity at a rate that is less than one-third of a cent more expensive per kilowatt-hour than natural gas. Electricity generated from pellets in converted coal plants is almost the same cost as electricity generated from natural gas, by far the cheapest way to make new, low-carbon power. Not only does this strategy provide new low-cost, low-carbon capacity, it also has a very positive impact on job creation. It takes 2,540 jobs to provision a 500-MW coal plant with coal. To provision the same-sized power plant with pellet fuel takes 3,480 jobs. Long-term demand for sustainable refined pellet fuel will motivate the preservation of existing working forests. It will provide a strong market signal for investment in improving forest management and expanding the stock of trees in our forested lands. This is a strategy for decarbonization of the power sector that does not increase the cost of power, and actually adds jobs. It also incentivizes the expansion of our working forests, which will increase the amount of carbon sequestered. All of the fears about economic harm that typically paralyze the political process are missing. Our policymakers need to know that there is a way to be proactive on carbon without raising power rates and creating jobs. Author: William Strauss President, FutureMetrics www.futuremetrics.com firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 19
Pressing For Success Focused on innovation, reliability and efficiency, pellet press manufacturers are keeping pace with demands of rapidly expanding pellet markets. BY TIM PORTZ
achine design and manufacturing history books are littered with stories of machines that were initially designed for a particular task in a particular industry, but were modified to perform a similar task in an altogether different industry. The story of wood pelleting presses is one of them. The idea of compressing materials into a pellet originated in the feed industry as a way to conglomerate a variety of feed ingredients. Livestock farmers were discovering that their animals were picking out and eating only certain ingredients from feed bunkers and leaving behind other ingredients, including important nutrients. Pelletizing presses emerged as a means of solving this problem, as these varied components were pelletized forcing livestock to consume every component of the ration.
20 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
“In the late ‘80s, those presses underwent some modification so that they could handle the stress of pelletizing wood. Pellets made from feed products pelletize much easier than wood,” says Mike Curci, capital sales manager of biomass for Andritz. Scott Anderson, general sales manager for CPM, echoes that sentiment. “Pelleting wood is not a single thing. It is one of the most difficult things that you can attempt to pelletize,” he says. “The customers have very tight quality specifications. It is a real challenge taking a natural product with the variations that you are going to get in nature and spitting out a consistent, tightly controlled final product.” The fundamentals of making a wood pellet are common throughout the industry. Essentially, making a pellet is an exercise in extrusion. Woody material is
INDUSTRY WORKHORSE: Originally developed to serve the animal feed sector, pellet press manufacturers beefed up their designs to lend utility to the forest products industry. Their efforts have been handsomely rewarded as most major manufacturers of pellet presses are aggressively growing their business in the wood pellet segment. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ, BBI INTERNATIONAL
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 21
¦PELLET driven through a die under extreme pressure and cut to length. Material is forced completely through the die by new material entering the other end of the die. It is here that the commonalities end and the differences between pellet presses begin to become evident. While subtle variations abound from manufacturer to manufacturer, generally pellet presses can be distinguished from one another in two ways. The first is the means by which power from the motors is delivered to the pellet press. The second is the shape of the die itself.
Gear Driven vs Belt Driven All pellet presses rely on horsepower generated by large electric motors. The manner in which this power is delivered to the press itself is where the differences can be found. The power from these motors is transferred either by gears or a belt. Both gear-and beltdriven pellet presses can be found throughout the industry, and the manufacturers of each stand ready to articulate the value of their approach. “We are a gear-driven pellet mill,” says Anderson. “Some customers, many users, have a feeling that a gear drive is a less desirable design than a belt drive design. That’s a situation that we frequently have to overcome. We talk about the robustness, the lower overall maintenance cost of a single reduction gear drive, versus the cost of
GRAVITY IS GOOD: This schematic of an Amandus Kahl flat die pellet press illustrates how this particular configuration utilizes gravity to bring new material into the pellet chamber. Unlike with a ring die, the rollers on a flat die move around the die forcing the incoming material into and through the die. PHOTO: AMANDUS-KAHL
AN EYE ON ROLL WEAR: Bliss Industries Inc. has continued to refine its deflector design inside the pelleting chamber to ensure that each roll processes the same amount of incoming material. This not only prolongs roll life, but it synchronizes wear so that all rolls need replacement at the same time, limiting down time. PHOTO: BLISS INDUSTRIES INC.
22 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
Using the baseline of 20 lbs. of pellet production per horsepower hour as a baseline, what level of throughput is your facility currently experiencing?
For parts, service, and roller/die refurbishment I rely on:
replacing belts, even if it’s just the preventative maintenance aspect and the energy efficiency of a gear drive versus a belt drive, which can be substantial.” Manufacturers of belt-driven pellet presses are quick to remind their prospects and customers of the risk of using gear-driven presses: the shock that results when wet material or tramp metals show up in the pelleting chamber and that sudden energy is transferred directly back to a gear box. “The v-belt drive protects the pellet mill from severe shock loads and pelleting surges, thus reducing potential damage to the motor and machine,” says Curci about Andritz’s belt-driven approach. Gear-driven manufacturers note that belts cannot completely transfer the energy from the motor without some loss, while beltdriven manufacturers assert that the power loss with belts is modest. Jase Locke, the biofuels application manager at Ponca City, Okla.based Bliss Industries says of Bliss’s belt-driven presses, “We feel that with our machine the way it is set up and driven, our belt is 95 percent efficient transferring that horsepower from the motor down to the front end.”
Ring Die vs Flat Die
Before introducing feedstock into the pellet press, my facility treats the biomass with:
A difference that is easier to visually discern is the shape and position of the pellet die itself. The names of the dies aptly describe their differences in shape, but there are also differences between the two approaches that are not immediately evident. In ring die pellet presses, the die itself moves around a series of rollers, whereas in flat die pellet presses, the die is stationary and the rollers move around a vertically oriented shaft and deliver power downward onto the die. Patrick Clark, Amandus Kahl vice president of sales and marketing, points to the advantages of this die orientation, saying, “feedstock that is light and fluffy and has difficulty flowing can create problems for pellet producers. With a flat die press the material comes straight into the pelleting chamber via gravity. We also have an excellent transfer of energy for hard materials; the woods, and the hulls off of cereal grains.”
