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July/August 2018



Century-old Cyclone Technology for Biomass Emissions Control PAGE 20


Drax Biomass to Capture, Store Carbon


AND: Solution to Steep Insurance Costs? PAGE 32

1 MW Thermal Energy

7-20 Tons Per Hour Waste Elimination

100 kW Electrical Energy

Easy Net Metering


The PGFireBox quickly, cleanly, and cost-effectively eliminates wood and vegetative waste, while generating electric and thermal energy perfect for heating drying kilns. Does away with hauling and grinding and reduces handling.

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06 EDITOR’S NOTE Critical Industry Matters By Anna Simet


COLUMNS 08 RFS Program Under Attack By Michael McAdams

09 Deflagration Prevention and Protection in Biomass Facilities By Geffrey Mitchell

10 American Wood Stoves: Delay and Deregulate, or Innovate for the Future?


By John Ackerly

11 Wood Pellet Industry Insurance Risks By Bryan Gaston



14 All Things Biomass The 11th International Biomass Conference & Expo in Atlanta brought together nearly 800 attendees from dozens of countries. By Anna Simet

20 The Utility of Cyclones Cyclones, ideal for emissions and dust control for various biomass applications, have been in use for more than 100 years, and are still advancing. By Ron Kotrba

26 From Neutral to Negative

Partnered with technology provider C-Capture, Drax Power Station will demonstrate a carbon capture and storage technology. By Patrick C. Miller


32 Is the Biomass Industry Overpaying for Insurance? The biomass power and processing sectors appear to be spending too much on property and casualty insurance, but a solution may be in sight. By Kenny Hallacy



Powered by large fans, cone-shaped separators known as cyclones have been employed in various wood-based industries for 100 years to separate particles from air. PHOTO: ADVANCED CYCLONE SYSTEMS S.A.


26 ¦ADVERTISER INDEX 2019 International Biomass Conference & Expo Air Burners, Inc. Astec, Inc. Biomass Magazine's Biomass Power & Waste-to-Energy Map Biomass Magazine's Top News CPM Global Biomass Group Evergreen Engineering GreCon, Inc. IEP Technologies KEITH Manufacturing Company McLanahan Corporation ProcessBarron RCBC Global Scientific Dust Collectors SWANA Solid Waste Association of North America Tramco, Inc.

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All Biomass Magazine subscribers All Biomass Power and Waste-to-Energy facilities All major related conferences Distributed to all International Biomass Conference & Expo attendees




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Critical Industry Matters


In this month’s issue of Biomass Magazine, we’ve tied emissions control together with dust management and fire suppression. The reasoning behind this is that responsible dust management means keeping your facility as clean as possible on the inside to prevent catastrophic events such as fires and explosions—most importantly, to protect employees and assets—and responsible emissions control is ensuring what comes out the backend is as clean as possible, protecting the environment and the health of nearby communities. Brilliant, right? Toward the front of this edition, you’ll find a piece on deflagration—causes, prevention and regulations. In the article, IEP Technologies’ Geffrey Mitchell recommends implementing a mix of actions and solutions to help diminish the chance of a fire or deflagration from happening at your biomass facility. He discusses the most common prevention methods, such as a dust hazard analysis and ignition control, as well as typical means of deflagration protection. The latter, of course, are lines of defense in case prevention methods fail, and reality is that it can and does happen. Considering these risks that wood-using energy facilities face, we have included a column in which Dacarba’s Bryan Gaston, on page 11, discusses insurance risks the wood pellet industry endures, as well as a contribution by IMA’s Kenny Hallacy, on page 32, which addresses the biomass and pellet industries’ steep insurance costs. Both recognize an issue that strains these sectors, and propose some potential solutions that stakeholders may want to further explore. Digging into emissions control, Ron Kotrba’s page-20 feature, “The Utility of Cyclones,” provides an impressive overview of cyclones and their role in dust collection and emissions reduction in a variety of biomass energy applications, as well as some recent technological advances. Finally, I hope you enjoy the photo-heavy review of the International Biomass Conference & Expo, held in Atlanta in mid-April. I am continually amazed at the incredible mix of smart and motivated attendees we welcome to the event every year, a meeting at which industry stakeholders collaborate, and discuss and share ways to solve the industry’s most pressing challenges, including those highlighted in this issue.




2019 International Biomass Conference & Expo

EDITOR Anna Simet

Savannah, Georgia





MARCH 18-20, 2019

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

2019 Advanced Biofuels Conference JUNE 10-12, 2019

Indiana Convention Center Indianapolis, Indiana With a vertically integrated program and audience, the Advanced Biofuels Conference is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels including cellulosic ethanol, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products. | 866-746-8385


EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Stacy Cook, Koda Energy Justin Price, Evergreen Engineering Tim Portz, Pellet Fuels Institute Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center

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Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) July/August 2018, Vol. 12, Issue 4. Biomass Magazine is published bi-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.



Let’s not mince words: U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is no friend to the biofuels industry. His recent actions granting so-called “small refineries” unprecedented numbers of RFS program compliance exemptions not only goes well beyond what EPA has previously considered, but also runs counter to congressional intent. Based on what has been reported in the press, we suspect that EPA has granted up to 30 exemptions for small refineries in compliance years 2016 and ’17—three times what we have seen previously. Effectively, this will allow EPA to issue these 30 small refineries massive volumes of 2018 RINs to be used to demonstrate compliance in the current year, thus lowering demand in the RIN markets that would otherwise drive increased production. Congress intended for the RFS to increase the amount of renewable fuel used in the U.S. as more supply became available. Yet, in its own presentation to the OMB on May 15, EPA took credit for an additional 1.2 billion carryover RINs created as a result of these small refinery exemptions, and the relief afforded to Philadelphia Energy Solutions after the company declared bankruptcy. Effectively, this would reduce the demand for renewable fuel by flooding the market with RINs that do not reflect current production and available supply, while allowing EPA to still grow the annual RVO and meet statutory mandates. Of course, none of this has been publically confirmed by EPA, not even the 1.2 billion number used in internal documents. The Advanced Biofuel Association, along with scores of others, continues to await results from its document production request to EPA under the Freedom of Information Act. It is clear Pruitt will take unprecedented steps to undercut the RFS program and create massive uncertainty in the markets. Despite having testified during his confirmation hearing and writing five letters to various sena-


tors claiming that he would support the RFS program, Pruitt is gutting the RVO mandates with no transparency or accountability for his actions. Moreover, he continues to impede the introduction of new gallons to available supply by delaying pathway approvals and stalemating the regulatory reform package known as the “REGS Rule,” which would have eased some challenges specific to cellulosic fuels. Again, all behind closed doors. Clearly, these actions comprise a concerted effort to drive down the value of RINs. And since the news regarding the small refinery exemptions first broke, the value of the D6 RIN has fallen over 50 percent—exactly the outcome sought by Pruitt, and the small refineries receiving these new exemptions. We’ve even heard he is personally directing his staff to take action on the small refinery exemptions in ways that benefit the refineries owned by the likes of Carl Icahn, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. In our judgment, the law does not give Pruitt the ability to grant this unprecedented volume of exemptions, undercutting the intent of Congress in this manner. The ABFA, and other groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association, have now filed suit contesting the recently granted small refinery exemptions. The litigation will begin over these coming summer months. For the sake of the RFS program, this is a fight we must win. Stay tuned, and don’t believe for a second that Pruitt has your back when it comes to the RFS. At best, especially given the 13 different investigations he is currently under, we should mark him down as doubtful.

