INSIDE: HOW WILL THE PROPOSED BOILER MACT RULE AFFECT YOU?
Big Iron Why Equipment Makers are Modifying Their Machines to Harvest Biomass Page 26
Plus: How Researchers are Helping Farmers Make the Switch to Energy Crops Page 46
Thereâ€™s More Than One Way to Densify Biomass Pages 34 and 40
May 2 – 5, 2011 America’s Center St. Louis, Missouri
2011 201 Exhibit Space & Sponsorships SSponso Sp p so so
The 2010 International Biomass Conference was w a runaway success. Nearly 1,700 attendees, 300 exhibitors, exhibito ors, 120 speakers and 60 sponsors made for the largest and most successful biomass s conference & expo on earth. We expect exhibit space and sponsorship opportunities to go fast again this year. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this cutting edge event. www.biomassconference.com 866-746-8385 email@example.com 2011 Sponsors:
NOVEMBER 2010 | VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 11
FEATURES 26 EQUIPMENT Gearing Up Anticipating increased demand for biomass harvesting and handling machinery in the U.S., equipment manufacturers are rising to the challenge. By Lisa Gibson
34 DENSIFICATION Packing Heat and Power Whether it's replacing coal in a commercial power plant or heating homes and businesses, interest in biomass briquettes has gone from a simmer to a rapid boil. By Anna Austin
40 INNOVATION Energy Tablets FEEDING THE FIRE: Biomass compressed into briquettes, cubes or logs can be used for industrial, commercial or residential heat and power production. Page 34
DEPARTMENTS 04 EDITOR’S NOTE
The tabletizer presses biomass material into a high-density tablet, creating a new option for biomass fuel procurers. By Lisa Gibson
46 SWITCHGRASS Studying Switchgrass If the Southern U.S. is going to live up to its biomass-rich reputation, potential growers need to learn how to establish and grow energy crops. By Anna Austin
Biomass Buzzing in the Southeast By Rona Johnson
05 ADVERTISER INDEX 06 INDUSTRY EVENTS 08 POWER PLATFORM Biomass Industry Goes to Washington By Bob Cleaves
10 THERMAL DYNAMICS Telling the Story of Biomass Thermal By Kyle Gibeault and Joseph Seymour
13 LEGAL PERSPECTIVE 5 Points to Consider Before Doing an Acquisition By Sean Kearny
CONTRIBUTIONS 52 REGULATION MACT for Biomass Boilers—Déjà Vu? The proposed Maximum Achievable Control Technology standard will require many biomass boiler operators to install expensive control technologies to comply. By Chad Darby and Danielle Lenzini
56 TECHNOLOGY Harvesting Forestry and Logging Waste Profitably Fecon Inc. engineers and forestry experts are modifying equipment to more efficiently harvest woody biomass, with an eye toward sustainability, forest fire reduction and wildlife habitat restoration. By John Heekin
14 BUSINESS BRIEFS 16 INDUSTRY NEWS 58 MARKETPLACE
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 3
Biomass Buzzing in the Southeast
RONA JOHNSON Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Fall has been a busy time here at BBI International, in particular because we have been preparing for the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show, which many of you may be attending as you read this. This event will be exciting with all the biomass projects and potential the region has for advancing the renewable energy industry. There are several biomass power plants in various stages of development in the Southeast. For example, EcoPower Generation LLC wants to build a biomass power plant in Hazard, Ky., which would burn low-grade logs and wood waste to produce enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. Orangeburg County Biomass LLC is proposing to build a 35-megawatt (MW) wood-fire power plant in Orangeburg County, S.C. North Carolina-based Rollcast Energy plans to build the first of three biomass power plants in Barnesville, Ga. The 53.3-MW plant will produce enough electricity to power 40,000 homes. The company has also announced similar sized projects in Franklin, Ga., and Newberry, S.C. American Renewables plans to build Gainseville Renewable Energy Center, a 100-MW biomass power plant in Gainesville, Fla. The Southeast also has plenty of potential for cofiring biomass with coal, which is the topic of the first plenary session at the conference, Examining the Viability of Biomass Cofiring and Repowering as a Renewable Energy Opportunity in the Southeast. Although states in the Southeast have been slow to adopt renewable energy portfolio standards, I expect those efforts will be ramped up as the pressure to reduce our carbon footprint intensifies. Along with biomass power plants and cofiring projects, several wood pellet mill projects are taking shape in the Southeast. Georgia Biomass expects to be shipping wood pellets to Europe upon completion of its plant in Waycross, Ga., which will have the capacity to produce 750,000 tons of wood pellets a year. Point Bio Energy LLC plans to build a $100 million wood pellet plant at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, La., that will produce 496,000 tons of wood pellets annually. The second plenary session, Awakening a Giant: Examining the Potential for the Pellet Industry in the American Southeast, will provide attendees with a great overview of the opportunities and challenges associated with the budding pellet industry. One of the presenters is Thomas Meth, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Enviva LP, which has just purchased two pellet plants in the U.S. and plans to increase production in both of those plants to feed growing demand here and in Europe. From electricity generation and industrial heat and power to biorefining and project development and finance, this event will provide plenty of information for people already in the industry and those planning projects.
For more news, information and perspective, visit www.biomassmagazine.com
KYLE GIBEAULT Biomass Thermal Energy Council
Kyle Gibeault and Joseph Seymour wrote about how important it is for biomass thermal advocates to tell stories about individual struggles and victories of people directly involved in the industry when they are lobbying for broad poJOSEPH SEYMOUR litical support in Washington. Biomass Thermal Energy Council
4 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
BOB CLEAVES Biomass Power Association
Bob Cleaves outlines the association’s lobbying efforts at the local and the federal level, emphasizing the industry's role in preserving the nation’s portfolio of renewable energy, sustaining rural economies and promoting healthy forests and agriculture.
