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INSIDE ¦ May 2014

MAY 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 5

Worth its Weight in Watts

Trash Generates 40 Percent of U.S. Biomass Power

Page 16


A Taste of Pellets from Waste Page 24


Photo Review of The International Biomass Conference & Expo Page 10

PHOTO REVIEW:  2014 International Biomass Conference & Expo

ON THE COVER A bulldozer performs landfill maintenance. Approximately two-thirds of municipal solid waste is biogenic and could be used to make energy or fuels.

06 EDITOR’S NOTE Biomass's Most Dynamic Feedstock By Tim Portz




20 COPYRIGHT © 2014 by BBI International

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) May 2014, Vol. 8, Issue 5. 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.

POWER 18 NEWS 19 COLUMN BPA Addresses Inaccurate Report By Bob Cleaves

20 FEATURE Surveying the US Waste-to-Energy Fleet Waste conversion facilities are an important part of the U.S. renewable energy generation mix. By Kolby Hoagland


Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for any country outside of the United States, Canada and Mexico. To subscribe, visit www. 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 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 701-7468385 or 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 Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

PELLETS 26 NEWS 27 COLUMN Maintaining the Momentum By Bill Bell

28 DEPARTMENT From Fluff to Fuel When properly treated, municipal solid waste is as an opportune pellet feedstock. By Susanne Retka Schill



Hypothesis: Iowa is a great location for bioscience companies. Proof: look at the numbers. Bioscience R&D in Iowa was 12% higher than the national average. Iowa State University and University of Iowa invested 70.8% of R&D funding in life sciences and biotech. Bioscientists make another big discovery outside the lab: it’s called having a life. We’re the 7th best state to raise a child, 5th highest for high school graduation rates, 6th for safest neighborhoods. Discover more at If you follow the logic, it’ll lead you to Iowa.





MAY 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 5

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo


Agra Industries


Airoflex Equipment


American Pulverizer Co.


BBI Project Development


CPM Roskamp Champion




Detroit Stoker Company


Dieffenbacher Fagen Inc. Geomembrane Technologies Inc. Iowa Economic Development Authority

2 38 4

KEITH Manufacturing Company


Mayfran International, Inc.


New Holland Agriculture


Novozymes A/S


Pellet Fuels Institute


PHG Energy


Rawlings Waste Wood recovery Systems


RUD Chain


SAMSON Materials Handling Ltd.


SGS Group


TerraSource Global








West Salem Machinery Co.


Wolf Material Handling Systems




THERMAL 30 NEWS 31 COLUMN EPA Wood Stove Regulations: Opportunity or Death Knell? By John Ackerly

32 FEATURE Atypical Thermal Applications Forms of waste biomass such as landfill gas and wood pallets are being consumed as fuel by unconventional biomass thermal users. By Anna Simet

BIOGAS 38 NEWS 39 COLUMN RNG: The Next Renewable Vehicle Fuel By Stephanie Thorson

40 FEATURE Power or Fuel: Making the Choice Multiple factors are considered when a biogas project developer decides what its end product will be. By Chris Hanson

ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS 44 NEWS 45 COLUMN It’s Not Over Until it’s Over By Michael McAdams

46 DEPARTMENT Enerkem’s Family Affair Vincent and Esteban Chornet are achieving their joint dream of commercializing a breakthrough technology that converts waste into advanced biofuels and chemicals. By Tim Portz



Biomass's Most Dynamic Feedstock On the final day of last month’s International Biomass Conference & Expo in Orlando, nearly 50 attendees and I began our morning by watching a waste hauler dump 14 tons of food waste into the receiving bay hopper at Harvest Power Orlando’s anaerobic digester. The TIM PORTZ food waste was incredibly wet, and as it VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR dropped into the hopper, our host, Chris Balfe, organics director of project development at Harvest Power, explained that 24 tons of what we were seeing flow into area landfills every second. Three days earlier, we opened the International Biomass Conference & Expo with our traditional conversations featuring association leaders from virtually every sector of the greater biomass industry. Panel newcomer Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council, pointed to local and state organics diversion policies as one of his segment’s largest current catalysts. If organic waste diversion regulations continue to march across the country, facilities like Harvest Power Orlando will have to become the norm. The biogas generated at the facility is converted to electric power, but as Chris Hanson’s story “Power or Fuel: Making the Choice” (page 36) illustrates, developers are increasingly looking to compressed renewable gas plays to maximize project returns. Anna Simet’s photo-rich coverage of the event, “All Things Biomass” (page 10) conveys the breadth and energy of the event’s seventh iteration. Increasingly, the conference is beginning to feel like both a wrap-up of the preceding year, and a look into the coming one. This year was no different. The hallways and sessions were abuzz with and about professionals and projects we featured within the pages of Biomass Magazine during the past year. Moreover, members of our team are already working through a healthy collection of stories to determine where they fit into the arc of our 2014 editorial calendar. In this issue, you will also find a robust exploration of the many ways our industry captures the energy bound up in municipal solid waste streams. For “Surveying the U.S. Waste-to-Energy Fleet” (page 17), Kolby Hoagland mines BBI International’s own data to illustrate where the nation’s waste-to-energy installations are located, when most of them were deployed and the impact they have on the waste and energy systems of the communities they serve. This issue addresses each sector and makes a strong case that waste streams have been, and will likely remain, the industry’s most sought-after input for good reason.


ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elizabeth Burslie


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



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

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

National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo OCTOBER 13-15, 2014

Hyatt Minneapolis Minneapolis, Minnesota Produced by BBI International, this national event will feature the world of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals—technology scale-up, project finance, policy, national markets and more— with a core focus on the industrial, petroleum and agribusiness alliances defining the national advanced biofuels industry. With a vertically integrated program and audience, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products. 866-746-8385

International Biomass Conference & Expo APRIL 20-22, 2015

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



UT-ORNL governor’s chair selected Arthur Ragauskas has been named the 15th University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory governor’s chair. He will serve as governor’s chair for biorefining, based in UT’s Department of ChemiRagaukas cal and Biomolecular Engineering with a complementary appointment in the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries. He will serve in the U.S. Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate, Biosciences Division, at ORNL, and as a member of the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center. Ragauskas begins at UT on June 1. He comes to the new position from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and researcher within the Institute of Paper Science and Technology.

Rotary Dryer

Fecon introduces DCR Fecon Inc. has introduced the Depth Control Rotor system. The DCR system builds on Fecon’s reversible Samurai Knife Tool. It cuts faster, delivering better fuel economy and more uniform particle size. Depth control rings work in harmony with the Samurai Knife to enable more cutting with less horsepower.

establishing a propagation nursery in Karachi, Pakistan.

BIO honors Stabenow, Kullman The Biotechnology Industry Organization has presented Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., with the BIO Legislator of the Year award. As chairwoman of the Senate CommitVerdanté BioEnergy Services tee on Agriculture, she offers software solution successfully champiVerdanté BioEnergy Services has anoned reauthorization nounced its appointment as the exclusive U.S. distributor of MGH Systems’ Biomass Manag- of the Farm Bill energy er software. The product enables smarter, faster programs and expanded Kullman them to include renewand easier monitoring, sharing and reporting able chemicals. BIO has of crucial data in biomass supply chains. also announced that it Viaspace establishes nursery has selected DuPont for propagation in Pakistan Chair and CEO Ellen Viaspace Inc. has shipped 2,200 pounds Kullman to receive its of Giant King Grass planting stock to Pakistan 2014 George Washingunder a contract signed with WiNERGY ton Carver Award for Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd. The consignment was air- innovation in industrial Stabenow lifted in a temperature-controlled container for biotechnology.

m rgy Syste e n E t a e H


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Inashco, Wheelabrator team up to recycle waste metals from process Inashco BV and Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. have formed a North American-based joint venture company dedicated to recycling ferrous and nonferrous metals from the wasteto-energy process. The 50/50-owned joint venture company Eco Recovery Solutions LLC will use Inashco’s patented and proprietary Advanced Dry Recovery technology to enhance the recovery of ferrous and nonferrous metals at waste-to-energy facilities. Wheelabrator selected the Inashco technology because of its proven track record in Europe and its unique ability to process fresh ash without aging that results in oxidation and diminished product values. Alstom to supply GRT to UK plant Alstom has signed a contract with Danish power plant specialist Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S to design and supply a 45-MW geared reaction steam turbine (GRT) for the Brigg renewable energy plant in the U.K. The facility is expected to be operational in early 2016 and will take in straw and wood as fuel.

Superior Industries adds manager Superior Industries Inc. has added Roland Duer in the position of international sales and business development manager. He will represent Superior Industries throughout Latin America. Duer has more than 25 years Duer of business experience in building relationships and developing opportunities. He most recently served as product manager and purchasing manager at Condumex Inc. Foster Wheeler to provide equipment to Brazil project Foster Wheeler AG has announced a subsidiary of its Global Power Group has been awarded a contract by Shanghai Marine Diesel Engine Research Institute for the design and supply of two grate boilers for Fatima Energy Ltd, a subsidiary of the Fatima Group. The 120 MW cogeneration plant will

be located at the Fatima sugar mill in Savawan, Pakistan. The facility will burn sugarcane bagasse and coal. Geopower Energy appoints board member Geopower Energy LLC has appointed Greg Robinson to its board of directors. He replaces Greg Barns, who retired in November. Robinson has 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive and advisor. He is currently managing director at The Caprock Group. Geopower Energy has closed a private debt facility to acquire a joint venture interest in the Blue Mountain Biogas Project in Utah. The biogas project captures methane from swine waste at Murphy-Brown LLC’s Circle Four Farm.

SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, if available) to Business Briefs, Biomass Magazine, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also email information to evoegele@bbiinternational. com. Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.




©2014 CNH America LLC. All rights reserved. New Holland is a trademark registered in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates. NHBM03148928


The state-of-the-industry general session featured seven association leaders who discussed successes and challenges of the past year. (From left) Seth Ginther, U.S. Industrial Pellet Association; Jennifer Hedrick, Pellet Fuels Institute; Joseph Seymour, Biomass Thermal Energy Council; Tim Portz, BBI International; Patrick Serfass, American Biogas Council; Bob Cleaves, Biomass Power Association; Michael McAdams, Advanced Biofuels Association; Todd Taylor, Algae Biomass Organization.

Advanced Biofuels Association leader Michael McAdams said the sector has had a tough year, but must continue its mission.


BBI International’s Tim Portz, left, discusses biogas’s new role in the renewable fuel standard with American Biogas Council Executive Director Patrick Serfass.


Members of all sectors of the biomass industry connected at the 2014 International Biomass Conference & Expo. BY ANNA SIMET PHOTOS BY MAGNAFOTO


ttendees at the 2014 International Biomass Conference and Expo in Orlando, Fla., March 24-26, came from 41 counties, 48 states and eight Canadian provinces. The event kicked off with two inaugural preconference seminars—the Pellet Supply Chain Summit and Bioenergy Project Development Seminar—which were followed by the expo hall ribbon cutting by New Holland and ensuing grand reception, where attendees seized the opportunity to network with over 200 exhibitors. The follow morning, a state-of-the-industry general session featured seven trade association leaders who discussed the past year’s accomplishments, setbacks and the industry outlook. Topics included the huge successes the U.S. pellet export sector has experienced during the past year, which saw the export of 3 million metric tons of pellets and achievement of policy certainty overseas, as well as the obstacles the advanced biofuel industry has faced in the wake of the U.S. EPA’s lowered renewable fuel standard renewable volume obligations. Following the general session, the 1,100-plus attendees heard from 136 speakers during two days of current workshop panels, which covered biomass power and thermal, pellets and densified biomass, biogas and advanced biofuels. Attendees were able to continue networking and discuss conference content at the Wednesday evening social event at the Rosen Plaza Backstage Night Club and Sports Bar. The seventh annual International Biomass Conference & Expo concluded with two industry tours Harvest Power Orlando’s organic waste-to-power project and Viesel Fuel’s 7.5 MMgy biodiesel facility in Stuart, Fla. Next year, the conference will be held in Minneapolis, Minn., April 20-22.



The general session was well-attended and provided attendees with valuable insight from industry leaders.

Abengoa’s Christopher Standlee accepted the Groundbreaker of the Year Award for the company’s 25-MMgy ellulosic ethanol and 22-MW power facility in Hugoton, Kan.


Timothy Baye, professor of business development and bioenergy specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, discussed how to target corporate sustainability markets, at the Bioenergy Project Development Seminar.


Anna Simet, Biomass Magazine managing editor, and Tim Portz (center) present the Excellence in Bioenergy Award to John Ackerly, president of the Alliance for Green Heat.

Seth Ginther presents during the Pellet Supply Chain Summit along with Michele Rebiere, chief financial officer, Viridis Energy Inc.; Richard Peberdy, vice president of sustainability, Drax Biomass International; and Ben Conte, renewable energy sales manager, Bridgewell Renewables.



New Holland’s Scott Wangard (left) and Jarrod Angstadt join Tom Bryan, vice president of BBI International, for the expo hall ribbon-cutting ceremony.

T.J. Dekker and Shelby Malvestuto man the MagneGas booth.



New Holland’s impressive exhibit was one of the expo hall’s main attractions.

Abengoa’s Philip Klazynski and Sarah Narup greet booth visitors.

CPM’s Chris Obermeier, Doug Kitch and Chris Law.



Hani Al-koli, GIS department manager of Sana'a Water and Sanitation Local Corp., Yemen, presents during a biogas breakout session.

(From left) Avant Energy’s Lauren Blank, Taylor David (and spouse) and Benjamin Simmons at the Wednesday evening event at the Rosen Plaza’s Backstage Night Club & Sports Bar.



Shyam Thapa, Arkansas State University; Sunil Thapa, Eastern Illinois University; and Robert Heimann, Enginuity WorldWide, take audience questions following their presentations.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District's Val Tiangco and Marco Lemes and friends kick back and enjoy the Florida weather.

Ezra Bar-Ziv of Michigan Technological University presents along with Jayant Khambekar, Jenike & Johanson Inc.; Robert Morrow, Detroit Stoker Company; and Richard Boardman, Idaho National Laboratory.

Conference attendees enjoy networking and music at the Wednesday evening event.


PowerNews ReEnergy wins Army PPA In early 2014, the U.S. Army issued a notice of intent to award the ReEnergy Black River biomass plant at Fort Drum, N.Y., a 20year power purchase agreement. The move came more than eight months after the 60-MW facility began producing power. The plant is located on the Fort Drum Army installation near Watertown, N.Y. With the PPA agreement from ReEnergy, Fort Drum will be become energy self-sufficient. The plant was originally designed to burn coal. It was idled in 2010 and purchased by ReEnergy the next year. The company made more than $34 million in equipment and infrastructure investments in the facility, converting the plant to biomass and restarting it in June 2013. Since its restart, the Black River plant has been selling power to the area surrounding the post. The facility was also selected to sell renewable energy credits to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

PPA AWARDED: The ReEnergy Black River biomass plant will supply power to the Fort Drum army installation through a 20-year power purchase agreement. PHOTO: REENERGY

GE launches Distributed Power business GE has announced the launch of its Distributed Power business that combines the Aeroderivative Gas Turbine, Jenbacher Gas Engine and Waukesha Gas Engine product lines. GE said it would invest $1.4 billion in the new business over the next four years. The investment is expected to help meet the world’s growing demand for onsite power systems. As part of the announcement, GE also indicated it has signed a contract for Indonesia’s first integrated biomass-to-power plants for

on-grid applications using bamboo and woody biomass feedstocks. The facilities will be powered by GE’s integrated biomass gasification solution featuring the company’s syngas technology. The plans are part of a broader cooperation between GE, PLN and developer PT Clean Power Indonesia. A 1-MW facility on Sumba island and a 150-kW demonstration plant in Bangli, Bali, are part of the cooperation agreement. GE predicts that distributed power will grow at a rate 40 percent faster than global electricity demand through 2020.

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BPA Addresses Inaccurate Report BY BOB CLEAVES

April Fools! We wished it was a prank when, on April 1, one of the industry’s usual detractors released a report that alleges—once again—that biomass is harmful to the environment, and, laughably, worse than coal. Rather than a scientific study, the report read as an 81-page editorial. Unfortunately, many in the media were fooled by the group’s opinions and assertions that were presented as “science.” The report showcases a fundamental misunderstanding of the science surrounding forestry and biomass, and a lack of familiarity with the state and federal laws governing energy and the environment. This report was not peer-reviewed, nor was it joined or supported by any credible national environmental organization. National environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council have endorsed the use of biomass from wood waste by facilities mentioned in the report, such as the Plainfield Renewable Energy. And it’s not only environmental groups that are embracing biomass. Placer County Air Pollution Control District, home to Cabin Creek Biomass Facility, was awarded the 2010 Clean Air Excellence Award by the U.S. EPA for its public-private solution for keeping forests healthy while generating clean energy using biomass. For an initial review, we took a close look at two recently permitted, very different type projects in California and Connecticut. The Connecticut project, Plainfield Renewable Energy, is a $220 million power facility that uses wood derived from construction and demolition waste that would otherwise be placed in landfills. When complete, it will generate enough power for 40,000 households and account for 15 percent of Connecticut’s renewable energy. The project has strict fuel processing requirements designed to prevent the combustion of creosote or other nonwood materials. From a climate perspective, Plainfield—and all biomass facilities—are a no-brainer when it comes to carbon, and vastly preferable to fossil fuel facilities. In 2009, PhD ecologists—from institutions such as Princeton, Dartmouth and UC Berkley—published an analysis of biomass carbon, “Beneficial Biofuel—The Food, Energy and Environmental Trilemma.” The report listed biomass fuels as “biofuels done right” because of their lower life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions profile, including municipal and industrial wastes, but also sustainably harvested wood and forest residues. In calculating Plainfield’s CO2 emissions, and all CO2 emissions from the 81 facilities purportedly reviewed in the report, there is no attempt to analyze these emissions on a life-cycle basis. In other words, the emission calculations are simply what goes up the stack, ignoring the simple