Author: Michael McAdams President, Advanced Biofuels Association

Deflagration Prevention and Protection in Biomass Facilities BY GEFFREY MITCHELL

Explosions in the biomass industry are constant threats that have the potential to harm employees, stop production or destroy an entire facility. Combustible dust-fueled deflagrations have caused hundreds of injuries, years of down time and major reconstruction at multiple facilities, adding up to millions of dollars in injury claims, lost production and construction costs. In many of the facilities affected by these incidents, the threat was known but not addressed, since an incident had not yet happened. Nearly all of these tragedies could have been prevented with a comprehensive combustible dust prevention and protection plan. With one in place, a facility will be prepared to minimize the risk of a deflagration incident happening, or, if one does, be able to mitigate its effect on the safety of personnel, damage to the facility and costly downtime. The mills, hoppers, bins, dust collectors, cyclones and driers that are used in the biomass industry often contain, create or convey combustible dusts in sufficient quantities to be considered a hazard. If an ignition source is introduced into that volume, all of the ingredients for a deflagration are present. Once a deflagration is started, it can rupture the vessel it originated in, sending pressure and flame fronts through the duct work and into the greater building volume. The initial explosion will also disrupt nuisance dust settled onto horizontal surfaces such as rafters, ducts or pipes. Once the flame front and the airborne nuisance dust meet, an extremely hazardous secondary explosion can occur in the facility. The first line of defense in protecting against combustible dust hazards are incorporating prevention methods, a mix of actions and solutions that can help diminish the chance of a fire or deflagration from happening. Below are the common methods of deflagration prevention used in biomass facilities. Dust Hazard Analysis: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 652, Fundamentals of Combustible Dusts, discusses how and why performing a DHA for biomass facilities is crucial in determining where the risks are located, and where a prevention and protection plan should focus. NFPA 652, as well as other industry-specific dust standards require facilities to conduct both an initial DHA to identify these threats, as well as follow-up assessments on either a 3- or 5-year cycle. Housekeeping: Keeping the facility free from nuisance dust on all horizontal surfaces can dramatically decrease the risk of secondary explosions occurring outside of process vessels. NFPA 652 states that any dust accumulation that exceeds one-eighth inch, or prevents one from discerning the color of the surface below the dust, is an immediate hazard and shall be cleaned immediately. Management of Change: Whenever a change is made within a process or facility, it is crucial to perform an assessment to ensure that the change does not affect the current prevention and protection strategy.

Ignition Control: Minimizing ignition risk is crucial to any plant deflagration prevention strategy. Some potential ignition sources inside a biomass facility include electrostatic discharge, overheat conditions from mechanical failure, conveyed sparks or hot particles through ducts, tramp metal, and improperly-rated electrical devices in areas prone to refuge dust. Proper hot work procedures and operator hazard awareness training are a must to minimize the risk of a deflagration from human error. Deflagration protection is the next line of defense in case prevention methods do not work, due to an upset condition or atypical situation. Installing deflagration protection will allow a facility to start back up after an event much more quickly than if there were no protection. It is much quicker and easier to replace or refill protection components than it is to rebuild a manufacturing process or facility. The following are typical means of deflagration protection in biomass facilities. Deflagration Venting: Venting a deflagration from a process vessel allows the pressures and flames created during a deflagration to exit the vessel before the vessel strength is exceeded, leading to an explosion. Venting of process vessels is discussed in NFPA 68. Deflagration Suppression: Suppressing a deflagration in a process vessel works by detecting the very early pressure increase during a deflagration and using high-rate discharge extinguishers to introduce a calculated amount of dry chemical agent into the volume, to stop the flame front from growing. This extinguishes the deflagration in milliseconds, before it overcomes the strength of the vessel. NFPA 69 Chapter 10 discusses Deflagration Suppression. Deflagration Isolation: Using deflagration isolation on interconnecting duct work is a crucial part of any deflagration protection strategy. If a deflagration happens in one vessel, it can easily travel through the interconnecting ductwork to other vessels or areas of the plant, and cause secondary explosions that are much more energetic that the original deflagration. Deflagration isolation can be achieved using passive explosion isolation valves, dry chemical isolation, or fast-acting knife gate valves, depending on the process being protected. NFPA 69 Chapters 11 and 12 discuss deflagration isolation. Although the presence of combustible dust is always going to be common in a biomass facility, dust explosions do not have to happen. Adapting comprehensive deflagration prevention strategies to minimize the risk of an explosion starting, and implementing explosion protection in higherrisk vessels, will help minimize the threat that an explosion will happen at your biomass facility. Author: Geffrey Mitchell IEP Technologies, Western Regional Sales Manager 508.769.9762


American Wood Stoves: Delay and Deregulate, or Innovate for the Future? BY JOHN ACKERLY

The U.S. EPA recently announced that it was going to provide some relief to the wood stove industry by reopening and modifying the Obama-era regulations that would have set stricter emission limits on stoves and boilers in 2020. Led by the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association, the domestic stove and boiler industry aggressively lobbied both Congress and the administration for a three-year delay. The House of Representatives agreed, but the Senate did not act on it. Now, under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA has indicated that it is open to approving that delay, and also receptive to a wider rewrite of parts of the rule. Get ready. Each business will try to get as much as it can in the short term, but too much regulatory relief can easily backfire. Wood stoves have been stuck in the backwaters of the renewable energy movement, and getting relief from this EPA is likely to help it stay there. Do we want wood stoves to be seen as a mini smoke stack industry, or part of the forward-looking renewable energy community? The strategy of the industry appears mostly to maintain the status quo, which sells maybe 200,000 wood and pellet stoves a year, and that number is likely to hold steady or decline. One reason the EPA initially cracked down on the stove and boiler industry was that outdoor wood boilers got out of control, and if that downward trend continues, the reputation of all wood and pellet appliances will suffer. The sector that has the most to gain from the Obamaera regulations is the pellet stove and pellet boiler sector. If leaders in that community do not stand up and publicly articulate a cleaner vision for biomass heating, they will lose a major opportunity. Pellet heating can be remarkably clean, and even paired with solar PV to make most homes virtually carbon neutral. National and state policymakers are looking more closely at pellets, as they should. The most effective advocates of residential pellet policy are Northeastern groups and companies importing European boilers. There is very little effective advocacy for domestic-made pellet stoves and boilers. That void calls out for more unity among pellet fuel and pellet appliance producers. States need to focus more on pellet stoves, and not just pellet boilers. Allying with Pruitt’s EPA is the wrong direction. This sends the wrong message to state and federal officials who are trying to craft incentive and rebate programs for renewable technologies. A handful of companies publicly support


