REFLECTION OF SUCCESS Highland Pellets, Astec Finish Massive Arkansas Plant PAGE18
New Dublin Waste-to-Energy Plant Readies to Fire Up PAGE 12
Michigan School Sticks With Biomass For Boiler Overhaul PAGE 26 www.biomassmagazine.com
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ADVERTISER INDEX¦ 2017 International Biomass Conference & Expo 2017 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo AB Bruzaholms Bruk Agra Industries AMANDUS KAHL GmbH & Co. KG Andritz Feed & Biofuel A/S Astec, Inc. Biomass Engineering & Equipment Biomass Preparation, Handling & Storage Workshop D3 Max LLC Emerging Biomass Feedstocks Forum Fox Venturi Educators Heating the Midwest Hermann Sewerin GmbH Hurst Boiler & Welding Co. Inc. Iowa Northern Railway Co. KEITH Manufacturing Company Mole Master Services Corporation ProcessBarron Rotochopper Inc. Siemens AG SWANA - Solid Waste Association of North America Varco Pruden Buildings Vecoplan LLC
40 5 20 10 36 8 2 27 16 39 24 15 9 28 14 21 37 32 22 23 4 7 35 31
MARCH 2017 | VOLUME 11 | ISSUE 3
06 EDITOR’S NOTE A Matter of Scale By Tim Portz
07 EVENTS 08 BUSINESS BRIEFS
11 COLUMN Biomass: A 2017 Policy Outlook By Bob Cleaves
12 FEATURE The New Stacks in Town
A sleek, state-of-the-art, waste-to-energy plant will provide Dublin, Ireland, with electricity and heat. By Anna Simet
17 COLUMN Trump, Obama and Wood Stoves By John Ackerly
18 FEATURE True Sustainability in Pine Bluff
Two years after announcing plans to construct a 600,000-metric-ton wood pellet plant in Arkansas, Highland Pellets and Astec are priming the presses. By Katie Fletcher
25 COLUMN Biomass Thermal Legislative Advances As installed at Highland Pellets' newly constructed, 600,000-metricton plant in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a major element of Astec Inc.’s plant design is the use of hot oil tube dryers, different from the typical pellet facility's air-swept rotary dryers. PHOTO: KIRK DUFFY
By Aaron Aber
26 DEPARTMENT North Central Area’s Biomass Reboot
After 40 years, a school district in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula decided that its biomass boiler system needed an overhaul. By Tim Portz
30 CONTRIBUTION Biologicals and BMPs: A Modern Digester’s Blueprint for Success
COPYRIGHT © 2017 by BBI International
Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) March 2017, Vol. 11, Issue 3. 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. Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling TM
Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for anyone outside the United States. To subscribe, visit www.BiomassMagazine.com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.
By ensuring a digester has the right bacteria to work in conjecture with methanogens, higher-than-anticipated yields can be achieved. By Will Charlton
ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS
33 COLUMN The RFS in 2017: A Brave New World By Michael McAdams
34 DEPARTMENT Commercial Proving Grounds
After a decade-plus of working to prove a waste-to-renewable diesel technology, Cielo Waste Solutions is building its first commercial facility at the site of an idle biodiesel plant. By Ron Kotrba
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 3
Efficiency turns less into more. Siemens Steam Turbines. Powered by efficiency. The cutting-edge efficiency of our best-in-class steam turbines is based on optimizing their performance while minimizing fuel consumption and start-up times. They are also versatile, with the ability to respond to the increasing demand for reliable base- and part-load supply. Smart reheat technology and other efficiencyboosting solutions make our steam turbines the first choice for highly efficient power generation â€“ around the world.
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¦EDITOR’S NOTE EDITORIAL PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF Tom Bryan email@example.com
A Matter of Scale The biomass heating system at the North Central Area junior and senior high school in Powers, Michigan, profiled on page 28, can be mostly viewed from one spot. Standing in TIM PORTZ VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT the open doorway of the building that serves & EXECUTIVE EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org as the fuel receiving, fuel handling and boiler house, a person could easily mistake it for a large bus garage. Conversely, the new Highland Pellets pellet production plant in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, featured on page 18, would take the better part of a day to see. As different in size as the two facilities are, they share a number of common traits that help illustrate the current state of best practices in construction of biomass conversion facilities. When I spoke with Jeremy Mortl, president of Messersmith Manufacturing Inc., the system’s fabricator and installer, about its success in meeting the aggressive construction schedule, he stressed the importance of fabricating the major system components at the company’s local facility. The North Central Area school district wanted to minimize construction activity and its associated noise while classes were in session, so construction activities were forbidden until school dismissed for the summer. Without getting a head start on fabrication, having a system installed and ready to deliver heat that winter would have been a stretch. For Highland Pellets, the decision to utilize off-site fabrication was driven entirely by a desire to get a plant built and generating revenue as quickly as possible. Highland Pellets was the second commercial-scale effort for Astec Inc., a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based manufacturer hoping to leverage decades of experience in asphalt and aggregate processing to gain a strong presence in the wood pellet sector. Our team has been covering the development of this project since it was announced in 2014, and the story in this issue of Biomass Magazine was our first opportunity to get some opinions on Astec’s unique modular approach. Ben Hubbard, president of Nexus PMG, an independent engineering consultant hired by Highland Pellets, told Associate Editor Katie Fletcher, “We’re excited to be a part of a project that could potentially deliver pellets to the market much faster than any that we’ve seen in our experience, and we’ve seen quite a few.” The completion date for each of these projects was critical for vastly different reasons, and despite the massive difference in project scale, the construction approaches to hit each deadline had a lot in common.
6 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR Tim Portz email@example.com MANAGING EDITOR Anna Simet firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR EDITOR Ron Kotrba email@example.com NEWS EDITOR Erin Voegele firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR Katie Fletcher email@example.com COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann firstname.lastname@example.org
ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund email@example.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Lindsey Noble firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLISHING & SALES CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan email@example.com CEO Joe Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS Matthew Spoor email@example.com SALES & MARKETING DIRECTOR John Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Howard Brockhouse email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Chip Shereck firstname.lastname@example.org CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Tiller email@example.com MARKETING & ADVERTISING MANAGER Marla DeFoe firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Stacy Cook, Koda Energy Ben Anderson, University of Iowa Justin Price, Evergreen Engineering Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center
INDUSTRY EVENTSÂŚ 2017 International Biomass Conference & Expo APRIL 10-12, 2017
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, MN 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. Itâ€™s a true one-stop shopâ€“â€“the worldâ€™s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. (866) 746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
Heating the Midwest APRIL 10, 2017
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, MN The Midwest relies heavily on fossil energy for heating homes and businesses. Heating the Midwest is a network of thermal biomass advocates working to increase awareness and usage of renewable biomass for heat, which has the potential to greatly reduce the regionâ€™s dependence on propane and fuel oil for thermal energy. (866)746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
Biomass Preparation, Handling & Storage Workshop APRIL 10, 2017
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, MN The operation and financial success of any biomass-toenergy facility requires its operators to utilize high-quality, consistent biomass feedstocks. The Biomass Preparation, Handling & Storage Workshop agenda will allow producers to take an in-depth look at the latest innovations and strategies in biomass handling and compare it to their own. Whether producers are sourcing wood chips from a handful of trusted suppliers for a campus boiler or are a biorefinery working to gather, store and convert hundreds of thousands of tons of agricultural residues, this agenda will offer practical value. (866)746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
Emerging Biomass Feedstocks Forum
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With a vertically integrated program and audience, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels 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 | www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com
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Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, MN
JUNE 19-21, 2017
2017 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo
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As the biomass industry continues to grow, so too does the opportunity for other feedstocks to capitalize on this market and generate real revenue. Whether grown intentionally to diversify a farm operation or available already to anyone who can figure out how to make their removal economical, feedstocks are the backbone of any biomass-to-energy operation. The Emerging Biomass Feedstock Forum will provide attendees an opportunity to hear about the efforts to bring new material streams to plant gates for conversion into power, thermal energy or renewable fuels. (866)746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, MN
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MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 7 30
Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS
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Yargus sells manufacturing operation to AGI Yargus Manufacturing Inc., a manufacturer of Layco brand fertilizer and industrial material handling equipment located in Marshall, Illinois, has entered into an agreement to sell its manufacturing operation to Ag Growth International Inc., a publicly traded company located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
AEBIOM General Secretary Jean-Marc Jossart (left), former President Gustav Melin, and President Didzis Palejs
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8 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
AEBIOM elects president, board European Biomass Association (AEBIOM) has elected Didzis Palejs as its new president, succeeding Gustav Melin, who led the organization for the past six years. Palejs has worked in the energy and wood industry for nearly 20 years at local and international levels in both sales and logistics. He has served as the chairman of the Latvian Biomass Association and as the vice president of the European Pellet Council. In addition, AEBIOM elected Thomas Siegmund as vice president and renewed part of its board by appointing Michael Doran, Christoph Pfemeter, Marijan Kavran, Vilma Gaubyte Eric Vial, and Gustav Melin. BTEC elects board member Dane Floyd, president and CEO of Biomass Engineering and Equipment, has been elected to serve on the Biomass Thermal Energy Council board of directors. BTEC advances the sustainable use of wood and agricultural biomass for clean, efficient heat and combined heat and power to meet U.S. energy needs and strengthen local economies. Biomass Engineering and Equipment designs and manufactures machinery for the biomass and wood processing industries.
Ocean Park advises on Abengoa Hugoton plant sale Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas recently closed the $48.5 million sale of its cellulosic ethanol plant located in Hugoton, Kansas, to Synata Bio in an auction conducted under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Ocean Park acted as exclusive sell-side advisor to Abengoa. Ocean Park was involved in all facets of this transaction, including securing the debtor-in-possession financing, developing the marketing strategy, contacting over 200 parties in the sales process, and generating interest from multiple bidders in the auction. Reverdia adds team member Alexander Krapivin has joined Reverdia as business development manager. He will work with the companyâ€™s commercial team to maximize opportunities in the global market for bio-succinic acid. Krapivin previously worked at GFBiochemicals, developing the market for biobased platform chemicals in applications such as resins and coatings, bioplastics and downstream markets. Prior to GFBiochemicals, Krapivin was employed by Dow Corning, Dow Chemical and Shell Chemicals in international sales, business development and marketing. MHG launches new corporate identity Meredian Holdings Group Inc., a biopolymer manufacturer, recently announced it will do business as Danimer Scientific, effective immediately. MHGâ€™s updated corporate identity is a visual salute to its solid, steadfast origins as a biotechnology company committed to sustainability and the development of innovative bioplastic products that do not contribute to global pollution. Danimer Scientific was originally formed in 2004 and provided sustainable polymer solutions by developing compostable and biodegradable plastic alternatives.
