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January 2014

OPERATION OVERHAUL Wireless Technologies Advancing Plant Management Page 16

Plus: Prepping the Biogas Industry Workforce Page 32

And:

Q4 Construction Report: Year Closes Out Strong Page 10

www.biomassmagazine.com


INSIDE ¦ ADVERTISER INDEX¦ 2014 International Biomass Conference & Expo

40

2014 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

30

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo

34

Airoflex Equipment

19

Continential Biomass Industries

26

Dieffenbacher

8

EBM Manufacturing

18

Ecostrat

22

Fagen, Inc.

2

Fike Corporation

5

Hurst Boiler & Welding Co. Inc.

4

Iowa Economic Development Authority

39

M-E-C Company

14

Pellet Mill Map RUD Chain TerraSource Global

7 13 9

West Salem Machinery Co.

21

Wolf Material Handling Systems

33

JANUARY 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 1

06 EDITOR’S NOTE Trouble Shooting From Mt. Chirripo

ON THE COVER The biosuccinic acid plant operated by Myriant Inc. in Lake Providence, La., has a rigorous training program for its plant, research and development staff.

By Tim Portz

07 INDUSTRY EVENTS 08 BUSINESS BRIEFS 10 Q4 BIOMASS

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

PHOTO: John Rae Photography

38 MARKETPLACE

POWER 14 NEWS 15 COLUMN Biomass in 2014: a Look Ahead By Bob Cleaves

16 FEATURE Wireless Revolution COPYRIGHT © 2013 by BBI International

While increasing efficiency, wireless and smart technologies are improving managing and maintenance practices at biomass power plants. By Anna Simet

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) January 2014, Vol. 8, Issue 1. 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.

16

TM

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling

Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for any country outside of the United States, Canada and Mexico. To subscribe, visit www.BiomassMagazine. com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Advertising Biomass Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Biomass Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Managing Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to asimet@bbiinternational.com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

PELLETS 22 NEWS 23 COLUMN What the Wood Pellet Industry Needs By Malcolm Swanson

24 DEPARTMENT Troubleshooting the Workhorse

Excessive vibration, worn parts and failure to diagnose irregularities in the grinding process can lead to costly repairs and operational inefficiencies. By Sue Retka Schill

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 3


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INSIDE ¦

JANUARY 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 1

28 THERMAL 26 NEWS 27 COLUMN Wood Stoves Compete on National Mall By John Ackerly

28 DEPARTMENT A Lens on Efficiency

Advancements in thermal imaging are providing plant operators with more insight into the boiler combustion process than ever before. By Anna Simet

BIOGAS 30 NEWS 31 COLUMN Managing, Operating Multisubstrate Biogas Facilities By Anthony Leske

32 DEPARTMENT Wanted: Digester Technicians

The biogas industry is teaming with academic institutions to attract and train an adequate workforce. By Chris Hanson

ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS

ARE YOU FLIRTING WITH DISASTER? DON’T IGNORE POTENTIAL HAZARDS IN YOUR FACILITY. TRUST FIKE for expert testing in addition to a full range of explosion protection solutions.

34 NEWS 35 COLUMN EPA Picks Winners and Losers By Michael McAdams

36 DEPARTMENT Sourcing the Force

Advanced biofuel facilities may need to strategize to bring engineers on board. By Anna Simet

To arrange for your no-obligation hazard analysis, Call 877-814-3453 or email IndustrialProtection@Fike.com JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 5


¦EDITOR’S NOTE

Troubleshooting From Mt. Chirripo

Earlier this year, from Central America's Mt. Chirripo, Koda Energy plant manager (and Biomass Magazine editorial board member) Stacy Cook performed extensive troubleshooting on Koda Energy’s Shakopee, Minn.-based combinedheat-and-power plant with a cell TIM PORTZ VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT phone connected to a radio-based & EXECUTIVE EDITOR internet signal. His story, outlined in tportz@bbiinternational.com Anna Simet’s page-17 feature “Wireless Revolution, ” is a telling snapshot of biomass energy operations in our wireless and digital era. This issue of Biomass Magazine digs into plant operations and maintenance, and efficient data capture and transmission emerges as a vital theme in nearly every article. Whether it be temperature monitoring in various areas of a biomass-fired kiln or the rate of slagging inside - a biomass-powered boiler, owners and operators are hungry for access to real-time operational data, and Web-enabled access is practically a must. In his page 27 column “Managing, Operating Multisubstrate Biogas Facilities, ” Anthony Leske of Himark Biogas reminds us of the critical nature in gathering real-time operational data, noting that “more than 40 percent of biogas plant failures occur after startup and are due to monitoring and control errors.” Of course, merely capturing and moving this operational data around, even in a wireless fashion, to the most remote corners of the world, doesn’t assure that a digester will operate at peak efficiency, that consistent temperatures are maintained throughout a kiln, or an area of a boiler with a high rate of slagging is identified for maintenance at the right time. All of the data in the world can do nothing without a human being interpreting it. As to data interpreters, staff writer Chris Hanson’s page-28 story, “Wanted: Digester Technicians,” will catch you up on a trend we have been following intently the past three years. Hanson offers an exciting look at the ways in which colleges are pairing with digester builders to develop curriculums that will deliver qualified and welltrained professionals to the marketplace in time to operate and maintain a growing fleet of digesters. This issue asserts that operational data is the lifeblood of any operations and maintenance program. The data itself hasn’t necessarily changed; rather, the exciting changes are occurring in its method of capture and transmission. The one constant is that, ultimately, a human being has to make a decision about the data they’ve gathered, no matter where they are.

6 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

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

ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund jsatterlund@bbiinternational.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Raquel Boushee rboushee@bbiinternational.com

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

EXTERNAL EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Timothy Cesarek, Enerkem Inc. Shane Chrapko, Himark Biogas Stacy Cook, Koda Energy Benjamin Anderson, University of Iowa Gene Zebley, Hurst Boiler Andrew Held, Virent Inc. Kyle Goerhing, Eisenmann Corp.


INDUSTRY EVENTS¦ International Biomass Conference & Expo

MARCH 24-26, 2014

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

Pellet Supply Chain Summit MARCH 24, 2014

Orange County Convention Center Orlando, Florida As the pellet export production capacity is set to more than double in the next 18 to 24 months, this summit will investigate the contributions of each stakeholder group along the supply chain and the challenges they’ll have to overcome as production and export capacity ramp up. The Sustainable Pellet Supply Chain Summit is a must-attend event for landowners, local and regional economic development officers, loggers, logistics providers, pellet manufacturers, commodity brokers, shipping companies and port professionals. Colocated with the 2014 International Biomass Conference & Expo, being held in Orlando, Fla., the Pellet Supply Chain Summit is a compelling combination of the right topics being discussed at the right place, at the right time. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com

Bioenergy Project Development Seminar MARCH 24, 2014

Orange County Convention Center Orlando, Florida Designed to walk attendees through the project development life cycle, this preconference seminar will feature presenters with deep experience in moving projects from the concept phase to the construction phase. Attendees will learn about early project feasibility work, the role that economic developers and host communities can and should play, how project capital is accumulated and the importance of a quality offtake agreement. This seminar is a must for anyone in the conceptual stage of a bioenergy project. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com

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

Indiana Convention Center Indianapolis, Indiana Now in its 30th year, 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

REACH NEW CUSTOMERS MAKE MORE SALES

STAY TOP OF MIND

PLACE YOUR NAME ON THE WALL!

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Receive 12 months of FREE advertising on Biomass Magazine’s homepage

180+ Existing Pellet Producers Identified

Advertise now on Pellet Mill Magazine’s 2014 U.S. & Canada Pellet Producer Map. It is the easiest and most cost-effective way to get your name, product and/or service in front of Pellet Producers, as well as other industry professionals for 12 months at a time. This map is extremely popular because it identifies more than 180 existing pellet plants as well as those under construction. Production facilities are conveniently color coded by status for quick reference.

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2014 service@bbiinternational.com | (866) 746-8385 | www.BiomassMagazine.com JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 7


Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS

Microvi adds chief science officer Microvi Biotech Inc. has appointed Michael Melnick as chief scientific officer. He is experienced in the biotechnology and materials science industries and has worked as an investor and executive at companies Melnick in the energy, chemicals and drug discovery industries. He most recently served as a venture partner at CMEA Capital, an early stage venture capital firm in San Francisco. Melnick joins the Microvi team as it extends applications of its platform technology, MicroNiche Engineering, to the biofuels and biobased chemicals markets. Online pellet retailer appoints CEO WoodPellets.com has appointed David Nydam as CEO. Nydam previously served as president of Wellesley, Mass.-based BCC Research. Prior to BCC, he was vice president of marketing at EF Education for its Go Ahead Tours division. WoodPellets.com’s prior CEO, Tim Loucks, will remain active as a board member and advisor.

Rotary Dryer

Amyris announces new of CFO Amyris Inc. has announced that Paulo Diniz, president of Amyris Brasil, will become Amyris’s interim chief financial officer. He assumed his new responsibilities effective Dec. 15. Diniz joined Diniz Amyris as president of the company’s Brazilian subsidiary in early 2011. Algenol Biofuels joins AEC Algenol Biofuels has joined the Advanced Ethanol Council. The company is focused on commercializing its patented algae technology platform for the production of ethanol and other biofuels. Algenol’s direct-to-ethanol technology uses sunlight, algae, nonarable land and carbon dioxide to produce ethanol , and waste biomass for conversion into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

System y g r e n E t Hea

The ABC adds 5 board members The American Biogas Council has elected one new and re-elected four directors to its board. Amanda Mott of the Wisconsin State Energy Office joined the board with veteran directors Wayne Mott Davis of Harvest Power, Amy Kessler of Turning Earth LLC, Norma McDonald of Organic Waste Systems and Bernie Sheff of Anaergia. Maverick awarded patents Maverick Biofuels was awarded three U.S. patents for producing a mixed-alcohol fuel from synthesis gas via a methanol intermediate. The inventions broaden the company’s technology platform for producing renewable fuels and chemicals.