EDITORIAL EDITOR Rona Johnson email@example.com ASSOCIATE EDITORS Anna Austin firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Gibson email@example.com COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann firstname.lastname@example.org
2010 Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show 2011 International Biomass Conference & Expo
2011 Pacific West Biomass Conference & Trade Show
Advanced Trailer Industries
BIBB Engineers Architects & Constructors
ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund email@example.com
Christianson & Associates, PLLP
GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elizabeth Burslie firstname.lastname@example.org
Detroit Stoker Company
CPM Roskamp Champion
Energy & Environmental Research Center Envergent Technologies
PUBLISHING & SALES CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan email@example.com CEO Joe Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org VICE PRESIDENT Tom Bryan email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT, SALES & MARKETING Matthew Spoor firstname.lastname@example.org EXECUTIVE ACCOUNT MANAGER Howard Brockhouse email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Jeremy Hanson firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT MANAGERS Marty Steen email@example.com Chip Shereck firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Brown email@example.com Gary Shields firstname.lastname@example.org Andrea Anderson email@example.com Dave Austin firstname.lastname@example.org
29 & 36 43 9 45
Indeck Power Equipment Co.
Keith Manufacturing Company
Mid-South Engineering Company
Process Equipment/Barron Industries
SGS North America, Inc.
The Teaford Co. Inc.
West Salem Machinery
Weston Solutions, Inc.
Wolf Material Handling Systems
CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Beaudry email@example.com SUBSCRIBER ACQUISITION MANAGER Jason Smith firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Marla DeFoe email@example.com
Subscriptions Subscriptions to Biomass Power & Thermal are $24.95 per year in the U.S; $39.95 in Canada and Mexico; and $49.95 outside North America. Subscriptions can be completed online at www. BiomassMagazine.com or subscribe over the phone at (701) 746-8385. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at (701) 746-8385 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Advertising Biomass Power & Thermal 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 Power & Thermal advertising opportunities, please contact us at (701) 746-8385 or email@example.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Power & Thermal Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or e-mail to rjohnson@bbiinternational. com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.
Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 5
¦INDUSTRY EVENTS E3 2010 November 30-December 1, 2010 Saint Paul RiverCentre St. Paul, Minnesota Researchers, students, government officials, and nonprofit and business leaders from Minnesota and across the nation are expected to attend this event, which will focus on the intersection among innovative technologies and policies, environmental benefits and emerging market opportunities in the renewable energy sector. The goal of E3 is to share knowledge and discoveries in the areas of renewable energy and the environment while bringing together the world’s leading researchers and experts. (612) 626-1202 www1.umn.edu/iree/e3
Pacific West Biomass Conference & Trade Show January 10-12, 2011 Sheraton Seattle Hotel Seattle, Washington With an exclusive focus on biomass utilization in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada, the event, produced by Biomass Power & Thermal and Biorefining magazines, is one of three distinct regional offshoots of the International Biomass Conference & Expo. The program will focus on the vast potential for biomass utilization in the Pacific West, featuring more than 60 speakers within four tracks: electricity generation; industrial heat and power; biorefining; and biomass project development and finance. (701) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com/pacificwest
Biomass Industry to Convene in Atlanta
The Southeast with its abundant biomass resources will be the setting for BBI International’s Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show. The event will be held Nov. 2-4 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta in Georgia’s capital city. The three-day conference, organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Power & Thermal and Biorefining magazines, is an offshoot of the International Biomass Conference & Expo, the largest and fastest growing event in the biomass industry. More than 60 speakers will present information within four distinct tracks: electricity generation; industrial heat and power; biorefining; and biomass project development and finance. Attendees of this regionally focused event will have the opportunity to network with sources of energy crops, crop and forest residues, wood chips and other types of biomass; producers and future producers of biomass power, heat, fuel and chemicals; pellet and briquette producers; construction and engineering professionals; investors; researchers; government and military officials; emissions experts; and municipal and state government decision makers. All sessions and receptions will be conveniently located at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. The conference will also feature a trade show with more than 60 exhibitors including technology developers, equipment suppliers and industry service providers. Whether you are already involved, or wish to become a part of this fast-paced industry, the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show will be the must-attend event of the year. Check out the preliminary agenda, registration and lodging rates and exhibiting opportunities at http://se.biomassconference.com.
6 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
International Biomass Conference & Expo May 2-5, 2011 America’s Center St. Louis. Missouri The largest, fastest-growing event in the biomass industry was attended in 2010 by 1,700 industry professionals from 49 states and 25 nations representing nearly every geographical region and sector of the world’s interconnected biomass utilization industries—power, thermal energy, fuels and chemicals. With six tracks, 38 panels, 120 speakers, 400 exhibitors and an anticipated 2,500 attendees in 2011, the event will continue to be the industry’s leading educational, networking and business development forum. Speaker abstracts are now being accepted online. (701) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com
International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 27-30, 2011 Indiana Convention Center Indianapolis, Indiana Entering its 27th year, the FEW is the largest, longest-running ethanol conference in the world. The FEW is renowned for its superb programming which remains focused on commercial-scale ethanol production— both grain and cellulosic—operational efficiencies, plant management, energy use, and near-term research and development. With five tracks, 32 panels, 100 speakers, 400 exhibitors and an anticipated 2,500 attendees in 2011, the FEW remains the ethanol industry’s leading production-oriented educational, networking and business development forum. Speaker abstracts are now being accepted online. (701) 746-8385 www.fuelethanolworkshop.com
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Biomass Industry Goes to Washington BY BOB CLEAVES
As the 111th Congress winds down and election season heats up, the biomass industry is making every effort to remind policymakers that we are an essential renewable energy industry that employs thousands of Americans. Here’s what we are doing on both federal and state fronts.