Enerkem appoints CFO Enerkem Inc. has appointed Dominique Boies as executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO). Boies has more than 20 years of experience in corBoies porate and finance strategy, investment banking and operations. Prior to joining Enerkem, he was executive vice president and CFO at RONA, where he was responsible for the financial and corporate strategy, investor relations, accounting, financing, treasury and legal affairs. At RONA, he led the companyâ€™s turnaround, as well as the transaction that resulted in the acquisition of RONA by Loweâ€™s, valued at CA$3.2 billion ($2.45 billion). Prior to this, Boies held various senior executive positions at RBC Royal Bank and the Caisse de dĂŠpĂ´t et placement du QuĂŠbec (CDPQ), one of the largest institutional fund managers in North America. Amyris appoints CFO Amyris Inc. has appointed Kathleen Valiasek as chief financial officer. She is a senior finance and business executive with more than 20 years of experience serving start-up, venture-backed and Fortune 500 companies. She replaces Raffi Asadorian, who has resigned to pursue a new opportunity, but will continue to support specific projects, as well as serve in an ad hoc consulting capacity to ensure a smooth transition. Prior to joining Amyris, Valiasek was founder and CEO of Lenox Group Inc., a finance and strategic consulting firm. There, she worked closely with the senior management teams of private and public companies, including Kaiser Permanente Inc., Albertsons Inc. and Cytokinetics Inc. Prior to that, she served in key venture capital, real estate development and accounting roles. Her background includes finance, SEC reporting, strategic planning, debt and equity financing, business development, and mergers and acquisitions.
QED offers landfill gas monitoring system QED Environmental Systems has announced it is offering the Landtec GEM5000 series as part of the QED line of environmental products. The GEM5000 is designed specifically for monitoring landfill gas collection and control systems and has the ability to sample and analyze the methane, carbon dioxide, and oxygen content of landfill gas. Xergi announces plant order, patent Xergi has announced an order for its 10th biogas plant in the U.K. Bonby, North Lincolnshire-based Brigg Lane Biogas Ltd. has hired Xergi to build a new biogas plant that will convert up to 75,000 metric tons of food waste annually into green gas, which will then be distributed via the local gas grid. Brigg Lane Biogas will be located on the same site as Bio Waste Solutions, a company that pretreats food waste for biogas plants in other parts of the U.K. Soon, that food waste will be taken by the new biogas plant instead, minimizing transport. The biogas plant will be able to take additional waste from other suppliers. Xergi also recently announced it has developed X-chopper as a solution for the pretreatment of deep litter and other challenging biomasses for biogas plants. Recently, the technology was granted a European patent. The patent secures Xergi the rights to the solution that enables X-chopper to continuously pretreat deep litter and other biomasses without having to make frequent stops to empty and clean the pretreatment unit. When deep litter is added to an X-chopper, the biomass is macerated by rotating chains inside the X-chopper. The design of the individual link in the chain impacts how the biomass is macerated, and how long the links can last.
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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.
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 9
PowerNews DOE releases 2017 Energy and Employment Report In January, the U.S. DOE released its second annual analysis of how changes in Americaâ€™s energy profile are affecting national employment in key sectors of the economy. To complete its analysis, the DOE administered a new supplemental survey to more than 30,000 energy sector employers. The resulting report, titled â€œ2017 Energy and Employment Report,â€? includes data on a wide variety of energy and energy efficiency sectors, including biomass power and biofuels. The report shows bioenergy electric generation and biofuel subtechnologies employ a total of 112,642 workers, with 7,980 individuals working exclusively with bioenergy or biomass electric generation technologies.
Demographics of bioenergy/biomass electric generation employment Male
55 and over Union
SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Within bioenergy and biomass power, construction accounted for 63.7 percent of employment, with utilities at 18.58 percent, followed by 14.1 percent for professional services and 3.5 percent for manufacturing.
USDA report considers impact of dedicated energy crops for electricity production
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10 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
USDA Economic Research Service recently published a report that examines three policy scenarios that could create a market for bioelectricity using dedicated energy crops. The scenarios include a subsidy for bioelectricity generation, a national renewable portfolio standard and a national cap-and-trade policy to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Each scenario provides 250 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity generation from switchgrass and approximately 50 TWh from forest residue. The research shows a policy that provides incentives for 250 TWh of electricity generation per year from switchgrass
would require approximately 25 to 29 million acres of land in 2030. Generation of 250 TWh of electricity from switchgrass, along with 50 TWh from forest residue, would require 234 million short tons of dry biomass in 2030. According to the results of the analysis, a national RPS could reduce emissions by 10 percent. Cap-and-trade was shown to decrease emission by 40 percent, but increase the price of electricity by 55 percent. Alternatively, a bioelectricity subsidy could reduce emissions by 1.2 percent, with the price of electricity declining by 0.5 percent.
Biomass: A 2017 Policy Outlook BY BOB CLEAVES
As the new administration settles into office and the 115th Congress takes shape, we are looking ahead at potential policy opportunities for the biomass industry in 2017. The following are some key issues the Biomass Power Association is preparing for. Infrastructure and Forestry. We are seeing a shift in the administration from a focus on renewable energy during the Obama era, to a focus on forestry, jobs and infrastructure. Both the Trump administration and Democrats have expressed a strong interest in investing in a large infrastructure package; a Democratic proposal has budgeted $100 million specifically for energy infrastructure. Compared to previous years, we are seeing much more interest from the administration and Congress in land management and logging. Many federal lands across the country need management, whether it’s the 100 million dead trees in California, or the dry, densely forested lands of the Southeast, and GOP leaders have consistently recognized this. The Farm Bill, legislation that preserves policies that support the agriculture and forestry industries, must be reauthorized by 2019. Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson from rural Minnesota, is seen by many as a conservative Democrat willing to make deals across the aisle. There may be an opportunity to work across the aisle for funding to improve forest health on federal, state and private lands. Tax. We are hearing both enthusiasm and skepticism on the likelihood of tax reform being completed this year. It’s been a priority for Republicans, but right now, it’s taking a back seat to other priorities like health care and immigration. If tax reform does happen, we expect major changes to the Section 45 production tax credit program, if it survives at all. Regulations. Congress and the Trump administration have both made it a priority to identify regulations to roll back. So far, none of the regulations tagged for removal involve biomass, but there may be some upcoming opportunities, particularly with the U.S. EPA’s Nonhazardous Secondary Materials rule. EPA. We will be watching closely for any action on the Clean Power Plan and on the EPA’s regulation of
carbon from biogenic sources. We do not expect the plan to move forward, even though the U.S. EPA administrator nominee, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has pledged several times to continue to regulate carbon dioxide. Rather than setting and enforcing carbon reduction targets as the Clean Power Plan proposed, we expect a more laissez-faire approach to state clean air regulations. He has also proposed allowing coal facilities to stay open with a requirement for improved emissions controls, possibly opening up an opportunity for cofiring with biomass. U.S. Forest Service. Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia, is the nominee to lead the USDA, which houses the U.S. Forest Service, a sponsor of Bioenergy Day and one of our closest partners in the U.S. government. Throughout his tenure as governor, Perdue strongly supported forestry, and even attended the openings of several biomass facilities. We are encouraged by his biomass experience and are looking forward to continuing our strong relationship with the U.S. Forest Service. While some signs point to an encouraging political climate for biomass, there still remain many questions about how far a Republican-led government will be willing to go to support biomass. There is also unprecedented gridlock on Capitol Hill, and a Republican party with some internal disagreements. For now, a few weeks into the Trump administration, we are seeing some indications of the policies to expect over the next four years, and we see some reasons to be optimistic about the biomass industry. However, given the hostile political climate and lack of cohesion even among political parties, very little is clear about what will move forward. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, none of these policies would happen without our trusted team at BPA. I’m pleased to announce the promotion of Carrie Annand as our new executive director, and Nick Mazuroski as our new vice president of operations. Congratulations, Carrie and Nick. Author: Bob Cleaves President, Biomass Power Association email@example.com www.usabiomass.org
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 11
BUILDING BIG: A public-private partnership between Covanta and Dublin City Council, Covanta Dublin will process approximately 600,000 metric tons of waste annually and will power 80,000 homes. PHOTO: COVANTA ENERGY INC.
12 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
The New Stacks in Town A state-of-the-art, waste-to-energy plant at Dublin’s Poolbeg Peninsula is readying to fire up. BY ANNA SIMET
ot far from the Dublin Port shoreline, perhaps resembling a modern office building more than a power facility, Dublin Waste-to-Energy stands ready to fulfill its purpose. There, the labor of upward of 1,300 people over the past two years will finally be realized. Adjacent to the new, gleaming white waste-to-energy facility rests the shuttered Poolbeg Power Station, referred to by locals as the Pigeon House, an area landmark that, next to Dublin WTE, is now much less noticeable from a bird’s-eye view. That is, aside from its famous, red-and-white-striped twin stacks, which rise far above most structures in Ireland, even those of its new neighbor. At 100 meters high, Dublin WTE’s stacks are roughly half the height of Poolbeg Power Station’s, which was decommissioned in 2010, though the site still hosts an operational power station. Commissioning of Dublin WTE has begun, and it won’t be long before it is converting the city’s waste into electricity. Director of Operations Thomas Ericksen is overseeing plant operations, and says the crew is walking down systems and preparing for first fire, which will be in March. Ericksen, who relocated from Orlando, Florida, to Dublin to oversee the project, has been part of Covanta’s team since 1986, working at a number of the company’s U.S. waste-to-
energy plants over the length of his career, which he says “has gone fast.” Currently finishing up getting his staff of 54 in place, Erickson will continue his role at Covanta Dublin for a few more years, before turning it over to his No. 2 man, the chief engineer. In the meantime, he’ll make sure startup and operations run as smooth as possible, and that the two core functions of the plant are achieved—reducing waste, and providing power to around 80,000 homes. And, down the road, the facility will also provide district heat to 50,000 homes.