stricter regulations taking effect in 2020, as they were set to before Obama left office. These companies are usually smaller, more nimble, and more forward-looking. Despite their small size, they have focused on R&D, and made the investments to comply with the new emissions standards, while laggard companies waited to be rescued by Congress or Pruitt. Ironically, the bigger the stove company or conglomerate, the more likely it appears to be ready to fight against stricter regulations. Another opportunity for the industry to show that it is willing be a responsible player in the energy efficiency community is to publicly support an IRS tax credit policy that only rewards the most efficient stove models. It is time to stop pretending that 90 percent of stoves are eligible for a tax credit meant for stoves that are over 75 percent efficient. Stricter rules are often the result of an industry that failed to regulate itself. This is a case in point. The 25C IRS provision for efficient appliances that started at $1,500, dropped to $300, and is now gone altogether, could return at $400 or $500. But stoves risk being left out if the stove industry can’t agree to meaningful eligibility criteria. And the only way to use meaningful efficiency numbers is to use the actual tested efficiencies posted on the list of EPA certified stoves. If the EPA agrees to delay the stove regulations, the industry could effectively lose three years toward becoming part of the renewable energy revolution. A desire for shortterm profits by the laggards in the industry will undermine the long-term success of the cleaner industry members that are prepared for the 2020 deadline. When the EPA opens these regulations for comment, we call on individual companies to show leadership on moving quickly toward a cleaner future. Smart corporate leaders welcome reasonable regulation, as it provides a level playing field and avoids backlash by states. And smart industry associations find ways not to sink to the lowest common denominator among their members. We need leadership to show that biomass heating is ready to move, without delay, to a cleaner, renewable technology future. Author: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat 301-204-9562

Wood Pellet Industry Insurance Risks BY BRYAN GASTON

Fire risk within the wood pellet industry is high. So high, in fact, that fires in varying degrees of severity have been commonplace, and are viewed by many as inevitable—simply a byproduct of the industry. While this raises numerous commercial, health, safety and environmental issues for operators within the industry, it also raises insurance questions. Currently, there are traditional insurance options available to participants in the wood pellet industry. This includes all types of standard coverages such as property, liability, business interruption, pollution, etc. Like any insurance product when placing coverage, carriers will assess risk, review claim history (if applicable) and evaluate other factors to determine whether to place coverage, and on what terms. The wood pellet industry is small and highly specialized. More significantly, although the use of wood as a fuel source for heating has existed since prehistoric times, wood pellets as a commercial industry is relatively immature. Options available to industry participants may evolve as the industry matures. The age of the industry, combined with numerous casualty events, a high degree of financial distress, and capacity consolidation may affect insurance trends in the industry over time. Additionally, the optimal way to insure participants in the industry may naturally evolve as the industry matures. A possible means to obtain insight into future trends is to draw parallels to other industries or sectors. An interesting comparison to the wood pellet industry is the oil and gas industry. Whether you define wood pellets as renewable energy, forest products or by some other industry definition, there are clearly significant differences between wood pellets and oil and gas/chemicals. However, there are also similarities. Both pellets and oil and gas are commodities, involve a significant logistical/transportation component, and entail high-risk operations in remote and harsh working environments. Therefore, the oil and gas industry's insurance trends over the past 50 to 100 years may provide some insight into future insurance trends in the wood pellet industry. Oil Casualty Insurance Ltd. is an interesting case study from the oil and gas/chemicals sectors within the broader energy industry. OCIL was incorporated in Bermuda in May 1986. This occurred when commercial energy insurers had ceased to provide adequate directors and officers liability in-

surance, and excess liability insurance coverage for energy industry risks. Parties in the energy industry (i.e., future OCIL shareholders) saw a need for a new, industry-owned vehicle specializing in liability insurance. Now in business for over 30 years, OCIL holds a Class 3B license under the Insurance Act 1978. OCIL considers itself a recognized expert and provider of reliable risk transfer solutions for the global energy industry. According to OCIL’s website, it is rated A, “Excellent,” by A.M. Best. OCIL’s shareholders comprise companies operating in the energy industry, and among them are Exxon Mobil Corp., Lyondell, Dow Chemical, ConocoPhillips Company and Motiva, just to name a few. OCIL’s mission is “to provide substantial excess liability limits to shareholders over the longer term with excess liability and property coverage on terms comparable, or better, than the conventional energy insurance market, and to provide experienced, prompt and friendly claims and underwriting services.” With debate as to what constitutes the beginning of the oil and gas industry, whether you define it as Col. Edwin Drake's heralded discovery near Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859, or the Spindletop discovery in Texas in 1901, that set the stage for a true commercial expansion of the new oil economy, it took the oil and gas industry 70 to 120 years to adopt the self-insurance option made available through OCIL. Although it may not take place overnight, perhaps a change or trend in insurance markets could drive pellet participants to pool risk in a manner that leads to other or arguably better insurance options like OCIL. Who understands the risks unique to the wood pellet industry better than the operators within the industry? Perhaps OCIL, or others like it, may consider expanding membership into wood pellets. As the wood pellet industry evolves, could this happen naturally. Time will tell, but as Jack Welch once said, “Control your own destiny, or someone else will.” Author: Bryan Gaston Managing Director, Dacarba LLC 713-237-4982



Reinford wins dairy sustainability award

Land O’Lakes Inc. dairy member-owner Reinford Farms, a secondgeneration, family-owned Brett Reinford, dairy farm located in Mif- Reinford Farms flintown, Pennsylvania, in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, is a winner of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s 2018 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award. Partnering with local businesses, including 15 grocery stores and food manufacturing companies, Reinford Farms diverts between 6,000 and 12,000 gallons of food waste from landfills each day. Through this partnership, Reinford Farms generates 1.5 million kWh of renewable electricity each year, enough to power their entire farm, as well as 100 area homes. Over the past 10 years, Reinford Farms has kept more than 35,000 tons of food waste out of landfills, capturing 133 million pounds of greenhouse gases.

ProcessBarron subsidiary buys Environmental Elements

Southern Field, a wholly owned subsidiary of ProcessBarron, announced the asset purchase of the Environmental Elements business line from Delta Ducon LLC. EEC specializes in air pollution control (APC) equipment and technology for power and industrial markets, consisting mainly of pulse jet fabric filters and electrostatic precipitators. “We are very pleased with the addition of Environmental Elements to our group,” said Steve Moore, president of Southern Field. “EEC is one of the largest and most respected APC equipment and technology suppliers in the U.S.”

Bruks, Siwertell merge

JCE Group of Sweden and Cargotec of Finland have combined their companies, Bruks and Siwertell, which together will act under the name Bruks Siwertell Group, and be owned by JCE Invest and Cargotec Sweden. Bruks is a global leader in mechanical engineering and equipment supply for the bulk


materials handling industries. The company provides specialized customer solutions, including the development of custom machines and systems. Siwertell is a world-leading supplier of ship unloaders, road-mobile unloaders, portmobile unloaders, ship loaders, mechanical and pneumatic conveying systems, and bulk terminal solutions. Most equipment is customized according to individual bulk operating requirements, but the company also offers standardized products.