Boiler

Biomass Pelletizing & Energy Systems Pellet Plants | Dryers | Furnaces | Steam Boilers | Thermal Oil Heaters | Cogeneration

Dieffenbacher USA, Inc. 2000 McFarland 400 Blvd. | Alpahretta, GA 30004 Phone: (770) 226-6394 | mail@dieffenbacheratl.com 8 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

www.dieffenbacher.com


BUSINESS BRIEFS¦

Carbo Analytics adds board member Carbo Analytics has appointed Amit Kumar to its board of advisors. He has been an investor, founder, director and CEO of several technology enterprises. As CEO of CombiMatrix Corp., he Kumar took the company public and ran it for a decade. He has also worked in venture capital with OAK Investment Partners and has been an advisor to investment funds, venture capital firms and Fortune 500 companies. Kumar served on the board of directors for Acacia Research Corp. from 2002-2008 and is currently CEO of Geo Fossil Fuels. Biomass energy quick assessment tool now available The New York Farm Viability Institute and the New York Biomass Energy Alliance have announced the availability of the Local Impact of Woody Biomass Energy Projects:

Quick Assessment Tool for Planners and Community Leaders (QAT). QAT is available in two versions, a lite version for community leaders, planners and development officials, and a full version for individuals interested in digging and looking at more detailed impacts of biomass energy projects. California Ethanol & Power promotes executive

Rubenstein

general counsel. Lee previously served as senior development manager with Bechtel Enterprises Inc. and lead counsel for a Bechtel Corp. operating division. Mid-South Engineering acquires D&S Engineering Mid-South Engineering Co. has announced the acquisition of Millinocket, Maine-based D&S Engineering. The acquisition brings together two established and respected names to better serve their customers in the renewable energy, pulp and paper, building products and materials handling industries. The existing operations of D&S Engineering will operate as D&S, a division of Mid-South Engineering Co.

Lee

California Ethanol & Power LLC has promoted David Rubenstein from the position of chief operating offer to president and CEO. Prior to CP&E, Rubenstein was president and majority owner of Pacific Diazo Products Inc. Jeffrey Lee, who previously served as president, is assuming the role of manager of project development and

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.

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

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

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

Handling a World of Materials


Biomass CONSTRUCTION UPDATE Biomass Power

Pellets

Biogas

Advanced Biofuel

Closing Out a Strong Year

The end of December offers the bioenergy industry an opportunity to celebrate the close of a strong year of market growth. The health and rate of the industry's expansion is determined by construction activity, and Q4 has been another solid period for the industry. The Biomass Construction Update applauds completion of Rothschild Biomass Cogeneration Plant, Southhampton Power Station, and the City of Wooster Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). Completed in November, Rothschild and Southhampton power plants were developed and are owned by regional utilities (We Energies and Dominion, respectively). Each plant has a nameplate capacity of 50 MW, and with the near completion of Gainsville Renewable Energy Center and DTE Stockton, 245 MW of biomass power will come on line in the U.S. over the next two months. For Dominion, the Southampton Power Station is the final plant of its three coal-to-biomass conversion projects to each an operational state. In the biogas sector, Quasar Energy Group has started commercial operations at its Wooster, Ohio, plant, after a strip-down and revamp of an existing plant. Much like the biomass power sector, completion of several large plants is imminent. Hometown Bioenergy, FCPC Renewable Generation, UC- Davis Renewable Energy, and UW Oshkosh/Rosendale Biodigester are scheduled to come on line in the next two months, totaling nearly 12.5 MW of biogas-derived electricity. Biogas plants are being built where, besides power production, digestion is the best option for treating organic wastes such as manure, food waste, agriculture waste and biosolids. The pellet sector continues to be dominated by construction activity that meets the demand from Europe for industrial and premium pellets. When completed, German Pellets Louisiana will be the largest pellet production facility at 1.1 million short tons per year, primarily exporting pellets to power plants owned Rothschild Biomass Cogeneration Plant, We Energies

Project Complete

PHOTO: DRAX

by Kolby Hoagland

Drax Power Station

by parent company RWE. Finally, the advanced biofuel sector has seen considerable progress among the numerous plants being built. Abengoa and Enerkem are leaders among the cellulosic ethanol plants with structural and back-end commissioning completion slated for early 2014. 2013 has been a strong year for development, construction, and commissioning of plants, and will continue into Q1 of 2014. If you are interested in having your plant listed in the quarterly Biomass Construction Update, please email khoagland@bbiinternational.com.

Southampton Power Station, DOM Power

Project Complete

Location

Franklin, Va.

Boldt

Engineer/builder

Crowder Construction, ESI Inc., Babcock & Wilcox

Primary fuel

Urban wood waste and mill residue

Primary fuel

Wood waste

Boiler type

Circulating fluidized bed

Boiler type

Stoker

Nameplate capacity

50 MW

Nameplate capacity

50 MW

Combined heat & power

Yes

Combined heat & power

No

Government incentives

Federal 1603 grant

Government incentives

Federal PTC, RECs

IPP or Utility

Utility

IPP or utility

Utility

Groundbreaking date

June 2011

Groundbreaking date

October 2012

Start-up date

November 2013

Start-up date

November 2013

Location

Rothschild, Wis.

Engineer/builder

Commercial operation began Nov. 8, 2013.

Commercial operation has begun.

Atikokan Generating Station, Ontario Power Generation Inc.

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

Location

Atikokan, Ontario

Engineer/builder

Aecon, Doosan, Nordmin

Primary fuel

Industrial pellets

Boiler type

Suspension fire system

Nameplate capacity

211 MW

Combined heat & power

No

Government incentives

10-year PPA

IPP or Utility

IPP

Groundbreaking date

October 2012

Start-up date

Q2 2014

Boiler controls commissioning is underway. Silo mechanicals are 80 percent complete. Transfer tower electrical and cladding are proceeding.

10 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

Location

Lihu'e, Hawaii

Engineer/builder

Standardkessel GmbH, Germany

Primary fuel

Woody biomass

Boiler type

Stoker

Nameplate capacity

7.5 MW

Combined heat & power

No

Government incentives

20-year PPA with Kauai Island Utility Co-op

IPP or Utility

IPP

Groundbreaking date

January 2013

Start-up date

Fall 2014

Engineering is 95 percent complete. Procurement/ manufacturing is 85 percent complete. Boiler house and fuel storage hall erection are complete. Boiler island construction is ongoing.


CONSTRUCTION UPDATE¦

DTE Stockton, LLC, DTE Energy

Drax Power Station, Drax Group plc

Location

Stockton, Calif.

Location

Drax, Yorkshire, U.K.

Engineer/builder

ESI Inc., DTE Stockton LLC

Engineer/builder

Shepherd Group

Primary fuel

Woody biomass

Primary fuel

Industrial pellets

Boiler type

Stoker

Boiler type

Pulverized fuel fluidized bed

Nameplate capacity

45 MW

Nameplate capacity

600 MW

Combined heat & power

Yes

Combined heat & power

No

Government incentives

ROCs

Government incentives IPP or utility

IPP

IPP or Utility

IPP

Groundbreaking date

September 2011

Groundbreaking date

July 2012

Start-up date

Q1 2014

Start-up date

April 2013 (1st unit)

The plant has been running at fairly sustained high loads. The actual commercial operation date will be in the Q1 2014, pending completion of some relaying upgrades.

The first of four storage domes, rail receipt and unloading and distribution systems are on schedule for completion, with the first converted unit expected to be fully operating by the end of 2013.

Location

Gainesville, Fla.

Engineer/builder

Fagen Inc.

Primary fuel

Woody biomass

Boiler type

Bubbling fluidized bed

Nameplate capacity

100 MW

Combined heat & power

No

Government incentives

Federal 1603 grant

IPP or Utility

IPP

Groundbreaking date

Q3 2011

Start-up date

December 2013

Gainesville Renewable Energy Center

GREC is completing final performance testing. At press time, commercial operation was imminent.

Amite BioEnergy, Drax Biomass International Inc.

German Pellets Louisiana

1.2765

Gloster, Miss.

Location

LaSalle, La.

Builder

Haskell Company

Builder

German Pellets Louisiana LLC

Pellet mill

Multiple companies

Feedstock

Southern yellow pine

Feedstock

Softwood

Type of pellets

Industrial premium pellets

Type of pellets

Industrial, premium

Fire prevention technology

Fire eye

Fire prevention technology

German Pellet Proprietary

Production capacity

450,000 metric tons/year

Production capacity

1.1 million tons/year

Exporting/location

Yes/U.K.

Exporting/location

Yes/Europe

Groundbreaking date

August 2013

Groundbreaking date

August 2013

Start-up date

Q1 2015  

Start-up date

Q1 2014

Pellet mill

Commercial operations are targeted to begin in Q1 2015. Full operational capacity is expected to be reached six months from startup.

Conversion from an industry facility to pellet plant continues on schedule.

Morehouse BioEnergy, Drax Biomass Inernational Inc.

Quasar Energy Group – City of Wooster, Forest City Enterprises

Location

Beekman, La.

Location

Wooster, Ohio

Builder

Haskell Company

Engineer/builder

Quasar Energy Group

Substrate(s)

Food waste, fat, oil, grease, biosolids

Pellet mill Feedstock

Southern yellow pine

Digester type

Complete mix

Type of pellets

Industrial premium pellets

Gas cleaning technology

NA

Fire prevention technology

Fire eye

Biogas production capacity

400 square cubic feet per minute (scfm)

Production capacity

450,000 metric tons/year

Biogas end use

CHP

Exporting/location

Yes/U.K.

Installed power capacity

1 MW

Broke ground date

August 2013

Groundbreaking date

July 2013

Start-up date

Q2 2015  

Start-up date

September 2013

Commercial operations are targeted to begin in the second quarter of 2015. Full operational capacity is expected to be reached six months from startup.

PHOTO: AMERICAN RENEWABLES

Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, American Renewables LLC

Project Complete

The plant is commercially operational. Improvements include increased capacity to manage solids, enhanced mixing technology and installation of state-of-the-art supervisory control and data acquisition systems.