On the Federal Level
As part of this effort, a group of biomass leaders from across the country descended on Washington to explain our industry to those who were unfamiliar and to emphasize three main messages to, well, anyone who would listen: • The biomass industry needs and deserves the same tax credits provided to the rest of the renewable energy industry. Only through tax credits can we continue to build and improve our industry, employing more Americans and contributing to our nation’s clean energy future. • The U.S. EPA must pass reasonable rules reflecting the way that biomass is collected and used for energy. The agency must, in particular, pass reasonable emissions standards for biomass boilers and acknowledge that biomass fuel emissions are vastly different from that of fossil fuels. • Congress must pass a federal energy policy that promotes American sources of renewable energy. Without a renewable energy standard enacted as soon as possible, the biomass industry and other renewable sources stand to lose ground to cheaper foreign sources of energy. The biomass industry group met with White House officials as well as House members and Senators from both parties. The elected officials with whom we met have influence over energy policy debates and represent districts that would be affected if the biomass industry were to decline. Our message was clear—biomass plays a critically important role in preserving the nation’s portfolio of renewable energy, sustaining rural economies and promoting healthy forests and agriculture.
On the Local Level
It’s no secret that Massachusetts remains a significant policy challenge. The state’s Department
8 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
of Energy Resources (DOER) has proposed a rule that would narrowly define fuel sources that can be classified as biomass, and efficiency standards that are unachievable. This would endanger existing plants in the region, and it would prevent new biomass facilities from opening. We believe strongly that DOER’s proposal is based not on science, but on a flawed study that has nothing to do with the realities of biomass power. In September, the Biomass Power Association joined four other groups who are also threatened by this proposed rule on a media conference call. I was joined by representatives of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, the Laborers Union 596, American Ag Energy and Pioneer Renewable Energy. Each of us described in detail what would happen to our respective industries and constituents if the proposed law were to become actual law. Our messages—particularly the message about protecting New England jobs—were picked up favorably by news outlets across the state, including the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and several local newspapers. DOER has yet to adopt a final rule, but you can be sure that the biomass industry will continue to shine light on the problems created with this rule.
A Look Ahead
We are encouraged by the strong support shown to the biomass industry by a diverse group of U.S. Senators. In late September, a bipartisan group of 41 Senators sent a letter to the EPA urging the agency to carefully reconsider its MACT rule regulating biomass boiler emissions. No matter what the outcome of this fall’s elections, the biomass industry will continue to keep the pressure on lawmakers to recognize the numerous benefits the biomass industry offers. We have something to offer lawmakers of every stripe: jobs, homegrown clean energy, healthy forests, sustainable agriculture. Who wouldn’t support that? Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.USABiomass.org
Telling the Story of Biomass Thermal BY KYLE GIBEAULT AND JOSEPH SEYMOUR
One year ago, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and allied biomass associations organized the first congressional briefing on biomass heating and cooling. Numerous briefings have followed since then, signaling growing interest among politicians and their staffs on biomass thermal technologies and fuels. Broad policy goals and declarations such as the 25x’25 Wood-to-Energy Road Map and the Northeast Bold Vision for 2025 have further magnified the public and political perceptions of the good that embracing and incentivizing biomass thermal energy can accomplish. However tremendous these strides are—and indeed they are significant—there is still a worthy message that can be lost in the larger dialogue. It is a message that all biomass stakeholders understand, because it is their own. As a relatively recent addition to BTEC (but not the renewable energy industry overall), we have made it a priority to engage those whose professional and personal success depends on seeing the biomass thermal industry flourish. These discussions have helped us see that there are two layers to the story of biomass thermal energy. The first, the high-level policy debate on incentives and regulations, is well-known. But many are unfamiliar with the other, equally important, part of the picture: the individuals and businesses working directly in the industry. A disconnect can sometimes occur between national biomass policy goals and breaking ground on projects. Rick Handley of Rick Handley & Associates understands this. In August, Handley shared his perspective on building successful biomass thermal projects. Previously, Handley had served in a regional leadership capacity on biomass issues in the Northeast, and, having witnessed the difficulties of longtime fossil fuel users transitioning to biomass heating, decided to lead from the bottom up. Handley has partnered with projects to help them understand the permitting, labor and fuel procurement issues, acting as a trusted adviser during the entire process. Appliance tax credits and biomass supply incentives can increase the success of a biomass thermal project, but it often takes more than policy to turn the heat on: it requires champions like Handley to bring these pieces together. 10 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