Walz Scale develops new truck scale system

Walz Scale in East Peoria, Illinois, has developed a volumetric truck scale system that provides accurate load volume measurement and ticketing for open-top vehicles. This solution is ideal for biomass facilities seeking to accurately measure inbound and outbound loads of material. Similar to how a truck scale operates, the Walz Payload Scanner System measures both the empty and loaded trucks to determine the amount of carried material. The


system is capable of providing volumetric load measurement with an accuracy of 1 percent or better. The system is also capable of integrating to existing truck scale terminals to allow facilities to determine material density on a per-load basis.

Landtech Biomethane 3000

QED debuts Landtec Biomethane 3000 Fixed Analyzer

Graco Inc. subsidiary Q.E.D. Environmental Systems Inc. has announced the new Landtec Biomethane 3000 fixed analyzer, designed for high-accuracy methane and oxygen readings for biomethane applications. The

analyzer is ideal for biogas upgrading; anaerobic digestion of agricultural, farm and mixed food waste; sewage and wastewater treatment anaerobic digestion; vehicle fuel anaerobic digestion; and other biomethane production applications. The device helps users maximize operational efficiency by optimizing the anaerobic digestion process, and provides continual measurement of methane, carbon dioxide and oxygen with a user-definable fourth gas reading of hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen or carbon monoxide.

Energy-from-Waste firm brings Spanish eco boilers to UK

Macclesfield-based Tidy Planet has partnered with Spanish energy generation specialists Sugimat to become the U.K.’s exclusive boiler distributor. With 40 years of experience, Sugimat is committed to innovation in the thermal and power generation arena. Its waste, biomass and cogeneration boilers create energy under environmentally compliant conditions, burning either conventional or nonconventional fuels.

BIOMASS to ENERGY ProcessBarron is there every step of the way.

W i t h notable success in dealing with unconventional fuel sources, this brand attracted the attention of organic recycling and energy-from-waste expert Tidy Planet. The firm’s extensive Tidy Planet's finished boiler installation at Gatwick Airport. experience in the waste-toenergy sector includes work on projects with many large brands including Liz Earle Co., BP and DHL at London’s Gatwick Airport.

FUEL | AIR | GAS | ASH 205-663-5330



Anna Simet, editor of Biomass Magazine, left, interviews association leaders during the International Biomass Conference & Expo general session industry roundtable. Participating in the discussion were, from left to right, Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council; Carrie Annand, vice president, Biomass Power Association; Tim Portz, executive director, Pellet Fuels Institute; Dan Wilson, board of directors chairman, Biomass Thermal Energy Council; and Steve Skarda, founding member, Renewable Thermal Collaborative.


he 11th annual International Biomass Conference & Expo, held in Atlanta in April, welcomed nearly 800 attendees from 25 countries, 47 U.S. states and six Canadian provinces. More producers than ever attended this year’s event, with 25 percent of registrations consisting of pellet, biomass power, biogas and advanced biofuel producers, from countries including, but not limited to North America, India, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Mexico, Namibia, Puerto Rico, Israel and Ireland. The three-day event kicked off with two preconference seminars—the Biomass Carbonization and Torrefaction Summit, and the Biomass Preparation, Handling and Storage Workshop—followed by the expo hall grand opening,

at which a ribbon-cutting ceremony was performed by general session sponsor CPM Di PIU. Day two of the event began with an industry awards ceremony, where the Northern Forest Center and Calgren Dairy Fuels were recognized with the Excellence in Bioenergy and Ground Breaker of the Year awards, respectively. Steve Skarda, Global Climate and Energy Leader at Procter & Gamble, delivered the keynote address, which was followed by the annual industry roundtable discussion with representatives of the Biomass Power Association, Biomass Thermal Energy Council, Pellet Fuels Institute, American Biogas Council, and Renewable Thermal Collaborative.


Following the general session was a day and a half of technical breakout sessions focused on biomass heat and power, pellets, biogas and waste-to-energy, and advanced biofuels. Wednesday evening, attendees enjoyed a night out to an Atlanta Braves game, and the event closed with an exclusive industry tour of Coca-Cola’s Trigeneration Landfill Gasto-Energy Facility. In 2019, the International Biomass Conference & Expo will be held in Savannah, Georgia, March 18-20. Compiled by Anna Simet Photos by Gaki Media


IEP Technologies' Fred Callahan discusses explosion risks and mitigation methods during track one panel, "Effectively Mitigating Fire and Explosion Hazards at Wood Pellet Production Facilities."

Calgren Dairy Fuels' Lyle Schlyer accepts Biomass Magazine's 2018 Groundbreaker of the Year Award. Calgren has the largest on-farm digester-torenewable natural gas project in the country underway, as well as an operating, on-site ethanol plant, biodiesel facility, biogas-based electricity production, and a carbon capture and liquefaction operation.

Procter & Gamble's Steve Skarda discusses the company's renewable initiatives and strategy during his keynote speech. With partner Constellation Energy, P&G brought online a 50-MW, combined-heat-and-power plant in Albany, Georgia.

Tim Portz, BBI International conference director, delivers the general session welcome address.


TOP: General session sponsor CPM Di PIU's Giordano Checchi and Portz perform the expo hall ribbon-cutting prior to the opening reception. LEFT: Maura Adams accepts Biomass Magazine's 2018 Excellence in Bioenergy Award on behalf of the Northern Forest Center, for its work and efforts to expand modern wood heat.

Benetech's Shannon Walker and Paul Moran visit with booth traffic on the trade show floor.


Glenn Stastny and Deryck Brookhouse of Schaeffer Specialized Lubricants ready to discuss the company's products at the evening reception.


Golden Leaf Energy LLC's Troy Clark, second from left, visits between track sessions with Bioenergy and Agricultural Solutions Inc.'s Philip Bissiwu, Bertrand Hankoua, and Avalew Ligaba Osena.

Carl Liboro, graduate student, Alfred University; Alexandra Rekkas, senior research associate, David Gardiner and Associates; Rafal Strzalka, Centre for Sustainable Energy Technology, University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart; Tony Morice, Managing Member TNT Ventures LLC & Principal Verita Energy LLC; and Jeff Hallowell, founder & CEO, Biomass Controls LLC, participate on track session panel, "Strategic and Tactical Approaches to Further Strengthen Biomass’s Advantage in Small- Scale Applications."


BBI International Director of Marketing and Sales John Nelson, left, and Simet, right, congratulate the $2,000 black out bingo winner, John Saucier of ProcessBarron.

Charlie Coffee and Salvador Ochoa represented Coolidge, Georgia-based Hurst Boiler & Welding Co. Inc. on the trade show floor.

Rotochopper Inc.'s Preston McIntyre discusses the company's latest innovations.

Nelson Engineering's Alyssa Siemonsma and Tiffany Trottman engage with a booth visitor.



John Harris and Raymond South man the Keith Manufacturing Co. booth.


*/2%$/ %,20$66*5283 Your Partner in Productivity

Giordano Checchi and Tim Gilbert of CPM Di PIU meet new potential customers at the company exhibit.