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 11


Biomass Power

Pellets

Biogas

Advanced Biofuel

FCPC Renewable Generation LLC Waste-to-Energy Facility

Hometown Bioenergy LLC, Minnesota Municipal Power Agency

Location

Milwaukee, Wis.

Location

Le Sueur, Minn.

Engineer/builder

Symbiont Inc., Miron Construction, Biothane

Engineer/builder

Barr Engineering, I&S Group

Substrate(s)

Food processing waste

Substrate(s)

Ag and food wastes

Digester type

Anaerobic membrane bioreactor

Digester type

Complete mix

Gas cleaning technology

H2S media treatment system

Gas cleaning technology

Biogas production capacity

500 scfm

Biogas production capacity

Biogas end use

CHP

Biogas end use

CHP

Installed power capacity

2 MW

Installed power capacity

8 MW

Groundbreaking date

October 2012

Groundbreaking date

December 2012

Start-up date

Q1 2014

Start-up date

December 2013

Construction is substantially complete and clear water testing is complete. Tanks are being filled in preparation for startup.

Plant commissioning activities are nearly complete. Gensets have been successfully commissioned on biogas; project completion is imminent.

The Plant, Bubbly Dynamics LLC

Sacramento Biodigester, CleanWorld Partners

Location

Chicago, Ill.

Location

Sacramento, Calif.

Engineer/builder

Eisenmann Corp.

Engineer/builder

Peabody Engineering, Otto Construction

Substrate(s)

food, brewery waste

Substrate(s)

Pre-and post-consumer food waste

Digester type

Continuous mixed horizontal plug flow

Digester type

three-stage, high-solids liquid digester

Gas cleaning technology

Biological desulphurization

Gas cleaning technology

BioCNG

Biogas production capacity

42 scfm in phase 1; 83 scfm in phase 2

Biogas production capacity

347 scfm

Biogas end use

CHP

Biogas end use

Power and vehicle fuel

Installed power capacity

500 kW

Installed power capacity

190 kW

Groundbreaking date

November 2012

Groundbreaking date

June 2013

Start-up date

Mid-2014

Start-up date

March 2014

Construction continues on schedule. Once complete, the digester will produce electricity and 700,000 gallons/year equivalent of renewable transportation fuel.

UC- Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digestion, CleanWorld

UW Oshkosh Foundation, Rosendale Biodigester LLC

Location

Davis, Calif.

Location

Rosendale, Wis.

Engineer/builder

Peabody Engineering, Otto Construction

Engineer/builder

BIOFerm Energy Systems

Substrate(s)

food/ag waste, manure, animal bedding

Substrate(s)

Dairy manure

Digester type

Three-stage, high-solids liquid digester

Digester type

Complete mix

Gas cleaning technology

Unison Solutions

Biogas production capacity

123 scfm

Gas cleaning technology

Biological desulphurization, moisture removal, activated carbon filtration

Biogas end use

Power generation

Biogas production capacity

380-475 scfm

Installed power capacity

925 kW

Biogas end use

CHP

Groundbreaking date

May 2013

Installed power capacity

1.4 MW

Start-up date

January 2014

Groundbreaking date

July 2013

Construction continues on schedule. Micro-turbine commissioning has begun with landfill gas.

Start-up date

December 2013

Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas LLC, Abengoa Bioenergy US

DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol - Nevada, DuPont

Location

Hugoton, Kan.

Location

Nevada, Iowa

Engineer/builder

Abengoa

Engineer/builder

Fagen

Process technology

Proprietory process

Process technology

Enzymatic hydrolysis

Biofuel product

Cellulosic ethanol

Biofuel products

Cellulosic ethanol

Feedstocks

Corn stover, wheat straw, switchgrass

Feedstocks

Corn stover

Production capacity

25 MMgy

Production capacity

30 MMgy

Type of RIN

D3

Type of RIN

90% D3 RINs

Coproducts

21 MW biomass power

Coproducts

Renewable solid fuel

Goundbreaking date

September 2011

Groundbreaking date

Q4 2012

Start-up date

December 2013

Start-up date

Q3/Q4 2014

The project is 90 percent complete. Boiler and 21-MW cogen plant commissioning is beginning.

12 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

Digesters are mechanically complete and have undergone biological commissioning. CHP has been commissioned, and plant operations commissioning has begun. At At press time, commercial operation was imminent.

Construction is on track for a 2014 opening.


CONSTRUCTION UPDATEÂŚ Enerkem Alberta Biofuels LP, Enerkem Location

Edmonton, Alberta

Engineer/builder

Enerkem

Process technology

Proprietory thermochemical

Biofuel product

Cellulosic ethanol, methanol, biochemicals

Feedstock

Sorted municiple solid waste

Production capacity

38 MMly

Type of RIN

D3

Coproducts

NA

Groundbreaking date

August 2010

Start-up date

2013: methanol; 2014: ethanol

Enerkem Alberta Biofuels is nearing structural completion. Plant commissioning has begun and is scheduled to be complete over the next few months.

Green Energy Products, WB Services Location

Sedgwick, Kan.

Engineer/builder

WB Services

Process technology

Proprietary technology

Biofuel products

ASTM 975 biomass-based diesel

Feedstocks

Distillers corn oil, organic fat, oils, greases

Production capacity

3 MMgy

Type of RIN

1.7 D4 RINs per gallon

Coproducts

Steam, biogas

Groundbreaking date

Q1 2013

Start-up date

Q1 2014

Structural steel is complete, major equipment is delivered, and piping and electrical continues to progress.  Project is on target for commissioning in Q1 2014.

Project Liberty, Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC Location

Emmetsburg, Iowa

Engineer/builder

Poet Design and Construction

Process technology

Enzymatic hydrolysis

Biofuel product

Cellulosic ethanol

Feedstocks

Crop residue

Production capacity

25 MMgy

Type of RIN

D3

Coproducts

Biomass power

Groundbreaking date

March 2012

Start-up date

1st half of 2014

Biomass stackyard and saccharification and fermentation tank installation are complete. Biomass processing equipment is largely installed; equipment installation is ongoing.

Southeast Renewable Fuels LLC Location

Clewiston, Fla.

Engineer/builder

Uni-Systems of Brazil

Process technology

Fermentation

Biofuel products

Advanced biofuel (ethanol)

Feedstocks

Sweet sorghum

Production capacity

20 MMgy

Type of RIN

D4

Coproducts

25 MW biomass power

Groundbreaking date

June 2013

Start-up date

January 2015

Foundation work is beginning and all equipment has been ordered and is arriving onsite.


PowerNews 2 biomass plants commissioned in South Carolina

PRODUCING POWER: WE Energies’ cogeneration plant in Wisconsin is located adjacent to Domtar’s paper mill. PHOTO: We Energies

Wisconsin cogeneration plant now operational WE Energies placed its 50-MW biomass cogeneration plant in Rothschild, Wis., into service in November. The plant, which has been under development the past four years, is located on the site of Domtar Corp.’s century-old paper mill. The plant will take in approximately 500,000 tons per year of biomass feedstock, including wood, waste wood and sawdust. The feedstock will come readyto-burn from Domtar’s fuel yard or will be shredded or chipped offsite by suppliers. Steam produced at the facility is supplied to the paper mill, supporting Dom-

tar’s sustainable papermaking operations. "The addition of the biomass plant enables us to produce renewable energy on demand," said Gale Klappa, WE Energies chairman, president and CEO. "That benefit is simply not available with solar or wind generation." Vendors for the project include Metso, which supplied the circulating fluidize bed boiler, and General Electric, which supplied the steam and turbine generator. Appleton, Wis.-based Boldt Construction was the project manager.

EDF Renewable Energy has begun operations of two biomass power plants in South Carolina, a 17.8 megawatt (MW) plant in Allendale County and a 17.8 MW facility in Dorchester County. Together, the two plants make up the Pinelands Biomass project. According to EDF Renewable Energy, the Dorchester plant achieved commercial operations Nov. 1, followed by the Allendale facility Nov. 19. The plants interconnect to Santee Cooper’s transmission system adjacent to the sites. Power generated at the facilities is being sold to the utility under 30-year power purchase agreements. Each plant features a stoker boiler supplied by Factory Sales Engineering and a steam turbine generator supplied by General Electric. Bibb Engineers is the engineer of record, while Summit Industrial Construction was the general contractor. “Biomass is poised to be a key renewable base load energy resource for South Carolina and we are pleased to work with Santee Cooper on this excellent opportunity to produce economically attractive renewable energy,” said Tristan Grimbert, president and CEO of EDF RE.

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14 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014


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Biomass in 2014: A Look Ahead BY BOB CLEAVES

The New Year will be a big one for biomass. As we begin 2014, I thought I would take a look ahead at the decisions that stand to affect our industry over the coming year, and important events to look out for. First of all and perhaps most important, the U.S. EPA carbon accounting rule has a final deadline of July. This means that, by summer, we will know how—or whether—EPA will regulate biogenic carbon emissions from biomass under the Clean Air Act. The long-awaited rule has been through many twists and turns over the course of becoming final. After an admittedly premature implementation in 2011, EPA requested more time to study the science behind the biomass carbon cycle, deferring the rule three years to allow for a proper carbon accounting by a scientific advisory board. This deferral was challenged by environmental groups that wanted the original rules to go into effect immediately. The challenge set in motion a chain of legal events, a full detailing of which would make your head spin. Here we are three years later, the final rule imminent within the next few months. The industry has made a thorough case that, taking into account the life cycle of carbon including carbon consumed during photosynthesis, the net carbon impact of using wood residue for fuel in a biomass facility is, in many cases, better than carbon neutral. We are confident that the science is on our side, and cautiously hopeful that the final rule will reflect this and be acceptable to the industry. Another EPA activity to keep an eye on is its Section 111(d) listening tour and any resulting regulation. In September, the agency announced its first initiative in direct response to President Obama’s

Climate Action Plan unveiled last summer. To make the largest impact possible, EPA decided to first target the largest source of carbon emissions: gridconnected power. The agency plans to work with state environmental regulators to “identify innovative, pragmatic approaches that build on the leadership that many states have already shown to cut carbon pollution from the power sector.” Biomass, especially coal cofiring and combined-heat-and-power facilities, stands to make a big impact here as an adaptable and reliable energy source that can dramatically reduce carbon emissions. I encourage anyone reading this to participate as much as possible when the EPA schedules listening tour events in or around your region. We need to use this opportunity to drive home the environmental and economic benefits of biomass. Finally, 2014 will bring the second National Bioenergy Day. The first one, which occurred in October, was a big success, with 25 events across the country and dozens of positive media stories. We want to make next year’s Bioenergy Day even more successful, so I hope we can increase participation. Keep an eye out for more information on National Bioenergy Day 2014. Happy New Year—it will be an eventful one for our industry. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.biomasspowerassociation.com bob@biomasspowerassociation.com

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 15


¦POWER

FASTER, SAFER, CHEAPER: Mobile and wireless technology evolution continues to optimize plant operations. PHOTO: ELK RIVER STATION, TIM PORTZ

16 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014


POWERÂŚ

Wireless

Revolution Cutting-edge wireless technologies continue to increase efficiency, simplify maintenance and optimize operations at biomass power plants. BY ANNA SIMET

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 17


Photo: Emerson Process Management

¦POWER

LONG DISTANCE SUPERVISION: Emerson’s Rosemount wireless transmitters are used at the Elektrownia Stalowa to monitor the temperature of biomass gasification precombustion chambers.