Few places in America have more of a demand for heat than Alaska. Thomas Deerfield of Dalson Energy has assisted rural communities in this northernmost state, helping them transition from costly heating oil to biomass thermal energy. According to Deerfield, electricity in these areas can cost 30 to 50 cents per kilowatt hour, and barge delivered heating oil can cost $3 to $5 per gallon. As the winter progresses and waterways freeze, heating oil delivery becomes more logistically difficult and expensive. This is where biomass thermal energy is playing a role in bringing down costs and empowering rural areas. Working with boiler manufacturers, Deerfield has helped create self-contained boiler systems which are easily transported and maintained. In Washington, D.C., energy independence may not look like a steel shipping container, but it is helping Alaskan villages keep more of their financial resources. Broad policy statements and projects have begun to open the door to key decision makers, and these efforts must continue if biomass thermal issues are to maintain—and increase—their influence. Advocates must be mindful, too, of the personal story of biomass thermal energy. Government grants for feasibility studies and project financing do more than increase biomass thermal energy use. They harness the expertise of committed individuals to implement well-planned systems. Tax credits aren’t just numbers on an Excel spread sheet; they can be the difference between transitioning from fossil fuels now or never. BTEC will continue to lead and support biomass advocacy in Washington, D.C., and we call on others to join us. During these efforts, however, we must not forget that although overarching policy discussions win minds and ledgers, individual struggles and victories win hearts. For our message to be heard, both elements to the story are needed. Authors: Kyle Gibeault Deputy Director, Biomass Thermal Energy Council Joseph Seymour Program Associate, Biomass Thermal Energy Council (202) 596-3974
SERVICES: Detailed Design • EPC • CM • Studies • Owner & Bank Engineering CLIENTELE: Utilities • IPPs • Industry • Universities • OEMs • Banks/Investors PROJECTS: Biomass • Solar (Thermal & PV) • Wind • Simple & Combined Cycle • Fluidized Bed/PC/Stoker Boilers Biofuels • Landfill Gas • MSW • Gasification • Pyrolysis • Plant Improvements • Air Pollution Control Engine-Generators • CHP/Cogeneration • Energy Savings • Facilities/Buildings & Systems
Kansas City, Missouri 64111
President: Lou Gonzales
Business Development: Jason Moe, Tony Jaime, Kevin Bibb
5 Points to Consider Before Doing an Acquisition BY SEAN KEARNY
Some business owners, both those managing a profitable business and those still looking for their first big success, are eager to jump into the acquisition of another business to increase revenues, to diversify product lines or just to try something new. Before leaping, consider some key issues that experienced buyers review before signing on the dotted line. Does the seller have what you need and can use? If you are already in the same business, compare the seller's business with yours, looking at offsetting strengths and weaknesses. If you are now in a different business, do the homework necessary to let you know if this is a long-term strategic move or just a short-term whim. Look at whether the seller offers complementary products or services. Decide whether you can instead "grow" your own business to do the same things, for less money and in a reasonable amount of time. Think about your own personnel and those of the seller. Consider the time and people costs of an acquisition, including disruption, training, reduced focus on your own business and corporate culture. In particular, explore the need for and desire of the seller's management to continue with the combined business after the transaction. Before you become too set on buying (or on price or other key terms), take a hard look at the seller's business. You will usually need to sign a confidentiality agreement, and the seller may not want to disclose the most sensitive information, but make sure you see the "guts" of the seller's business, including financial information, before going too far in the process. Early in the negotiations, the seller will want to know the price you are willing to pay. Whether you make the first offer or wait for the seller to name a price, it usually helps to know both sides' expectations. If you are too far apart on price, it usually does not make sense for either party to spend more time and money on the transaction. Sometimes, however, differences in prices are really based on differing perceptions of the future value of the seller's business, particularly with start-ups, and you may be able to use "earn-outs" or other contingent pricing to bridge the price gap. Keep in mind, too, that your "due diligence" review
of the seller's business may ultimately allow for discounts from the price you initially set. However, it is hard (and may kill the deal) to reduce the seller's price expectations once they are set. Both sides want to know, early on, how the acquisition will be structured. The key distinctions are assets or stock purchase, and taxable or tax-free. Typically, buyers want to purchase assets, both for protection from liabilities of the seller and for deductibility and other tax benefits. Sellers usually prefer to sell stock, to minimize the taxes on the sale and to avoid having to get rid of the selling entity and any liabilities that remain behind. If the seller is an S corporation, the seller's need to sell stock rather than assets should be less. Whether the transaction will be taxable or tax-free is usually of greater concern to the seller, for obvious reasons. If a tax-free transaction is important to the seller, the seller will need to be comfortable taking stock in your company in the deal, and you will need to be comfortable adding new shareholders and diluting your ownership. Because the structure of the deal can be linked to the price a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept, you may have a more enthusiastic seller (and better terms for you) if you take the time at the outset to find a structure that meets both your needs. Tied in with some of the above issues is financing. If you are not paying for the seller's company with shares of your company's stock, you will need cash (now or later) to pay the purchase price. Even a deal financed with stock requires post-closing cash for operations. Explore at the outset whether you have the cash to meet those needs or whether, instead, you will need bank or seller financing to make the transaction viable. Almost every business owner will consider purchasing or selling at some time. By discussing these five important considerations with your attorney, you can maximize your position in negotiations. Author:Sean Kearny Shareholder Fredrikson & Byron P.A. (612) 492-7128 email@example.com
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 13
Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS
the process automation system, emission monitoring and reporting, instrumentation, and electrification retrofit.
BETTER SHREDDER: The V-EBS shredder converts biomass into a homogenous fuel.