fact that carbon is “recycled” by a closed-loop process that takes carbon from the air in photosynthesis, resulting in the regrowth of plants. Because of this natural cycle, the science of greenhouse gases from biogenic sources like wood is undeniably and fundamentally different than the science of gases from geologic sources. What about other emissions? This is where the Cabin Creek Biomass Facility in California, is particularly revealing. In 2012, the Sequoia Foundation conducted an assessment with technical assistance from the California Department of Public Health and in collaboration with Placer County Division of Planning Services and Department of Health and Human Services. In California and throughout the West, wood waste material from forests is often burned in piles—causing uncontrolled emissions—or left in forests to become fuel for fires that threaten communities and ecosystems. Sequoia compared the fate of biomass if left to openly burn in piles or in forest fires versus the controlled combustion of the fuel in a biomass facility. This “alternative fate” analysis is completely missing from PFPI’s report, and for good reason. If PFPI had done such analysis, it would have come to the same conclusion that Sequoia reached. Specifically, for regulated pollutants—the same pollutants discussed in the PFPI report—the Cabin Creek biomass plant, which used the wood waste that traditionally had been open burned, resulted in staggering reductions in emissions—95 to 99 percent. Similar reductions were confirmed by Placer County in a 2011 published, peer-reviewed report in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. In other words, far from being a source of “pollution,” biomass energy projects like Cabin Creek are part of the solution. No wonder the California Energy Commission describes biomass in its Bioenergy Action Plan as an energy source that “creates jobs, provides local energy, enhances energy security, and helps protect public health and safety by reducing waste materials and fire danger.” We continue to review the report and collect its inaccuracies. Unfortunately, it is very easy to misrepresent numbers as true science. Anti-biomass groups believe they are helping the environment, but the end result of studies like this is that, if they are taken as fact, more fossil fuels will be used for power, rural economies will be hurt, and our forests will be in poorer health. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association



MANAGING MSW, PRODUCING POWER: Covanta Energy’s waste-to-energy plant in Fairfax, Va., processes more than 3,000 tons of municipal solid waste per day to generate 80 MW of electricity.



Surveying the US Waste-to-Energy Fleet Waste-to-energy plants in the U.S. generate nearly 2,500 MW of power and consume about 30 percent of the nation’s waste. BY KOLBY HOAGLAND rcheologists studying ancient human societies often look to trash disposal sites of early civilizations for clues to help identify the resources and activities of humanity’s initial advancements. Trash, or municipal solid waste (MSW), from antiquity has proven valuable to illustrating the evolution of humans and how our


ancestors managed waste streams. The methods of managing MSW today continue to evolve and demonstrate societal demands for certain resources. Since the Industrial Revolution, MSW management strategies have focused on simple disposal in landfills or out at sea. Over the past half century, as energy and raw material costs have increased, the


Electricity from 1 Ton of Waste

Top 10 WTE States

6 plants



#2 NEW YORK 10 plants


WTE Power Plant





total capacity 291 MW

7 plants

total capacity 123 MW

total capacity 240 MW #4 CONNECTICUT 6 plants

#10 MICHIGAN 2 plants

total capacity 195 MW


total capacity 86 MW

4 plants

On average, WTE plants on create 550 kWh from 1 ton of MSW.

total capacity 94 MW

#5 VIRGINIA 3 plants

#7 MARYLAND 2 plants

total capacity 120 MW

total capacity 163 MW

Landfill Gas Power Plant On average, landfill gas plants create 55 kWh from 1 ton of MSW.

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total capacity 90 MW

3 plants

total capacity 541 MW


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50 Years of Waste Management Strategy Composted Recycled

2/3 of MSW is biogenic

WTE Landfill An estimated 390 million metric tons of MSW was generated in 2008


of MSW is nonbiogenic



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The existing 71 plants have a combined capacity of 2,476 MW. Wheelabrator has 17 plants,capacity 674 MW. Covanta has 37 plants,capacity 1,256 MW.

POWER recovery of products and energy from MSW has grown considerably. In 1960, the recovery rate from MSW was around 6 percent, according to U.S. EPA estimates. Today, an estimated 35 percent of MSW is reclaimed through recycling, composting and conversion into usable energy. According to the most recent estimates from “The State of Garbage in America” by Columbia University and BioCycle, 6.8 percent of MSW finds its way to waste-to-energy (WTE) plants in the U.S., where it is transformed primarily into process heat and electricity. Radiocarbon dating analysis of WTE emissions and ash has determined that roughly twothirds of what constitutes MSW originates from biomass. As a predominantly biomass input, MSW-fed power plants are considered a part of the biomass power industry's fleet of grid-connected power plants. There are currently 71 operating WTE plant in the U.S., according to Biomass Magazine data.With 2,476 MW of

nameplate capacity, WTE plants make up 40 percent of the operating biomass power industry’s generating capacity. Conversion of MSW into renewable power is a waste management strategy with uneven dispersion across the country. In states where land values and heightened regulations discourage the siting of landfills, there are more WTE facilities. Five of the top 10 states for power generation from MSW are located in the Northeast, where land for disposal sites comes at a high cost and with stiff siting regulations. Florida, where a high water table inhibits the construction of landfills, has the most WTE power facilities at 11 and a combined generating capacity of 541 MW. Next year, Florida will add a 12th WTE power plant in West Palm Beach, which will represent the first WTE plant built in the U.S. in over a decade. At its height in the late 1980s, the WTE sector built 11 plants each year. Between 1986 and 1990, 39 plants came

on line to supply hundreds of megawatts of biomass power to the grid and mitigate the growing burden of MSW on local landfills. Federal energy policies under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act supported the growth of independent renewable power producers, like many of the WtE and other biomass power plants that were deployed in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Municipalities possessed control over the flow of the MSW that was generated within its boundaries. Known as flow control, municipalities were able to manage their MSW by guaranteeing feedstock to a WTE plant that provided regionally reliable renewable power, jobs and a financial presence in the community. In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court strongly influenced the future of MSW management in what became known as the “Carbone decision.” The court declared municipal flow control laws that “deprive competitors, including out-ofstate firms, of access to a local [MSW]”


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POWER¦ in violation of the commerce clause and unconstitutional. Without guaranteed feedstock at a guaranteed price, growth in the WTE sector declined through the ‘90s and into the early 2000s. Higher energy prices in the mid-2000s led to the expansion of a number of existing plants but no new plants were constructed. “It’s simply economics and policy,” explained Ted Michaels, president of the Energy Recovery Council, when asked about the fluctuation of the WTE sector. Over its lifetime, the WTE industry has grown agile enough to accommodate a changing market. Michaels says higher energy prices, increased adoption of sustainable waste management practices, and supportive climate change science has, and will continue to, encourage reasonable financing and productive policy. Since the mid-2000s the amount of MSW generated has plateaued, and even gone down in some studies. The recovery of energy and materials from MSW is continuing to advance and diversify. Composters, E-waste recyclers, and, to a smaller extent, community-scale digesters have entered the MSW recovery arena. Advanced biofuel processors, such as Ineos at its plant in Vero Beach, Fla., aim to broaden the demand on MSW with liquid biofuel conversion technologies. Covanta Energy Corp., the largest WTE producer in the sector with a total grid-connected nameplate capacity of 1,256 MW, is positioning itself to offer a suite of MSW management services, from organics diversion for biogas production and E-waste recycling. James Regan, director of communications at Covanta, acknowledges the quickly evolving environment around MSW, explaining, “By coupling digestion, various forms of recycling, and WTE, we not only set ourselves up to maximize sustainability outcomes, but also handle the evolving needs of our customers.” The historians who, one day, look back on the current era will likely not have to go through our trash heaps to

figure out how we lived and what we valued as a society. If they did, they would see a rapidly changing industry around MSW management. With only 35 percent of MSW currently removed and reutilized, there is considerable feedstock in the MSW stream for the expansion of the WTE sector along with recycling, composting, digestion and other emerging industries that vie for a portion of the MSW

pie. The question that remains is, will political and financial determination align to chart the industry's evolution? Author: Kolby Hoagland Maps and Data Manager, BBI International 701-738-4966

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PelletNews Study highlights GHG savings of transatlantic pellet trade A new study led by a researcher from the University of Georgia has determined that the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of a unit of electricity in the U.K. using imported wood pellets is at least 50 percent lower than the GHG intensity of grid electricity derived from fossil fuels. Notably, the results of the study contradict the general belief that the use of wood pellets from 10- to 15-year-old pine plantations in the southern U.S. do not provide GHG savings in Europe. Rather, the GHG savings were shown to be at least 50 percent, even at lower rotation ages. The analysis addressed 930 different scenarios and considered three types of wood feedstocks, two forest management choices, 31 plantation rotation ages and five power plant capacities. GHG emissions associated with seven supply chain stems were used. The work was led by Puneet Dwivedi, an assistant professor of sustainability sciences in the UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Madhu Khanna of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Energy Biosciences Institute and Robert Bailis and Adrian Ghilardi with Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies also contributed to the study.

EMISSIONS ESTIMATES: GHG emissions related with transatlantic wood pellet trade. Emissions from any extra distance covered to transport excess feedstock from the last harvested tract are not considered. The same is true for GHG emissions related to any excess forestland area present in the last harvested tract. LR: logging residues; PW: pulpwood; intensive: intensive forest management; and non-intensive: non-intensive forest management. PHOTO: DWIVEDI, PUNEET, ET AL., “POTENTIAL GREENHOUSE GAS BENEFITS OF TRANSATLANTIC WOOD PELLET TRADE.” ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS

New standard under development for thermally treated, densified biomass fuels The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has announced a new International Organization for Standardization project to develop a standard for thermally treated and densified biomass fuels. The project, which was approved by the international community, is currently at the working draft stage.