Waste In, Power Out
Covanta will operate and maintain the facility, which has secured a 25-year tip fee arrangement with four Dublin local authorities, through the Dublin City Council, to provide disposal services for a minimum of 320,000 tons of waste annually, representing over half of the facility's capacity. The rest has been contracted through the marketplace. In a nutshell, waste is hauled in to Dublin WTE via truck, that waste is burned to generate heat, the heat is converted to steam, and the steam drives a turbine generator to create power, says Ericksen, who is able to explain the process in great detail without hesitation. “Waste coming in is reduced by about 90 percent by volume due to the com-
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 13
bustion process, so you only have about 10 percent of the original volume of waste that you need to dispose of,â€? he says. Due to a lack of treatment facilities and active landfillsâ€”only six remain open today, according to the Ireland Environmental Protection Agencyâ€”the country has relied heavily on waste exports, resulting in outbound shipments totaling several hundred thousand tons of waste annually. In recent years, a push to change waste management practices in Ireland has focused alternate waste disposal and reduction methods, in-
cluding organic waste separation and collection, and development of anaerobic digestion facilities and treatment plants such as Dublin WTE. Daily, up to 1,800 tons of waste will be trucked to Dublin WTE by haulers, who will first go over a weigh bridge to, upon their exit when they are reweighed sans waste, calculate how much was brought in. â€œTrucks then come off the scale and receive to a tipping floor, a rather large bunker that is 75 meters long, 25 meters wide, and about 8 meters deep,â€? Ericksen says. The majority
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14 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
of the waste is dumped directly into the bunker, and loads are inspected to ensure nothing unacceptable to the facilityâ€™s waste license, or anything potentially harmful to employees or the facility, is mixed in with the waste. â€œIf we do find something, we have a quarantine area where weâ€™ll push it over to, and it will be picked up and disposed of properly,â€? Ericksen says. The remaining waste is dumped into the pit and picked up by two large, mechanical cranes and fed into the hoppers, where it is sent down a feed chute into the four-pass, horizontal boiler. â€œThe burning takes place on a reciprocating grate, and we have underfire air that comes in off the tipping floor to keep it under negative pressure, which prevents any odors from escaping the facilityâ€”so weâ€™re sucking air from the outside inâ€”and we use that air for combustion in the furnace,â€? Ericksen says. â€œThe burning of the waste takes place on grates, and the heat generated there is used to create steam in the boiler. Water wall tubes transfer the heat energy into steam, which is then piped over to the turbine generator to create power.â€? While the power generation process itself ends there, treatment of gasses, emissions and end products is just beginning. â€œAt the end of the system, the flue gas carried through the boiler has to be cleaned up before itâ€™s sent out into the atmosphere,â€? Ericksen explains. The first step occurs in the furnace, where aqueous ammonia is added to neutralize NOx emissions into nitrogen and water. â€œThe next step is in the back of the boilerâ€” once you have recovered all of the heat you economically can out of the boiler system, the gas is sent through a semidry scrubber. We inject lime slurry and carbonâ€”the lime is used to neutralize acid gases, and the activated carbon is used absorb metals that may be coming in with the waste.â€? The next step is a baghouse filtration system, which filters out dust, dirt and particulate matter, followed by a polishing wet scrubber. â€œWe circulate a sodium hydroxide solution through a packed bed scrubber,â€? Erickson says. â€œWe bring the flue gas through that, and it neutralizes any additional gases that may have come through the system, and absorbs other fine particulate matter. From there, we finally go up and out the stack.â€? The facility is also equipped with a continuous emissions monitoring (CEM)
DUBLIN WASTE-TO-ENERGY FAST FACTS LOCATION: Poolbeg, Dublin, Ireland
BOILER MANUFACTURER: Duro Dakovic steam boiler
PROJECT LEADS: Covanta Energy (Developer)
WASTE CAPACITY: 600,000 tons annually
Hitachi Zosen Inova (EPC contractor) PM Group (Civil engineering) WAITING FOR WASTE: Construction of Dublin Waste-to-Energy is complete, and the first firing of waste is scheduled to occur in March. PHOTO: DUBLIN WASTE-TO-ENERGY
system that monitors a number of parameters required by permit, as well as a backup CEM. Residues from the combustion process will be transferred to an off-site processing plant for recovery of ferrous and nonferrous metals, which are recycled, and production of aggregate materials that can be used for various construction applications, or to secure the voids of depleted salt mines. The plant is wastewater free, and the majority of its process water supply will come from rain water and a neighboring waste water treatment plant. Down the road, the two-unit, 600,000-ton-per-year plant will provide district heating to around 50,000 homes. “It was designed to include district heating, but what’s needed now is the infrastructure throughout Dublin to interconnect,” Ericksen says. For now, Ericksen continues to work finalizing and training the plant’s crew, which he says has exceeded his expectations. “I was a little concerned about staffing the operational side of the plant, as there is only one other waste-to-energy plant in Ireland, and it’s only been here a few years,” he adds. “But I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the quality of people I have been able to employ, and I look forward to a very successful startup and long-term operation of the facility with this type of expertise. We have a great bunch of guys.”
BOILER SPECS: Nominal superheated steam generation - 125.0 t/h
INCENTIVES: Ireland’s renewable energy feed-in tariff POWER CAPACITY: 58 MW
Nominal superheated steam temperature - 443.0 degrees C Nominal outlet steam pressure - 62.0 bara
Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org 701-738-4961
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 15
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16 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
PelletNews Graanul Invest pursues SBP certification for Estonian plants Graanul InEbavere vest ASâ€™s four Estonian plants are applying for Imavere Sustainable BioEstonia mass Partnership certification. The Helme main evaluation Osula audits are complete at the Imavere and Ebavere Graanul OÃœ pelAccording to the comlet plants, and audits for Osula pany, raw material used at Imaand Helme were scheduled for vere is already approximately February. Each assessment is 71 percent certified. At Ebaexpected to be carried out by vere, approximately 73 percent certification body NEPCon certified, and at both Osula and Estonia. Helme, approximately 65 perGraanul Invest owns 11 cent is certified. These certified pellet plants, including the four raw material levels make the located in Estonia. Graanul plants SBP compliant regardCEO Raul Kirjanen estimates ing their supply base evaluathe company produced aption. proximately 2.15 million metric tons of pellets last year.
Enviva launches Track & Trace program Enviva Holdings LP recently released the first data from its groundbreaking Track & Trace program, a proprietary system that enables the company to track every truckload of wood it procures from the forest back to its source, providing a detailed understanding of the characteristics of the wood the company uses. Before selling wood to Enviva, a supplier must provide detailed data on the specific forest tract being considered for harvest, including each individual tractâ€™s precise geographic location, acreage, forest type, species mix, age and the share of wood from each harvest that goes to Enviva, versus other consumers.
Enviva does not accept any wood from a harvest without this information, according to the company, and it records the data to verify the accuracy of its procedures through thirdparty audits. T&T data are presented in two ways. First, the Forest Trend Map is based on timeseries data from the U.S. Forest Service, and displays changes in overall forest conditions in the Southeast U.S., as well as in each of Envivaâ€™s forest supply areas. Second, the Enviva Wood Supply Map provides detailed information on actual timber harvests around each of Envivaâ€™s facilities during the first half of 2016.
Trump, Obama and Wood Stoves BY JOHN ACKERLY
Many of us in the wood and pellet heating movement are doing a lot of soul searching these days. Not only do we have a president who questions the science behind climate change, we also have to deal with the effects of a warming world that is gradually reducing demand for the renewable energy technology we support. Even though Trump is a climate change skeptic and put the head of Exxon in charge of our state department, could he still do something good for our modest slice of the residential renewable energy movement? Obama was a champion of renewable energy, but his administration did not deliver that much for our sector. He did give us a vision for an America that would steadily increase the amount of renewable energy on our grid, and in our cars. Renewable heat policy was sure to follow. Under Obama, the U.S. Forest Service, a division of the USDA, was a vocal proponent of rural Americans who benefit from wood and pellet heating. Hopefully, their leadership in this area will continue. Under Obama, the U.S. EPA did a good job updating stove and boiler emission standards, which is absolutely necessary for wood and pellet heating systems. But there was no real leadership or vision at the level for promoting the deployment of the most advanced equipment, as there is in Europe. We could go backward under Trump if Congress were to abolish the wood stove and boilers emission regulations, which some of the extreme right-wing members want to do. They have already introduced legislation to that end. The wood and boiler industry unanimously opposes doing away with these regulations, since reasonable and clear federal rules are good for industry, compared to a patchwork of state and local rules. We could stay the same course with little federal support or intervention, which is probably the most likely scenario. Wood stoves would continue to outsell pellet stoves by three to one, and the legacy of millions of old, polluting stoves would stay put, heating more homes than their cleaner EPA-certified cousins.
Maybe the Republican Congress and even the White House could advance this sector more than the last Congress or the Obama administration. President Trump’s base is far more rural than Obama’s, and much of it is low- to middle-income. These are also families who struggle to pay heating bills, and are part of a demographic that buys wood and pellet stoves. A first step for Congress would be to pass the BTU Act, which would finally treat high-efficiency biomass heating just as other renewables are treated. This means tax credits for institutions and households that are investing in a domestic energy pathway that supports rural America. A second step is a program that helps rural Americans upgrade old wood stoves to cleaner, more efficient options such as heat pumps, pellet stoves or certified wood stoves. There are about 12 million Americans with wood stoves, and only about half a million with solar panels. Both have about the same capacity to reduce fossil fuel use, but most of those 12 million stoves are not as clean or efficient as they should be. As a country, we still have the opportunity to harness the potential of those 12 million households by upgrading those appliances. This Congress can help support rural economies and American jobs by supporting modern biomass heating. Currently, we export millions of tons of wood pellets to Europe for low-efficiency electricity generation, when we should be transforming that production for high-efficiency heat and combined heat and power for use here at home. I am still hopeful that Congress can focus on rural America in a way that helps millions of households affordably heat their homes with a domestic fuel. Congress is our best hope. As for our new president, I didn’t vote for him, but I’m not writing him off, either. Author: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat email@example.com www.forgreenheat.org
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 17
AROUND THE CLOCK: A total of 68 direct employees will work in four different rotating crews 24/7 at Highlandâ€™s Pine Bluff pellet plant, once operational. The $200 million plant, including financing costs and contingencies, is budgeted for 7,500 hours of operation a year.