Normal Wear and Tear
Producer Survey Biomass Magazine conducted a survey of North American pellet producers asking questions about the pellet presses installed at their facilities, the maintenance of those presses and their wearable parts and the throughput they are experiencing. The charts above are based on the results of that survey.
For pellet producers, the name of the pellet-press game, regardless of style, is to keep them up, on line and making pellets. Any downtime a producer experiences, whether planned or unplanned, means lost revenue. Pellet press original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) know and keep this top of mind as they design and build their machines. “I think the biggest key to a pellet producer’s success is efficiency and reliability,” says Curci. “We all know that margins are very slim and if we can help protect those margins for the producer, that is key.” Pellet press OEMs deploy a number of design strategies to extend the lifetime of the wearable parts while also trying to synch up component life cycles so that items are ready to be
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 23
¦PELLET serviced or replaced at or around the same time. Amandus Kahl extended the life of bearings by slowing down the main shaft. “Our main shaft speed is approximately four times slower than others, so we’ve got increased bearing life,” says Clark. For Bliss Industries, distributing roller wear evenly in its three-roller presses synchronizes roller wear for the 33 plants that operate their presses. “If you look at a two-
roll press, the leading roll gets about 70 percent of the material, and the back roll gets 30 percent,” says Locke, “so that leading roll wears out faster than the back roll. With the Bliss three-roll press and the way we feed it, each roll gets about 33 percent of the material. In pellet facilities, down time means lost money, so we want everything to wear out those rolls evenly.” In an increasingly competitive environment, press OEMs are acutely aware of the
ongoing costs of operating their and their competitor’s presses. “If our capital expense is higher,” says Anderson, “we’ve got to demonstrate our value through a lower overall operating expense.”
Robust Demand Across Entire Industry Articulating their competitive advantages is top of mind for OEMs as the pellet market continues to experience a robust period of growth. For CPM, the robust activity in planning and building of export-scale facilities drove a decision late last summer to put together a sales and marketing team with an exclusive focus on this market. “That demand is certainly one of the things that showed us that we need to carve out a group dedicated solely to the wood pellet industry,” says Anderson. “That was a decision that was made due to two main factors. One is the predominance of European companies that are either partially or wholly owners of new industrial wood pellet plants that are being built in the Americas, as well as that group’s broader experience with modern pellet plants.” Curci, too, sees increased activity with producers and developers eyeing the growing export market. “What we’re seeing is a trend where we’re moving away from the infancy of 24 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
PELLET¦ sign changes. Dieffenbacher has introduced a pellet press that is capable of producing up to 20 tons of pellets per hour from a single unit. CPM continues to support four manufacturing centers globally and has just opened a parts and service facility in Jackson, Miss., to support customers in the Southeast U.S. Bliss Industries, while admittedly a much smaller organization, is feeling the market pull created by this export market after having won the business for pellet presses at the recently built and
commissioned, Go Green International pellet facility, a 200,000-ton facility near Paige, Texas. Growing industries generate profits and drive reinvestment within their supplier base. As the pellet industry grows, innovation will undoubtedly continue to emerge from the industry’s enviable stable of pellet press OEMs. Author: Tim Portz Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine email@example.com 701-738-4969
A COMMON SIGHT: While the wood pellet business represents only around 5 percent of global manufacturer Andritz’s business, it manages to capture a fair share of the market. There are currently over 500 of this particular machine installed throughout the world’s wood pellet industry. PHOTO: ANDRITZ
the industry and we are starting to mature,” he says. “With that maturity we’re seeing a lot of activity with large-scale producers.” While all OEMs are aggressively calling on and targeting the up-and-coming fleet of export-scale facilities, no one is overlooking the continued opportunities amongst existing, operating pellet mills that service the residential market, particularly after last winter’s heating season. “Some of these smaller facilities, especially with last year’s heating season being as strong as it was, now have the opportunity and the ability, both financially and marketwise, to add a little extra capacity,” Curci says. Clark agrees. “That 50,000 to 100,000 ton a year market is still there with last winter’s extreme cold and extreme fuel prices, the wood pellet market is still there to offset that,” he adds. Locke notes that existing Bliss customers are thinking similarly. “We’ve seen our existing customers adding capacity going into this year’s heating season and we’re very hopeful that they do so.” Still, the market inertia delivered by the rapidly growing demand for wood pellets overseas is moving press OEMs to react, with both organizational changes and de-
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Visit WOODMASTER.COM to see our full product line. AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 25
ThermalNews Grants to woody biomass projects Biomass Thermal Energy Council
Develop efficiency test procedures for biomass boilers
Cook Forest Products
Purchase Peterson wood chipper
Maine Energy Systems
Develop pellet distribution facilities and a pellet boiler showroom
Rocky Mountain Wood
Develop a community scale pellet plant
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SOURCE: MASSACHUSETTS RENEWABLE THERMAL BUSINESS INVESTMENT FINANCING PROGRAM
Massachusetts funds 5 thermal biomass projects Massachusetts has granted $3.5 to nine renewable thermal projects through the new Massachusetts Renewable Thermal Business Investment Financing Program, with five of those grants supporting wood pellet and wood chips projects. Funds for the grants are drawn from the state’s Alternative Compliance Payment fund, which are payments made by electricity suppliers when they do not meet state renewable energy portfolio obligations. Each year these ACP funds are allocated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. A variety of technologies are eligible for funding under the new program, including woody biomass, grass pellets, advanced biofuels, biogas, solar thermal, and inverter driven air and ground source heat pumps.
Minnesota college to install biomass boiler Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is upgrading its boiler system to use locally sourced wood fuel. The college hopes the project will serve as a case study for other heating districts of its size. Over the past several years, the college and its partners, which include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Swedish Bioenergy Association, have been investigating using wood fuel. “There are a few reasons why we think that’s important, but one of the main ones is that we live in a region of the U.S. where the forest products industry has a history of being prevalent, but it is in a declining state,” said Bart Johnson, project manager. With a $112,000 grant from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources and nearly $1 million in state bonds, the college launched a request for proposals design and bid documents in June. The goal is to have the new biomass system installed next year, but the project could take until 2016 to complete.