Designated ISO 17225-8, the document will define the fuel quality classes and specifications of graded, densified solid biofuels produced from thermally treated biomass. It will address both pellets and briquettes from a variety of feedstocks. The standards will apply to fuels intended for industrial or non-industrial use.

The new project is one of several solid biomass standards under development by ISO technical committee 238 (ISO/ TC 238). The ASABE is accredited by the American National Standards Institute as the administrator for the U.S. technical advisory group for ISO/TC 238


Maintaining the Momentum BY BILL BELL

“Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river.” (Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969). The challenge the Northeast pellet industry faces as the snow finally melts and folks cease talking about the cold winter and strong demand for pellets is now “How do we keep the momentum going?” Extensive media attention to the “pellet shortage” has given our industry the opportunity to publicly advise customers that “there was never any shortage, just a failure to order sufficient quantity ahead of time.” The proof of that advice will be in the pudding, as we now see how major retailers go about ordering for the next heating season. But let’s admit it. After some lean years, we’re on a bit of a roll. What would have been adversity in earlier years now seems to be turning to our advantage, at least in the Pine Tree State. The first challenge has been a proposal before the Maine legislature’s Appropriations Committee to take heating program incentive program funds from the funder, Efficiency Maine, and dump them into the usual holes in the state budget. These are the same funds that have been a huge shot in the arm for our pellet equipment companies, who, as I write this, have sold 74 units, at average installed price of $17,000, under Efficiency Maine’s $5,000 rebate program for homeowners. Only the heat pump rebate program has been more popular. Our members responded quickly to the legislative challenge, with emails and calls to Appropriations Committee members, as did our new best friends, the insulationists, who have been the major beneficiaries of Efficiency Maine assistance to homeowners. At the annual meeting of the Maine Association of Building Efficiency Professionals, we agreed to “focus not on fighting over our slices of the pie, but instead on maintaining and increasing the size of the pie itself.” Good things happen to good people, and we benefited greatly from the fortuitous timing of the New England Clean Energy Council’s annual Legisla-

tive Day in Maine. Council members, many of them with large investments in Maine’s energy infrastructure, chose to make the funding of our Efficiency Maine incentive program their No. 1 talking point with legislative leadership. From that point on, momentum on this issue shifted our way, and the raid on Efficiency Maine has been called off. It also helped that at the same time, Corinth Pellets in Maine, under new ownership, announced a significant expansion that will create up to 20 new jobs in the plant, plus more in the woods. This has enabled us to talk about heating incentive programs as a job creator, replacing oil with homegrown fuel. The second challenge has been our governor’s legislative proposal to take funds from the projected expansion of the timber harvest on Maine’s public lands and apply these funds to the Efficiency Maine incentive program. This is essentially our association’s legislation from last year, which had been sidetracked by environmentalist objections to the funding source. This time around, with the governor holding a press conference on his proposal, there has been extensive media coverage about helping homeowners switch to pellet heat. Legislatively, the proposal will likely fall short again. If we lose this battle, however, we are still winning the war in terms of public perception about pellet heat. The upcoming Northeast Biomass Heating Expo and Conference in Portland, Maine will provide another opportunity to familiarize Maine homeowners and businesses with our technology and fuel cost savings. BTEC’s board of directors will be meeting in Portland, in conjunction with this conference. We’re not there yet, but we’re rolling. Author: Bill Bell Executive Director, Maine Pellet Fuels Association 207-752-1392



FIRST GRIND: MSW straight from the garbarge trucks is used as an input for the WastAway process and is sent through a preshredder. PHOTO: WASTAWAY

From Fluff to Fuel Tennessee-based WastAway engineers pellets from MSW that is treated with steam and pressure. BY SUSANNE RETKA SCHILL


ost people looking at the mountains of municipal solid waste (MSW) being generated these days view them as problems that should be dealt with as cheaply as possible. A quality end product is not as important as making the waste go away, according to Mark Brown, CEO of WastAway. “We take the opposite approach,” he says. “Our goal is to have a high-quality fuel and we ask, what amount of processing makes sense to get the high-quality fuel we desire, and we can sell?” At WastAway’s facility in Morrison, Tenn., raw MSW is sorted and preprocessed in much the same way as other MSW systems, utilizing magnets, eddy currents and shredders. WastAway takes it another step. “A key part of our technology is our continuous flow 28 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MAY 2014

hydrolyzer. It’s similar to the autoclaves they use in Europe, but they tend to be batch units,” Brown says. The hydrolyzer heats the material to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit at pressures of 125 PSI. “The material comes out sterile, so all the pathogens and odors are destroyed in the heating process,” he explains. The refuse-derived fuel (RDF) also undergoes a physical change. What starts out as MSW shredded to an inch or less, is exposed to heat under pressure which is then quickly reduced. “It implodes the material and we end up with an intermediate material we call Fluff,” Brown says. The appropriately named and trademarked Fluff looks like cellulose insulation and is easy to pelletize, he adds. “We’re taking it down to extremely fine and consistent par-

PELLET¦ ticle sizes so we can run it through a conventional pellet mill to make high quality pellets.” The Btu content is between 8,500 and 9,000 Btu per pound and moisture content is below 10 percent. The hydrolyzing process creates hygroscopic pellets that will not absorb atmospheric moisture, although they can’t sit in water and do need to be protected from rain. The WastAway process is not new. “We’ve been processing Fluff here in Tennessee for 10 years and we have a plant on the island of Aruba,” Brown says. “We’ve taken in waste from literally all over the world for test runs. What all of that testing has shown is that, regardless of where the waste comes from, Fluff is extremely consistent in Btu content and moisture content. Any concerns about heavy metals or bad actors are all extremely similar, regardless of where the household garbage is collected.” While metals, glass and stones are removed, plastics are generally left in the fuel, at least until market prices make plastic recycling economical. With the main concern being the chlorine content of RDF, WastAway’s research has shown the biggest source of chlorine in RDF fuels is not plastics, he adds, but rather food waste. “Common table salt contributes more than the PVCs do.” WastAway-engineered pellets are lower in chlorine content than other RDF-sourced fuels, although higher than wood or coal and the ash content is typically 10 percent, lower than most RDF and comparable to most coals. CanmetEnergy, the research arm of National Resources Canada, has taken a close look at the pellets’ potential for displacing coal in a report titled, “Co-firing process engineered fuel with high vale coal—combustion characterization and analysis.” The report finds that engineered RDF pellets could replace up to 10 percent of the thermal content at a coal-fired power plant, with no change in operations. CanmetEnergy estimates the greenhouse gas savings to be 2.75 tons CO2 equivalent per ton of coal displaced, mostly due to the avoided methane emissions from not landfilling the material.

Methane is 25 times worse for atmospheric warming than CO2, Brown explains. While WastAway has 10 years of experience with making Fluff, most of the production to date has been used by a horticulture supply company owned by parent company Bouldin Corp. as an amendment for potting soil. The company first developed its pellet product five years ago, just in time for the economic turndown that dried up project development. That has changed in the past 18 months, Brown says, along with greater interest in finding coal alternatives. In addition, new European and U.S. standards are facilitating supply contracts. “Users can now define the parameters of the fuel they’re purchasing,” he explains. For the past year, the company has been making pellets for large-scale test runs at power companies and cement plants and other facilities using large amounts of coal. One such project in Alberta is close to being finalized. A proposed $22 million project to implement WastAway’s system at the Drayton Valley municipal landfill site has already received a $10 million grant from Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. If the remaining details can be pinned down and the project given the final go-ahead, Brown expects the Drayton Valley project will be the third commercial installation of the WastAway process. In addition, there are a half a dozen domestic projects actively under development, as well as several in Europe. “If you’re looking at a facility processing 200 tons per day of waste, the all-in capital cost for buildings and equipment will be around $20 million,” Brown says. While tipping fees and coal prices vary dramatically across regions, “In the majority of the U.S. and majority of international markets, we can compete favorably and give either the community or the third party an economic return on investment.”

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ThermalNews Study finds big potential in UK biomass A study has determined the U.K. could generate up to 44 Land utilization under energy-focused scenario percent of its energy needs from domestic biomass sources by 2015 2020 2030 2050 2050. The analysis explores four possible future scenarios and Other land 27.80% 27.40% 28.10% 23.50% forecasts the biomass resource availability and bioenergy potenLand dedicated for biomass 3.90% 9.30% 15.10% 28.60% tial associated with each. and energy crops A food-focused scenario prioritizes U.S. food security and Built-up land area 10.40% 10.80% 11.70% 13.20% productivity, while an economic-focus scenario assumes future Agricultural land 48.60% 44.00% 37.40% 28.30% emphasis on economic development and resource competition. Forestry and woodland 9.40% 8.50% 7.70% 6.40% A conservation-focused scenario prioritizes the conservation SOURCE: "SECURING A BIOENERGY FUTURE WITHOUT IMPORTS" of land, biodiversity and resources. Finally, an energy-focused An energy-focused scenario, in which the U.K. prioritized the scenario assumes an emphasis on the development of the production of thermal energy from biomass, was found to provide bioenergy sector and the mobilization of biomass resources to meet energy targets. Modeling of the scenarios found that between 19 and the highest energy generation for the resources available. The study was completed by scientists from the Tyndall Centre 44 percent of the U.K.’s primary energy needs could be met with for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester. domestic biomass.