T

he wireless and mobile movement that has swept across the globe hasn’t stopped short of cell phones and tablets. Adaptation of smart, sensory and remote monitoring technologies has been ongoing in the power industry for many years, and innovations have only just begun. Via these applications, plant operators are seeing reduced installation and maintenance costs, safer operations,

increased efficiencies, and in the case of emergencies or unplanned down time, are able to conveniently access real-time plant data while being nowhere near the facility. For Stacy Cook, plant manager of Koda Energy, a combined-heat-and-power (CHP) biomass power plant in Shakopee, Minn., being able to access and view control capabilities from remote locations proved highly valuable. Provided by Rockwell Au-

tomation, Cook explains that Factory Talk software is set up with the ability to log in to the system from a network. Purchasing extra licenses and installation of a Citrixbased network portal means remote users, once logged into the network, can navigate to the server where the Factory Talk software resides. “So any time I am away from the plant and have an Internet connection, I can log into Citrix, get onto our

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internal network, navigate to our control system server and log into Factory Talk after selecting whether I want to have control capabilities or a read only file,” Cook says. “Once I am into the system, the screen on my mobile device has the same functionality and appearance as if I were sitting at the operator control station in our plant control room.” Having that capability recently proved extremely useful to Cook. “About a year ago, I was in Central America hiking on Mt. Chirripo with my wife,” he says. “While up at the ranger station base camp at 11,500 feet, I found that they had a radio-based Internet connection that I could jump onto. When I logged onto our email server, I had several messages from the plant identifying problems they were having at the CHP plant.” Cook was able to use his smart phone to log into the control system. “From the middle of nowhere in Costa Rica, I could help troubleshoot their issues and provide guidance.” he said. “Otherwise, they would have struggled with an upset condition without the additional support from me until I got off the mountain that evening and had a cell connection to speak directly with my operations staff. It is so much bet-

ter to have the ability to see what they are seeing from the operator chair, and less opportunity for a miscommunication through a verbal or email.” While Cook benefitted from wireless technology while being offsite, many companies, such as Emerson Process Management, are tweaking already robust product lines focused on onsite efficiency. Bob Karschnia, vice president of Emerson Process Management’s wireless business, says the bulk of this company’s business segment is centered around wireless instrumentation and systems associated with helping customers increase visibility and provide better plant control. “[Applications] that keep people safer, make plants more efficient, and keep equipment up and running,” he says. Since biomass power is a newer industry than the oil refinery business, many companies are able and desire to adapt the latest and greatest when they build. Some, however, are making changes to existing plants.

Increasing Efficiency

At the Elektrownia Stalowa Wola S.A. power plant located in Poland, Emerson’s Rosemount wireless transmitters are being

used to enable thermal monitoring of biomass gasification precombustion chambers. There, new temperature data is being transmitted over a network to operators to ensure that the ceramic walls of the chamber are not damaged by stress fractures through overheating. “There, they have rotating kilns pushing the wood chips through, and that’s something you can’t wire very well,” Karschnia says. “Getting multiple measurement points along kilns is a problem—they are long, 20 to 30 feet, and the temperature varies from one end to the other and the middle. You have to be able to get a clear look at the temperature profile across the kiln and control it accordingly, so we put transmitters along it to provide a better efficiency view of what was going.” This provides the operator with the information needed to protect the chamber from overheating. Should temperatures go beyond 350 degrees Centigrade, an alarm is triggered and the operator can adjust the amount of air going into the chamber or reduce the heating of the biomass. If required, the fuel for the chamber can be shut down completely. Should the operator not react in time, the system can shut down automatically. A further transmitter has

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 19


¦POWER

been installed nearby and acts as a router, strengthening the self-organizing wireless network by providing an extra route for signals to pass through. The device also measures the ambient temperatures. “That’s been a big thing for them, having the ability to better see what’s going on in that kiln, and as a result has been able to increase the efficiency of the process.” Karschnia adds. In Faenza, Italy, the 13.7-MW Enomondo power generating plant at Caviro Distillerie is using Emerson Process Management’s smart wireless devices to monitor a complex fuel pretreatment operation, an incineration process, and a new boiler, and has seen an estimated 5 percent increase in overall efficiency. The wireless system meets the plant's predictive maintenance requirements, and continuous data made available by the wireless network enables personnel to identify performance degradation trends that signify potential problems. “In this case, they could have done something like it with a wired solution, but the downside of wires is twofold,” Karschnia explains. “One is that it causes complexity when trying to do something. If you wanted a wired Ethernet connection from one end of your house to the other you to have a contractor come in, tear up the walls, put in the wire and repatch, and it takes a while, because there is a lot of complexity. If you go to Best Buy and get a wireless router, however, you’re up and running right away. That’s the advantage of wireless, at Enomondo it allowed them to get that data into their system much more efficiently and quicker than they could have done with a wired system.” Karschnia says wireless systems are usually about half the cost of a wired system, but wired systems have one advantage. “The advantage of a wired system is that its powered all the time…wireless has bat-

20 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

'The challenges plant managers face are always complicated. They will always have multidimension problems they’re trying to solve—trying to reduce cost, increase efficiency, help with safety and environmental issues, and they don’t always line up.' –Bob Karschnia, Emerson Process Management teries that have a limited life time. We have high-end, specialized batteries, and run our system to optimize transmitter energy usage such that batteries can last up to 10 years, but an operator gets measurements on a slower rate.” Wired systems may provide readings every half second. With wireless, one can achieve them once every two seconds, but it will cut the battery life down to about three years. “If you do it smartly, and recognize that a boiler’s temperature doesn’t change very quickly, a once-per-minute-update rate isn’t a problem. If you’re controlling something more high-speed like a liquid flow line, which can change very rapidly, you need higher update rates.” For boiler monitoring specifically, Clark Reliance recently released an upgrade of its boiler-level indication system, which has been installed in over 10,000 boilers in the U.S., according to Jim Kolbus, product manager.

Preproblem Solving

The EyeHye SmartLevel Boiler Level Indication System has been on the market since 1959, and has evolved through the years. It consists of sensors located in a vertical pipe manifold, locations of which are agreed upon by the customer or original boiler manufacturer, and is used to indicate actual water level in the boiler drum. This device is also approved for use as a limit control, Kolbus says, so it can be used for

alarming or tripping the boiler to shut down for high or low water. “The big advancement with the smart control is that we’re telling the operator when to conduct maintenance,” Kolbus says. “There’s a blue light that illuminates on the indicator to tell the control room operator that the column or probes need cleaning or a blow down. The idea with the Smart System is that we detect a contamination build up on the sensors before it’s to the point where we’d get an incorrect signal.” If a customer has a blue light come on in the control room and advises operations to conduct a blow down on the system, one of two things will happen: steam cleaning of the probes will correct it and the blue light will go off immediately, or the blue light remains on, meaning the blow down didn’t solve the problem and that there’s a bad sensor. “By going to the control unit, the module related to the particular probe will have a companion blue light on it and it will identify which particular sensor the customer has to go after,” Kolbus says. With a traditional system, a contaminated sensor may identify a problem when there wasn’t one, or indicate water where there is none. “If they blew down a column before with regularity, one would see this—if any lights remained on, there was a dirty, shorted or contaminated probe. They would see which lights stayed on and go troubleshooting,” Kolbus says. “Here,


POWER¦

you’ve got a warning system that lets the operator know there will be a problem before it happens. In these days of everyone doing less maintenance than ever before, this is being viewed as a value-added function, and we’re getting very good feedback for the people who learn about it.” The EyeHye also has a green system status light, an indicator that lets the operator know all internal communications are working correctly and turns red upon any internal component failure. “With our system and other manufactures' systems with conductivity probes, we traditionally recommend weekly blow downs,” Kolbus says. “We have customers who tell us when they went through boiler training they have done blown downs once a day or shift, and then there are people who do once a week, which is what we recommend, and those who say, ‘we’re short on maintenance people here, nothing’s leaking so I’m not touching it.’ As we get into this trend in the power industry of fewer personnel and cutbacks, having a device that smartly tells you when to do maintenance is being widely perceived as a benefit.” Already have an EyeHye and want the upgrade? Three field test installations were done in less than a day, according to Kolbus. “We used existing field wiring, removed an old control box and installed a new one, and the indicators for the control room have the same physical size as earlier models so no cutouts required. People tend to get very nervous about having to enlarge openings in control room walls where there is other instrumentation, as they don’t want tiny chips produced from cutting or sawing walls to get into instrumentation and potentially cause other failures.” Overall, deciding which technologies will improve a plant’s bottom line and achieve safety, emission and other goals isn’t a simple task. “The challenges plant manag-

ers face are always complicated,” Karschnia says. “They will always have multidimension problems they’re trying to solve—trying to reduce cost, increase efficiency, help with safety and environmental issues, and they don’t always line up.” Sometimes, a plant has to spend a lot of money to be more efficient, and that can lead to being cost-prohibitive, he adds. “Wireless has dramatically changed that cost-benefit curve, such that you can actu-

ally get all of this additional insight on how to run your plants safer and more efficiently at a much reduced cost. As a result, you can see notable improvements in the performance in your plant, and do that with the budgets that you have today.” Author: Anna Siimet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine asimet@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4961

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 21


PelletNews Demand for pellets expected to grow in Denmark The government of Denmark has filed a report on its domestic wood pellet market with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Network, forecasting that pellet imports will increase substantially through the end of the decade. According to the report, Denmark is already the world’s largest wood pellet importer, with imports of 2 million metric tons in 2012. By 2020, imports are expected to increase to 3 million metric tons. Denmark currently imports most of its pellets from the Baltic region, with 960,000 metric tons imported from the

Baltics in 2012. The country also imported 348,000 metric tons from Russia in 2012. Imports from the U.S. were marginal that year, equating to only 38,000 metric tons. Moving forward, sustainability will be a key factor in determining which exporting countries benefit from growing demand. According to the report, the Danish government is analyzing the sustainability of biomass supplies, and the results of its study are expected to be released soon. The analysis is expected to form the basis for future policy and funding initiatives.