Designed specifically for processing refuse-derived fuel, the new V-EBS shredder from Vecoplan produces homogenous granulate with minimal fines and virtually no excess lengths. The V-EBS delivers high throughputs from the widest possible range of alternative fuel feedstocks. Other benefits include: inexpensive replaceable wear parts, quick and easy access to maintenance components and low energy consumption. The V-EBS is vertically fed via a 23.5 cubic yard capacity hopper, mounted above the cutting chamber. Feedstock up to 98x36 inches then passes into the cutting chamber where it is continuously and completely fed into the cutting rotor by a load-dependent chain floor. Metso to convert coal boiler to biomass in Poland Metso will convert a pulverized coal boiler to a biomass-fired boiler for Dalkia Łódź S.A. in Poland. The conversion will cost more than €15 million ($20 million) and will allow Dalkia to supply green power to the national electric grid and district heating systems to Łódź. Operation of the new biomass-fired boiler is planned for December 2011. Modification of the current boiler includes pressure parts, fuel and ash handling and installation. Complete automation of the boiler island includes
Capstone names new distributors Capstone Turbine Corp. has named Target Energy Inc. as its distributor in Turkey, Eastern Joint Marine Services (Far East) Ltd. in Hong Kong and Laibach in Slovenia and Croatia. Target Energy offers energy technologies and services designed to protect the environment, help overcome global climate change, improve living conditions and mitigate negative impacts of traditional energy sources. Eastern Joint Marine Services has been involved in a variety of environmental projects, including manufacturing and sales for portable waste compactors, designing and building various pieces of equipment for use in waste transportation services; and emergency repair and pollution control for ships. Laibach, headquartered in Ljubljana, Slovenia, provides clean-energy power solutions to businesses and also sells components to the power transmission and controls industry. Bandit offers new Productivity Package Bandit Industries Inc. has added a Productivity Package, powered by MasterTrak, to its product offering. The asset management tool communicates directly with the engine and monitors engine and equipment problems, reducing costly, unexpected failures that impact the bottom line. The Productivity Package is standard on all new whole tree chippers and horizontal grinders, and is available as an option for the stump grinder and hand-fed chipper line. The MasterTrak Productivity Package can also be added to existing units in the field. Morbark adds to equipment dealer network B & G Equipment is now an authorized dealer of Morbark industrial equipment in Mississippi and select Tennessee counties. In business for more than 30
14 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
years, B & G is based in Philadelphia, Miss., and has branches in Iuka, Magnolia and Hattiesburg. The company, founded by loggers W.J. Bates and Donald Grantham Jr., has a special understanding of loggers and their needs. Morbark also announced that Tidewater Equipment Co. has joined its dealer family as a distributor of industrial equipment. The partnership expands the Morbark dealer network benefitting customers located in the Southeastern region of the country. Tidewater Equipment will cover South Carolina (minus York County) and parts of Florida and Georgia. UltraTemp Filtration System meets Boiler MACT standards
PHOTO: TRI-MER CORP.
Vecoplan offers new V-EBS shredder
EMISSIONS REDUCER: The UltraTemp Hot Gas Filtration System controls fine particulate and pollutant gases.
Tri-Mer Corp., which specializes in advanced technologies for the control of fine particulate and pollutant gases, has introduced UltraTemp Filtration, a hot gas filtration system that captures particulate to extremely low levels, including submicron and ultrafine particulate matter. The heart of the UltraTemp Hot Gas Filtration System is a new generation of ductile ceramic filter tubes, manufactured from low-density ceramic-coated fibers.
Enginuity Energy, rem Engineering merge Enginuity Energy LLC, a renewable energy and energy conservation company, and rem Engineering Inc., a designer of industrial cogeneration and power generation systems, have merged resources. The new company will operate under Enginuity Energy LLC and will be based in Mechanicsburg, Pa., a suburb of Harrisburg. Enginuity Energy will focus on energy conservation and renewable power generation based on biomass gasification technology. MBREC elects new board members, officers The Mississippi Biomass and Renewable Energy Council Inc. elected new board members and a new president at its annual conference held in Tunica, Miss. Elected were Brent Brasher, Kengro Corp., Charleston; Tamme Bufkin, The Bufkin Co. LLC, Hattiesburg; Terry Dunlap, Piney Woods
lock-up torque converter transmissions, and automatically selects the optimal gear for a given load. The Autoshift option is available in all John Deere skidder models.
Pellets, Wiggins; Caroline Randolph, Mississippi Green Energy Initiative, Hattiesburg; Keith Williams, Molpus Woodlands Group, Jackson; Chad Winter, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Jackson. Returning members are: Alan Kitchens, Kitchens Brothers Manufacturing Co., Hazlehurst; Randy Rousseau, MSU College of Forest Resources, Mississippi State; and Robert Thompson, Mississippi Polymer Institute, Hattiesburg. Pete Weisenberger, T.P. Weisenberger & Co. LLC, of Flora was elected president of the group, joining Joe Jordan, Mississippi State University, vice president; Kevin Mitchell, Strata-G, Oxford, secretary; and Lydia Allison, Bagley College of Engineering, Mississippi State University, treasurer.
First UK SCR project to include Clyde Bergemann cleaning systems Doosan Power Systems, U.K., awarded Clyde Bergemann Ltd., Scotland, the contract to deliver on-load cleaning systems (sootblowers) for two new economizers on the 1x500 megawatt unit at E.ON’s Ratcliffe Power Plant in the U.K. The systems to be installed include 20 PS-PB part retractable oscillating sootblowers and four PS-SB part retractable fully rotating sootblowers. The additional 3x500 megawatt units at the plant will be upgraded in subsequent years thereafter and will also be installed with Clyde Bergemann technology. The plant is undergoing an environmental boiler upgrade to meet legislative targets for reduced emissions, including the installation of Selective Catalytic Reduction technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.
John Deere introduces improved H-Series Skidders
PHOTO: JOHN DEERE
AF&PA names executive directors for strategic communications, recovered fiber The American Forest & Paper Association has added two senior professionals: Chuck Fuqua as executive director, strategic communications and Brian Hawkinson as executive director, recovered fiber. Fuqua Fuqua will be responsible for developing and implementing AF&PA’s advocacy communications strategy and managing media relations. Hawkinson will lead the development and implementation of goals, policies and programs that support Hawkinson a continuing, affordable supply of recovered fiber.
EASE OF OPERATION: Improvements to John Deere's line of H-Series Skidders have made the machines easier to operate and more productive.
John Deere Construction & Forestry has, in response to common productivity and operational challenges throughout the logging industry, introduced new Autoshift functionality on its popular line of H-Series Skidders. The elimination of shifting allows operators to use their right hand to run the grapple and focus on pulling the load, which effectively makes the skidder easier to operate, increases productivity and decreases operator fatigue. The Autoshift option leverages the fuel efficiency advantage of direct drive and
Bio Power Coalition adds new members The Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance’s Bio Power Coalition announced that 14 organizations have signed on to the group’s pledge to promote biobased power generation in Wisconsin. Organizations joining the coalition include: the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association; BIOFerm Energy Systems; Lake States Lumber Association; Landmark Services Cooperative; ACE Ethanol; GHD Inc.; Poyry (Appleton) LLC; UA Local 434; Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association; Miron Construction; Midwest Forest Products Co.; Nexterra Systems Corp.; Rotochopper Inc.; and Boldt Construction.