Manitoba helps agribusinesses, processors transition to biomass heat Manitoba has awarded $444,000 in grants to 20 farms and agribusinesses to help ease the financial burdens associated with complying with the province’s petroleum coke and coal heating ban that went into effect at the beginning of the year. The funds are provided through the Manitoba Biomass Energy Support Program, which was introduced last year. Successful projects can receive up to half the

cost or capital or infrastructure upgrades, to a maximum of $50,000. Grants awarded to 16 farms will aid in the conversion from coal to renewable biomass energy. The remaining four grants went to processors who will use the funding to improve capacity and efficiency in their businesses. For example, Tri J Industries received more than $32,000 to purchase processing equipment that

Easily move materials of any size from powders to wooden pallets to heavy metal pieces– on a conveyance area with no moving parts.

will support its expansion into woodchip biomass. “The demand for woodchip biomass is growing and this grant will help our company grow along with it,” said John Janzen, a partner in Tri J Industries. “We have always sold firewood in our business, but now we will also be able to produce woodchips to sell to the local market and diversify our company.”

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EPA Wood Stove Regulations: Opportunity or Death Knell? BY JOHN ACKERLY

Many in the wood stove industry say that the U.S. EPA is about to put them out of business. The EPA is proposing New Source Performance Standards (set to be phased in over five to eight years) that most existing stoves cannot pass. Can innovation save the industry? Or will industry have to cope with what it can win in the courts or in Congress? This could have been a low-profile rulemaking. One year ago, the EPA and industry seemed headed for agreement on the future emission standards. State regulators and nonprofits caught wind of what appeared to be a cozy relationship between the EPA and industry, and pressured the EPA to rewrite the proposed regulations and make them stricter. Now, the EPA and industry are bracing for a showdown, and most industry players privately say this is headed for court. But it may be far harder for industry to win anything significant in court than most players realize, as the EPA has been carefully preparing for this outcome. A key industry talking point is that the regulations will be bad for consumers because they will raise the prices of new stoves, making them unaffordable and leading more people to hang on to their old, uncertified stoves instead of upgrading. We disagree, and think that by the time the final regulations emerge from the EPA, they will be not only be achievable and affordable for industry, but very good for consumers as well. Here are the key ways that new regulations will help industry and consumers: 1. The efficiency of many types of appliances will go up, enabling households to save even more money by heating with wood or pellets. This will especially be true with hydronic heaters and furnaces where we could see efficiencies double. Many pellet stoves, including some very popular models, could also see an efficiency jump of 5 to 20 percent, leading to significant fuel savings that will outweigh a small increase in purchase price. 2. Reduced smoke from boilers, furnaces and stoves is great for the health of consumers and their neighbors. And, reduced smoke from new equipment will give biomass boilers and stoves a badly needed PR boost that will help the entire industry. 3. Innovation can help reinvigorate an industry that has not had to become much cleaner or more efficient for decades. The last NSPS in 1988 and Washington state’s

stricter standard brought exciting periods of innovation that kept American stoves competitive here and abroad, and this NSPS can to do the same. 4. The proposed regulations endorse the PFI pellet certification standard that will give customers assurances of consistent quality. This will lead to better customer satisfaction with pellet stoves, furnaces and boilers and make emissions profile from lab testing closer to real world performance. 5. Cleaner and more efficient stoves, furnaces and boilers will give policymakers and regulators more confidence in the technology and make it more likely that they will be included in incentive programs at the state and federal level. We think these benefits are collectively vital for the future of wood and pellet heating in this country. The new proposed regulations may also lead to greater enthusiasm for change-out programs, because regulators will have more confidence in the cleaner technology that can replace the old stoves. Otherwise, regulators may design more and more change-out programs that focus on wood-to-gas appliances, or just start banning new installs of wood stoves, as some jurisdictions are starting to do. Some stove and indoor boiler companies welcome the proposed regulations, and are confident their units can or already meet the strictest standards proposed the EPA. Many more stoves will be able to meet the proposed five- or eight-year standards with small design changes. The proposed regulations issued by the EPA still need work. There are areas where we think the proposal could be improved (for example, we disagree with EPA’s proposal to eliminate the consumer information hang-tag, and have some concerns about the new cordwood testing methods proposed), but we are impressed with how quickly the EPA staff is responding to queries and clearing up many of these detailed issues during the public comment period. They are trying to get it right, and we think that they are on the right track. So next time you hear doom and gloom about the future of wood and pellet heating in America, think about the innovation that can drive this industry forward and keep our stoves among the best and cleanest in the world. Author: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat 301-841-7755



EMBRACING BIOMASS: Honeywell’s Hopewell, Va., chemical plant and the Metrolina greenhouse in Huntersville, N.C. are utilizing biomass as a replacement for and supplement to fossil fuels.



Atypical Thermal Applications A massive chemical plant and the largest single-story greenhouse in the U.S. are unconventional users of biomass heat. BY ANNA SIMET




aste wood, municipal solid waste, landfill gas and other biomass sources are commonly used by utilities, industrial plants and public institutions such as schools and hospitals to generate power and heat, whether used onsite or plugged into the grid. The appeal of biomass as a fuel to meet thermal loads isn’t limited to traditional users, however. From brick kilns to blacksmith studios to paint plants, it is being realized by a unique mix of consumers. For the Metrolina greenhouse in Huntersville, N.C., and Honeywell’s Hopewell, Va. chemical plant, the pieces fell perfectly into place when considering biomass as a fossil fuel replacement. For Metrolina, heating the 162-acre greenhouse is a challenge, but biomass has helped ease the burden. Now finishing up its third biomass heating season—and also the harshest winter since the system’s installation—Jeff Woolsey, Metrolina boiler and systems engineer, says that the greenhouse will have used

UNLOADING PIT: This is where tractor-trailer loads of wood chips are unloaded and delivered to the wood boilers, or into inventory for later use. PHOTO: METROLINA

PACKING HEAT: The backside of the biomass boiler room meets two of Metrolina’s five insulated hot water storage tanks. PHOTO: METROLINA

THERMAL¦ 85 to 90 percent biomass, though during milder winters, that number has reached 95 percent. “With the artic blasts this year, it’s gotten to be a little more challenging,” Woolsey says. “The interesting thing about greenhouses is that the coldest part of the year is when we tend to be emptiest in terms of product, because we’re gearing up for spring. Toward the end of winter and beginning of spring we’re jammed full—right now (mid-March) we’re at 100 percent.” The weather, and how full the greenhouse is with product, significantly influences the facility’s heat load, according to Woolsey. Temperature throughout the greenhouse varies widely, with the warmest areas—about 72 degrees Fahrenheit—being present where plugs or baby plants are located, and the coolest where the finished crops are located, with an overall average temperature of about 65 degrees. So how are different temperatures in different regions of the greenhouse accomplished? In the main blocks of the greenhouse are four Argus climate control computers that contain customized climate models for each zone. “We have four weather stations, and the computer looks at those, outdoor temperature, light, wind and other things, and comes up with a hot water target for each zone. “We’re able to hit our targets right on the money,” Woolsey says. Behind the heating magic are four 8-MW Vyncke boilers, each rated at 29.5 MMBtu per hour. The boilers replaced 12 natural gas boilers that are still in place and operable, but used only as supplemental or back-up heat. “We try to never use them, but sometimes we’re forced to,” Woolsey says. What makes Metrolina’s current heating system so ideally suited to its needs is, from Woolsey’s perspective, its current storage set up, which includes 3 million gallons of hot water storage via five tanks of various sizes. “It allows us to store about 415 MW of heat,” Woolsey says. “It’s ideal for us because on a summer day, greenhouses typically use zero heat. It could be 20 degrees outside, but we’re not going to use any heat if there’s sun—a greenhouse

is a giant solar collector. We use sunlight hours as recharging periods.” Interestingly, the 32 MW of capacity the four boilers supply is not nearly enough heat for the greenhouse, if supplied in real time. “So having anywhere from eight to 12 hours of daylight, we can run those boilers at full output, and just store the heat away inside of pipes and tanks,” Woolsey explains. “At night, we’re able to draw on the full 32 MW of boilers, plus storage—it’s like a giant battery. If we didn’t have storage, we’d never make it through the night.