Denmark pellet statistics (in million metric tons) 2010

2011

2012

2013 (estimate)

2014 (forecast)

2015 (forecast)

2020 (forecast)

Production

0.137

0.138

0.15

0.15

0.15

0.15

0.15

Imports

1.284

1.969

2.02

2.3

2.87

2.9

3.1

Imports from U.S.

0.08

0.038

0.043

0.04

n/a

n/a

n/a

Consumption

1.375

2.052

2.116

2.39

2.94

2.97

3.17

SOURCE: USDA FAS GAIN REPORT, "THE MARKET FOR WOOD PELLETS IN DENMARK"

WPAC meeting focuses on rapid growth The global wood pellet industry has grown by a compound annual rate of 23 percent since 2000, said Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, during the opening of the WPAC’s annual general meeting. More than 300 industry professionals took part in the event, which kicked off Nov. 18 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Robert Tarcon, general manager of Premium Pellet and WPAC present, noted that attendance had more than tripled since the previous year. The event featured six panels addressing topics ranging from export logistics to sustainability and the learning curve associated with the fast-growing pellet export market. According to information presented at the event, Canada exported 1.6 million metric tons of pellets to Europe in 2012, with most going to the U.K. The quickly increasing demand has put a strain on producers. The resulting “capacity gap,” or inability to meet current and future demand with existing capacity, has generated significant excitement in the Canadian pellet industry.

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PELLETS

What the Wood Pellet Industry Needs BY MALCOLM SWANSON

When trying to answer the question, “What does the wood pellet industry need?,” it would be reasonable to think that the best answers would come from those in the industry, particularly those who are making pellets. While I do not have permission to quote anyone, I can relate comments that I hear repeatedly from different people who are actually doing it. Among these are: • Definition of sustainability requirements. • Clarification of pellet plant emissions requirements. • Financing. • Reliable and productive equipment. • EPC contractors that can deliver plants that perform as represented, on time and on budget. Currently, the last two bullets may be the most pressing. Thus far, most plants have been pieced together by owners or consulting engineers in the absence of anyone to manufacture pellet plants. Onsite construction has been lengthy, as has startup and bringing the plants up to design production rates, and post-installation modifications have been abundant. The problems and needs associated with these situations are often expressed in forums at industry conferences and in private conversations, and it is safe to say that the industry leaders agree that EPC plant providers that can come through and deliver on promises and expectations are sorely needed. The challenge involved in answering this call is considerable. These projects are complex and large in terms of site acreage, equipment and money. The range of expertise required is great; such a provider will have to have substantial strength. I believe the best solution to these needs will come through a provider that offers standardized plants with designed-in flexibility. The advantages of standardization are pretty obvious: design costs and time will be greatly reduced, as will shop fabrication time and on-site construction. Additionally, with standard equipment, it is possible to reliably predict performance. The design has an opportunity to mature instead of being new every time, which allows capital investment and operating and maintenance costs to be driven down. Such equipment can be built in modular designs such that on-site assembly is minimized. Investors and owners will then be able

to possess a high level of certainty concerning how long it will take to get a plant up and running, costs, production rates and pellet quality. So, with highly standardized equipment, does the rub come in dealing with all the variations of material and local conditions? Some feel that “cookie-cutter” plants are not the answer. I agree. However, standardization does not necessarily mean cookie cutter. Many industries have long dealt with such variations within a set of standard designs and standard options. So covering all of the bases may not be as daunting a task as it might at first appear. Consider the major variables that must be addressed: different wood species, moisture contents, local weather and climate, different emissions limits, different site conditions, different chip sizes and shapes, and dirty materials. The solution to several of these issues is that the process and equipment design must be robust. For instance, the drying process must be designed and built such that it does better than just barely meet its guaranteed production rate at the guarantee moisture content. When some reserve exists, the system can then handle a little higher moisture content or a little colder weather. It is true that the plant located in southern Georgia may perform better than the same plant located in Nova Scotia, but the Nova Scotia plant will still meet its guarantees. With such standard designs, changing corrosion-sensitive components to stainless steel to deal with hardwoods costs is not much of a design challenge. Adding a cold-climate insulation package to prevent condensation and subsequent corrosion and to reduce heat loss is also relatively simple. The industry will no doubt struggle with this equipment issue for some time yet. In the end, cost and productivity will win. In that light, what makes sense: every plant being somewhat of a unique, “from scratch” design, or all components being standardized and properly matched to each other? I believe in the standardized equipment approach. Author: Malcolm Swanson Vice President of Engineering, Astec Inc. mswanson@astecinc.com 423-867-4210

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 23


¦PELLET

PHOTO: Bliss Industries LLC

DEPARTMENT

ADVANCED PNEUMATICS: New hammermills are installed with negative lift conveying systems and can be set up with spark detection and fire suppression systems.

Troubleshooting the Workhorse Monitor output, amp usage and vibration for indications of needed maintenance on hammermills. BY SUSANNE RETKA SCHILL

H

ammermills are the workhorses of the pellet industry. Across the biomass industry, that fact is sometimes overlooked. “We’ll get calls saying the capacity has dropped off, and the first thing we ask them to do is to check the hammers,” says Curtis Horinek, service manager for Bliss Industries LLC. Today, automation has been a big improvement at many plants, there is a tendency to rely too much on automated systems. Previously, an operator would stand next to a machine and physically start it with a push of a button or by flipping a lever. While that can be done from the control room, but it doesn’t replace being there. “Nothing takes the place of occasionally walking through the floor and just listening, putting a hand on the bearings to see if they’re warm,” Horinek says. Hearing or seeing an increase in vibration is a key indicator of wear in a hammermill, according to Horinek. Another indicator that maintenance is needed is a drop in capacity. Operators should not rely solely on what the screens in the control room report, he adds, recommending that the hammermill output be physically measured and compared to specs. Another place to monitor hammermill performance is the amp load. “If you keep bringing those amps up, and one day you find 24 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

there are 50 more amps than a week ago, that’s an indication you may have worn parts in the system,” he says. “Or your feedstock has changed.” If a mill begins to over-amp and shuts off as it is designed to do, it is time to go back and first check the incoming product. “Check the moisture. Is there oversized material? If not, open the inspection doors and check the hammers, and go through the checklist,” he says. The accompanying guidelines from Bliss provide a troubleshooting checklist applicable to any hammermill, whether used for size reduction of wood, hay or grains. Automated systems are available to help with such monitoring, adds Chad Cook, vice president of sales and marketing at Bliss, as sensors can be installed to monitor vibration and bearing temperatures from the control room. There is an industry-wide movement to add fire safety equipment, Cook adds, and new hammermill systems are now being equipped with spark detection and fire suppression systems. Author: Susanne Retka Schill Senior Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4922 sretkaschill@bbiinternational.com


Hammermill Troubleshooting Guidelines TIPS FOR LOCATING VIBRATION SOURCE, IMPROVING THE LIFE OF REPLACEMENT PARTS.

Hammermills used for grinding wood chips into uniform sizes before pelleting are systems that must be maintained properly to operate at maximum efficiency. Excessive vibration, worn parts and failure to diagnose irregularities in the grinding process can lead to costly repairs and operational inefficiencies. Plants that try to cut corners end up paying for it for the entire life of the system. The following steps are suggested as ways to help mills prevent this from occurring.

Finding the Vibration Source

Excessive vibration is one of the most common problems in hammermills. To locate the vibration source: •

First, remove all hammers, hammer rods and spacers, then, start the hammermill and run it at operating speed. If the vibration disappears, then the source is your hammers and/or rods. If the vibration still exists, stop the hammermill and check the tightness of the stabilizing bars and spanner nuts. Check the welds on the rotors, if applicable. Start the hammermill again, and run it at operating speed. If the vibration still exists, have the rotor rebalanced. Check for excessive wear, looking to see if the rotor plate hammer rod holes are worn and need replacing. If the rotor is worn, it will have to be replaced.

• • •

Make sure product is being fed uniformly into the mill. Too little air flow will cause premature wear on the main rotor plates and force you to change hammers and screens before they normally would need to be changed. Make sure adequate air volume is used. Air flow will help uniform feeding and grinding.

The Grinding Process

Finally, it’s important to troubleshoot the grinding process on a regular basis, to make sure the system is operating properly. One way to accomplish this is by using the following checklist: • Confirm capacity. • Check hammers and screens. • Check temperature of the grinding chamber. • Check the air volume. • Check the feeding device. • Check for possible discharge obstructions. • Make sure you’re not using excessive horsepower. SOURCE: Bliss Industries LLC

Optimal Replacement Schedule

Replacing parts before they become too worn is another preventative measure that can be taken. Here’s a look at three critical components of a hammermill and when they should be replaced:

• •

Screens: When the perforated hole edges become rounded. Hammers: When the corners become rounded and main drive motor amperage has increased. Wear Plates: When the thickness has been reduced by 50 percent.