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NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 15
IndustryNEWS Sludge-to-power process tested If a University of Nevada, Reno, research project works as planned, municipal wastewater treatment facilities could turn their sludge into power for their own operations. Researchers are demonstrating their sludge-drying equipment at the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility and ultimately hope to gasify the dry sludge product to power the plant. The system currently takes 20 pounds of sludge per hour and produces about 3 pounds of dried powder, but would need to be about 100 times that size to be commercially attractive to the industry, according to Chuck Coronella, principle investigator for the project and associate professor of chemical engineering at the school. The sludge, about 75 to 80 percent water, is fed into a fluidized bed of sand and salts operating at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit, Coronella explained. As the sludge falls into the bed, it is heated to cause quick fragmentation. As it dries and fragments, the individual pieces become small and light and after some time, the particles of dried sludge are so light they are entrained with the fluidized air and carried out of the bed, he continued. The particles are then captured and stored for future use. “The principle advantage of this process is that it does not require high temperature heat,” Coronella said. “Our demonstration works with heat provided by water at 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus this is well-suited for a cogen configuration, with heat capture used for drying sludge. No external fuel will be required.” After drying, the sludge is a low-moisture biomass fuel with a Btu value similar to that of dried wood, roughly 9,000 Btu per pound, according to Coronella. Researchers haven’t yet gasified the dried sludge product, but several configurations will be evaluated. Estimates show that the full-scale system could potentially generate 25,000 kilowatthours (kWh) per day, according to the university. Approximately 700,000 metric tons (771,000 tons) of dried sludge are produced an-
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO
BY LISA GIBSON
SLUDGE POWER: The University of Nevada is developing a system that could be used to power wastewater treatment plants.
nually in California municipalities, which would sustainably generate as many as 10 million kWh per day. The collaboration with Truckee Meadows has been useful and the managers there are supportive, Coronella said. “They are enthusiastic about seeing the technology succeed. We have discussed with the TMWRF management about the possibility of doing a much larger demonstration on site, but we have not yet reached any conclusions.” The demonstration-scale project is a collaboration with the cities of Reno and Sparks, operators of the wastewater treatment plant. The project is funded through the California Energy Innovations Small Grant Program, the California Energy Commission and the U.S. DOE, according to the university. The demonstration phase of the project was also chosen for funding by the university’s Tech Transfer Office under a DOE grant to support transferring technologies from the lab to practical application.
UM considers biomass CHP BY LISA GIBSON The University of Montana in Missoula could reduce its carbon footprint by 20 percent with a new biomass combined-heatand-power (CHP) plant, pending approval in November from the board of regents. The $13 million plant would run on about 60 to 70 tons of forest slash per day, depending on the moisture content of the feedstock, and produce 700 kilowatts (kW) of energy for the campus, according to Hugh Jesse, director of facilities at the university, although supply agreements are still in early discussions. “It’s intended to take over 60 percent of our existing load of steam on campus,” Jesse said. The facility will use a Nexterra
Systems Corp. gasification system with a back pressure turbine and will be an addition to an existing natural gas heating plant on the campus. The existing plant will remain operational during peak hours. The school’s annual carbon footprint is about 45,000 tons, according to Sustainability Coordinator Cherie Peacock, and the biomass CHP facility will more than fulfill the Climate Action Plan goal of 10 percent carbon reduction by 2015. The plan also strives for carbon neutrality by 2020. Feasibility studies are underway, including those to determine availability of feedstock. The school has applied for a U.S. Forest
16 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
Service grant and other funding opportunities through its performance contractor, Jesse said. Besides the carbon reduction, the plant will also represent monetary savings for the school. “The cost of the fuel is less than the natural gas and the project has to pay for itself,” Jesse said. “This has to be net zero or better to go forward.” If the project is approved, construction will begin in the summer of 2011, he added. The facility could also serve as a learning opportunity and be incorporated into the university’s curriculum. “That is one of the factors we’re trying to work on,” Jesse said.
Company builds ‘Grassifier’ prototype A Buffalo, Minn., company wants to scale up a residential-sized biomass energy system and develop turn-key power plants that could supply grid power and hot water for space heating, process heat or other applications. Development of the “Grassifer” began about two years ago, when Mel Moench, president of Moench Inc., became interested in combusting biomass—in particular, warm season grasses. Moench determined that the major challenges for biomass combustion systems was moisture content, particle size and efficiency. “I decided to eliminate the densification process and combust the material without preprocessing, to save energy,” he said. “I wanted the unit to be automated, compact and highly efficient.” Moench also sought to eliminate any special equipment needed to prepare the feedstocks for combustion. “We’ve combusted grassy materials with moisture content of up to 25 percent, which is close to ‘as harvested’ condition,” he said. “Our unit also contains a cyclone to extract excess water vapor in the flue gas.” After three prototypes and scores of modifications, Moench completed a unit that
achieved two of his top priorities—reaching more than 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit consistently, and overcoming the issue of grate clogging by using a patent-pending, grateless configuration. “I also had to use a proprietary fuel feeding system that virtually eliminates issues with fuel compaction and subsequent auger jamming,” he said. “The prototype can also utilize multiple, dry coarse-chopped materials interchangeably.” After the chopped biomass is conveyed to the in-feed auger, it drops into a screw auger and is pushed into the combustion chamber as needed to maintain the proper temperature. Negative pressure is supplied by a vacuum blower so no smoke or gasses escape, and primary and secondary burning occur at a high temperature, ensuring the complete combustion of all particles and gases. While the ash continues forward and drops into the ash collection drum, the hot gases leave the heat containment chamber and enter the heat exchanger that transfers the heat to the antifreeze solution surrounding the tubes. A circulating pump keeps the hot antifreeze solution moving through insulated underground pipes to a plenum heat exchanger, baseboard unit, in-floor radiant tubing or other heating systems.