We would have to have twice as many boilers.” In order to accommodate the biomass system when it was installed three years ago, a new building was constructed on the side of the property to house the boilers, ash conveyors and multicyclone air filters. A nearby storage house can hold several hundred trailer loads of fuel, which is delivered every weekday, multiple times per day, and sometimes on weekends. “At max, we burn up to 12 tractor tailor loads per day,” Woolsey says, adding that fuel is sourced

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HEAT FEAT: Metrolina's 162-acre greenhouse requires a significant amount of heat to keep its plant products healthy. PHOTO: METROLINA

from four main vendors and is mostly the result of land clearing being done for other purposes, and recycled wood pallets. Once delivered on site, there are two ways the fuel may get to the boilers, Woolsey explains. The first is a tractor trailer backing up to moving floors and dumping the fuel, which is delivered to the boilers once it is screened. Once the floors that feed fuel to the boilers are full, remaining fuel is put into storage. “When that’s needed we use a front-end loader, and then it’s lifted up to the conveyor and sent into the boilers.” On challenges with using biomass for heat, Woolsey says there’s more maintenance involved. “I would say any solid fuel requires more maintenance because of the conveyors, screens and moving floors; it’s just a lot more sophisticated in terms of mechanical structures,” Woolsey says. “For our gas boilers, the factory comes over every couple years to tune them up, and they don’t require much maintenance. We knew going in we’d be spending more on electrical energy and maintenance man hours, but because of the abundance of recycled wood and wood fuels, we pay about half of the price for our biomass fuel per dekatherm than we paid for gas, even at historic lows. That far offsets any extra maintenance costs.” A greenhouse heating situation is unique in many ways, Woolsey adds. “Our load is highly variable, and doesn’t apply to most users. But I can tell you that the management here is extremely satisfied and happy—the whole system has performed above and beyond their expectations.” While Honeywell’s massive caprolactum plant in Hopewell, Va., requires a much more consistent heat load than Metrolina, it, too, is an unconventional user of biomass, in the form of landfill gas.

Long-Distance Heat Honeywell’s landfill gas-to-heat system is nothing short of extraordinary. The landfill gas that reaches the Hopewell plant 36 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MAY 2014

THERMAL¦ as its final destination travels through 22 miles of 18-inch pipeline to reach the facility, which is the largest producer of caprolactum, a precursor to nylon. The system has been in place for about 10 years and is currently receiving 3,000 to 4,000 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm) of landfill gas, but it has plenty of room to grow, according to plant manager Kevin Keller, as the Waverly, Va., landfill is still young relative to the lifespan of a typical landfill. When the landfill was built, it was intended to become one of the largest landfills on the East Coast, and would emit a very large volume of gas over its 50-year lifespan. “In 2001, the company that was hired to manage the gas approached Honeywell at the Hopewell site, recognizing that the site was a relatively large consumer of natural gas and that there’d be room for that plant to accommodate the volumes of landfill gas produced,” Keller says. “A deal was struck in 2002, that’s when construction of the pipeline started.” Pipeline ownership is transferred to Honeywell once it reaches the Hopewell plant’s property. Once the pipeline enters the plant’s fence line, it emerges above ground, where the gas is analyzed for oxygen content. “Oxygen is important, because we want to assure it doesn’t reach a level that is dangerous,” Keller explains. The gas continues down an above-ground pipeline right to the boiler, where it is combusted to generate steam and represents about 20 to 30 percent of the boiler’s capacity. During construction of the lengthy pipeline, multiple municipalities had to be consulted with, as well as the Virginia Department of Transportation, as much of the pipeline runs through its right of way. Additionally, private property was purchased to facilitate installing the pipeline in a section outside of the right of way, Keller says. Due to unusually rainy weather, it took longer than anticipated to get the pipeline completed—about two years—with the first delivery of landfill gas occurring in early 2004. The pipeline requires little maintenance as it is made of 18-inch-thick, high-

density polyethylene, The Virginia State Corporation Commission in Virginia regulates and monitors the pipeline very similar to how it does utility gas pipelines, Keller says. Compressors at the landfill require the most maintenance, in order to ensure reliable flow of landfill gas to the Hopewell plant. The system onsite is designed to take up to 5,000 scfm, so it hasn’t reached capacity yet. But since the intent is to consume whatever quantity of landfill gas is available, if that number ever exceeds what

the plant can consume, an expansion may be considered. That time, however, is many years away, Keller adds. “Initial flows, back in 2004, were around half of what they are today. It’s a linear growth curve, and it grows 200 scfm each year. It’s a function of how the landfill management company is expanding the landfill, so it’s their schedule that dictates the future availability.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4961


BiogasNews Organics-to-energy plant opens in Florida Harvest Power Inc.’s 5.4-MW combined-heat-and-power facility is now online in Bay Lakes, Fla. The organics-to-energy facility will process more than 120,000 tons of food scraps each year when running at full capacity. The Central Florida Energy Garden facility COMING ONLINE: Harvest Power Inc.’s plant near Walt is located within the Disney World Resort is now operational. Reedy Creek improvement District, the immediate governing jurisdiction for the to kick-start the digestion process beland of the Walt Disney World Resort. fore they are pumped into the chamber The resort has become the first Energy where digestion and biogas production Garden customer. Many restaurants, occur. hotels and food processors throughout Harvest Power currently manages the region are expected to send food more than 2 million tons of organic scraps to the digester as well. material through nearly 40 operating The plant uses low-solids anaerobic sites in North America, generating neardigestion. Input materials are blended, ly 65,000 MWh of energy per year. mixed with heated water and inoculum

AD facility in development at Massachusetts landfill Construction has begun on the CRMC Dartmouth Bioenergy facility in Dartmouth, Mass. Located at the Crapo Hill Landfill, the anaerobic digestion (AD) facility is being developed by CommonWealth Resource Management Corp. in cooperation with the Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District, which owns the landfill. Once complete, the bioenergy facility will produce biogas for use as a supplemental fuel by an existing 3.3-MW landfill gas-fired electric power generating facility at the landfill that is owned and operated by a CRMC subsidiary. In addition to producing biogas, operation of the AD facility at the landfill is expected to allow the district to adapt to changes in the state’s solid waste management regulations regarding food wastes and other organics. An impending ban on the disposal of such materials generated by commercial sources could have a long-term effect on the district’s landfilling operations and its position in the regional solid waste marketplace.





RNG: The Next Renewable Vehicle Fuel BY STEPHANIE THORSON

Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a little-known fuel that has enormous potential to economically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation, a sector that has high emissions. In the same way that ethanol is blended with gasoline and biodiesel is blended with diesel fuel, RNG can be blended with natural gas for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles or liquified natural gas (LNG) vehicles. The Biogas Association is working to develop RNG as a vehicle fuel to cost-effectively improve the environmental performance of the transportation sector. The prices of traditional vehicle fuels, gasoline and diesel are at historic highs and the price of natural gas is near its historic low. As a result, fleet managers are increasingly exploring the option to switch to natural gas as a vehicle fuel. In fact, CNG vehicles can run on 100 percent RNG, and there are millions of hours of driving experience in Europe with this fuel. In Europe, RNG is increasingly being used as a transportation fuel. The drivers for this are regulation and taxes on waste disposal, increasing need for renewable fuel sources, the European Commission’s Biofuels Directive, measures to improve local air quality, and the need for clean transportation fuels in urban areas. The Canadian Gas Association recently released its "Smart Energy Future: RNG Roadmap," which includes a focus on developing RNG as a vehicle fuel. The association is working with stakeholders to determine a path forward to help bring this opportunity to the marketplace. The environmental benefits of displacing diesel or gasoline with RNG are significant. While combustion of RNG produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, the carbon comes from plant matter that fixed this carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide. It has the added benefit of converting decaying matter that would normally release methane, a potent GHG, into usable energy. The air quality benefits are also extensive, as particulate matter

levels decrease substantially when moving from diesel to CNG. Another resource for developing RNG as a vehicle fuel was published by the Biogas Association in 2013. The "Farm to Fuel Developers’ Guide" is available online for free download on the Biogas Association website. The Biogas Association is now working on an RNGas-vehicle-fuel project to assist developers in Ontario and help create a market for RNG. The project outlines business and sustainability cases for switching to RNG. The price of RNG is about the same as gasoline and diesel at about $1.20 per liter, compared to CNG at 60 cents per liter, including the cost of the fueling infrastructure. Given the environmental advantages, this is a major win for organizations that make the switch. When a blended fuel is considered, the economic and environmental cases are strong, and can be quantified and reported to stakeholders, helping organizations meet important sustainability targets. There are developing projects in Ontario that will produce RNG as a vehicle fuel, some underway and some being considered. The Biogas Association is working to help those developers, and market the fuel to municipalities and other sustainability leaders that value the benefits RNG can bring. Surrey, British Columbia, is a recognized leader in reducing emissions from waste generated within the municipality, and has created a closed-loop waste solution. In 2014, Surrey will generate RNG at its anaerobic digestion facility and use it to fuel waste trucks picking up the organic waste. Through the RNG-as-a-vehicle-fuel project, the Biogas Association plans to see more projects like Surrey’s developed in the coming years. Author: Stephanie Thorson Associate, Canadian Biogas Association



Power or Fuel: Making the Choice Growing interest and new incentives have some biogas producers eyeing renewable compressed natural gas. BY CHRIS HANSON