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EPA APPROVED MODELS: Central Boiler has developed outdoor wood gasification furnaces that disprove preconceived notions about emissions and efficiencies of wood heating.With its three-stage combustion process, the E-Classic burns wood more completely for higher efficiencies. PHOTO: CENTRAL BOILER
Warming Up To Outdoor Wood Heaters Outdoor wood appliance manufacturers are feeling the heat of new regulations, but many were already focused on providing cleaner and more efficient systems. BY KATIE FLETCHER
umans have been burning wood as a primary source of heat for many centuries, and its use has evolved greatly over time. Along with demand for new applications and means of increasing the use of inexpensive and renewable wood heat, environmental concerns have also grown. The wood heat sector has responded by producing cleaner and more efficiently designed units for a multitude of applications, from residential-sized outdoor wood boilers for heating swimming pools to commercial-sized hot air pellet furnaces for heating poultry farms. Current trends in the small-scale wood heat sector lean toward indoor wood chip and pellet boilers and stoves, but traditional outdoor 28 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
wood boilers, or hydronic heaters, are still widely used today, despite the units being amongst the most heavily scrutinized appliances in the wood heating sector. This likely spurred the outdoor wood industry to approach the U.S. EPA requesting more regulation, to move away from the wood heat pollution poster child it had become. The EPA’s New Source Performance Standard for residential wood heaters has been around for years, but proposed changes place pressure on all manufacturers to redesign wood heaters to become cleaner and lower emitting. Many manufacturers are embracing the proposed emission standards and have produced models certified by EPA’s phase-two voluntary program, which requires no more than 0.32
PELLETS FOR POULTRY: This Lee Energy Solutions BIO wood pellet furnace brings dry heat to a poultry farm in Blountsville, Ala. The benefit of the zero moisture content results in drier litter, improved bird health and reduced ammonia and odors. PHOTO: LEE ENERGY SOLUTIONS
pounds of fine particles per million Btu of heat with a maximum individual test run of 18.0 grams per hour. These furnaces virtually shatter every preconceived notion about emissions and efficiencies of wood heating. Non-EPA qualified, traditional outdoor wood furnaces that are purchased before the final rule will be grandfathered in. The final rule is expected to be announced in 2015, and although the heat is on, many manufacturers are optimistic about adapting to the changing standards. Northwest Manufacturing Inc. WoodMaster and Central Boiler Inc. are two of the manufacturers working with the EPA to set new testing standards, and have EPA qualified models available for purchasing. Lee Energy Solutions LLC is another manufacturer in the sector creating carbon neutral, commercial pellet furnaces in the U.S. South, for use predominantly at poultry farms and greenhouses. The environment and customers are meant to benefit from the standards; they may even be warming up the public to the idea of the units as an option for clean, safe and efficient energy. John Ackerly, president of the Alliance for Green Heat and board member of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, believes the way to move forward is to have restrictions. “These regulations help the industry maintain standard, public support for the technology, and it makes us have a higher priority on clean air,” he says. Clean air is something outdoor wood and pellet heating systems can offer. According to studies posted by Central Boiler Inc., there are more than 16 million fireplaces used in homes in the U.S. with reportedly only 200,000 outdoor wood furnaces. Many wood boilers can actually heat a home with less wood burned and far fewer particulate
matter (PM) emissions than heating the same home with fireplaces. This is because the number of fireplaces or wood stoves required to heat the home would have comparable emissions to those from a single outdoor wood furnace heating that same home. When choosing between these indoor and outdoor options, manufacturers say outdoor models work better to uniformly heat the entire home without a mess. “Outdoor is typically designed for home heating to keep the mess and fire hazard outside, and have the option to heat multiple buildings,” says Chuck Gagner, president of Northwest Manufacturing Inc. WoodMaster. Minidistrict heating is what Gagner is referring to, or the ability to heat multiple buildings. The wood heat sector sees this as one of the best applications of the technology, in which two or more buildings are heated from the same boiler in the yard. If an outdoor boiler is a desired option, there are a few considerations to take into account; the type of application should be the first. After determining the application, time must be dedicated to understanding details of how to operate the machinery, as well as weighing the pros and cons of each unit. And because of policy changes surrounding the units, what manufacturers are doing to improve the image and efficiency of their products may be something to consider.
Potential Applications The type of application and surrounding conditions will help determine whether the desired benefits are attainable. Ultimately, outdoor furnaces should be considered as a replacement when wanting heat for AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 29
an entire building. “An outdoor wood furnace is a good choice for replacing fossil fuel energy when the goal is to replace the entire heat load with wood-fired energy that can be thermostatically controlled heat for entire homes and other applications,” says Rodney Tollefson, vice president of Central Boiler Inc. Outdoor wood heating has primarily been applied in rural, colder climates where end users can source their own wood. Central Boiler’s main applications are for home and domestic water heating. “Other applications are resorts, lodges, swimming pools, greenhouses, brooder barns, dairy farm water heating, warehouses, small businesses, aquaculture and snow melt,” Tollefson says. Often, use of these units derives from identifying the need for it personally. Suppliers to the industry are no exception. “I had a need, personally, for an outdoor furnace, and living and working on the farm with access to equipment, I just built my own furnace,” Gagner says. “I built the first furnace and then started the company and partnered with my brothers.” Warmer climates have also been brought into the sector looking for an alternative. “We were agricultural guys looking for an option held hostage by propane,” says Wes Cumbie, Lee Energy Solutions vice president of sales and marketing.