18 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
True Sustainability in Pine Bluff While pellets produced at Highland Pellets’ new facility leave for overseas, the benefits remain in the surrounding community of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. BY KATIE FLETCHER PHOTOS BY KIRK DUFFY
ighland Pellets ended 2016 on a high note, successfully producing a test batch of pellets at its flagship pellet plant on New Year’s Eve. The first few weeks of 2017 were spent making minor adjustments before the first of four 150,000-ton-capacity production lines were fired up in early February. Each line will be commissioned sequentially, with subsequent lines turned on every three months. On this schedule, the company hopes to reach full capacity in November. Project developers chose the 209-acre Pine Bluff plant site because of the area’s deep fiber basket and strong logistics chain to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. Southern Yellow Pine from managed forests serves as the plant’s feedstock source, with most coming from forest thinnings, in addition to tree tops, low-grade trees without an end market, and mill residuals. Although the pellets Highland produces with this raw material will service Drax Power Ltd.’s power station in the U.K., the company recognizes what the pellet operation brings to U.S. soil.
Highland Pellets’ founder, Tom Reilley, and his team believe wood pellets are an important new market for sustaining working forests. “We are big fans of the industry, and we think it’s really important that the sustainability story is told,” Reilley says. Sustainably sourcing raw material for the plant is estimated to result in 350 to 400 direct cutting and hauling jobs, which are in addition to the bookkeeper, tire salesman, gasoline attendant, spare parts manufacturer, banker and others beyond the forest. According to Reilley, construction of the plant resulted in up to 900 jobs on top of the plant’s 68 direct employees.
Highland was only able to execute its vision effectively with the help of its partners, including Astec Inc., Wagner Construction, Nexus Program Management Group, Weyerhaeuser Services, Entergy Arkansas and Union Pacific. Astec supplied the vast majority of the plant equipment (conveyors, drying equipment,
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 19
etc.) from its own group of Astec companies, allowing it to pre-engineer the plant. “We design the equipment on a modular basis, so that means that most of the equipment is completed here in a shop environment, and is highly shippable,” says Malcolm Swanson, president of Astec, from the company’s headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “That gives us better control of the construction of the equipment, and enables us to deliver equipment in a more completed and higher-quality state.” Astec channeled its decades of experience making asphalt plants into designing pellet operations. “A lot of what we had in terms of equipment, knowledge and expertise were applicable, so it seemed to be a natural place to expand our business,” Swanson says. Astec built and operated a 5-ton-per-hour prototype plant at its facilities in Chattanooga, prior to building full-scale. The Pine Bluff facility is Astec’s second commercial pellet plant project, having completed previous work on Fram Renewable Energy’s 500,000-metric-ton pellet plant in Hazlehurst, Georgia. The Pine Bluff facility’s production lines are built independent of each other for maximum redundancy and reliability. “If a critical piece of equipment goes down on one line, the other three can continue to operate,” says Jody Doak, Highland’s plant manager. “This is far from the norm, as most facilities rely on single pieces of critical equipment. Astec’s design allows for redundancy in lines keeping facility downtime to a minimum.” Doak adds that in other areas of the mill
20 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
internal to each individual line, Astec provides additional “spares” in the design. For example, four pellet mills are required for each line at full production rates, while five pellet mills are supplied. This spare gives Highland the capability of maintaining optimal production rates with minimal negative impact, should a piece of equipment fail. “While we cannot have a spare for every step of the process, Astec has done a great job at identifying areas more prone to production challenges and designed around it,” Doak says. Andritz Inc. supplied the pellet plant with 20 PM30, 500-horsepower pellet mills, as well as ancillary equipment like conditioners and lubrication systems. “Every bit of our equipment is there on-site, and line one is fully installed,” says Mike Curci, Andritz North American capital sales manager for biomass. According to Curci, Andritz also signed an agreement to supply Highland with aftermarket support service for an extended length of time. Another unique component to Astec’s pellet plant design is its drying system, which differs from the conventional convection-type dryer. Highland uses a hot oil tube dryer, which rotates with approximately 550 tubes carrying heat transfer oil. “The mechanism of providing heat for the drying process is by flow of oil through the tubes in the dryer, and then the material is tumbled over the heated tubes,” Swanson says. “The temperature of the tubes is around 500 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s a lot cooler than the convection dryers, and we think a safer dryer, and it’s more gentle on material.”
NO WOOD WASTED: As its primary process heat source, Highland Pellets' Pine Bluff plant burns wet bark in a Sigma Thermal bark-burning furnace. One furnace is used for each line.
Even though this project is only the second commercial-scale pellet plant Astec has provided equipment for, it’s gone smoothly. And for experienced civil contractor Wagner Construction Inc., it was the company’s pellet project debut. “We’ve been looking at different market segments,” says Kalan Wagner, president of the company. “The wood pellet industry is relatively new, and we looked at it as a market to get into.” According to Wagner, the company’s involvement consisted of first clearing and grubbing over 200 acres, then installing all of the site utilities and mass grading over 500,000 cubic yards of dirt. Wagner Construction also built a double-loop track railcar
system for the project site, and completed all of the structure excavation and backfill for all of the pellet plant components. The company was tasked with the extra challenge of stabilizing the soil, as the area received record rainfall, but Wagner says his crew was able to keep the civil portion of the project on schedule, which was a “big feat.” Although soil stabilization was needed to keep the project on track, he adds, the project essentially took one year from notice to proceed until the first pellets were produced. A portion of the Wagner Construction crew is still on the site completing structure excavation, backfill, placing aggregates and concrete paving, but Wagner estimates that the work will be complete within four or five months. “The whole team on this
project has worked together to produce a highquality project on schedule and on budget,” he says. Other partners agree. “Candidly, we’ve been impressed by the way this project has gone, by what we’re seeing thus far,” says Ben Hubbard, Nexus PMG president. Nexus PMG represents Highland’s construction team as independent engineering consultants. Half of Nexus PMG’s business is working with private equity and commercial lenders, but the other half is focused on owner’s engineering, which is the role it took on with the Highland team. The company was brought on during prefinancial close to put together the project execution plan, project schedule, and support in due-diligence efforts. During project execution, Nexus was tasked with managing all of the cost budgets, monitoring the contingency profile, handling change order requests from the contractors, and more. Although this is Wagner’s first pellet plant project, Nexus PMG is no stranger to the industry. “We work pretty heavily in that space; we’ve worked with many of the major wood pellet producers in North America, and we’ve worked on various biomass power plant conversion projects in Europe, representing lenders, contractors and developers,” Hubbard says. “The Highland project is the first time we’ve engaged with the Astec modular design, which is very different than your traditional black box design where you’re sourcing all of the major equipment from various suppliers, and designing and assembling it yourself.”
Because of the modular design, the main process areas are well understood at the start of the project, thus minimizing design and execution risk, according to Hubbard. “We’re excited to be part of a project that could potentially deliver pellets to the market much faster than any that we’ve seen in our experience, and we’ve seen quite a few,” he says.
At full production, Highland could receive 160 truck deliveries of roundwood thinnings and mill residuals each day. “All of our feedstock will come from recognized sustainable sources through our procurement agent, Weyerhaeuser,” says Rob McKenzie, Highland’s managing director. The company has built solid relationships with local foresters such as Bobby Taylor of Shelby Taylor Trucking, he adds, as well as the Arkansas Forestry Association, of which Highland is a member. Sustainability is key for the company’s operation, and it’s currently undergoing certification through the Sustainable Biomass Partnership. Highland uses a track-and-trace system that is able to record the GPS location and contract number of every delivery of fiber that is brought to the site. “The truck driver provides the weigh bridge with a ticket that has a bar code, so we can quickly scan all the data into our system to check that the fiber has been sourced from legal and sustainable land according to our contracts,” McKenzie explains. “If the truck does not have a correct ticket, then it does not enter our site.”
BUILD YOUR FACILITY ON AN IOWA NORTHERN SITE Feed Stock: Millions of tons of excess corn stover within 30 miles of Iowa Northern tracks Transportaon: Mulple Class 1 interchanges connect you to the enre North American railroad network Customized rail service: Rail service designed to meet customers’ needs For addional informaon contact Bill Rhodes Phone: (319)-297-6000 x 111 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.iowanorthern.com MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 21
Once the raw material arrives at the site, there will be different storage areas for the fiber, as well as for the final product after it’s produced. “We have five dedicated silos that are each capable of holding 1,000 metric tons,” McKenzie says. “We are also able to store pellets in spare rail cars.” Pellets for shipment are loaded into 5,700-cubic-foot enclosed rail cars by an overhead hopper. Each car will be able to hold about 89 metric tons. “We will then use Union Pacific mainline rail to transport the pellets directly to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge using unit trains that will be 80 to 100 cars in length, with six to seven trains per month at full capacity,” McKenzie says. The cars are unloaded by gates below each car into a rail dump at the port before returning to Pine Bluff. “The total turnaround time for each train will be four to five days, depending on train length,” McKenzie says. “We will have enough rail cars to fill two unit trains, so as soon as the train returns to our site, we will have the cars loaded to dispatch the next unit train.”