BIOGAS¦ hen biogas project developers approach a new project, perhaps the biggest question on their agenda is, “What will we do with the biogas?” The answer isn’t always obvious. A developer may produce power for sale to the grid, but there is increasing appeal in compressed natural gas (CNG) to offset fuel costs. In order to determine the best choice for a project, multitudes of market data and incentives should be navigated. Wisconsin-based BioCNG LLC is one developer armed with experience in converting both landfill and digester gas into CNG. To produce it, raw biogas is sent through BioCNG’s patent-pending technology to remove hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, siloxanes and carbon dioxide. After leaving the BioCNG skid, the clean and concentrated biomethane can be used within a CNG dispensing system for onsite fueling. One of the company’s projects, the Sacramento Biodigester, was commissioned last May and provides fuel to Atlas Disposal refuse trucks. The facility processes 25 to 100 tons of food waste per day to produce biogas, which BioCNG converts to 500 to 1,500 gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) of CNG vehicle fuel. BioCNG’s St. Landry Parish, La., facility uses 50 standard cubic feet of landfill gas each minute to produce 250 GGE per day for 15 sheriff and public works vehicles. When developers upgrade their biogas to CNG, they can make fuel to power their facility’s vehicle fleet, either through engine conversion or purchasing new models. “There are a lot of fleet managers currently converting their fleets to CNG,” says Matt Davies, president of BioCNG. “It is a much easier decision to turn their biogas into CNG if they already have CNG vehicles in the fleet. They are already familiar with the technology, and fleet managers are very pleased with the performance of the CNG vehicles so that ends up being an influencer to convert the biogas to CNG versus electricity generation.” State and national initiatives have been driving interest in biogas conversion technology. Some states, such as California, provide grant funding to push the economic drive behind the biogas market. Renewable CNG is generally half the price of gas and diesel, and in some areas, costs less than other types of CNG available at a fueling station. As a fuel, renewable CNG qualifies for D5 advanced biofuel renewable identification numbers (RINs) and meets the Society of Automotive Engineers J1616 fuel specifications, Davies explains. As electric power purchase contracts expire, producers understand they will be paid less for their electricity from utilities, due to market factors or regulations. Vehicle fuel is a path to maximize the value of biogas resources. BioCNG receives inquiries from biogas sites, such as dairy operations, asking about the option to convert to CNG production, Davies says. Other larger agricultural sites might even have the option to use both the biogas to generate electricity and use the excess gas towards CNG production to become energy neutral.


CLEAN COPS: BioCNG’s St. Landry Parish project in Louisiana converts landfill gas to CNG to fuel 15 sheriff and public works vehicles. PHOTO: BIOCNG

¦BIOGAS Building CNG Infrastructure As of March, Illinois-based ampCNG witnessed the one year anniversary of the grand opening of its Chicago to Orlando compressed natural gas corridor. At the northern tail of the corridor in Indiana, the Fair Oaks CNG station uses renewable fuel produced using the biogas from 11,000 cattle at the Fair Oaks dairy farm anaerobic digester. The biogas is put through a Totara biogas upgrading system made by Greenlane Biogas, where it takes the biogas from 55 to 60 percent methane concentration to a 98 to 99 percent methane concentration. The produced gas is then piped 2.5 miles to the CNG station to be used either in a CNG powered vehicle or inserted into the natural gas pipeline, explains Mark Maloney, director of business development at ampCNG. The price of electricity is one of the factors a digester project needs to weigh when deciding what to do with the biogas. Relatively inexpensive electricity prices could lead to smaller returns; whereas, if there is a lack of opportunities for CNG fuel, the producer might not


be able to move it. “The farm was lucky, that they have a large fleet there that can consume that fuel 24/7,” Maloney says. “They were in a unique position. Some digesters can clean it up to pipeline quality and sell it to a CNG station down the road or the next state over. It really just depends on the particulars around the project at the time.” In the Fair Oaks farm case, the farm would have lost money combusting the gas into electricity since the price of power was so low, Maloney explains. “For years prior to the project, they were just flaring the gas,” he says. “Then larger trucks with natural gas engines came to the market, it gave them the opportunity to look at cleaning the gas up to supply their own fleet with fuel.” Another reason for biogas producers to opt for CNG production over electricity generation could be to harness the full value of the fuel. When combusting biogas to sell electricity to the grid, the producer takes a hit on efficiency, depending on the generator. “With CNG, the producer is cleaning up the gas and getting paid

for 100 percent of the energy,” Maloney explains. In that instance, the consumer of that gas is at the whim of engine efficiency as the fuel converts into mechanical power, he adds. As of March, renewable identification numbers for CNG are currently worth more than renewable electricity certificates (RECs) in Indiana, Maloney says. The RECs are the attribute of 1 MWh of electricity production to meet renewable portfolio standards; whereas the renewable identification numbers (RINs) are equivalent to 1 ethanol gallon of fuel to meet the renewable fuel standard (RFS). “In some cases the RINs are worth more, others the RECs are worth more.”

Biogas’ Role in Gateway to the West Just over 10 miles from Missouri’s St. Louis Arch, Waste Management is constructing its third landfill gas-to-natural gas facility after breaking ground near the Milam Landfill in Fairmont City, Ill., last fall. The facility is projected to process roughly 3,500 standard cubic feet per minute of landfill gas and will inject the cleaned-up gas into Ameren Illinois’s pipeline to fuel CNG powered truck fleets. Waste Management has roughly 27 years of experience using landfill gas to produce electricity. It is carefully trekking into the CNG industry, as well, providing landfill gas to eight or nine third-party facilities, which clean it to pipeline quality. “We are new to the CNG business,” says Paul Pabor, vice president of renewable energy for Waste Management. “We are building our new one in Illinois, which will convert landfill gas to pipeline-quality natural gas. We will inject it in the pipeline and contractually use it in our CNG fueling stations to fuel our trucks.” Electricity generation is popular among biogas project developers for multiple reasons. The power technology has more than 30 years of precedence, the fuel requires relatively little gas cleanup, and engine manufacturers are making engines that run on raw biogas, says Pabor. Most of the incentives available are geared more toward electricity generation, he adds. “Many of the incentives for using landfill gas or biogas have been directed toward electricity generation, and that includes federal tax credits and state renewable portfolio standards that require utilities to have a certain percentage of renewable energy,” Pabor explains. “A


WASTE MANAGEMENT: A maintenance worker checks equipment at a landfill gas to electricity plant in Pennsylvania. PHOTO: WASTE MANAGEMENT INC.

lot of these incentives are directed that way, and, for a period of time, electricity prices were fairly high.” Without the incentives, the cost of converting the raw biogas to pipeline-quality natural gas would nearly match the selling price of natural gas, which would make the cleanup technology unattractive to project developers and investors, explains Pabor. “Now there are incentives for using renewable natural gas in your CNG vehicles. There’s the RFS that requires refineries to buy these renewable fuel credits from people who are producing renewable fuel. So we now, really for the first time, have an incentive for using landfill gas or biomethane as vehicle fuel because you can add that renewable fuel credit to the revenue.” The CNG market could possibly see both challenges and opportunities in the upcoming years, depending on legislation and market demand from the Northeast. Conversion from electricity generation to CNG might be driven by the renewable fuel credit standards, Pabor says. “I think the expectation is, in some parts of the country, natural gas has seen some recent highs. I think the expectation for the next few years is not going to increase off its averages dramatically and so you do need the incentives for CNG. I think being able to predict what the renewable fuel credits will be within the next few years will draw someone into a CNG project.” There are lots of opportunities with the organics diversion legislation coming out in states within the next five to 10 years, Davies adds. “Many states are going to zero-organics in landfills, which has been ramping up digester demand and giving us a lot of opportunity with municipalities and others in the private sector.” Author: Chris Hanson Staff Writer, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4970

Call Toll Free: 1.800.STOKER4 MAY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 43

AdvancedBiofuelNews Jan. 27, 2011 – GE Capital, NRG Energy, ConocoPhillips joint venture invests in Cool Planet

Sept. 17, 2013 – Completes second close of “D round” equity raise

Jan. 11, 2012 – Fleet tests of Cool Planet gasoline kick off in California

Dec. 11, 2011 – BP joins GE, Google Ventures, ConocoPhillips, NRG Energy and others in investing in Cool Planet

Aug. 23, 2013 – Announces location of first commercial project

Feb. 26, 2014 – Construction commences on first commercial project

Oct. 2, 2013 – Agreement signed with Acritaz Greentech to build plants in Malaysia

Cool Planet breaks ground on Project Genesis commercial-scale plant Cool Planet Energy Systems has broken ground on its first commercial facility. The project, known as Project Genesis, is located in Alexandria, La. and will take in wood residue as feedstock. The plant is designed to produce 10 MMgy of high-octane renewable gasoline blendstocks. The plant will also produce biochar. The company has noted its technology has the capability to be carbon negative. Biochar produced via the process sequesters carbon. When used as a soil amendment, trials have shown the Cool

Terra biochar product results in yield improvement of more than 50 percent with significant reductions in fertilizer and water use. Permits have been received to begin earthwork and grading on the project, with construction expected to follow immediately. The plant will be located at the Port of Alexandria on the Red River Waterway. The site was chosen because of its biomass availability, interstate and rail access, and direct barge access to refineries.

Business consortium targets advanced biofuel production Fortum, UPM and Valmet have partnered to develop a new technology to produce lignocellulosic fuels. The companies plan to develop and commercialize a catalytic pyrolysis technology for upgrading bio-oil. The five year project, dubbed LignoCat, (lignocellulosic fuels by catalytic pyrolysis), is a continuation of the consortium’s earlier bio-oil project with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, which focused on commercializing integrated pyrolysis technology for production of bio-oil for replacement of heating oil in industrial use.

In the new project, the consortium aims to develop novel integrated technology to produce high-value transportation biofuels, creating new business for the consortium companies. "Our aim is to become a significant advanced biofuel producer. In accordance with our strategy, we will start production in Lappeenranta with crude tall oil residue as a raw material, and simultaneously, we are looking for ways of producing biofuels out of solid wood biomass. Catalytic pyrolysis is one of the promising options we are looking into," said Petri Kukkonen, vice president of UPM Biofuels.