Operation Details The use of biomass such as wood chips and pellets is one way to loosen dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oils. “Wood pellets
are much more stable on a cost per million Btu basis, probably the most stable fuel, whereas propane and fuel oil are the most volatile fuel sources,” Gagner explains. Although a stable fuel source, people in the wood heat sector stress that the treatment of the fuel will determine the success and amount of smoke of the wood heating system. According to Cumbie, Lee Energy’s dry heat furnace, “when running at 100 percent burn rate, a cigarette puts off more smoke.” One reason for the disparity in smoke is how the unit functions. In a nut shell, the company’s furnaces heat air, and then a blower motor moves the warmed air through a duct system. A boiler heats water, which then flows through a network of pipes in a building or home. When it comes to boilers, successful fueling of the system boils down to the enduser. One of the keys is to use dry, seasoned wood. “Seasoned wood is by far cleaner, more efficient, uses less fuel and is less corrosive,” says Jeremy Hanson, Northwest Manufacturing Inc. WoodMaster commercial sales representative. “If you want to get the most out of your wood, you should be cutting and seasoning it a year before you burn it,” Tollefson adds. “It will reduce your wood consumption by 20 to 30 percent; when you have unseasoned wood about 50 percent of the weight is water.” Users also “need to be absolutely confident that whatever boiler they choose it’s properly sized,” says Charlie Niebling, chair of BTEC and consultant with Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC. Properly sizing the unit will ensure even heat throughout the home, as well as achieving the highest efficiencies possible. When properly
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MASTER OF PELLETS: The WoodMaster Ultra Series Pellet Furnace’s fully automatic Progammable Logic Control allows ease of operation and the burn back protection keeps it operating safely. PHOTO: WOODMASTER
sized, many wood heating systems burn for 12 hours before they need to be reloaded. Efficiencies range based on the model of the furnace. Manufacturers will agree that some of the older models lack in efficiency, but that the EPA phase two certified models are demonstrating efficiencies as high as 90 percent. “Central Boiler furnaces can operate with efficiencies between 60 and 90 percent,” Tollefson says. “The Central Boiler E-Classic furnaces have been tested at 80 to 90 percent efficient.” WoodMaster has similar ranges with their EPA certified gasification models in the 80 to 90 percent efficiency range. Lee Energy also demonstrated comparable efficiency at 80 to 82 percent with the unit capability of 66 pounds of pellets an hour, at 540,000 to 550,000 Btu. The combustion of WoodMaster and Central Boiler furnaces were more difficult to estimate with the wide range of units. “Normally, the
heaters we sell are for heat loads of 50,000 to 350,000 Btu per hour for residential applications,” Tollefson says. Beyond the sizing of the furnace, the installation of the unit is important to ensure efficiency. “The furnace is usually installed 30 feet or more from the building or buildings being heated,” Tollefson says. Lee Energy’s commercial pellet furnaces are typically set on concrete pads outside the structure to be heated. “We will set our heater on that pad and then right next to the heater will be a 15 to 20 ton storage bin that pellets go into in bulk, and they are automatically loaded through an auger feed system,” Cumbie explains. A customized collapsible duct system is also installed. The outdoor hydronic heater is designed to work with any existing heating system. Water-to-air or water-to-water heat exchangers or direct circulation conveys the heat into the structure's forced-air furnace,
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 31
HEATING YOUR HOME: The Central Boiler outdoor furnace works with any existing heating system. A water jacket surrounds the furnace firebox and heat exchanger, and heated water is circulated to your home or building through insulated underground pipes.
radiant baseboard or radiant floor heating system. This allows for normal thermostatic temperature control. While it is important for customers to know the basic set up of their desired wood heating system, what many direct their attention to are the major benefits and drawbacks.
Pros and Cons The main drawbacks to wood-burning systems result from maintenance and user error. Ash buildup needs removal every week or so, depending on how much wood is being burned. Lee Energy’s BIO pellet furnace needs cleaning just about every day if burning hard. Beyond general ash removal, some are deterred from the labor of manually loading many of the outdoor furnaces once or twice a day. The biggest drawback comes with the customer’s capacity of misusing the technology. “It is very difficult to control how people choose to use the equipment, namely what they choose to burn,” Hanson says. “If they are burning wet wood or nonbiomass materials, emissions are a concern.” Although there are a few setbacks to the technology, it is the benefits that increasingly draw customers to the products. “The No. 1 is fuel savings, significant fuel savings,” Hanson says. The prices of Central Boiler and WoodMaster units are comparable. “The units themselves run from about $5,500 for residential
32 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
on up to about $12,000,” Tollefson says. “You are going to have anywhere between $1,000 to $4,000 in labor and parts involved in installing them.” Commercial sizes run higher. “The typical layout of what a customer buys for turnkey ducting, manufacturing, installation, brings the unit to around $17,000 to $21,000 depending on where you are,” Cumbie says. Many units last for 20-plus years, with fuel savings offsetting the purchase price and installation of the units usually within the first three years. “After that, it is in effect generating money compared to fossil fuels,” Tollefson says. “We find more than 50 percent of the people that own our furnaces cut their own wood, which results in eliminating their heating costs. If purchasing wood, normally, they save 80 percent of the heating cost.” In addition, some insurance companies prefer outdoor wood burning furnaces over indoor wood stoves because all combustion is removed from the home or building. This removes the fire hazard and carbon monoxide risk. Beyond keeping a thicker wallet, the environment is another big draw. Wood is renewable and considered carbon neutral, conserving fossil fuels for the future and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Rectifying an Image Innovation and collaboration with the EPA is at the forefront of the change in image. Some manufacturers have worked closely with the EPA in helping to set performance standards. WoodMaster’s gasification models and Central Boiler’s E-Classic models both meet EPA’s voluntary phase-two program standards, and are ready for the drafted NSPS. “There has also been an effort to educate consumers of proper installation and operating practices when using outdoor wood furnaces for the best performance,” Tollefson says. This education comes from many groups in the wood heat sector. “BTEC, Pellet Fuels Institute, Heating the Northeast, and Heating the Midwest do a great job of educating the general public and raising awareness of the benefits of heating with biomass,” Hanson says. Best burn practices have been developed in conjunction with EPA, Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association and manufacturers, he added. Although the heat is on for manufacturers to produce cleaner, more efficient units, it seems that the resulting innovation will ultimately warm customers and the general public to the prospect of outdoor wood heat, and spur advancement throughout the entire sector. “I give a lot of credit to manufacturers, they’ve come a long way and have worked very hard to improve the efficiency, combustion and performance.” Niebling says. Author: Katie Fletcher Staff Writer, Biomass Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org 701-738-4920
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 33
BiogasNews 1.6 MW CHP system will produce approximately 10.8 million kWh of electricity and a similar amount of heat energy
The project will generate 16,000 tons of Gold Standard carbon credits annually
The AD facility will prrocess 73,000 tons of poultry manure each year
AD project under development in Missouri This fall, BioStar Systems LLC will begin construction of a biogas production facility in Pettis County, Missouri. The project is designed to use anaerobic digestion (AD) and an integrated series of conventional wastewater treatment technologies to convert 73,000 tons of poultry manure per year from Rose Acre Farms’ Johnson County Egg Farm into renewable energy and premium pathogen-free, organic fertilizer. The proposed facility plans to utilize the farm’s existing manure collection infra-
structure to deliver feedstock to a continuously stirred tank reactor AD system. The biogas produced from the digestion process is conditioned and used to fuel a 1.6 MW combined-heat-and-power set. BioStar Systems is an outgrowth of an integrated waste management system developed by Dennis Crabtree, BioStar Systems co-founder and chief technology officer. The facility will be owned and operated by a special purpose entity, JCEF BioStar LLC.