Come May, Highland’s pellets will ship to Drax via Supramax or Panamax vessels, depending on the delivery schedule. Drax Biomass owns the storage domes and loading equipment at the port. According to Reilley, Highland's delivery of pellets to the port, combined with Drax’s existing pellet infrastructure, has been a huge success story for the port. “This has led the port to commit to expanding the rail infrastructure at the port to enable delivery of longer unit trains,” he says. Highland Pellets also plans on expanding. “Now that our business model has been proven, we are excited to explore other sites in Stephens, Arkansas, and in Enterprise, Mississippi,” Reilley says. The company is currently pursuing the requisite permitting requirements. If built, Reilley says, these would be 600,000-plus-metric-ton pellet facilities, similar in design and contract chain to the facility at Pine Bluff. Highland is targeting Stephens as its next site, and, if developed, it would supply the Port of Greater Baton Rouge with a further 600,000 metric tons of pellets. Reilley says they are in discussion with other European and
BIOMASS to ENERGY ProcessBarron is there every step of the way.
Japanese customers regarding supply from the south Arkansas and Enterprise development sites, but which will be utilized, and when, depends on securing an offtake contract, and the customer preference for which port used for export. As project developers and partners know, developments such as Pine Bluff take considerable time. In fact, the facility saw a delay from its original March 2016 completion date, due to the successive number of regulatory and political developments that increased market uncertainty and prevented buyers from being able to commit to an offtake. These included the European Commission’s lengthy state aid investigation into the U.K. government’s award of a contract for difference for a Drax unit conversion, the end of renewable obligation certificate grandfathering, a U.K. election outcome that raised significant questions about the country’s future energy policies, the end of renewable exemption from the U.K. Climate Change Levy, and the Levy Control Framework budget overspend, which led to widespread reduction in subsidies for some renewable technologies. “The industry needs periods of political and regulatory stability in order to
FUEL | AIR | GAS | ASH processbarron.com/biomass 205-663-5330
be able to make significant long-term investments,â€? Reilley says. Another consideration for project development, he adds, has been the local workforce. â€œOur experience with the people of Pine Bluff has been inspiring and uplifting.â€? Highland is long-term bullish about the future of the market, and so are its industry partners. Curci says Andritz expects the company and industry to continue to grow for several more years in regions throughout North America and abroad. â€œWe look forward to see what the future has for many years in the space, and continue in development and process improvement,â€? he says. â€œAlso, we continue to work on improving the machinery to reduce the operational cost and production of pellets.â€? Astec, too, hopes to continue working in the industry, using its success stories with Fram and Highland as leverage. â€œThe whole industry is in a little bit of a lull at the moment, but those in the industry who should know are saying it will be a short-lived lull,â€? Swanson says. â€œWe are working on proposals for projects that other companies are currently planning to put together.â€? Author: Katie Fletcher Associate Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4920 email@example.com
SBP CERTIFICATION: Highland Pellets undertook four sustainability audits with NSF International during December, and has already received three certifications. Highland hopes to achieve SBP certification within the next couple of months.
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ThermalNews 3 plants qualify under PFI Standard Program In January, the Pellet Fuels Institute announced the qualification of several new pellet fuel manufacturers into the PFI Standards Program. Appalachian Wood Pellets of Kingwood, West Virginia, was qualified by accredited auditing agency Timber Products Inspection. In addition, Ligneticsâ€™ Strong, Maine, facility joins four of the companyâ€™s other facilities in the program. New York-based Instantheat Wood Pellets also qualified. The Lignetics and Instantheat facilities were both qualified by accredited auditing agency Conway & Robison LLC. The PFI Standards Program is a third-party accreditation program providing specifications for residential and commercial-grade pellet fuel. The program now represents 19 pellet manufacturing companies with a combined 32 facilities.
Companies with PFI Standards Programqualified facilities Instantheat New England Wood Pellet Curran Renewable Energy American Wood Fibers Lignetics Inc. Marth Peshtigo Pellet Co. Forest Energy Corp. Indeck Ladysmith Energex Spearfish Pellet Co. Smith Flooring Michigan Wood Fuels LLC Trae Fuels Ltd. Somerset Pellet Fuel NWP Jasper Georgia Biomass Snow Timber Pellets Colombo Energy Appalachian Wood Pellets PELLET FUELS INSTITUTE
EPA awards grant to ASAT for biomass cookstove
$SULO0LQQHDSROLV01 24 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
The U.S. EPA recently awarded a $100,000 green technology grant to ASAT Inc. of Cottage Grove, Oregon, to develop and market a clean-burning, integrated cookstove. ASAT specializes in heating, cooking and thermoelectric generation (TEG) technologies and has developed clean biomass cooking stoves with DOE grants. ASAT proposes to develop an integrated stove that will be sold and replace traditional wood or coal-burning stoves in developing world markets.
The companyâ€™s integrated stove can be used for cooking and home heating, while also providing electricity for lighting and charging cell phones and small appliances. The cookstove design uses TEG technology to reduce fuel use and air pollution emissions to meet the EPAâ€™s most recent heating stove emission standards. The EPAâ€™s Small Business Innovation Research grant funds will help ASAT develop and manufacture its integrated cookstove for sale in the global marketplace.
Biomass Thermal Legislative Advances AARON ABER
The Biomass Thermal Utilization Act (BTU Act), a federal investment tax credit on high-efficiency biomass heating systems, will be one of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council's top priorities again this year. In 2016, the BTU Act came closer than ever to becoming law. With this momentum, last Congress’s champions of BTU Act, Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, have agreed to spearhead the proposal again. Other efforts to achieve tax parity for biomass at the national level might be bolstered by the new Congress’s priority to reform the U.S. tax code. These efforts would make biomass thermal competitive with other renewable energy technologies, and expand markets for biomass across the country. BTEC members have also made progress with state-level biomass efforts. In Maine, for example, a commission to study the state’s biomass industry recommended including thermal energy in the state’s renewable energy requirements. If passed into law, this proposal would encourage facilities to use biomass to increase the efficiency of their thermal energy systems. BTEC is beginning the year with a strong focus on developing codes and standards for biomass thermal energy in residential, commercial, and institutional buildings. One such proposal from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers, would expand the definition of on-site renewable energy for high-performance buildings to include biomass.
The other technical priorities for BTEC in 2017 include putting the finishing touches on the Wood Energy Financial Calculator, a tool that project managers can use to assess the cost savings of converting to biomass heat; completing laboratory testing of the first U.S. efficiency test standard for commercial-sized wood boilers; and working with industry stakeholders to create a U.S. wood chip standard. Besides BTEC, other partners working directly on the wood chip standard initiative include Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. The policy and technical priorities presented above will be discussed further at BTEC’s annual Northeast Biomass Heating Conference & Expo. The event will be in Burlington, Vermont, from April 25-27, and include tracks on policy, technical and project development, and business development. The goal of NEBHX 2017 is to introduce biomass thermal energy to a wider array of stakeholders, including specifiers, engineers, architects, and facility managers, as well as those already in the industry. Author: Aaron Aber Project Assistant, Biomass Thermal Energy Council Aaron.firstname.lastname@example.org 202 596-3974
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 25
PERFECTLY PAIRED: A Messersmith Manufacturing combustion unit sits beneath a 2.5 million MMBtu boiler at the North Central Area junior high and high school in Powers, Michigan. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ
North Central Area’s Biomass Reboot After 30-plus years of operation, a biomass heating system at a school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was replaced by the company that originally built it. BY TIM PORTZ
26 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
n January 1982, the same year that a small welding and manufacturing company in Bark River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was officially incorporated, it built and installed a biomass heating system at the nearby North Central Area’s high school building in Powers, Michigan. The area surrounding the community of Powers is rich in timber, and the school, hoping to capitalize on abundant streams of waste wood, made the decision to heat its facility with biomass. The project was the first of its kind for Messersmith Manufacturing Inc., and it provided the young company with a successful case study it could point to, right in its own backyard. The system was built in parallel to the existing natural gas system, tucked neatly into the basement of the school. When the facility was built, the school received fuel deliveries in much smaller quantities, typically by small, dump-truck sized loads. At the time, the on-site storage capabilities were well suited for the existing waste wood collection and delivery infrastructure. This didn’t last long, however, and eventually, the fuel delivery infrastructure completely outgrew the fuel receiving operation. Brett Harter, head of maintenance and transportation at North Central Area School, joined the district staff in time to have operated the original system. “It would take anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours to unload a truck, because the biomass would go into a hopper and up through a conveyor, and on to another conveyor in the building that would spread it out,” he says. The system became finicky in its old age, Harter says. “It had been revamped a bit in 1994, but the chip delivery system was completely worn out, the augers and things like that.” Back then, the challenge for Harter was that toward the end of its useful life, the chip handling system required daily monitoring. “I was there seven days a week,” Harter says. “I’d have to go there every day. If I let it go too long, and there was a belt off or something, you’d wind up with one heck of a mess.” Specifically, Harter pointed to a metering bin that, when full, had a flapper mechanism that would turn off the conveyors that fed it with new chips. On more than
one occasion, the flapper mechanism failed, and an entire truckload of chips would overwhelm the metering bin, filling the room with chips. For Harter, this meant the better part of a morning shoveling chips by hand. The team at Messersmith, many of them just kids when the original system was installed, recognized that the school’s boiler and chip handling system was in a need of an overhaul. “The problem really was that it would take the better part of day to get the fuel from where it was delivered outside into the storage area,” says Jeremy Mortl, president at Messersmith. “There wasn’t a good place to park a truck to make a fuel delivery that made sense for where it was ultimately stored. That was a big struggle.” A number of other capital projects, including new parking lots and some new buses, led the district to launch a bond initiative and the timing seemed right to capitalize an overhaul of the biomass heating system. “They called us up,” Mortl says. “The district just doesn’t have time to maintain a boiler or service any issues that may come up. They needed something that had minimal maintenance. Their other desire was to have more fuel storage capabilities. They wanted an easier solution to get their fuels into their fuel storage area.” The first challenge the Messersmith team had to confront was positioning a new fuel handling facility in a way that would allow a truck to get in, unload, and get out with the greatest ease. The school building sits on a relatively small footprint, and both Messersmith and the district knew that gobbling up even more already limited parking space would not be popular. “We had to come up with the best solution for a building layout so that they could get truck and trailer in there, get it turned around, and empty fuel into the bin,” Mortl says. A local engineering firm was hired, and together, the companies worked up a plan for a covered building that would not only receive fuel deliveries, but also hold a combustion unit, a boiler and the associated piping and control systems. This collaboration led to an initial design concept that Mortl describes as “pretty close” to what was eventually built.