It’s Not Over Until It’s Over BY MICHAEL MCADAMS

As I sit down to write this column at the end of the first quarter, I am thinking about the success the biofuels industry already had this year, and the important issues we still must tend to. We were finally able to celebrate congressional passage of a five-year Farm Bill with a significant energy title backed up by mandatory funding of $881 million dollars over five years. The Farm Bill included authorizations and funding of programs such as the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and Rural Energy for America Program. New flexibility has been given to the USDA to operate the programs, and new opportunities have been created in the Biorefinery Assistance Program for advanced biofuels companies interested in leveraging their technologies for chemicals production. Additionally, Congress reached a year-long deal on federal spending that provided substantial funding to the U.S. DOE’s Bioenergy Technology Office, and removed one of the last obstacles for the Defense Production Act’s Advanced Biofuels Production Project, allowing continued funding for deployment of drop-in fuels. On the to-do list, our industry has several major issues outstanding. First is addressing the renewable fuel standard and the 2014 renewable volume obligations (RVO). The Advanced Biofuels Association continues to work every angle to encourage the administration to move the requirement for advanced biofuels as close as possible to the statutory 2014 mandate of 3.75 billion gallons. In addition, we have argued that the RVO numbers for the biomass-based diesel pool also should reflect the excellent production of 2013, approximately 1.7 billion gallons. We suggested to the U.S. EPA that it would be helpful for them to complete pending rulemakings to approve new feedstock and fuel pathways under the Pathways II Rule before finalizing the RVO. This would bring new pathways for fuels such as butanol and biogas to market, making more gallons of compliant renewable identification numbers (RINs) available. Completing the Pathways II Rule before the RVO is important to allow EPA to correctly assess the expected production of qualified advanced biofuels. To do this in reverse may have the adverse effect of proposing a number that is too low. This would unduly reduce

the value of the RIN program for those companies bringing new advanced and cellulosic gallons to the market. ABFA also continues to support congressional efforts to sustain tax credits for biofuels. We believe in a "do-no-harm" approach and support proposals that, at a minimum, would retroactively extend the full suite of credits to assist in the development of second-generation and advanced biofuels. In a more perfect world, Congress would see the benefit of not only reinstituting these provisions for 2014, but also for 2015, as overall tax reform is not likely until after the next presidential election. However, achieving this will not be easy as Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.,of the House Ways and Means Committee, specifically allowed all of these provisions to lapse in his recently released tax reform draft. He has now put down a marker in the House that opposes biofuels credits and demonstrates that the industry will have to rely heavily on the U.S. Senate to make the case to restore these provisions. In addition to advocating for these major issues, we continue to work with the EPA to see other pathways approved and to finalize the Quality Assurance Program. These efforts are technical in nature, but the impact they have in delaying new technologies from coming on line is significant. Recently, the EPA acknowledged that issues surrounding the pathways process must be dealt with, and suggested that over the next six months they would be reviewing and streamlining their process. As an industry, we should constructively work with the EPA to see that this becomes a reality as expeditiously as possible. In conclusion, we are off to a good start with the Farm Bill and federal funding support for the U.S. DOE and defense biofuels initiative, but we need to double down our efforts in a hard, smart and tenacious way with the administration, EPA, and Congress, to see this year end with a stronger advanced and cellulosic biofuels industry. Author: Michael McAdams President, Advanced Biofuels Association


Q&A Enerkem’s Family Affair Vincent Chornet’s entrepreneurial appetite, combined with his father’s vision of a technology, may change the trajectories of the waste and biofuels industries forever. Enerkem President and CEO Vincent Chornet and his team have driven Enerkem along a commercialization pathway for the past 10 years. As Enerkem’s first commercial-scale deployment in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, enters its commissioning phase, its technology will have its commercial debut to deliver on its promise. Once fully commissioned and operational, Enerkem’s Edmonton facility will simultaneously jumpstart a new era in two industries. As the first gallons of production emerge from the plant, and throughput races toward nameplate targets, both the waste management and advanced biofuels industries hold their collective breaths. The implications of a successful commissioning for both of these massive industries are hard to overstate, but Chornet remains grounded and committed to the company’s measured and pragmatic commercialization approach. Your grandfather utilized the wood waste from his sawmill in Spain in the 1930s to produce electricity. What do you know about the process he utilized, and how much of an impact did that have on your father’s development of the Enerkem process? Enerkem’s breakthrough technology and its commercial development are the ultimate results of a desire to create energy and high-value products from otherwise wasted materials. My father, Dr. Esteban Chornet, devoted his entire academic career to this quest of transforming biomass and waste into energy. Together, we saw the opportunity to develop and bring his technology to the market, and that we could unlock the value of waste, reduce landfilling and produce green energy and green chemicals. Your background is in startups and entrepreneurialism. Your father, Enerkem’s chief technology officer, is a man of science. How do these 46 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | MAY 2014

different backgrounds impact the way each of you approach work at Enerkem? Our backgrounds are complementary and allowed us to combine both the scientific and business approach. As a world-renowned scientist, my father was able to lead the research and innovation, with the engineering teams who developed the company’s proprietary technology. As an entrepreneur with a financial and commercial background, I’ve been driving the growth of the company through each of its development phases, with a rigorous stage-gating approach that allowed us to get to the commercial phase, while attracting high-quality investors and partners that felt comfortable with our prudent approach. Enerkem has attracted a broad portfolio of institutional investors, ranging from waste companies to oil companies. What is it about Enerkem’s value proposition that has generated this strong investor participation? We have a strong business model, a game-changing technology and market potential that is huge. The use of municipal solid waste (MSW) to produce biofuels is uncommon, and Enerkem is the only one today building a commercial advanced biofuels facility that focuses on the use of nonrecyclable MSW. We already produce biomethanol and ethanol from mixed urban wastes at our demonstration facility, and with the Edmonton facility, our technology is now entering the commercial stage, after extensive and rigorous piloting and testing. Our manufacturing approach is also based on a plant model that is modular, compact and standardized, for efficient equipment manufacturing. MSW has attracted a fair number of technology developers but commercial-scale production remains on the horizon. From a conversion standpoint, what makes this feedstock so attractive, yet challenging? Enerkem is the first company to have developed a technology that can break down waste materials that are chemically and structurally dissimilar—such as MSW— and convert them into a pure, stable and PHOTO: ALLISON CORDNER PHOTOGRAPHY

Vincent Chornet

Q&A ¦


homogeneous syngas, which we then turn into biofuels and chemicals. We have developed and validated our technology over a period of 13 years, using MSW from numerous municipalities and a broad variety of other feedstocks, such as wood and agricultural residues. Given the breakthrough character of this technology in how we handle waste and produce our fuels and chemicals, I would say that many have tried, but few have had the patience to follow a stepwise approach like we did. From Enerkem’s four-step process–– feedstock preparation, gasification, syngas cleaning/conditioning, and catalytic synthesis––which has proven most challenging, from a development and commercialization perspective? Handling the solid waste materials has probably been the most challenging part. We did put a lot of work and investment into optimizing the flow of our feedstock feeding system. I’m quite proud of the solutions developed by the team and successfully implemented at our industrial demonstration facility in Westbury. Frankly, I don’t think anyone in the industry has ever taken the route that we did to solve these issues. Enerkem’s first commercial-scale facility is under construction in Edmonton, Alberta. How was Edmonton selected as the site? We were actually selected by the city of Edmonton. At the time, the landfill was reaching capacity, and they needed to find a solution. They evaluated 100 technologies from around the world with an objective to increase the diversion rate of their residential waste stream from 60 to 90 percent, while being complementary to their current recycling and composting initiatives. Enerkem’s technology was selected as a result of this global independent evaluation. How far along is construction of the facility? As a company, we achieved a major milestone when we began the commissioning

of our first full-scale commercial facility in Edmonton. We are following a rigorous commissioning plan, and it is advancing well, meaning that we will soon be producing biomethanol in Edmonton. This is a worldclass facility that could change the global waste industry, and we are applying the very same rigor here that enabled us to grow and be where we are today. Enerkem will begin producing the chemical intermediate methanol first, and then add an ethanol module to the facility. What is driving this strategy? This is how our process works: we produce methanol first and we then turn it into ethanol or other renewable chemicals. We began producing ethanol from waste at our demonstration facility in Westbury back in 2012. Our conversion process is complete and ready to be deployed at full scale. Maximizing methanol production in Edmonton is a strategy that will enable us to generate revenues, while we build the ethanol production module and install it at site, in particular in a context where methanol prices in North America have recently been high. In just over 10 years, Enerkem has advanced its technology from pilot-scale production to the construction of a commercial-scale facility. Where do you hope to find Enerkem 10 years from now? Enerkem is a fast-growing company, and there is a lot of interest in what we do. We want to be a world-scale biofuels and biochemicals producer in seven years. To me, our facility in Edmonton also marks our entry into a completely different market dynamic, and I believe that this plant will have considerable repercussions, not only on the waste management sector, but on liquid transportation fuel and green chemical production as well. For now, we are developing projects in North America, and we are evaluating potential projects in the Middle East and China. The issues addressed by our technology exist anywhere around the world. MAY 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 47

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