Bluesphere plans several AD projects International waste-to-energy company Bluesphere Corp. is expanding its presence in the Northeast with the development of anaerobic digestion projects in North Carolina, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The company recently received an air permit for its biogas project in Charlotte, North Carolina, began developing a 3.2 MW project in Johnston, Rhode Island, and has signed a memorandum of understanding with a local developer to develop a waste-to-energy project in the Boston metropolitan area. 34 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
All three facilities are being constructed by Austep, an Italian engineering company that manages the development of biogas plants from concept to production. Austep has 253 facilities in Europe. The Charlotte facility will be the company’s first U.S. project. Bluesphere signed an engineering procurement and construction agreement for a turnkey commissioning of the project earlier this year. The designing and engineering of the Charlotte facility is now underway.
Renewable Fuel Standard Rules Give Boost to Biogas BY AMANDA BILEK
In early July, the U.S. EPA published a final rule for the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program that expands pathways for biogas-based fuel to help meet numeric goals for cellulosic and advanced fuel. The final renewable fuel pathway and modification rule is anticipated to provide a significant boost for biogas projects designed to supply a source of renewable and low-carbon transportation fuel. Under the final rule, biogas captured from anaerobic digestion using organic material at landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, agricultural operations or from separated municipal solid waste (MSW) is eligible to sell renewable fuel credits to obligated parties. Biogas must be cleaned and used as a renewable replacement for compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquid natural gas (LNG). Commercial equipment and technology is available in the marketplace to process raw biogas for use as a transportation fuel. In addition to the CNG and LNG pathways, if biogas is used to produce electricity and the generated electricity is used to power an electric vehicle, the volume of biogas utilized by the electric vehicle is also an eligible renewable fuel pathway under the rule. These specifications are critical in order to tap the enormous potential of the U.S. biogas resource. When the RFS was expanded in 2007, there were only a handful of biogas projects in the U.S. that utilized biogas as a transportation fuel. The majority of operational biogas projects were producing electricity from collected biogas. Even though biogas as transportation fuel was more common outside of the U.S., it was visionary to include biogas as a qualifying renewable fuel pathway in the expanded RFS. It has taken several years to spell out specific program rules that will take advantage of our biogas resources, but this latest rule is significant because biogas pathways can be used
to help meet volumetric targets for advanced or cellulosic renewable fuels. Utilizing biogas to generate cellulosic fuel opens up a much larger—and more valuable—pool within the RFS. Each year since the RFS was expanded in 2007, EPA has had to revise downward the annual volumetric requirement for cellulosic fuels as specified in the statute. Biogasbased fuels have always been an eligible advanced fuel, but the volumetric targets for cellulosic fuels are much higher, which provides more room to bring biogas-based fuels to market. Additionally, since the cellulosic volumes have been harder to reach, the credits used to track program compliance have had a higher value, thereby improving the economic rate of return for biogas fuel projects. In recent years we have also witnessed a shift toward transportation fuel utilization from collected biogas, especially for new projects coming on line. Although there might be a higher capital cost for biogas-based transportation fuel projects, the value from selling compliance credits for the renewable fuel program has helped to improve project economics. A combination of financial incentives or additional revenue streams is needed to make a project cash flow. There is little doubt that allowing biogas-based transportation fuel projects to sell either advanced biofuel or cellulosic compliance credits will give a big boost to U.S. projects, and I hope we will see even more projects brought on line as a result of the final pathway rule. Author: Amanda Bilek Government Affairs Manager, Great Plains Institute 612-278-7118 email@example.com
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 35
FARM FRESH BIOGAS: The anaerobic digester and biogas upgrading facility at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana processes the manure from about 8,000 dairy cows and produces transportation fuel from the biogas. PHOTO: U.S. EPA AGSTAR
No Separation Anxiety Numerous biogas upgrading technologies are being used in today’s expanding market. BY KEITH LORIA
iogas upgrading and the production of biomethane is a stateof-the-art-process of gas separation, and a number of proven technologies currently exist to fulfill the task of producing a biomethane stream of sufficient quality. These commercially available technologies have proven to be both technically and economically feasible. Lars-Evert Karlsson, global product line manager for Bremen, Germany-based Purac Puregas, which designs and delivers biogas upgrading 36 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
plants, says biogas production is growing around the world and there is an increasing demand for upgraded biogas to be used as vehicle fuel or injected to the natural gas grid. “To enable the efficient use of biogas in these applications, the gas must be upgraded—for example, the carbon dioxide, which constitutes a large part of the raw biogas from the digester, must be separated from the methane,” he says. “Methods commercially available today include amine scrubbers, water scrubbers, pressure swing adsorption (PSA) units, organic scrubbers and membrane units.”