CYCLONES With a long history of performance, cyclones play vital roles in dust collection and emissions reductions in a variety of biomass-related applications. BY RON KOTRBA


yclones have been around for more than 100 years, with the first patent issued in 1886. “They have been used ever since to separate particles from an air, gas or liquid stream without the use of barrier filters across a wide range of industries,” says Pedro Araujo, CEO and cofounder of Advanced Cyclone Systems S.A. The Portugal-based company is exclusively dedicated to the development and commercialization of high-efficiency cyclone systems worldwide. “Cyclones do not function differently depending on the applications,” Araujo says. “The fundamental principles remain the same.” Andy Cowan, vice president of ReesMemphis Inc., says while the technology is old, cyclones have been relied upon for a long time because they are good at what they do. “They’re a separator to redirect and make air do what you want it to do,” Cowan says. “Dust will drop out, and you have clean air coming out.” The primary function of cyclones is to separate dust particles from an air or gas stream. Mike Clark, regional sales manager for CECO Environmental, says two primary factors influence cyclone performance: centrifugal force and residence time. “The typical industrial cyclone is a centrifugal reverse-flow cyclone,” Clark says. “Dirty gas with particulates enters the top and it spins around the body of

the cyclone, down the cone, and the particles are forced alongside the wall of the cyclone and are collected.” Araujo says in air-solid cyclone separation processes, the gas and particles enter tangentially through the top, and high-speed rotation flow “throws” the solid particles against the wall—“a consequence of the higher inertia of the solid particles relative to the gas particles,” he says. “As the air stream approaches the bottom of the cyclone after going down, it inverts the direction in the Y axis, though maintaining the same rotation, and escapes the cyclone by a vertical outlet, or vortex finder, on the top.” It is this inversion of movement that gives the name “reverse flow” to these kinds of cyclones. Cowan says air follows the path of least resistance, so once this inversion of movement happens at the bottom of the cyclone, the cleaned air escapes through the larger opening at the top— the least-resistant route. Positioned at the bottom of a cyclone is either an expansion chamber, dust receiver or vortex breaker, which allow the particles to disengage from the spinning gas stream and exit through an airlock or feeder while the cleaned air turns up the center of the cyclone and out the top. The outlet air exits either to the atmosphere or other downstream equipment such as a baghouse, scrubber, or wet or dry electrostatic precipitator (ESP), depending on


the application, emissions standards and more. “What affects operational efficiency as the gas stream is spinning is centrifugal force—a measure of the force applied when spinning—so the faster the inlet air speed, and the smaller the cyclone body diameter, the more force there is pushing particles to the wall for collection,” Clark says. “How long that force is allowed to act on the particles determines how much of the particles will be collected, especially the fine particles.” The larger the par-

Powered by either positive- or negative-pressure fans, cyclones use centrifugal force and residence time to spin particles out of air. PHOTO: ADVANCED CYCLONE SYSTEMS S.A.

ticle size, the more efficient the cyclone. “There is a fractional efficiency curve associated with the efficiency of a cyclone,” Clark says. “If you have a dust distribution stream that is course, you can use a lower-efficiency cyclone to achieve a given collection efficiency. If it’s a very fine dust, like flour or talcum powder, then it takes a much more efficient cyclone to achieve the same efficiency by weight.” Motorized fans, positioned either on the clean or dirty side of the cyclone, provide the energy to power the vortex ef-

fect. A positive cyclone system is one in which a material-handling fan blows into the cyclone, Cowan explains, whereas a negative cyclone system operates with a fan on the clean side, sucking clean air out versus pushing particle-laden air in. Cowan says the negative system is more efficient. “If you put a fan on the positive side blowing into cyclone, you don’t need a rotor airlock at the bottom of the cyclone,” he says. In the wood industry, one reason not to have the fans on the positive side is, if the fan does not have the abra-

sive particles constantly flowing through it, there is less wear to consider. “But they tend to work better on the positive side,” says Cowan, adding that if a filter follows the cyclone, then the fan setup is typically positioned for negative pressure. Fans can be considered part of the cyclone system, Cowan says, but in large mills where there is a lot of waste, the fan systems are separate units. “In those, we put them on the ground where we can maintain them,” he says. “The biggest one I’ve ever seen where it’s part of the BIOMASSMAGAZINE.COM 21

¦EQUIPMENT cyclone is about 50 horsepower, set up as a negative pressure system pulling cleaned air through.”

Size and Efficiency

Increasing the force on the particles demands more energy, which Clark says comes in terms of pressure drop across the cyclone. “For cyclones in the wood industry, whether it’s for a pellet dryer or other application, there is a practical limit to the amount of energy one can apply to meet environmental standards,” Clark says. “You need to increase residence time, or the amount of time it takes to travel to the wall of the cyclone, and when you do that, the cyclone gets bigger and more efficient.” According to Cowan, a tradeoff exists between efficiency of separation and energy consumption. “It takes a lot more energy for a cyclone to be more efficient,” he says. To design a more efficient cyclone with a longer body and smaller diameter, then the static pressure—or the resistance in a system—goes up, Cowan explains, which requires more horsepower to move the air through at the velocity needed. As a result, energy consumption increases.

“It takes horsepower to overcome that resistance,” he says. Clark says CECO Environmental’s ultrahigh efficiency series cyclones are nearly double the size of its standard efficiency series. Interestingly, however, Clark says energy consumption for the ultrahigh efficiency series is actually lower than its standard efficiency series. Cyclones are ideal for many wood operations, including various biomass applications. “Cyclones are excellent with larger chips, shavings, bark—the larger particles,” Cowan says. “In the wood industry, cyclones are very prevalent. Heavy chips and big particles, they drop out and do not get entrained in the air, whereas light dust can get off the wall, go back through the top and exit the cyclone. With really light, fine dust, even the most efficient cyclones will just blow it out the top.” Depending on the type of particles, and the type and design of the cyclone, they can be efficient enough in certain applications. “If it is efficient enough to separate and the horsepower isn’t too high—meaning energy consumption is efficient too—then a cyclone is the best


way to go because, compared to a filter, it has the lowest operation and maintenance costs,” Cowan says. “But if the dust gets to be so fine that a cyclone can’t efficiently separate what you want, then have you to use a baghouse following the cyclone.” Clark says if it is certain a baghouse will be downstream of the cyclone, one should be selective and discerning in how efficient the cyclone is preceding the baghouse. “If it’s very efficient and the only thing the filter will see is very fine particles, then this can be very challenging for the baghouse,” Clark says. “So, if you have a baghouse downstream, you want to select a lower-efficiency cyclone so the baghouse sees bigger particles to make it less challenging.” Consider it a Goldilocks situation in which the cyclone is required as to not inundate filters with too much material, but the cyclone cannot be too efficient as it’s also a problem if only fine particles are entering the baghouse. “It comes down to particle size distribution versus emission requirements,” Clark says. “In addition to particle size, there’s the aerodynamic properties to consider— wood flakes are different than lead shot. If lead shot were the same physical size,