Maximize Longevity

Once the replacement parts are installed, take the following steps to maximize their longevity: • Reverse the rotation of the hammermill rotor on at least a weekly basis, if not daily. Doing this will increase the life of both the hammers and screens. INTERNAL CHECK REQUIRED: Open the doors and check all internal wear parts.

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 25

PHOTO: BLISS INDUSTRIES LLC


ThermalNews GM assembly plant to implement Detroit waste-to-energy project General Motors and Detroit Renewable Energy have announced a new waste-toenergy project that will convert municipal solid waste (MSW) into steam used to heat and cool portions of GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. Once complete, the project is expected to fulfill 58 percent of the assembly plant’s energy needs. “We have 107 landfill-free facilities across the globe that recycle or reuse their waste, with some of it turned into energy,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global manager of renewable energy. “It made sense to explore this option with DRE at Detroit-Hamtramck, given their quality work in helping us manage our energy use at some of our other GM plants.” Detroit Renewable will process more than 1 million tons of

26 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

MSW per year into power and steam, while recycling an estimated 40,000 tons of metal. The resulting steam will travel through an 8,300-foot pipeline, delivering 15.8 MW of renewable energy to the assembly plant. Once the project is complete, Detroit-Hamtramck will be the top GM facility in the world by percentage of renewable energy used. The project is expected to be operational this spring.

Innovative wood stove designs featured in international contest The Alliance for Green Heat’s Wood Stove Decathlon kicked off at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in mid-November. During the event, 12 teams from the U.S., Denmark, New Zealand, Austria and Finland competed for the title of the cleanest, most efficient and innovative wood stoves. To judge the teams’ products, experts from a U.S. EPA-accredited wood stove test lab were onsite to complete emissions and efficiency testing. The winner was selected from nine judges who inspected the stove designs, components and construction to assess durability and the potential of innovative technological features. The event also featured panel discussions on residential heating with biomass stoves. In some areas, pellet stoves are selling faster than wood stoves, which is partially explained by the complexity of cordwood. John Crouch, Pellet Fuels Institute director of public affairs, discussed the varying properties of cordwood and how pellets offer consumers a more uniform biomass fuel.


THERMAL¦

Wood Stoves Compete on National Mall BY JOHN ACKERLY

Competition can bring out the best in us. In sports, it can bring out higher contender performance levels while allowing fans and sponsors to learn more about the sport and have fun with it. At the Wood Stove Decathlon in November, competition brought teams together, creating a sense of community that grew amongst them, their partners and judges. According to the U.S. EIA, 13 million U.S. households used wood to heat homes last year, with 2.8 million using it as primary heating fuel. Wood heat is reducing fossil fuel use faster than all other renewable technologies combined and still has opportunity to grow if we can demonstrate the technology is up to snuff. The decathlon was designed to help build public support and trust that wood stove technology is on the move, becoming cleaner and more automated. But holding a competition of innovative stoves, some of which were still prototypes, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was not without risk. What if they smoked and contributed to the perception that all wood stoves are old and dirty? What if mobile particulate samplers couldn’t withstand a rigorous testing schedule? What if antibiomass groups picketed the event? Fortunately, the event went smoothly, thanks to the scores of companies, institutions and individuals that donated funds, time, materials and labor. Twelve stoves competed and were scored for emissions, efficiency, affordability, consumer appeal and innovation. The winning stove was a sophisticated, naturally drafting, catalytic hybrid stove that will retail for $2,000. Produced by Woodstock Soapstone in New Hampshire, the stove is the result

of decades of refinement and can meet the strictest emission standards the U.S. EPA is considering in its new regulations. Two second prizes went to Travis’s Cape Cod and the Wittus’s Twinfire, a unique down-drafting wood stove that won top scores in efficiency. Some observers thought the automated stoves with onboard computers, sensors and fans would sweep the prizes. While they did very well—especially in the innovation and emissions categories—the nine judges handed the top prizes to naturally drafting stoves with no electronics. Results could have been reversed if we were able to test stoves for longer and run them as consumers do, not as trained experts. Other than catalytic hybrid and automated stoves, the other class that stood out was the masonry stoves that have been refined over centuries. Here are a few of the longstanding benefits of the competition: • Big players in the combustion sector that serve Detroit automakers showed up to explore the possibility of teaming with stove manufacturers to apply some technology that already exists in our cars to our stoves. • Members of Congress and officials from EPA, U.S. DOE, USDA, U.S. Department of Interior, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development saw modern wood stoves, and talked with the engineers who built them and to the judges, nationally recognized experts. They also saw six to eight stoves burning at one time without any visible smoke. • High-level administration officials attended, including Janet McCabe, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, Sally Jewell, secretary of the interior, and several USDA political appointees. In this age of

restricted travel for federal employees, we came to them. • Key players on all sides of the issue met and engaged ideas in a positive atmosphere. Attendee diversity was enormous compared with industry trade shows and included many representatives from the D.C. nonprofit community. • The event was accessible and intriguing to the Washington press corps, resulting in stories by the New York Times, National Geographic, NBC, the National Journal and scores of smaller regional outlets. At the decathalon award ceremony, the community spirit of the competition really came alive. Receiving the $25,000 first prize, Tom Morrissey of Woodstock Soapstone announced that he was giving part to two other teams who made it to the event on shoestring budgets. Receiving the $5,000 second prize, Travis Industries, led by Kurt Rumen, gave the check back to the Alliance for Green Heat to help pay event expenses. Three members of Congress spoke: Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Rep. Tonko used to lead New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and expressed his determination to help this sector grow. Benishek recalled how just last week he had been splitting his own wood to heat his home. And Van Hollen closed by saying, “The Wood Stove Decathlon is a terrific showcase for the creativity and innovation being brought to next-generation wood stove design.” Author: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat jackerly@forgreenheat.org 301-841-7755

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 27


¦THERMAL

PHOTO: ENERTECHNIX

DEPARTMENT

ADVANCED VIEW: Enertechnix’s PyroOptix camera provides advanced views of material feeding on the biomass grate floor, temperature profile information, and clear images and crucial data to indicate happenings throughout the boiler combustion process.

A Lens on Efficiency

Advancements in imaging technology are providing plant engineers with new insights into combustion conditions. BY ANNA SIMET

W

hen it comes to thermal imaging, Enertechnix’s roots run deep, particularly in the pulp and paper industry. The company has made several advances since the early 1990s and has extended its technology to wasteto-energy plants and, just recently, its first woody biomass power plant—the Factory Sales & Engineering-supplied boiler at Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas. Via a specific infrared wavelength, Enertechnix’s PyroOptix camera filters all combustion gases common with the boiler, providing biomass plant operators with advanced views of material feeding on the biomass grate floor, temperature profile informa-

28 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

tion regarding the impact of potential slagging in the upper furnace, and clear images and crucial data to indicate what’s happening throughout the boiler combustion process. “Just as you’d be able to see with your naked eye,” says Dave Suplicki, director of sales and marketing. “In the biomass arena, we can now look at actual feed chutes and what’s going on in the waste streams being burned. Prior systems used video cameras to look at flame patterns. Now, if there’s a fireball, we can actually study the health and management of the process.” As Suplicki points out, thermal imaging, in terms of heat patterns or heat signatures, is very common in the power indus-


THERMAL¦

PHOTO: ENERTECHNIX

ability to view the upper furnace, where a lot of boiler cleaning activities are done,” Suplicki says. “Using image processing, we can take snap shots from when it’s clean and as slag builds up in different areas over time. By recording it pixel by pixel we can do a comparison of what it should be, and what it is, and create a slag index, which can tell you where to clean instead of trying to guess.” Enertechnix’s technology is relatively new, and as Suplicki points out, things don’t move quickly within the industry. “It takes time to introduce new process stuff, but slowly and surely, we’re expanding upon the fact that we can provide better BEATING THE HEAT: Enertechnix’s PyroOptix camera can provide views through smoke input. Boiler operators are able to see things they and ash in anywhere from 500 to 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit. never have before, and can make decisions from them. By providing specific information used in try and has been used for 20 years. “But we work at this specific cleaning decision making processes, it can result wavelength, combined with some very advanced optics and optical in cost savings. Right now, decisions are based on inputs that are lenses, so the camera can provide views through smoke and ash in nonvisual, such as pressure and temperatures, common recipes that very hot environments, anywhere from 500 degrees (Fahrenheit) up have been put together and traditionally used.” to 3,200 degrees.” The camera uses lens tubes that can be inserted into the boiler Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine observation windows/doors and manipulated, which greatly ex701-738-4961 pands areas that can be observed. “We’ve brought into play the asimet@bbiinternational.com

PHOTO:SONNIK CLAUSEN

Video Vs Thermal Imaging in Boilers

Pictured, left is a super heater in a full-scale, coal-fired boiler with video camera. At right, super heater tubes that can be seen with an IR-endoscope with IR camera, invisible with the video camera.

While thermal imaging may provide advantages over traditionally used video cameras, there are upsides to both, according to Sonnick Clausen. For one, the video camera is typically smaller and significantly cheaper than a thermal camera. “Most customers go for an inspection system with a video camera unless features of the thermal camera are needed,” Clausen says. “Nevertheless, the image

quality is mostly superior to the thermal camera in boilers, due to scattering of light by fine particles and light from soot particles.” Thermal imaging is a nice tool in grate-fired systems, as the view is far better than using video, according to Clausen, and it provides details and behavior during the whole cycle from inlet to outlet. Color video cameras are mostly used in situations where visible light is emitted—flame light from soot—or light from a bright source is reflected or absorbed by surfaces or particles. “The video camera can be used in most situations in boilers, if features can be seen by the human eye,” Clausen says. As a rule of thumb, operators of boilers with soot and small ash particles will have a view 10 times better with IR than VIS. Clausen's company Pyrooptic is manufacturer of high-quality industrial rigid endoscopes for looking inside high temperature processes, an instrument used to examine the interior of boilers, burners and flames during operation. Clausen says the best solution for burner and flame optimization is an inspection system combining both video and thermal imaging. "Technology has advanced to a level that permits high speed visual and thermal videos to be obtained simultaneously using the same endoscope optics," he adds, "for example, snap-shot infrared images of the turbulent mixing of gas and fuel in small and large power plant flames can be recorded together with visual image showing ignition details."