BIOGAS¦ Ricardo Hamdan, management consultant for Greenlane Biogas Limited, Vancouver, British Columbia, says amine and cryogenic methods are also used, but are less common than water scrubbing, pressure swing absorption and membranes due to their higher cost. A recent Swedish Gas Technology Centre (SGC) report written by Fredric Bauer, Christian Hulteberg, Tobias Persson and Daniel Tamm shows that for midscale applications, the most common options are all viable. “The scrubbing technologies all perform well and have similar costs of investment and operation,” says Karlsson, who contributed to the SGC report. “The simplicity and reliability of the water scrubber has made this the preferred choice in many applications, but the high purity and very low methane slip from amine scrubbers are important characteristics.” The SGC report finds that the investment costs for PSA and membrane units are about the same as they are for scrubbers, yet recent developments of the membrane units have made it possible to reach low methane slips.
Understanding the Choices Hamdan and Greenline contributed to the recent American Biogas Council’s interactive report, “Biogas to Biomethane/Renewable Natural Gas,” which explains how each of the methods work. “It is an OPEX vs. CAPEX game,” he says. “Most are comparable, but while membranes are the least expensive on capex, the operating cost is way higher than the water scrubber or PSA, for example.” Stephanie Thorson, business development leader with the Biogas Association, explains that the biogas will include substances that will need to be removed in order to inject it into the pipeline, including carbon dioxide, water, hydrogen sulfide, oxygen, nitrogen, ammonia, siloxanes and particles. “Concentrations depend on the compositions of the substrates used to create the biogas,” she says. “To prevent corrosion and mechanical wear of the equipment, it can be advantageous to clean the gas before upgrading.” The most widely used technologies for biogas upgrading are the following, as described by the International Gas Union. Pressure swing adsorption: This technology purifies the gas by way of adsorption of impurities on active coal or zeolites. Physical absorption: Water or another liquid such as alcohol can be used to bind carbon dioxide. This is called water scrubbing or pressurized water wash. Chemical absorption: Chemical absorption is comparable to water absorption. A liquid such as amine is chemically bonded to the carbon dioxide. In order to recycle the solution, a heat treatment is applied. Membrane separation: Methane can be separated from carbon dioxide using semipermeable membranes. The force can be a pressure difference, a concentration gradient, or an electrical potential difference. Cryogenic separation: Trace gases and carbon dioxide are removed by cooling down the gas in various temperature steps. “Because of the high cost of upgrading, it is important to choose a system that has low energy consumption and high efficiency, giving high methane content in the upgraded gas,” according to Thorson, who authored “Farm to Fuel: Developers’ Guide to Biomethane,” to help farmers determine if biomethane production is a good fit for their farm and operations. “The best technology choice is based on the parameters of your plant, such as the prices of electricity and heat. It is possible to lower the methane loss, but at the expense of higher energy consumption.”
For biomethane projects, the size, level of automation and the complexity of the system determines the amount of hours per week required to operate the system. This can range from one part-time operator for several hours each day to full-time operators. Arthur Wellinger, managing director of Triple E&M, an internationally operating consulting company located in Aadorf, Switzerland, and general manager of the Swiss Biomass Association, says in Europe, water washing is the most commonly used method. “It is—next to PSA—the oldest technology and still reasonably good,” he says. “Other technologies are increasing fast like chemical absorption and membranes. Chemical absorption has the lowest methane emission without any further treatment with the lowest electricity consumption, however, a high heat consumption that has to be produced in most cases by renewable energy.”
Equipment Needed Just as the methods are different, according to Hamdan, the equipment needed for each technology is drastically different. “Most will have a booster blower, a compressor to work under pressure, vessels with an absorber (either water or a chemical), dryers and a booster compressor to send to either pipeline or vehicles,” he says. Looking at amine scrubbing, Karlsson says the use of reactive systems for removing CO2 from biogas is not a brand new notion, but it is less common compared to other technologies such as PSA and water scrubbing. “The synopsis of features of the technology is to use a reagent that chemically binds to the CO2 molecule, removing it from the gas,” he says. “This is most commonly performed using a water solution of amines (molecules with carbon and nitrogen), with the reaction product being either in the molecular or ion form.” The technology consists of an absorber, in which the CO2 is removed from the biogas, and a stripper, in which the CO2 is removed from the amine solution. While not yet commercially available, Karlsson notes that new process designs have been suggested, in which double absorption columns will be used, one of which is pressurized to increase the solubility of carbon dioxide in the solvent and thus increase the separation of the gases. As described in the SGC report, pressure swing adsorption is a dry method used to separate gases via physical properties. Explaining PSA on a macro level, the raw biogas is compressed to an elevated pressure, and then fed into an adsorption column, which retains the carbon dioxide but not the methane. When the column material is saturated with carbon dioxide, the pressure is released, and the carbon dioxide can be desorbed and led into an offgas stream. For a continuous production, several columns are needed as they will be closed and opened consecutively. PSA unit characteristics include feeding pressure, purging pressure, adsorbent, cycle time and column interconnectedness among other things. Karlsson says that a common design for PSA units includes four columns with one of the columns always engaged in adsorption, while the other three are in different phases of regeneration. Membrane separation has been around since 1990, and the ability to combine high methane recovery with high methane concentration requires selective membranes and suitable design, as the membranes used for biogas upgrading retain most of the methane, while most of the carbon dioxide permeates through the membrane. AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 37
¦BIOGAS Operating Biogas Upgrading Plants in Europe
According to “Membrane Technology and Applications,” written by R.W. Baker, the permeation rate through a typical membrane (made of a glassy polymer) used in biogas applications is mainly depending on the size of the molecules, but also on the hydrophilicity. There are several membranes on the market today used for biogas upgrading, including two types of polymeric (glassy polymers), hollow fiber membranes (Air Liquide MedalTM and Evonik Sepuran) and one carbon membrane (manufactured by MemfoACT AS). The membranes are continuously improved to get higher selectivity, higher permeability and cheaper manufacturing.