EQUIPMENT¦ it’s obviously much heavier and spherical, whereas wood flakes are more challenging because they are lighter and float around in the air stream, and therefore, they are more difficult to collect. We can determine the aerodynamic distribution from a representative sample, and given this inlet loading, we can meet the given outlet loading with a particular cyclone.” CECO Environmental’s ultra-efficient cyclones can take the place of a baghouse, Clark says. “That’s not to say cyclones are as efficient as a baghouse,” he says, “but there may not be enough fine particles in the stream for those to be needed. We have cyclones on pellet dryers going to atmosphere without any downstream equipment. If there’s a scrubber or wet ESP, the cyclone will help lower dust loading to lower water consumption on a scrubber or wet ESP, which has to be discharged, so the amount of water discharged is directly related to the amount of loading on the front-end. That’s one advantage of a high-efficiency cyclone before a Venturi scrubber or wet ESP.” Also, a cyclone can help reduce particle loading in a wet ESP to keep emissions down and meet requirements. “If a stan-

dard cyclone is collecting 9.5 pounds an hour, a high-efficiency cyclone may collect 9.9 pounds an hour, which just cut emissions coming out of the cyclone by 80 percent,” Clark says. “Now, the wet ESP or scrubber doesn’t have to work so hard, and they consume less water and less energy.” In 2008, CECO Environmental acquired Fisher-Klosterman, which produces cyclones and scrubbers. Cyclones typically do not follow biomass boilers for fly ash removal. “Boilers have fly ash, and that is challenging for cyclones,” Clark says. “We’ve done it with a high-efficiency cyclone and a Venturi scrubber with high pressure drop. Typically what you see following a boiler is a multiclone followed by a wet ESP.” A multiclone, Clark explains, is like a baghouse but instead of bags, it uses a bunch of small axial-flow cyclones. Araujo says cyclones are easily manufactured to withstand all kinds of extreme operating conditions, including high temperature and abrasive or corrosive environments. As a result, they are commonly used as preseparation equipment for several reasons, including to remove silica or larger particles to reduce abrasion

in the downstream equipment. “This is done across a wide range of industries,” Araujo says. Cyclones are also used to reduce sparks and glowing particles in wood-drying processes for safety reasons. “This is typically seen in wood and wood derivative processing companies prior to the dryers,” he says. And, as Clark points out, they’re used to reduce particle load into downstream equipment to help meet emissions limits or alleviate the work load into final stage emissions control equipment. “Cyclones can be very useful for preseparation before other technologies, such as bag filters or ESPs,” Araujo says. “For bag filters it is very important to reduce load of abrasive particles, which can damage the filter elements, and especially glowing particles, which can cause pinholes in filters, or even fires. ESPs may also have problems with very high particulate concentrations due to Corona Suppression of the electrical field. Basically, if a well-designed cyclone removes the main fraction of particles, the electrical field can be used to treat exclusively the very small particulate that cannot be separated by centrifugal forces. The efficiency of

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¦EQUIPMENT the complete arrangement of a cyclone plus ESP is therefore much higher for the same investment.” In most common small to medium biomass combustion-to-power applications, the setup is a boiler, followed by a multiclone and then a bag filter or an ESP before the stack. “ACS high-efficiency cyclones are so revolutionary that we replace bag filters and ESPs,” Araujo says. “We do not compete against other cyclone manufacturers, but against other technologies.” He says ACS cyclone systems are completely new, and benefit from several competitive advantages. “Their main benefits arise in industrial applications where bag filters have problems, such as high temperature or pressure, condensation and cross-contamination, or high costs like expensive filter media and frequent change of bags,” he says, adding that regular cyclones are not efficient enough and the costs of ESPs are unbearable, or the equipment is technically just not applicable.

“In emission control applications, cyclones up to now have been mainly used as preseparation systems to reduce the load going into secondary filtering systems such as bag filters and ESPs,” Araujo says. “ACS’s Hurricane and ReCyclone systems contradict the general thinking that cyclones are inefficient powder collectors. ACS’s cyclone systems can replace bag filters and ESPs in many demanding operating processes.”

Customer Needs, R&D, Simulations

Some manufacturers design custommade cyclones for specific applications, but the cost is much greater. “We can’t sit down and design a cyclone for every single customer and application,” Cowan says. “Some will do that. The customer will say we need this and that, and they are willing to pay $70,000 on just one cyclone. This starts with a particle size distribution analysis.” Computer programs can then take that data, density and velocity of air, to design a cyclone for a specific

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application. “It’s very costly to do, plus these customers want performance guarantees,” Cowan says. “There are a few companies that will provide guarantees, but you’re paying a lot of money for that. The parameters have to stay constant all the time.” Clark says it’s difficult to perfect an equation to predict the performance of cyclones. He says when Fisher-Klosterman launched its XQ series in the early 1980s, the company conducted empirical lab testing to determine the fractional efficiency curve of cyclones, and how it relates to gas density and viscosity. “If a customer comes to us, we take a sample of their dust and convert it to aerodynamic distribution and overlay that data on curves we developed empirically,” he says. “Then, we guarantee removal percentage by weight. We’ve been doing this for 40 years—and guaranteeing performance.” ACS uses specialized modeling and numerical optimization to manufacture an optimized family of cyclones. “ACS’s cyclones are better due to our specialized scientific knowledge in particle agglomeration modeling—PACyc—and numerical optimization in partnership with the engineering faculty of Porto, where we run a pilot system for R&D,” Araujo says. “The revolutionary concept of particle agglomeration is essential to explain how cyclones really work and, consequently, to optimize them. The outcome of our research is not a universal solution, but a set of very different cyclone families and systems serving particular client needs and customizable for each given application.” Using PACyc modeling while considering several economic and operational constraints such as size and pressure loss, Araujo says it is possible to affordably simulate millions of virtual prototypes with numerical optimization. “Considering this approach as the best path to obtain truly optimized cyclones, sound theories of cyclone collection and pressure loss were chosen for each process application,” he says. “These numerical optimization problems have resulted in several families of cyclones, some of those patented. Indeed, different industrial cases have different needs for which the optimization functions to incorporate

EQUIPMENT¦ in the PACyc model may be as complex as minimizing cost or space, subject to a minimum efficiency result. Our cyclone families, always subject to further customization, are the result of very different client demands ACS has come across to date. Unlike most cyclone providers, we give strict guarantees of emissions and efficiency.” ACS has installed systems for various biomass applications, such as combustion boilers, pyrolysis, gasification, pelleting and drying. The company completed nearly 200 projects in the past seven years, which helped ACS “develop a complete line of very different hurricane cyclone families for each different need, considering how interparticle agglomeration/ clustering affects collection efficiency,” Araujo says. “From coarse particle preseparation proportioned by compact and low pressure drop cyclones, such as our SD and DX lines, to fine particulate capture with high-end geometries such as the EX and MK, ACS provides solutions for a wide range of industrial cases, being able to reach emissions comparable to ESPs.” Although Rees-Memphis doesn’t custom-make cyclones or provide performance guarantees, the company relies on basic designs that, over time, have proven to work in certain applications. Through experience and adjustment techniques, such as baffling at the bottom of the cyclone to help direct air out, Rees-Memphis helps guide the customer, who knows up front there is no performance guarantee.

pressure drop are too great, this will cause premature wear. “There is a practical limit,” he says. In most biomass applications where abrasion is not a factor, the maintenance requirements are usually limited to visual inspections every six to 12 months to ensure there is no plugging, condensation or unexpected material accumulation, Araujo says. “There is only maintenance of the rotary valves, as any other valves following the respective manufacturers’ recommendations,” he says. Painting the cyclones is another routine maintenance practice to increase the longevity of the system, Cowan says. In addition, inspection of the fan systems, including looking for loose belts, feeling for unusual vibrations, which may mean something is hung up on the wheel; and making sure the motor has proper lubrication, if required; and the bearings are greased and not running hot, are all part of sound routine maintenance practices.