THERMALÂŚ â€œThe one change the district made to the initial design was to have more fuel storage capability than what we had originally drawn up,â€? he says. â€œThey can take more than one full truckload of fuel now. Plus, it makes it nice for them in the summer time. When there is no fuel in that bin, they can keep a couple of pieces of equipment in there.â€? The final design included a 93-foot by 24foot building, and with over 1,000 square feet of that space dedicated to fuel storage, over 50 tons of wood chips can be held on-site, enough to feed the boiler for nearly three weeks in the coldest days of winter. Also included in the project was a traveling auger design that Messersmith invented. â€œThere is an auger that travels along a beam in a carriage system,â€? Mortl says. â€œThat carriage will travel along the 60-foot length of the beam, and the auger will move material onto the belt conveying system. There are carbide teeth built into that auger system so that if frozen or compacted fuel comes into the building, those carbide teeth will chew it up, break it apart, and move it onto the belt conveying system.â€?
Once the main components were in place, the general contractor began erecting the building around the new system. Work progressed throughout the summer, and the system was still being buttoned up when the late summer temperatures finally gave way to early fall, and the oncoming heating season. â€œWe fired up the system Nov. 14,â€? Harter says. â€œThey were still just finishing up the electrical inside the building.â€? For Harter, the transition to the new system couldnâ€™t have been easier. The control systems are virtually the same, and there is no longer dayto-day worry over the fuel handling system. For him, the biggest challenge has been letting go of
his old habits. â€œIf I go by there on a weekend, Iâ€™ll stop by,â€? he says. â€œBut I donâ€™t have to. On Friday night, Iâ€™ll make sure the ash bins are empty, and I won't see the system again until Monday morning.â€? The extent of Harterâ€™s weekly routine, which was once characterized by time-consuming repairs, is now emptying ash bins and sweeping, he adds. â€œThis new system, itâ€™s just a world of difference.â€? Author: Tim Portz Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4969 email@example.com
Tight Construction Window
A unique challenge confronting the design and construction team was the limited time frame that comes with doing work for schools. Groundbreaking wasnâ€™t held until the day after school let out for the summer. Once the property was vacated, building began in earnest. The concrete work was completed first. A three-and-a-half-inch pad, with larger footings to support the weight of the combustion unit and boiler, was engineered and poured. Once that was complete, a crane set in the Messersmith combustion unit, and atop that, a 2.5 million MMBtu Hurst boiler. The heat output closely matches the districtâ€™s old system, but Mortl highlights the dramatically increased efficiencies in the new boiler. â€œThe old boiler worked just fine,â€? he says. â€œBut it was 30 years old.â€? One advantage that Messersmith uses to make the most of short construction timeframes is its in-house fabrication capabilities. While the demolition, excavation and concrete work were being done at the school, Messersmithâ€™s welders were building the combustion unit, the fuel handling system and all of the ladders and catwalks for the facility. â€œThe same crew of people who manufacture the equipment are the same ones who go and do the installation on it as well,â€? Mortl says. â€œThis is one of the more unique things we do. We are a turnkey solution in that way.â€?
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MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 27
BiogasNews Biogas industry grows in Europe The European Biogas Association recently published the sixth edition of its statistical report, which reflects the steady growth of the biogas sector. The report shows that the number of biogas plants in Europe tripled over a six-year timespan. The latest data from 2015 shows that there were 17,376 biogas plants and 459 biomethane plants in operation. The number of biogas plants in Europe increased 3 percent, or by 542 plants, in 2015. The U.K. added 77 plants, representing 17 percent growth; Belgium grew by 11 percent, or by 20 plants; and the Netherlands added 16 plants, a growth rate of 6 percent. In the biomethane sector, 2015 saw steady growth with 92 new biogas upgrading units commissioned, an increase of 25 percent from the prior year.
European biogas plant growth No. of plants
SOURCE: EUROPEAN BIOGAS ASSOCIATION
Germany remains a leader in this sector, as well as the biogas sector, with 185 biomethane plants and 10,846 biogas plants. Significant growth was also observed in the U.K. with 43 new plants, while France added 12, Switzerland added 11, Germany added seven, and Denmark added six.
IKEA installs biogas-powered fuel cell system IKEA recently announced it has completed installation of its fourth biogas-powered fuel cell system. The project was completed at the companyâ€™s San Diego, California, store. IKEA already owns three fuel cell systems at stores in California, with one more planned. With the San Diego fuel cell system installed, commissioned and operational, IKEA is on track to generate a total of 1.5 MW of energy via fuel cells, supplementing on-site solar arrays atop all these stores. The 200-kW, biogas-powered project will produce ap28 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
proximately 1.67 million kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 877 tons of carbon dioxide, equal to the emissions of 185 cars, or to providing electricity for 130 homes annually. Combined with the 252-kW solar array installed atop the store in 2011, the fuel cell project will help generate a majority of the storeâ€™s energy onsite. IKEA contracted with Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy for the design, development and installation of the San Diego fuel cell system.
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Biologicals and BMPS: A Modern Digester's Blueprint for Success Ensuring a digester has the right bacteria to work in conjecture with methanogens can lead to higher-than-anticipated yields and a more profitable operation.
PHOTO: GOOGLE EARTH
BY WILL CHARLTON
ts 10th century B.C., and you walk into one of several heated baths in the Assyrian Empires capital after a long, hot day. In 16th century A.D., you do the same with Persian baths. In Victorian London, you find yourself walking along the streets of a lighted city. What do these events in history have in common? They all utilize that same source of energy, one of the oldest and most renewable sources of energy: biogas from anaerobic digestion. Even without technological advances or engineering marvels, the baths of Persia, Assyria and others, as well as the lighted lamps of Victorian London, operated efficiently and without fail. Of the more common renewable energy sources, biogas is one of the oldest, and the most sustainable. The anaerobic digestion process, unlike most any other energy-producing process, relies upon a workforce we do not seeâ€”microbes that consist of bacteria and methanogens working hand-in-hand to achieve the best results they can. In their world, perfection is making the most available food sources accessible for the next in their assembly line. To give equally for what they take, the bacteria work to break down the carbon compounds into lower fatty acid chains, or volatile fatty acids,
which methanogens use to convert with hydrogen into methane gas. Along with producing low-chain carbons, many of these bacteria also produce hydrogen as a waste product, or a more complex carbon dioxide gas (CO2). Methanogens use these volatile fatty acids and CO2 as food sources, and the hydrogen as an energy source to produce methane gas. By ensuring we have the right bacteria to work in conjecture with our friendly neighborhood methanogens, we can achieve higher than anticipated yields. Ever wonder why some digesters thrive at 75 percent methane, and other stumble and struggle at 40 percent? Engineering does play a part in this, but not as significantly as one may think. Biology is equally important. Knowing which biology works best for the feedstocks you have is a vital component to your success. To determine this without impairing or risking the success of your current production, we are called to utilize Biochemical Methane Potential Test Systems (BMP), methods by which we can simulate our exact criteria, mixing timings and speeds, and operating temperatures. Using exact feedstocks makes a difference, as the naturally occurring biology is different in one region then it is in another. We may find strong sulfate-consuming bacteria as a part of a rec-
ipe in sulfur-rich water regions, but find more aggressive, carbon-hungry munchers like Clostridium in another region. It is vital to use what exists naturally, and find a compliment to help it work more effectively. To do this, one may find that simple enzymes that stimulate current biology may be enough, other times we one may find the need to introduce additional bacteria to help break down those longer chain bacteria. Whatever the solution, in the era in which we live, there are plenty of options, and plenty of opportunities to find the right solutions. It may take 10 attempts, maybe even 20, but if one is patient and continues to pound at it, the most fitting solution for the digester will be found. Technology has advanced over the millennium since man discovered anaerobic digestion, but only recently, with growth of our understanding of the microbial world, have we come to understand the use of outside microbial additives. This understanding is new, and even our understanding of the microbes themselves is still evolving. It has only been in the last couple decades that we understood that Archaea (the class of organisms that methanogens belong to) is not even a true bacterium. The world went through its technical revolution, and is now entering what
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).