38 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
Hamdan describes a water scrubber as a physical scrubber that uses the fact that carbon dioxide has much higher solubility than methane in water. In a water scrubber, carbon dioxide is separated from the raw biogas and dissolved into the water in the absorption column by using high pressure, normally 6 to 10 bar. Carbon dioxide is then released from the water again in the desorption column by addition of air at atmospheric pressure. Some water scrubbers are also equipped with a heat recovery system that can be used to heat the digester. Pros and Cons Hamdan emphasizes that regardless of the technology chosen, it could fit in a wastewater treatment plant, a large landfill, or a simple farm. “The versatility of the product is important. Also the market potential, how big it is and how the switch to natural gas in transportation fuel and the deployment of this natural gas infrastructure will help biogas projects flourish as customers find value on renewable natural gas—the purified biogas, which is equivalent in composition with regular natural gas,” he says. “In the U.S., transportation fuel and the RIN market is driving the deployment of RNG.” He explains the pros and cons of each method as follows: Physical Solvent (other than water): “The pros are a high absorption rate, high-CH4 yields are possible, and it can deliver biomethane at low pressure. The cons include the solvent is dangerous to handle, it’s complex with a difficult control system, there’s a prohibitive capital cost for new equipment and the biogas/landfill gas contaminants cause foaming.” Physical Membrane (high-pressure process): “The benefits in-
BIOGAS¦ Split ofBiomethane biomethane upgrading units in Europe in 2012 Upgrading Units in Europe in 2012 8%/18 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA)
Water Scrubber (Absorbtion)
Physical Absorption Chemical Absorption Membrane Separation
23% - percentage of upgrading units 53 - number of upgrading units
Figure 5: Split of biomethane upgrading units in Europe in 2012 SOURCE: EUROPEAN BIOGAS ASSOCIATION (EBA): BIOGAS REPORT 2013
clude its low capital cost, simple plant and experience upgrading LFG. Meanwhile, the disadvantages are a low biomethane purity, high energy consumption and membranes foul and require replacement.” PSA/VSA (pressure swing absorption, vacuum swing adsorption): “The good things about this method are it can remove some inert gasses, often with an additional process module and a low-efficiency version is cost-effective for the small-scale operator. Cons include the media could become fouled and require replacement, problems maintaining a high CH4 recovery, bed fluidization causes “dusting” of media, and upstream H2S removal is required.”
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Water Scrubbing: “The pros are that it offers excellent safety and proven performance, it’s reliable, simple and easy to maintain, it has low capital and operating costs, siloxanes are effectively removed and it can take high levels of H2S. The bad is that it cannot remove inerts such as oxygen and nitrogen.” Hybrid Water Scrubbing plus VPSA: “Benefits for this method are it can remove inert gasses, is reliable and easy to maintain, can meet stringent regulation—such as California’s Rule 30—and has excellent safety and proven performance. The biggest disadvantage is that it requires a larger footprint.” In the report, “Biogas to Biomethane,” prepared by the Vienna University of Technology, it is determined that providing a universally valid comparison of the different biogas upgrading technologies is difficult, because the multitude of essential parameters strongly depend on local circumstances. Furthermore, the technical possibilities of a certain technology (for example, regarding the achievable biomethane quality) often do not correspond with the most economic operation. “The technical development of most biogas upgrading methods nowadays is typically sufficient to meet any needs of a potential plant operator,” the report states. “It’s only a question of finding a plant design providing the most economic operation of biomethane production. As a result, it is strongly recommended to perform a detailed analysis of the specific biomethane costs to be expected and to account for all possible upgrading technologies.” Author: Keith Loria Freelance Writer, Biomass Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org
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AdvancedBiofuelNews ASTM announces revised aviation fuel standard
CELEBRATING A NEW MILESTONE: Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development for the Government of Alberta Robin Campbell (left), Enerkem CEO Vincent Chornet, and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson cut the ribbon at Enerkem’s municipal waste-to-biofuels and biochemicals facility in Edmonton, Alberta. PHOTO: ENERKEM INC.
Enerkem inaugurates Edmonton 38 MMly trash-to-biofuels facility Enerkem Inc. held a grand opening for its commercial-scale trash-to-biofuels plant in Edmonton, Alberta, on June 4. Construction on the project began August 2010. Once the plant is fully operational, it will have a production capacity of up to 38 MMly (10 MMgy). Using presorted municipal solid waste, it will help the city of Edmonton divert 90 percent of its residential waste stream from the landfill. “We are proud of the inauguration of our first full-scale biorefinery facility as it is the culmination of more than 10 years of disciplined efforts to scale up our technology from pilot and demonstration, to commercial scale,” said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem. The Edmonton facility is the first of what the company hopes will be a string of commercial developments. As part of its Waste Management investor agreement, Enerkem may be developing up to 20 facilities in North America, Chornet said. With the first plant about to become operational, others have expressed interest. “Nobody wants to be first, but many are willing to be second,” he continued.
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Renewable synthesized iso-paraffinic fuel has now been included in ASTM International standard D7566, Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons. According to ASTM, a recently approved revision that adds synthesized iso-paraffinic fuel to the ASTM D7566 annex will facilitate use of the fuels in all airlines internationally. The revised standard ensures biobased fuel quality equal or superior to petroleumderived aviation turbine fuels. First approved in 2009, ASTM D7566 covers an end-to-end evaluation program to verify and ensure that products covered by the standard are fully compatible with all engine parts and all material and equipment used in the supply chain. “The introduction of renewable fuel into the aviation industry enables a meaningful reduction of greenhouse gas emissions without compromising fuel performance,” says ASTM member Fernando Garcia, senior director of scientific and regulatory affairs at Amyris Inc.