Author: Ron Kotrba Senior Editor, Biomass Magazine 218-745-8347

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Life and Maintenance

With no moving parts, maintenance on cyclones is fairly low. “It’s mostly spotchecking, making sure there’s no holes or wear anywhere,” Cowan says. “We might replace an elbow in the dust collector once every four months. We do build cyclones with stainless steel abrasion liners at the inlet that can be removed if need be.” Abrasion is often the main concern. “The more material coming through it, the more abrasion you have,” Clark says. This can be mitigated by material selection with abrasion-resistant materials in key areas, or building in replaceable sections where known wear will occur. He says if the velocity, centrifugal force and

With proper maintenance and rework as needed, cyclones can last decades. “Some of ours have been out there in the field for more than 20 years,” Clark says. ACS designs its systems to last at least 10 years. “Our main concern is abrasion, which may happen for many types of biomass combustion, for instance, due to the silica content of the ash and course particle size,” Araujo says. “For this reason, we usually place our systems after any basic preseparator, for example, a lowefficiency, low pressure drop multiclone, which can easily capture the big and more aggressive particles, leaving the fine particulate to be handled by one of our most efficient product lines.”

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TO NEGATIVE Drax’s plan to demonstrate a new carbon capture and storage technology at its power station in the United Kingdom has global implications. BY PATRICK C. MILLER

Drax Power Station is the largest power station in the UK. Its six—the fourth of which is being converted to run on wood pellets—total capacity of approximately 4,000 MW, typically producing enough power to meet 7 to 8 percent of the U.K.’s electricity needs. Four on-site storage domes can hold up to 80,000 metric tons of pellets. PHOTO: DRAX




arbon dioxide capture and storage technologies are an intriguing concept, offering the potential to transform carbon-neutral biomass power plants into carbon-negative facilities. In the past, these technologies have been considered too costly and uneconomical to deploy, but this could soon change with the forward-thinking Drax Group forging ahead. In May, Drax announced plans to build a first-of-its-kind bioenergy carbon capture storage (BECCS) project in Europe, which, in the long-term, could result in the generation of carbon-negative electricity at Drax’s biomass-fired power station in North Yorkshire, U.K. The North Yorkshire plant—the largest power station in the country—is owned and operated by Drax Power Ltd. It supplies 7 percent of the country’s electricity needs and is the single largest user of sustainable biomass for power in the world. Of the electricity it produced in 2017, 65 percent was renewable—enough to power 4 million homes.

Unlike the previous carbon capture and storage projects in which Drax has been involved, this one is an early pilot for a new technology that will examine the potential of a different form of postcombustion capture on biomass fuel, rather than coal. “This pilot is the U.K.’s first step, but it won’t be the only one at Drax,” says Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO. “We will soon have four operational biomass units, which provide us with a great opportunity to test different technologies that could allow Drax, the country and the world to deliver negative emissions and start to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

A Decarbonization Strategy

The U.K. government’s Clean Growth Strategy identified sustainable biomass power stations used in tandem with carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technology as a potential route to achieving decarbonization between now and 2050. BECCS is considered one of several greenhouse gas removal technologies that could

help achieve long-term decarbonization. A report by the Energy Technology Institute in 2016 suggests, by the 2050s, BECCS could deliver roughly 55 million tons of net negative emissions annually in the U.K.— about half the nation’s emissions target. “The biomass we use is considered to be carbon neutral because it is sourced from sustainable, working forests which are growing and absorbing carbon,” says Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO. “The majority of the biomass that we use comes from the U.S. South, where sustainable forest management means that trees are growing faster than they are being harvested, resulting in a net decrease of carbon in the atmosphere. The carbon captured will be stored on site at Drax in compressed form, with a view to working with a partner organization able to use the carbon to create further value in its own processes.” For the demonstration project, Drax will partner C-Capture Ltd., a spinoff company from the University of Leeds. C-Capture develops proprietary solvent systems to remove CO2 from the gas streams of

EMISSIONS¦ large-scale point sources, capturing it in a form suitable for storage. Drax will invest £400,000 ($537,000) in what could be the first of several pilot projects undertaken at the company’s power station to demonstrate BECCS technology. “At Drax, we work with a number of universities in our efforts to understand and capitalize on emerging technologies and support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning,” Koss explains. “Our R&I (research and innovation) team first met with C-Capture during a meeting at Leeds University aimed at exploring areas of mutual interest. Due to the nature of C-Capture’s proprietary solvent, the decision was made for them to be our preferred initial partner to trial their technology with our biomass flue gases. C-Capture’s role is an important one in the project, as their solvent is organic, low-cost and has low toxicity.”

Finding the CO2 Holy Grail

Chris Rayner, founder of C-Capture and professor of organic chemistry at the

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO PHOTO: DRAX GROUP

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¦EMISSIONS rope. Drax Biomass is based in the U.S., and manufactures compressed wood pellets at two facilities in Louisiana and one in Mississippi, produced from sustainably managed working forests, supplying fuel used by Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire.

Moving Away From Coal

A mockup of the proposed new gas units at Drax Power Station. For the demonstration project, Drax will partner C-Capture Ltd., a spinoff company from the University of Leeds. PHOTO: DRAX POWER LTD.

University of Leeds, says the company has developed fundamentally new chemistry to capture CO2 , and tests have shown that it should be suitable for capturing the carbon produced from bioenergy processes. “The key part is now to move it from our own facilities and into the real world at Drax,” he adds. “Through the pilot scheme, we aim to demonstrate that the technology we’ve developed is a cost-effective way to achieve one of the holy grails of CO2 emissions strategies—negative emissions in power production, which is where we believe the

potential CO2 emissions reductions are likely to be the greatest.” In 2012, Drax began converting from coal to become a predominantly biomassfueled electricity generator. “Our biomass generating units deliver carbon savings of 80 percent compared to when they used coal,” Koss says. “This takes account of the whole supply chain and is independently audited.” Drax is the biggest single-site renewable generator in the U.K., and operates the largest decarbonization project in Eu-


“We have invested heavily in converting the business to use biomass instead of coal,” Koss notes. “The transformation cost us around £700m (nearly $937 million), of which around half was the cost of converting the three generating units at the power station to biomass with the balance being investment in the U.S. supply chain, U.K. rail infrastructure and compliance with future emissions requirements.” The first phase of the BECCS project began in May to determine if the solvent C-Capture developed is compatible with the biomass flue gas from the Drax Power Station. A lab-scale study into the feasibility of reusing the flue gas desulphurization (FGD) absorbers at the power station will also be carried out to assess potential capture rates. “Part of the C-Capture project is about repurposing existing assets at Drax, which should be more cost-effective, and quicker to develop,” Koss says. “FGD equipment is vital for reducing sulphur emissions from coal, but has become redundant on three of the generating units at Drax that have been