BY ANNA AUSTIN
CHURNING AND BURNING: Moench Inc.'s proprietary fuel feeding system virtually eliminates issues with fuel compaction and subsequent auger jamming.
Moench said that although his company believes the Grassifer is technologically and environmentally advanced, it is a working prototype at this point. “We’re searching for partners to continue improvements and other applications, including sizing up the unit for trigeneration, district heating or combinedheat-and-power applications,” he said.
Biomass thermal plant to aid Maine paper mill BY ANNA AUSTIN
A century-old pulp and paper mill in Madison, Maine, is poised to significantly benefit from a proposed biomass thermal plant to be co-located at the mill site. The plant will be constructed, owned and operated by Recast Energy, formerly part of a biomass combined-heat-and-power facility and wood chip supply firm known as Intrinergy LLC. The facility will generate about 90,000 pounds of steam per hour. The paper mill will utilize the steam to power its operations, in turn reducing the amount of fuel oil it burns by 50 percent each year. Recast Energy Vice President Brandon Ogilvie said that the mill currently burns about 9 million gallons of fuel oil per year to generate its steam. Displacing that oil will help decouple the mill’s risk exposure to the volatility of oil prices, according to Ogilvie. The plant will also reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 40,000 to 50,000 tons per year.
Fuel from the plant will consist largely of bark and sawdust leftover from the paper mill’s operations, materials that previously had to be transported from the site by truck. About two-thirds of the 100,000 to 150,000 green tons of biomass the plant will require will be leftover mill residue; the remainder will come from a third party. In January, the project received a $357,000 grant from Efficiency Maine. The company estimates the total project will cost about $25 million. Ogilvie said upon being granted approval, the company plans to begin the biomass thermal project in the first quarter of 2011. He estimated construction to last about one year. Ogilvie said Recast Energy has a similar project that is in the early stages with a food and beverage company, and has two woody biomass thermal projects in operation at a paper company in Mississippi and a U.S. textile company in the Dominican Republic. NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 17
RWE to build cogen in Sicily
POULTRY POWER: A proposed 30-megawatt biomass power plant in Northern Ireland will defer thousands of tons of poultry litter.
Northern Ireland poultry litter biomass plant approved BY LISA GIBSON A 30-megawatt biomass power plant proposed for County Antrim in Northern Ireland is much closer to fruition, having gained approval from Northern Ireland Environment Minister Edwin Poots. The £100 million ($158 million) plant will run on 220,000 metric tons (242,500 tons) per year of poultry litter, along with 40,000 metric tons of meat and bone meal (MBM), according to developer Rose Energy Ltd. The electricity it produces, enough to power 25,000 homes, will be sold to the national grid, according to Chief Executive Osvaldo Mauro-Hun. “The decision by the Northern Ireland environment minister to approve the plans represents a major step forward for the country’s capacity to produce renewable energy,” Mauro-Hun said. “Rose Energy will generate a third of the nonwind portion of Northern Ireland’s renewable energy obligations and allow it to utilize valuable biomass fuel sources locally, thereby contributing to a more secure energy future for the region.” The location, about 20 miles from Northern Ireland’s capital city of Belfast, was chosen partially because of its close proximity to the MBM source, situated next to the plant site, Mauro-Hun said. MBM is currently exported from Northern Ireland for use as a green fuel in biomass plants and cement kilns, but Rose Energy’s plant will allow it to be used locally instead. The poultry litter feedstock, composed of wood shavings and poultry droppings, will come from farmers who supply Moy Park Ltd., which sells its own label and customer-branded chicken products to lead-
ing retail food service customers across Europe. Other reasons for selecting the site include its close proximity to a water source, and its ability to strengthen the electricity infrastructure in an area that is currently deficient. The poultry industry is Northern Ireland’s second largest and accounts for about 7,000 jobs, Mauro-Hun said. This biomass power project will help protect those jobs and will also defer thousands of tons of poultry litter destined for landfill spread, according to the company. The construction industry in the region will also benefit from the project, which will ensure about £15 million worth of civil works packages and about £10 million of mechanical and electrical money through locally based companies, Mauro-Hun said. Between June 2008 and August 2010, the Northern Ireland Planning Authorities carried out a detailed and extensive review of Rose Energy’s proposal, and gave it the go ahead, Mauro-Hun said. “In doing so, the planning authorities also recognized the robustness of the proposal and have shown that they are fully confident that all aspects of the proposal—technology, location, fuel availability, health, traffic—have been properly addressed by Rose Energy,” he added. The company has applied and is waiting to find out if it is qualified to receive government funding. The remaining portion of the expenses will be privately funded by the consortium, Mauro-Hun said. Rose Energy will begin construction as soon as possible and expects it to last about 2½ years.
18 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
RWE Innogy Italia has signed an agreement for the construction of the first biomass cogeneration plant in Sicily. The 18.7-megawatt plant will produce 128,000 megawatt hours of power, enough to supply about 30,000 homes per year, according to the company. The feedstock will primarily come from a eucalyptus tree plantation that covers more than 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres). Construction on the €61 million ($83 million) plant is set to begin before the end of the year and commissioning is due in late 2012, according to the company.