30 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
one could refer to as the microbial revolu- experience, I have yet to encounter a situation assumption that the digester is fed the same tion. Where we once thought everything in which we did not find a product that was the constantly, with the right blends of nutrients needed to be steamed and made void of biol- perfect solution to far exceed current produc- and metals. Staff should be well-enough eduogy, we now understand that some of these tion levels. In some cases, these increases were cated to look for red flags, and to know the biological entities are our friends. This friend- to the magnitude of 200 percent increases. In yellow flags when they first appear. Ensure ship extends to our energy production within others, it was a meager 30 percent increase in your digester is always kept well-trained and anaerobic digestion. production, but for over 20 digester simula- in top mechanical condition, working to its Often, it’s mistakenly assumed that this tions, we have seen increases 100 percent of best ability. Don’t shortchange your success by biology will evolve to suit our needs, and for- the time over the standard input. limiting your digester’s biological capability to gotten that these organisms are subjective to BMPs and biologicals are a very impor- fully process carbon into energy. Your biology specific living conditions. Overloading with tant tool combination for anaerobic digesters. is one-third your success. As in business, the metals or minerals can become toxic. Digest- Many debate the efficiency of BMP work as difference between the red and the black can ers can obtain upset stomachs and upset biol- being typically 25 to 30 percent, but the reality sometimes be as small as a 10 percent factor. ogy, just as we do. Just as occasionally we are is in the way the BMP work is completed. If Where there is a will, there is a way. Find required to watch our diet, we need to do the it uses a biological inoculant that the digester is the will to succeed by applying today’s sciences same for our digesters. not utilizing, then the overall results can easily and technologies to your digester’s successful In the end, we wish to see methane gas, be 25 percent, or even 50 percent off. operations. CH4, in the highest possible form. We know Why are BMP results so different than ac%LRPDVV0DJD]LQHSDJHLVODQG& Author: Will Charlton from research and practical application that tual real life results? If you seed your digester President, Digester Doc we can see 70 percent CH4 or, on occasion only once, the benefits of the introduced email@example.com 208-731-3234 higher, in a healthy digester system. So how teria are lost over time, as these populations eido we get there? How do we get to the Holy ther wither away or are diluted to nonexistence. Grail that we all know is possible but struggle A BMP is a batch reactor, working under the so aimlessly to acquire? The thing to understand is this: CH4 is produced by methanogens, and methanogens prefer fatty acid chains that are 1-6 carbons in length, simple foods. These fatty acids are known as volatile 3HOOHWL]LQJ fatty acids. For this to occur, enter our trusty bacteria friends. &+3 The process of breaking down the fatty acid chains is likely the most important step &HOOXORVLF in the entire process. To break these mediumto long-chain fatty acids, and even very long(WKDQRO chain fatty acids, down into simpler fatty acid chains that the methanogens can consume, is 5HFHLYLQJ a key to every digester’s efficiency. Whether 6L]LQJ we break down these chains using ultrasonic &RQYH\LQJ or other mechanical methodologies, spend our resources working to ensure the right bi 6FUHHQLQJ ology is present, or even a combination of 6HSDUDWLQJ both, this is the key stage for an anaerobic 6WRUDJH digester’s productivity. How well these fatty acid chains get broken down into more amiable forms is what allows a digester to be suc&DOOIRUD cessful. IUHHEURFKXUH So how can one determine the right bacterial amendment for a digester? The simplest means is to perform side-by-side BMP analysis utilizing the standard operational procedure and typical feedstocks, against potential biological additives offered in the industry. In this manner, one can dictate the production capabilities of a digester with and without these biological additives, answering whether or not it is worth the cost, time and the effort. Do these additives result in YHFRSODQOOFFRP enough increase to justify those costs? In my
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 31
AdvancedBiofuelsNews EPA grants fuel pathway approval to Gevo In early January, the U.S. EPA posted a notice to its website announcing that the agency has approved a fuel pathway, filed by Gevo Inc., for the production of butanol from corn starch and grain sorghum. The pathway approval applies to both D5 advanced biofuel and D6 renewable fuel renewable identification numbers (RINs). Within the approval, the EPA states that Gevoâ€™s butanol produced from corn starch feedstocks appears to already qualify under
an existing pathway for the production of D6 RINs, assuming the company satisfies the pathway specifications and other requirements specified in the Clean Air Act and regulations. The EPA also said it has determined that butanol produced by the Luverne facility from grain sorghum feedstock can qualify for D-code 6 RINs, and butanol produced by the Luverne facility from corn starch and grain sorghum feedstock can qualify for D-code 5 RINs if the fuel meets certain conditions and regulatory provisions.
Net 2016 RIN generation (in millions) D3 cellulosic biofuel
D4 biomass-based diesel D45 advanced biofuel
D6 renewable fuel
D7 cellulosic diesel
SOURCE: U.S. EPA
EPA releases 2016 RIN data The U.S. EPA has released renewable identification number (RIN) generation data for December, reporting that a net total of nearly 19.41 billion RINs were generated in 2016, including nearly 176.8 million cellulosic RINs. A net total of 176.32 million D3 cellulosic biofuel RINs were generated last year, including nearly 3.81 million for ethanol, 107.51 million for renewable compressed natural gas and 66.84 million for renewable liquefied natural gas. In addition, a net total of 480,988 D7 cellulosic diesel RINs were generated in 2106, all for cellulosic heating oil. EPA data shows that a net total of 96.92 million D5 advanced biofuel RINs were generated last year, including 61.28 million for ethanol, 26.27 million for naptha, 1.54 million for heating oil and 7.93 million for nonester renewable diesel. Approximately 15.15 billion D6 renewable fuel RINs were generated last year on a net basis. Most, 14.71 billion, were generated for ethanol. In addition, a net total of 3.99 billion D4 biomass-based diesel RINs were generated in 2016. The majority, 3.28 billion, were generated for biodiesel.
32 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS¦
The RFS in 2017: A Brave New World BY MICHAEL MCADAMS
The first few weeks of President Trump in office have created both a new fascination with Washington, D.C., and uncertainty surrounding the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program. If uncertainty is a bad word for business and a good word for traders, we will have plenty of both unhappy and happy people, respectively, with the state of the renewable fuels sector. Given this state, I would like to provide an overview of the outstanding issues confronting the industry writ large, in hopes of honing in on the true priorities for the industry over the next six months. First, we must finalize the 2017 renewable volume obligation (RVO) rule for the RFS program. Second, we must push for the 2018 mandates to be published before the Nov. 30 deadline to send a strong signal for next year. Third, we must support the U.S. EPA’s denial of the petitions to move the point of obligation under the RFS. Finally, we must engage on tax reform proposals, as alterations to tax policy have the potential to help or hinder the development of our industry, particularly biodiesel and advanced cellulosic fuels. The 2017 RVO rule, finalized in November, was caught in the melee of the new administration’s regulatory reform efforts, which froze all regulations issued by the Obama administration between Oct. 30 and Jan. 20. If the new administration chooses to, it could tinker with the final numbers by engaging in a process to review the current mandates, propose an alternative, and solicit comments on the revisions. It goes without saying that the annual RVO rule is the bedrock of the RFS program, and the EPA’s timely publication of the mandates for ethanol, biomass-based diesel, and cellulosic fuels is essential. Although I believe chances are low that the new administration will attempt to alter the 2017 RVO rule, it is incumbent upon all parties in the renewable fuels sector to encourage the new administrator to finalize the existing rule, as proposed, without delay. Second, the new administration will have to hit the ground running to propose the 2018 RVO rule for public comment by early June. We should work with the EPA to keep the process on schedule, for we all remember vividly how strong the negative impact was when it took the EPA three years to publish the RVOs for
2013, 2014 and 2015. The industry—and particularly the advanced industry—cannot stand to be left in suspended animation for more time if we are going to support the RFS program’s growth. Third, moving the point of obligation is a Trojan horse. Doing so would lead to the demise of the RFS by fundamentally shifting the power at the fuels distribution rack, and raising overall prices for both sellers and consumers of fuels across the country. Ironically, the very people who chose not to invest in compliance with the RFS program would be the ones rewarded with market power. Parties that had worked toward compliance would be left paying the bill. Therefore, we must comment in support of the EPA’s published denial of the petitions to move the point of obligation. Fourth, tax reform is on the agenda, and we must come to the table to participate in this effort. On the offense, we have an opportunity to extend the biodiesel blenders credit and the secondgeneration and alternative fuels credits. On the defense, the industry stands to be affected by the border adjustment tax, as it may impact many of our customers. These are complex and weighty issues, but we must remain informed and actively participate in these negotiations to protect our markets, our sellers, and our end users. The current proposal on the border adjustment tax would shift over a trillion dollars in the economy, a risky move without a firm understanding of the winners and losers in such a shift. A final note: As always, we must continue to support the budget and rulemakings in the various agencies that we rely on for permits and pathway approvals under the RFS program. Let’s be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. This year is shaping up to be a most fluid and challenging year. Mark some dates on your calendar to visit Washington, D.C., in the coming months. As we engage with the Congress and the administration in this brave new world, our industry’s engagement will be imperative. Author: Michael McAdams President, Advanced Biofuels Association firstname.lastname@example.org www.advancedbiofuelsassociation.com
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 33
PHASE ONE: Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. interrupted its business plans to commercialize the company’s renewable diesel technology from the ground up in Edmonton, Alberta, when it purchased the abandoned Western Biodiesel plant near Calgary. The infrastructure on-site will help reduce overall costs for CWS’s first commercial plant. PHOTO: CIELO WASTE SOLUTIONS CORP.
Commercial Proving Grounds With help from investors, Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. plans to fast-track deployment of its renewable diesel technology at a shuttered, gutted biodiesel plant in Alberta. BY RON KOTRBA
ancouver, British Columbia-based Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. is a penny stock traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange operated by CNSX Markets Inc., which was recognized as a stock exchange in 2004. The CSE is described as an “alternative stock exchange.” Some larger public companies trading on major stock exchanges are unwilling to share anything outside of what’s been presented in press releases, filings and required documentation, while smaller penny-stock businesses traded on securities exchanges are often more willing to discuss plans, visions and intentions. The lingo of publicly traded companies is a complex language unto itself—convertible debentures, private placements, tranches, public shells, exercisable warrants. Ironically, the disclosure requirements for public companies necessitate transparency but deciphering the code and navigating the trail of meandering business deals can be challenging. One phrase used often by these firms, however, is the all-too-clear “forwardlooking statements.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says the term “penny stock” refers to a security issued by a very small company that trades at less than $5 per share. Penny stocks are 34 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
commonly quoted over-the-counter, but they may also trade on securities exchanges. “Penny stocks are generally considered speculative investments,” states the SEC. “Consequently, investors in penny stocks should be prepared for the possibility that they may lose their whole investment.” CWS has been developing its technology, designed to convert a myriad of refuse feedstock into renewable diesel, for 13 years at a cost of $16 million, says CEO Don Allan. “And $9 million of that came from my own family,” he says. The technology is referred to as thermal catalytic depolymerization (TCD). Allan says his background is in mechanical engineering and, on the business management side, specializing in “small companies that are in rough shape, taking them to international standards, and selling them off,” he tells Biomass Magazine. “I’ve done it a few times, building corporations up.” After being asked to help save an anhydrous ammonia plant in northern Alberta’s oil sands as natural gas prices rose above $6, Allan thought to use the hydrogen reformer onsite to lighten heavy crude. “I thought it was a good business model, but we found out it was going to be a multibillion-dollar upgrade,” Allan says. “Our budget went from $800 million
to $2.3 billion and there was no longer a return on investment.” Afterward, with the employ of Canadian engineers, Allan says he began to focus on waste-to-energy technologies, including gasification. “We felt it wasn’t enough of a return on investment creating power out of gasification technologies,” he says, “so we began looking for a higher return. We found some technologies using waste to make low-grade fuel, and we began putting a lot of money into them, but we were frustrated with their abilities. So we ended up buying the only existing plant in the world that could do what we wanted to do. We brought it back here to Alberta, changed the technology significantly and changed the catalyst for our thermal catalytic depolymerization process. We conducted an international patent search and didn’t find anything like this, so we decided to move forward.” Michael Yeung, a business development and financial advisor to CWS, says there’s a lot of interest in CWS’s TCD technology to produce renewable diesel from trash. “The waste industry is the fastest growing one we have today—everyone’s got a garbage problem,” Yeung says. “The biggest hurdle now is finding the right investors to step in at this current moment.”
ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS¦ The roots of CWS and its demo plant are in gold and mineral mining and oil exploration. CWS was previously called Cielo Gold Corp. until the company changed direction and its name in 2013. The demo plant was property of Blue Horizon Bio-diesel (BHBD) owned by Blue Horizon Industries, also involved in mining, construction and oil exploration. “It was obvious to us that if we were going to raise capital, we were going to require a public shell to purchase, as the shareholders investing into green companies would not be happy with the mining and oil exploration companies,” Allan says. “We looked at Northcore Technologies as the public shell, as it had $800,000 cash and was listed on a larger stock exchange than Cielo Gold. It turned out that we found many issues that we could not overcome, so we decided to drop the purchase of the company. Cielo Gold was an empty shell with no assets, so it was a simple purchase, and then a change of name and direction for the company.” As for the demo plant, Allan says CWS operated the facility for Allan four years but didn’t complete the purchase from BHBD to Cielo until fall 2016. “There was no rush to do this, but it was the last asset in BHBD, and now we are winding that [company] down, so the time was right to make the final transfer. I am president of BHBD, so there was never any issue of the sale or timing.” Allan says he spent years working on catalyst development to process municipal solid waste, and then a number of different feedstocks. “We then spent two years working on catalyst vs. various feedstocks and determined the best allpurpose catalyst,” he says. CWS hired a company named 1888711 Alberta Inc., which was incorporated April 2015, to further develop the technology, Allan says. “They had the engineers and financing to complete the work we had been doing. We then agreed to pay them a royalty for their investment, and signed a world licensing agreement with them … We’ve engineered this thing to death, and we’re hoping to write the patent in the next few months covering the U.S. and Canada.” On June 24, 2014, CWS entered into an agreement with Seattle-based New Fuel International Inc., which gave NFI the exclusive right to market and produce renewable biofuel derived from industrial biomass waste streams, initially in
the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. NFI’s responsibilities were to include securing biomass feedstock, triggering offtake agreements, managing operations, marketing, sales, and providing financing for the different NFI projects. At that point, NFI was incorporated for less than three weeks. When asked about this, Allan says, “NFI was a small buyer of biodiesel and renewable fuels based in Spokane, but we [subsequently] decided to let this contract lapse and sign with a much larger buyer, Elbow River Marketing, as they are local and we would like to sell our product here in Alberta, as it would significantly be an advantage over the importers.” In March 2016, CWS signed a long-term lease for more than 2 acres and a right of first refusal on an additional 8 acres in Edmonton. “And there’s another 100 acres behind that,” Allan says. Here CWS planned to build a 1,000-literper-hour refinery using its TCD technology. The site is in Edmonton’s Heartland Industrial area on a major highway close to suppliers, buyers
and manufacturers. “We always planned to have that as our startup,” or first commercial proving grounds, for CWS’s TCD technology to produce renewable diesel from waste. “Then, when the opportunity came along to pick up an idle biodiesel plant, we thought that was much quicker and less risk.”
In November, CWS announced the signing of a commercial purchase agreement with XR Resources Inc. to buy property in High River, Alberta, near Calgary, which includes a 16 MMly (4.2 MMgy) biodiesel plant formerly owned by Western Biodiesel Inc. Allan says the plant was built in 2009 for $10.2 million, and shut down in 2013. “It’s in good shape,” he says. The purchase price was for $2.3 million, with 5 million common shares at 6 cents apiece, and $2 million in cash. Allan says construction costs to retrofit the plant will be an additional $6.3 million. The company is conducting two private placements to raise that cash—one for the construction costs, and another $1 million for operating capital.
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¦ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS Yeung says although the company is still in the middle of raising the construction funds, CWS has strong indications this will come through. “The team is ecstatic,” Yeung says. “The High River plant—we’re not putting any lipstick on it,” Allan says. “It’s cheap, dirty and will have a lot of used material. We plan to put the least amount of money possible to prove our technology works.” The plan is to start with 1,000 liters per hour, or slightly more than 2 MMgy. “We’re designing for a much larger plant, but want to be conservative,” Allan says. “We want to walk this up nice and slowly. We don’t want to risk 13 years and $16 million.” He says the biodiesel technology itself is stripped out of the plant. “Basically what’s left behind is what we can use—the tank farm, boilers, coolers, the lab, offices,” he says. “A lot of these pieces lower our capital expenses by 40 percent and speeds us through construction.” CWS is not investing in feedstock handling and preparation in High River either, as the company plans to use sawdust supplied by Parkland Chip Products Ltd. “We have enough feedstock in place for the first six plants,” Allan says. “One in High River and five in Edmonton.”
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The process will begin with sawdust being delivered in a 53-foot truck. The product will move to a hopper, and then to silos. Allan says the feedstock must be mixed with a medium to create a slurry, otherwise, it plugs up operations. “We could use animal tallow, yellow grease or canola, but that’s too expensive,” he says. “We thought about using heavy oil from up north, but we decided on used motor oil, it’s very inexpensive.” In March 2016, CWS signed a multiyear agreement with Dipper Oil Recycling for the purchase of used motor oil. Allan says the oil and sawdust are blended in a 50/50 ratio. The idea is to continuously recycle the oil, but Allan says a small percentage of it gets cracked in the process and becomes part of the finished fuel. “About 8 percent gets turned into diesel,” he says. “We’re not looking to crack that. At first we were cracking way more than we wanted to, so it was important to find a catalyst that wouldn’t crack the used motor oil. We’re down to between 6 and 8 percent now that still gets converted. We’re trying to recycle as much of that as possible.” The materials will be blended and heated, and then enter a dehydration process to remove
moisture followed by a desulfurization process. From there, the pretreated feedstock will enter a reaction tower in which the zeolite-based proprietary catalyst is introduced. After reaction, the product will move to a fractionation tower out of which will be distilled three products: naphtha, kerosene and diesel. Allan says the residual waste product will be run through one more reactor to further break it down into more naphtha, kerosene and diesel. Then, different fuel conditioning tanks will be utilized to meet client specifications, he says. “We’ll have a small waste stream—sulfur, asphalt and water that we dispose of,” Allan says. “We will use a flare stack, but we will not flare on a regular basis, just in emergencies.” The process is intolerant of water, he adds, so CWS will spend a lot of money making sure the product is dry. “We can’t put more than 2 percent moisture in the process,” Allan says. “Steam is a real problem. We run at atmospheric pressure. Our reaction time from the reactor to the frac tower is seconds. As soon as the catalyst hits the feedstock, it converts within two seconds. Normally, it takes 15 to 18 seconds, so our energy costs are minute, comparatively.”
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QUALITY WORLDWIDE 36 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MARCH 2017
ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS¦ Just days after announcing its intention to purchase the old Western Biodiesel plant, CWS announced it had awarded construction contracts for the retrofit. The fabrication work will be provided by Advanced Metal & Lyncorp Manufacturing Ltd. just down the road. The electrical and instrumentation work has been awarded to Electech Contracting Ltd. out of Calgary. Kwik-Fab Energy Services in Sundre, Alberta, will perform millwright work. KwikFab worked closely with CWS on maintenance services at its demo plant in Red Deer, according to CWS. “It's been a great experience to work on the demo plant with Cielo and Don,” Mark Haldane, vice president of operations at KwikFab, stated in CWS’s press release. “In addition to the opportunity to bring diversity into a new industry, it’s been particularly exciting to witness and be a part of this new technology. I believe it’s an excellent opportunity for us and everyone involved.” CWS says the contracted construction companies have agreed to assist CWS in financing the retrofit by deferring profits until the plant is operational and earning revenues. One of the main differences between the demo process and the one to be employed in
High River is the need to move from batch to continuous operations. “We need to run continuously,” Allan says. “That’s where the risk is. Also, the amount of catalyst we use for the cracking—if we use three times more than we planned for, that’ll change our economics. But we believe the catalyst will work. We spent four years on it, we’re very confident we’ve eliminated that risk.” The small size of CWS’s first commercial plant, 2 MMgy, is critical, too, he says. “If we have problems, it’ll be tens of thousands of dollars to fix vs. tens of millions. So that’s a good reason start small and walk it up from there. That’s our business philosophy. Our competitors need scale but, for us, we’re using such cheap feedstock we can start small and walk it up.” Allan claims the renewable diesel produced in CWS’s process is functional down to minus 120 degrees Celsius (minus 184 Fahrenheit). “It has no freezing point that we have found,” he says. His plan is to supply the oft-frigid Canadian markets with fuel to help meet federal and provincial biomass-based diesel mandates and reduce the need for imported product. “The governments keep increasing the mandates, but
nobody is producing up here,” Allan says. “And it’s important to say we’ve built this company without subsidies. We need to know that we can operate with whatever government is in place. We need to be profitable, and we’ve done that. We know we can compete with fossil fuels, even if the mandates fell aside.” He says, “fingers crossed,” High River should be producing by fall 2017. Once that is commissioned and the company gets comfortable with operations and performance, the plan is to double capacity on-site. Afterward, CWS intends to concentrate on the Edmonton site where it can build production units modularly. Allan says he hopes to break ground there by Q1 2018. “When we first commercially produce, this will be an exciting, exciting stock to watch,” Yeung says. “A world changer.” With its precious metal mining roots, whether CWS can turn trash into gold—or its dreams into cash returns for investors—remains to be seen. Author: Ron Kotrba Senior Editor, Biomass Magazine 218-745-8347 email@example.com
MARCH 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 37
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