EMISSIONS¦ upgraded to use biomass. The wood pellets used produce minimal levels of sulphur.” Depending on the outcome of a feasibility study, the C-Capture team will proceed to the second phase of the pilot in the fall, when a demonstration unit will be installed to isolate CO2 produced by biomass combustion. “As the largest user of sustainable bioenergy in the world, Drax Power Station is as good a location as anywhere to trial this technology,” Koss stresses. “We hope that in undertaking this feasibility work, we will further our knowledge of the engineering involved, and produce findings that could be applied to CCUS projects more broadly, both in the U.K. and abroad.” At Drax, the BECSS technology demonstration project represents another key step on the road toward using more environmentally responsible fuel to generate electricity. “For our people to get behind the project, they had to understand that for coal, the writing was on the wall,” Koss notes. “Once they understood that, we could develop a shared purpose and enthusiasm for finding the solutions required to achieve this major feat of engineering and extend the life of the plant. “We needed to develop an entirely new supply chain, and convince suppliers and partners across the railways and ports that we were serious about biomass, so they would work with us,” he adds. “It was also

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO PHOTO: DRAX POWER LTD.

vital that in developing our own wood pellet plants in the U.S., and in working with others who supply us with biomass, that we were able to ensure they adhered to stringent sustainability requirements.” Koss says it’s too early to discuss exporting BECCS technology, but when asked how a successful demonstration would change Drax’s role in the area of long-term decarbonization, he replies, “If the world is to achieve the targets agreed in Paris and pursue a cleaner future, negative emissions are a must—and BECCS is a leading technology to help achieve it.” In addition to environmental benefits, Koss explains that Drax has other reasons to develop and demonstrate BECCS technology. “We could be delivering reliable and flexible renewable power, which is carbon negative, helping the millions of households and businesses which rely on it to decarbonize, too,” he says. “If successful, the technology could help to extend the life of the power station, protect jobs both at Drax and in our supply chain, whilst tackling climate change and keeping the lights on.” Author: Patrick Miller Staff Writer, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4923

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Is the Biomass Industry Overpaying for Insurance? BY KENNY HALLACY


n 2003, renewable energy industry entrepreneurs were building their businesses. Early on, they noticed there was a big problem with their property and casualty insurance—it was expensive. For a few years, they validated that the pricing was not an accurate reflection of the risks. In 2006, an innovative insurance program was developed to specifically meet the needs of a segment of the renewable energy industry—ethanol production. These companies used their superior knowledge of the industry to create their own insurance company to protect and insure their assets and potential liabilities. Over the past decade, this insurance company has grown to include nearly half of all ethanol production facilities in the U.S. Highlights include: • More than $13 billion of insured value. • Returned more than $20 million to its members through surplus credits/returns and dividends.

• Nearly 50 member companies with over 100 separate facility locations. • 100 percent retention over the past three years. • Decreased property rates more than 74 percent since 2003. • Decreased general liability rates more than 79 percent since 2003. • Decreased work compensation rates more than 49 percent since 2003. As the ethanol production sector has diversified over the past 12 years, the insurance company has added other similar agricultural and renewable energy industry companies, where the risks could be controlled and underwritten to make sense. How was the insurance company created? This particular insurance company is named ERM SPC Ltd. and it is a Segregated Portfolio Company captive reinsurance com-

pany domiciled in the Cayman Islands, and exists for the purpose of reinsuring property, general liability and workers compensation risks. What is a captive, you may ask? Via A captive insurer is generally defined as an insurance company that is wholly-owned and controlled by its insureds; its primary purpose is to insure the risks of its owners, and its insureds benefit from the captive insurer's underwriting profits. What does that mean? In simple terms, a captive is a group of insureds (companies) that come together to purchase insurance in an advantageous way. In the case of the ERM SPC Ltd., there was a group of ethanol production facilities that met certain design standards, had effective risk control programs in place to make them better than average in the traditional insurance marketplace.

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


INSURANCE¦ As part of the captive, these companies also have a responsibility to themselves and the group to control risks and losses. In addition, they share loss-related information in order to learn from one another. Each facility is inspected at minimum of two times annually to ensure they are keeping their facilities as safe as possible. How does a captive work to save a business money? Captives have a direct impact on companies’ bottom lines in a variety of ways. One of the most direct impacts is the ability to leverage the insurance markets on behalf of the entire portfolio of companies, instead of individual companies approaching insurance markets on their own. This allows the captive to decrease premium while improving their coverage and terms for the captive members. Secondly, for every dollar of insurance premiums paid to an insurance carrier, a large percentage is set aside to pay claims, and when claims do not occur, it creates underwriting profit. For a business, that dollar is a sunk cost. In traditional insurance, even if a company practices superior risk control and safety, and works hard to limit claim activity, the carrier will keep the profit that results from the company’s risk-control efforts. In a captive environment, those profits are returned to the participant. How does a captive help lower claims? The claims are lower for a number of reasons, which are the following: • Members are directly incentivized to improve safety and reduce claims.

• All claim costs are monies that would otherwise be paid back to the captive participants (rather than a sunk cost paid to the insurance company), so all captive members are incentivized to reduce or eliminate claims costs. • Every member is required to go through two risk control inspections per year, where regulatory compliance and best management practices relevant to the industry are reviewed. • It shapes a team environment for all members, and a percent of premium is at risk, based on the performance of the captive as a whole. It also incentivizes members to help fellow captive facilities reduce claims. • Organizations that refuse to make improvements, should they need to, will be suspended and removed from the captive program. Why a captive program is right for the renewable energy industry? The renewable energy industry has had a lot of growth in the U.S. over the past decade, and there is not enough underwriting information at a specific carrier to support their own classification and rate structure. The loss ratios on good risks are very low, and these accounts aren’t priced appropriately for the insured. A customizable program is the perfect avenue to not only improve risk control practices, but can provide a fair net cost to the insured. What does this have to do with the biomass power and processing industry? Over the past few years, we have seen that the biomass power and processing industry has experienced the same growing pains, related to insurance, that ethanol saw in 2003. Companies appear to be paying too much for

their property and casualty insurance, and we want to do something about it, so these organizations can reinvest their diverted premiums into what they need to advance their business and the renewable energy industry. IMA Corp., the largest employee-owned insurance brokerage in the country that focuses on several niche markets and is the top provider in various renewable energy industry sectors, is currently performing a benchmarking study of renewable energy facilities to analyze current insurance programs, operations, loss history, etc. The end goal is either building a separate insurance company or segregated portfolio company for the biomass power/processing industry, or if mutually beneficial, introducing these companies into this already established, and very successful, renewable energy segregated portfolio companies containing ethanol production companies. Am I allowed to participate? Organizations that participate in the benchmarking study will receive an anonymous (all company and location identifiers removed) copy of the study. If you have questions, or would consider participating in the benchmarking study, contact Kenny Hallacy at IMA. Author: Kenny Hallacy MBA, IMA Corp., Lee Enterprises 316-266-6370

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