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 29


BiogasNews Refurbished landfill gas project opens in Illinois A landfill gas-to-energy plant 100 miles southwest of Chicago that had sat idle since 2006 is back on line after being purchased and refurbished by Hoosier Energy. The 15-MW facility is located at the 460-acre Livingston Landfill near Pontiac, Ill. Previously owned by American Disposal Services, a Republic Services company, Indiana-based Hoosier Energy purchased it in late 2011 and partnered with landfill owner Republic and Ameresco Inc. to refurbish the plant’s three Solar Caterpillar Taurus 60 turbine engines. "Cooperatives have a long tradition of working with local communities and this A REFURBISHED RESTART: Hoosier Energy project is no exception. We've had great Chairman Jim Weimer (left), Hoosier Energy CEO Steve Smith, and Eric Dippon, Republic Services support, encouragement and local involveEnvironmental manager for the Livingston Landfill dedicate the Livingston Renewable Energy Station. ment from Livingston County, Pontiac PHOTO: Hoosier Energy and other local communities," said Rob Hochstetler, Hoosier Energy vice president of power production. Hoosier Energy also owns the 3.5-MW Clark-Floyd Landfill Methane Generation Project in southern Indiana, which was constructed in 2007 and expanded in 2009.

High-solids AD system opens in Ohio A high-solids anaerobic digestion (AD) system has begun operations in Akron, Ohio. The Renewable Energy Facility, once known as the Akron Compost Facility, is using the AD system to manage biosolids generated from the city’s water reclamation facility. The biosolids, previously used to produce compost, are now converted into power by KB BioEnergy, formerly KB Compost Services. KB BioEnergy and the city have had a public-private partnership since 1989 to manage the biosolids. In 2007, Akron contracted the company to construct a phase I demonstration project to process one-third of the city’s biosolids to produce renewable energy. The phase II project can now accommodate 100 percent of the biosolid waste stream. The project features Bioferm/Schmack Biogas technology and a new dryer by Komline-Sanderson. The expanded system is expected to generate 10,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually via three 600-kilowatt combined-heat-and-power units.

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BIOGASÂŚ

Managing, Operating Multisubstrate Biogas Facilities BY ANTHONY LESKE

Anaerobic digestion means different things to different people. To the biologist, it is a genetically diverse ecosystem. To the civil and mechanical engineer, it is an engineered environment. To the chemical engineer it is a heterogeneous autocatalytic sequence parallel reaction system. Is it any wonder then that more than 40 percent of biogas plant failures occur after start up and are due to monitoring and control errors? Not only must the biogas manager possess the normal skill set associated with managing a business, but he or she must indeed also possess at least some of the skills of engineers and biologists. This begins with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of biological processes, because this is what drives most of the decisions that he or she needs to make on a daily basis. Substrate inventory and recipe management: For a biogas plant processing multiple substrates, knowledge of the biology will dictate the recipe, or mixture of substrates. The biogas plant manager needs to know what feedstock can be processed and in what ratio, what contaminants in the feedstock will inhibit the organisms, and what mass load and frequency to feed the digesters. Once these factors are known, managing the inventory of feedstock becomes common sense. Process monitoring: All biogas plants require measurement of certain process parameters to enable effective process control. Faced with parameters like pH, total solids, volatile solids, chemical oxygen demand, volatile fatty acids, alkalinity, ammonia and biogas composition, the biogas plant manager not only needs to know what these parameters mean, but also how they relate to and are affected by the biological processes occurring. Over and above these parameters, there are a host of other parameters that can be used by the biogas plant manager to diagnose digester health. For example, the presence of light metal cations in high enough concentrations will inhibit the microorganisms. The biogas

plant manager needs to understand the biological processes and know what to look for if the routine monitoring data is insufficient to diagnose digester health. Process control: A thorough working knowledge of biological processes will inform the biogas plant manager of the temperature the process should be operated at, the impact changes in temperature has on the process, how mixing impacts the efficiency of the process, what causes foaming and how to deal with it if it occurs, what solids concentration range the digesters should be operated at and what happens if this range is exceeded, which other parameters should be measured and how they are used to control the process, and what biogas flow and composition say about the stability of the process and what to do when these trend in the wrong direction. In diagnosing digester upsets, which inevitably occur, the cause may be due to a single factor, or multiple factors. Additionally, the biogas plant manager has, or should have, a number of process indicators at his or her disposal that allow diagnosis of the upset and to take corrective action. It is only an understanding of how biological systems work that allows the biogas plant manager to avoid upset conditions or to correctly diagnose and correct upset conditions. Author: Anthony Leske Engineering Manager, Himark BioGas info@himarkbiogas.com 780-492-3234

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 31


¦BIOGAS

PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-OSHKOSH

DEPARTMENT

TRAINED TECHNICIANS: Digester operators like the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Brian Langhoff will be in high demand as the industry expands.

Wanted: Digester Technicians U.S. biogas industry growth is outpacing its workforce. BY CHRIS HANSON

T

he lack of qualified anaerobic digester operators presents a staffing challenge to the biogas sector. To solve this problem, some universities are utilizing or developing curriculum to educate and train the workforce needed in the industry. Anaerobic digestion is still a relatively new technology in the U.S., says Caroline Henry, vice president of marketing at Quasar Energy Group. Colleges and universities can help by offering courses in biomass renewable energy that requires internships at operational facilities. Cleveland-based Quasar, which operates 14 anaerobic digestion facilities, requires its plant operators to spend between three and six months shadowing veteran operators at the sites. Hands-on experience is the single best method of training a new operator, Henry says. “We also look for a background in mechanical engineering, chemistry and biology.” In addition to onsite shadowing, Quasar offers internship opportunities for students working for degrees in renewable energy programs at schools such as Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute. “It’s a great opportunity for the students to

32 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

gain hands-on experience in the renewable energy field,” Henry explains, adding that Quasar hires many of those students right out of school. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is currently proposing its own bachelor’s degree program for environmental engineering to help train future anaerobic digester and wastewater treatment personnel. “Just talking with some of our partners on our digesters and other companies in Wisconsin, they all say as they build more facilities, they are going to need operators to run those facilities,” says John Koker, dean of the college of letters and science at UW-Oshkosh. “Right now, pretty much it is either self-trained or learn-as-you-go, but that is what we hope to use our facilities for on campus to provide that training while people are still in school.” As biogas operations continue to expand in Wisconsin, from small farming operations to larger industrial applications, the search for qualified workers presents a growing challenge. “The plant installations are going to grow faster than the trained workforce,” Koker says, “So we need to catch that workforce up.” Currently, the campus receives interest from companies, mu-


—John Koker, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, dean of College of Letters and Science

nicipalities and other universities for its dry digester system and expects to see additional interest in its wet digester facility, which is expected to be operating at the state’s largest dairy operation by the end of 2013. “If we have the wet digester operating right there onsite, I think that’s going to give us a lot of interest from people who want to come and see how it operates and fits their site,” Koker says. Universities and schools fill the void of professional technicians most notably by providing formal education about the industry, sites for training and facilities for research and development to answer questions from operators, builders and interested clients of the biogas industry, explains Koker. “We got 70 manufacturers, industries, businesses in northeast Wisconsin to respond to a survey about what types of programs and formal training they would like for future employees, especially at the bachelor degree level,” he says. The campus is in the process of formalizing suggested programs so that students can graduate with bachelor degrees to meet the technology needs in the area and be able to move into a managerial level. The proposed environmental engineering technology degree includes the fundamental studies on wastewater, environmental microbiology and environmental economics. Students would also have the opportunity to study renewable energy, water resources management and hazardous waste management as part of the program while also being required to complete a capstone project or an internship. The renewable energy class would focus primarily on alternative energy systems. “Before we can formally offer the program, we have to get formal approval from the Higher Learning Commission,” Koker says. “The environmental engineering technology will really be focused on biogas

PAVING THE WAY: A program to train future digester and wastewater treatment workers is in development at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, which has constructed the nation’s first commercial-scale dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester (above).

technicians and wastewater technicians. But all those plants will need mechanical and electrical folks as well.” With growing interest in programs offered and in development at universities, such as ATI and UW-Oshkosh, the margin between the number of plants and workforce population might shrink. With a larger population, biogas producers and manufac-

turers would be able to source experienced and qualified operators to maintain and operate facilities. Author: Chris Hanson Staff writer, Biomass Magazine chanson@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4970

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 33

PHOTO: University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

‘Plant installations are going to grow faster than the trained workforce…we need to catch that workforce up.’


AdvancedBiofuelNews EPA cuts RFS RVO in 2014 proposal The U.S. EPA released its proposed rule for the 2014 renewable fuels standard (RFS) renewable volume obligation (RVO) on Nov. 15. If enacted as proposed, the rulemaking would reduce the 2014 RVO significantly, to levels below both statutory requirements and the RVO finalized for 2013. Industry trade groups and biofuel producers have expressed disappointment in the proposal. The Biotechnology Industry Organization called the proposed rule flawed

and vowed to make every effort to correct it. "The proposed rule…turns the logic of the RFS on its head and could significantly chill investments in advanced biofuels projects. We will focus over the immediate comment period on convincing the administration to right the course on this policy," said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section.