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High Stakes for Biomass in EPA Climate Regulations BY MATT CARR
The U.S. EPA's proposed rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, manufacturing facilities, and other stationary sources mark a pivotal moment for biomass technologies. If done right, these rules have the potential to drive major investments in biomass for power, transportation fuel and other products. One key question is how the EPA will account for emissions of CO2 from direct combustion or fermentation of biomass. To fully realize the potential for CO2 reductions from biomass, the EPA must recognize and fully account for the carbon uptake and fossil emissions avoided through biomass substitution. The recent release of the EPA’s proposed rules for CO2 emissions from new and existing power plants finds the agency again at risk of undervaluing the role of biomass, substantially hindering development of the technologies most capable of mitigating climate change. Without clarification from the EPA, these rules could leave many biomass technology providers on the curb, just as the single biggest environmental policy of this generation comes into focus. The agency's proposal to limit the emissions of new fossil fueled power plants will require the use of carbon capture and sequestration technologies. As written, this will affect primarily coal-fired plants, but in the future any carbon-emitting facility could be subject to this requirement. The EPA's other proposed rule, which will regulate power generation from existing facilities, directs each state to come up with a custom approach to reduce emissions. By requiring states to lower the carbon intensity of their energy sectors, this rule opens new opportunities for biomass generation. If implemented correctly, it could also create new opportunities for products derived from biomass grown, in part, from waste CO2 emissions. Regrettably, the EPA overlooks the role of this particular process, known as carbon capture and utilization (CCU), that could reduce emissions, incentivize new technologies and boost economic growth. This stems from the current view of waste CO2, as just that—waste. The implications are enormous. If CO2 is not recognized as a possible feedstock, and if power
plants are not encouraged to use their CO2 as such, the EPA's regulations will severely inhibit the development of a range of promising new biomass technologies. The interpretation could also impact innovative CO2 reuse technologies like BioProcess Algae, whose greenhouses produce algae from the carbon dioxide that is a byproduct of ethanol production in Iowa. Forcing the burial of waste CO2 makes about as much sense as requiring that all used cars or appliances be permanently discarded in junkyards, rather than recycled into new and valuable products. In fact, the U.S.’s own guidelines (waste management hierarchy and Pollution Prevention Act of 1990) direct that waste be treated in a hierarchy of approaches that first emphasizes reduction, reuse and recycling. Disposal is seen as a last resort. Reusing CO2 will also reduce the amount of the gas in the atmosphere—even if it is used to make fuels. Biomass-based products can displace their fossilderived counterparts, in most cases with no performance trade off. What better way to sequester carbon than by keeping existing fossil carbon underground in the first place? The products from these new technologies will empower consumers to live comfortable lifestyles without the harmful carbon impacts of past industrial technologies. This new generation of products will give consumers a tool to fight climate change that they will gladly embrace, because it provides triple bottom line benefits—economic growth, social benefits and environmental impact. We all have a stake in ensuring that the EPA or any other regulatory body is encouraging development of new technologies and approaches and not shutting the door on any new idea. The Algae Biomass Organization will continue to focus on educating policymakers on the importance of accepting CCU as a legitimate and preferred emissions reductions strategy. Author: Matt Carr Executive Director, Algae Biomass Organization www.algaebiomass.org 877-531-5512
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 41
¦ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS DEPARTMENT
Imagination for Mechanization Armed with a history of innovation in agricultural equipment, New Holland is poised to play a significant role in the expanding biomass industry. BY ANNA SIMET
hen the world’s largest biomass-fueled power plant, the E.On station in Lockerbie, Scotland, receives its chopped willow coppice fuel on site, it has been efficiently harvested and prepared by a New Holland FR9080. With productivity maximization in mind, the team at New Holland designed its FB130 willow header to double harvesting acreage achieved by existing market models, enabling yields of up to 10.2 metric tons of dry matter per hectare. In Northern Italy’s Turin, at the La Bellotta farm, a second generation NH2 hydrogen-powered tractor is utilized in the field. While fueled with hydrogen, a 1-MW onsite biogas plant produced the
42 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2014
methane that was converted into fuel to power the machine. In Guragon, near Delhi, India, A2Z Maintenance & Engineering is currently operating a fleet of 105 New Holland tractors, 45 conventional balers, 15 rakes and two mowers. At this operation, waste left in paddy, cotton, corn and oilseed rape fields is harvested—rather than burned in the field—for production of 45 MW of electricity at three separate biomass power projects in the Punjab region. And in Brazil, New Holland has partnered with Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira, or the Sugar Cane Technology Center, to utilize a whole range of New Holland equipment—tractors, windrowers, large square balers and bale accumulators—to bale sugar cane straw at two
ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS¦ New Holland was at the forefront of the introduction of Tier 4A emissions technology, and has reduced emissions 100 times over the past decade. SOURCE: NEW HOLLAND
test farms. Not just for conversion to ethanol, but also for transformation into energy at power plants. While New Holland began to quietly examine and seize opportunities to assist the biomass industry several years ago, it was just recently that the company began a push to showcase its global involvement in woody biomass and agriculture projects, according to Scott Wangsgard, biomass marketing specialist. Along with its massive fleet of equipment, the company touts its Clean Energy Leader strategy, a way of thinking that Wangsgard says drives many things, from lower-
ing its machines’ carbon footprints to maximizing plant and fuel efficiency. For example, New Holland’s large square boiler requires 16 percent less fuel than similar machines on the market. “It’s all about smart design,” Wangsgard says. “It’s just better for everybody.” While most farmers are experts when it comes to selecting the kind of equipment they need, Wangsgard emphasizes that acquiring appropriate machinery can make or break an operation. “[The biomass industry] isn’t operating on huge margins right now, so anything that increases efficiency helps. If you can cut down on the cost of your machinery going in, that’s huge, as well as getting the right machinery for the right job. For that purpose, evaluating similar past or ongoing projects may be of great value. Wangsgard gives the example of corn stover. “What’s the best way to harvest it? There are good opportunities to look around and see what other people have done and are doing, and then determine ways to improve it.” New Holland dealers are well-trained and continually brought up-to-speed on machinery for biomass operations to assist farmers becoming familiar with equipment or features. “We have service training for technicians and sales associates—just a few months ago, we had a sales training on forage harvesters out in California,” Wangsgard says. “Dealers send their staff out there to see the machines run and perform certain tasks.” Many companies are increasingly targeting the biomass industry for business, but Wangsgard says that there are a few things that set New Holland apart. “One thing that’s unique about us, as far as different options or ways to go, is that we offer everything from a forage harvester to corn rower attachment, a complete line of everything that people are using right now in biomass.” Wangsgard says New Holland’s large square balers are very popular, especially for cellulosic projects. “They’re very efficient, don’t take much horsepower compared to competitor units, save on fuel, and their knotter reliability has been incredible. We spent a lot of time and effort on that—if those piles are set up correctly, knots can be tied without misses. That’s a very good thing for biomass.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor: Biomass Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org 701-738-4961
A New Holland forage cruiser works the field. SOURCE: NEW HOLLAND
AUGUST 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 43
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