RFS volume comparison (in billion gallons) Statutory 2013 RVO

Final 2013 RVO

Statutory 2014 RVO

Proposed 2014 RVO

1

0.006

1.75

0.017 (with a range of 0.008-0.03)

no less than 1.0

1.28

no less than 1.0

1.28

Advanced biofuel*

2.75

2.75

3.75

2.2 (with a range of 2-2.51)

Renewable fuel*

16.55

16.55

18.15

15.21 (with a range of 15-15.52

Cellulosic biofuel* Biomass-based diesel

*Ethanol equivalent gallons

SOURCE: SOURCE: U.S. EPA

USDA funds project to convert beetle-killed trees to biofuel The USDA has awarded nearly $10 million to a consortium of academic, industry and government organizations to research the use of insect-killed trees in the Rocky Mountains as bioenergy feedstock. The consortium, led by Colorado State University, will explore recent advances in thermochemical conversion technologies that enable the production of onsite liquid biofuel and coproduct production. The project is working with Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Cool Planet Energy Systems. The company’s prototype pyrolysis system can be tailored to the amount of feedstock available, enabling it to be deployed near stands of beetle-killed timber. The ability to localize production lowers the cost of wood harvest and transportation. The award was made under the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a program authorized by the Farm Bill. The USDA estimates pine and spruce bark beetles infestations have impacted more than 42 million acres of forestland since 1996.

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ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS¦

EPA Picks Winners and Losers in Released RVO Rule

BY MICHAEL MCADAMS

The U.S. EPA recently re2014 Proposed 2013 Volumes 2014 Statue leased its proposed rule for the Volumes 2014 renewable fuels obligations Cellulosic biofuels 17 million 6 million 1.75 billion (RVO). Unfortunately, it essentialBiomass-based diesel 1.28 billion 1.28 billion 1.00 billion ly mirrored the leaked document, (2014 & 2015) which has tormented biofuels Advanced biofuels 2.20 billion 2.75 billion 3.75 billion renewable identification number Renewable fuel 15.21 billion 16.55 billion 18.15 billion (RIN) markets since it was first reported. If a picture is worth a thouthe numbers will destroy markets and have downward sand words the chart speaks volumes (pun intended). pressure on RIN values across their board. Clearly, this is a dramatic cut not only from what was This rule, without question, will have a chilling efdelivered last year, but also a significant cut from what fect on the financial community. Anyone seeking fithe Congress intended in the 2007 statute. nancing to build a new facility, which was the intent of EPA’s proposed methodology for setting upcoming this law, will have major challenges as a result of this RFS targets looks backward at the average of historical proposed rule. data, rather than forward to future production levels. The irony here is that the federal courts chastised For our evolving industry, such a policy will ensure a EPA in December 2012 for trying to put their thumb on continuous oversupply of advanced biofuels. This imthe scale for pushing for the development of cellulosic balance will, in turn, crater the value of RINs. RIN fuels by overestimating the volume for that category prices are instrumental to financing the development of and ordered them to vacate the numbers. With this rule, future advanced and cellulosic biofuel facilities, and the they have apparently done a 180, as this set of numbers agency cannot support the emergence of a low-carbon, is not only a reduction below the actual gallons of bioinnovative industry by looking through the rearview fuels currently being produced but also it sets a process mirror. Simply put, EPA’s Monte Carlo model will alin place that means fuels that are produced will essenways roll snake eyes for the advanced and cellulosic biotially have to wait a year to be reflected in the mandated fuels industry. RVO numbers. So rather than a thumb on the scale, it’s The proposed RVO numbers represent a 20 pera thumb in the eye for our industry. cent reduction from the 2013 advanced biofuels targets This is the most serious threat to the future of adand a 40 percent reduction from the statutory manvanced biofuels in the past seven years. Anyone who is dates. Although we will easily exceed the 2013 volumes, involved in this industry must send comments expressEPA believes we will see a significant reduction in the ing their concerns to the EPA before the 60-day deadnumber of gallons of biomass-based diesel moving forline expires on Jan. 28. ward given a range of political issues, such as the tax credits. In addition, by lowering the advanced number Author: Michael McAdams it appears there is an attempt to squeeze out Brazilian President, Advanced Biofuels Association michael.mcadams@hklaw.com ethanol without consideration to the use of it to meet www.advancedbiofuelsassociation.com the Low Carbon Fuels Standard in California. These actions suggest a lack of understanding of how lowering

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 35


ADVANCED BIOFUEL

PHOTO: Gevo Inc.

DEPARTMENT

LIFE IN THE LAB: Experiments, product samples, and routine chemical analyses are performed by employees in Gevo's labs in Englewood, Colo.

Sourcing the Force Recruiting employees isn’t currently a problem for advanced biofuel companies, but as the industry grows, it may be. BY ANNA SIMET

D

espite being met with a number of hurdles including a challenging financial climate, the advanced biofuel industry, utilizing an array of first-ever technologies, has been gradually and steadily growing over the past several years. As more advanced biofuel companies achieve commercialization, another obstacle may be on the horizon: sourcing employees armed with necessary skills, a potential problem that, among several potential measures, may be combatted with the crafting of recruitment strategies. Considering the relative youth and state of the industry, most companies, including isobutanol manufacturer Gevo Inc., haven’t yet encountered issues. “There are two components to our workforce, and the first is scientists in the lab,” says Brett Lund, Gevo chief licensing officer. “A lot of us [industry stakeholders] are doing a great job training these folks to enter the workforce, and so far we really haven’t had a hard time hiring and recruiting folks to join us. There are a number of people who have been in this field, and then there those in the general biotech community—particularly 36 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

the pharmaceutical side—who have similar skill sets. They aren’t exactly the same, but they have a pretty sufficient background.” For Gevo, which operates an 18 MMgy facility in Luverne, Minn., its business model has generated an employment model on its own. “We retrofit existing ethanol plants—our first plant was one that we purchased from Agri Energy, and it had a workforce already there running the plant when we purchased it,” Lund says. “We maintained employment of all folks who were operating the plant, and brought on a few of our people to modify it to make isobutanol. So for us, we already had the workforce in place. Those employees were very familiar with the plant, so the only challenge for us was getting them up to speed on our technology that we retrofitted the plant with, and how to operate it as an isobutanol plant.” The main changes from the existing ethanol plant to the biobutanol plant include use of different yeast, the addition of a separation system and a number of different operating procedures. “There’s no instruction manual on how to operate an isobutanol


PHOTO: Gevo Inc.

plant because nobody has done it before,” Lund points out. “In essence, we were writing the operating manual as we were starting up the plant, and we’re still continuing to learn all of the best practices. It’s quite a bit different than running an ethanol plant, but at least our employees have that background.” Most companies in the advanced biofuel space are building facilities in green field locations, which means hiring new people who haven’t operated a plant of its kind. “It might be more challenging for them to get the right people,” Lund says. College courses and university programs aimed at training graduates for the field have drastically changed in the past few years, Lund says. “Even just in terms of scientific disciplines,” he says. “To create our yeast, we genetically engineer it using metabolic engineering, techniques that weren’t known 15 to 20 years ago. They were first put into use in the pharmaceutical space, then moved into the ag biotech space, and has now moved more into the industrial biotech space. A lot of advances have come over time, and how we apply those advances over different fields has evolved. People are becoming more interested in green and clean technologies, and as our country becomes more environmentally friendly, people are becoming more interested in that as a career path.” Colleges and universities have responded to that demand and are a driving force behind engaging the interest. “They’ve put together new courses that I had never seen or heard of before in green tech or biofuels,” he says. “Locally, the University of Colorado at Boulder does a lot of work in green tech and clean tech and Colorado State University has a pretty substantial program as well. Those two are doing a lot of work, things that not only start in the classroom, but also kind of bridge the gap into the commercial space and expose their students to companies.” Sue Hager of Myriant Inc. agrees with Lund that the initiatives being taken by colleges and universities to encourage students to consider relevant career paths are having positive impacts. “They’re doing a great job in getting the word out that they will have a job, and that’s really important because there’s a huge need for engineers.” Myriant operates a biosuccinic acid plant Lake Providence, La., and Hager says that since its flagship facility is located in a region that is in need of jobs, sourcing needed employees there wasn’t an issue. On top of that, the state boasts one of the top workforce training programs in the nation, LED FastStart. “It assists with everything when you decide to locate there [Louisiana]— providing incentives, but also recruiting and job fairs to developing training modules for employees that you hire. We’ve went through the program and have put together a customized training program to people we’re bringing on. Separate from that, we have a program that sends people who are working in our labs down in Lake Providence to our research facilities in Massachusetts to shadow scientists, and vice versa. Hager says Myriant is also fortunate enough to have a great relationship with ThyssenKrupp Uhde, which developed a validation facility in Leuna, Germany, where Myriant proved its biosuccnic

ONE TEST TUBE AT A TIME: The road to commercializing isobutanol began in Gevo's laboratories in Englewood, Colo.

acid production process and has employees trained. The industry as a whole should be mindful of the fact that more engineers will be needed, and encouraging more women to take up that career path could help, as it has traditionally been dominated by men. “When I went through my undergrad in 1992 as a biology major, we were pretty split between male and females, but we had a lot overlap with engineers, and there weren’t a lot of women who chose it as a career path,” Hager says. “I definitely see that trend changing, though—there are more people driving women in that direction.” And initial sparks of interest are being ignited much earlier on in academic paths, which could be key in growing the industry workforce. “It’s not just in college, but at the middle and high school levels, we’re seeing more programs—robotics, engineering, forensic science—specifically created to encourage kids to consider engineering and science career paths before they get to college,” Hager adds. “These are options we never had growing up, and I think that’s going to be huge. We’re in [an engineering] lag right now, but in 15 years, it’s going to have had a huge impact.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine asimet@bbiinternational.com 701-738-4961

JANUARY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 37


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38 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2014

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SCIENTISTS LIKE NUMBERS, BUT THEY LOVE OUR NUMBERS.

For scientists, the proof is in the numbers. Since 2001, Iowa’s bioscience growth has far outpaced the nation in 3 of 5 specialty subsectors. This has attracted R&D investment of more than $600 million a year for our universities in cumulative grants, contracts and cooperative research. In fact, bioscience R&D in Iowa is 12% higher than the national average. Fueling breakthroughs at our three research universities. Spawning a culture of innovation and opportunity. And bioscience success. Learn more at iowaeconomicdevelopment.com. See how our numbers make science an exact science. iowaeconomicdevelopment.com

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The Largest Biomass Conference in North America

March 24-26, 2014 Orlando, FL

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January 2014 Biomass Magazine