Gainesville signs supply contract The Gainesville, Fla., Renewable Energy Center has signed a long-term biomass supply contract with local wood waste recycler Wood Resource Recovery, fulfilling almost half of the fuel supply needs for the 100-megawatt power plant. Developer American Renewables said the biomass feedstock will be clean urban wood waste including tree trimmings, rightof-way clearing and debris from land contractors and tree surgeons. Electricity produced at the GREC will be sold to Gainesville Regional Utilities under a 30-year power purchase agreement and used to power 700,000 homes, according to American Renewables. The GREC will also use local logging residues and thinning material as feedstock.
BY ANNA AUSTIN Pinnacle Pellet is building a 400,000 metric ton pellet plant near Burns Lake, British Columbia, its sixth location in the province, bringing its total capacity to 1.1 million metric tons. “We’re well into our civil work and we’ve got mechanical components showing up every day, as is typical with our build-out schedules,” said Leroy Reitsma, chief operating officer at Pinnacle Pellet. “We do a lot of preplanning and everything comes preassembled or modular, so from the time that we commence civil work to when the plant is running is usually only about 120 days.” Founded in 1989 by brothers Jim and Rob Swan, today Pinnacle has four other major shareholders, three of whom are actively involved in management of the company, including Reitsma. He and many of the other 160 people working at the company’s five strategically-located pellet mills have experience in the lumber industry, he said. Reitsma said the company expects the new plant to be up and running by the end of December. The maximum capacity for the facility will be 400,000 metric tons; actual initial production will run around 320,000 metric tons. “All of our other facilities’ production numbers total up to about 800,000 [metric] tons, with the Burns Lake facility that will increase to about 1.1 million [metric] tons, and those are real
production numbers,” Reitsma said. Pinnacle’s plants are located within close proximity to Canadian sawmills. “We’ve always tried to locate adjacent to industry-leading sawmills to form symbiotic relationships,” Reitsma said. “We support their business and provide them with a high value for their residuals, and when a plant is associated with a strong sawmill it gets a consistent, reliable supply of residuals. The two operations strengthen and balance each other, and usually mutually ensure success.” Pinnacle’s plants utilize a mix of sawmill residuals, and non-merchantable softwood timber, including pine beetle damaged wood. “That’s been key with these projects—we’ve had an overall focus of trying to become an integral part of the overall value chain, a role in which we are the default for whatever can’t be put to use as logs to make lumber or used to produce pulp, and so we’re the catch-all at the end of the equation,” Reitsma said. The woody biomass is trucked to Pinnacle’s plants, and from there the pellets are transported via rail to several British Columbia port facilities including Fibreco Terminal, the Kinder Morgan Terminal in north Vancouver and the Ridley Terminal in Prince Rupert. Pinnacle’s customer base consists of about 90 percent long-term large-scale utility overseas
PHOTO: PINNACLE PELLET
Pinnacle Pellet to build sixth plant
COMMENCING CONSTRUCTION: Reitsma (right, pictured with Ray Dawson, general manager-west region), expects the pellet plant in Burns Lake to be up and running by the end of December.
contracts, according to Reitsma. “A major focus of our marketing plan is to serve large utilities as a coal displacement,” he said. About 80 to 85 percent of Pinnacle’s pellets are shipped to the U.K. and continental Europe, 8 percent used for domestic residential heating, and the remainder shipped to Asia. Competition for woody biomass in Canada is at a reasonable level, from Reitsma’s perspective. “There’s a decent balance of supply and demand in the province right now, but that mainly depends on what is happening in the pulp and paper industry,” he said. “When the price of pulp escalates and sawmills are not running at full capacity, pellet mills tend to get choked out. Who ends up with the feedstock is a totally end-market driven.”
California bioenergy bill killed BY ANNA AUSTIN A bill (AB 222) that would have expedited the introduction of new conversion technologies to produce green power and advanced biofuels from organic waste materials in California is officially dead, due to lack of key support needed from five democrats on the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Bioenergy Producers Association Chairman Jim Stewart said the dismissal of AB 222 was a major blow to a key element in California’s Bioenergy Action Plan, with which the bill was consistent. Overall, AB 222 would have corrected scientifically inaccurate definitions and antiquated provisions in the Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989, and enabled and expedited the in-state production of green electricity and advanced biofuels from biomass through new nonincineration technologies such as gasification, fermentation and pyrolysis. The bill would have also removed current statutory restrictions that require thermal conversion projects to have zero emissions, a standard required of no other energy generation technology or manufacturing process in the state. Finally, it would have allowed the
biogenic portion—the leftover materials when waste has been sorted for recycling—of municipal solid waste (MSW) to qualify under the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). California has a recycling mandate of 50 percent, a law that was passed in 1989. “If a city or a county makes its waste available to these bioenergy companies then it doesn't count toward that requirement and it would place them at risk for being fined for not meeting the mandate,” Stewart said. Conversion technologies can recover five times as much energy from MSW as landfill gas with fewer emissions, Stewart said. “However, electricity from landfill gas receives RPS credit in California, whereas if you gasify the MSW to produce electricity before it enters the landfill, it does not.” Stewart said without AB 222, it could take five to six years to permit and construct a conversion technology facility in California—if a permit could be attained at all. NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 19
DOE funds biomass research BY LISA GIBSON The U.S. DOE has awarded a total of about $4.5 million to three projects that will demonstrate important steps to design, model and implement sustainable biomass production systems across different regions of the country and is considering a variety of feedstocks. North Carolina State University will receive up to $2.09 million to evaluate the impacts of biomass feedstock cultivation on hydrology, water quality, wildlife, plant diversity, soil productivity, carbon budgeting, economics and safety, according to the DOE. The university has project sites in Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina where it will investigate biomass production options compatible with forest management with an emphasis on pine and switchgrass intercropping. Purdue University in Indiana will receive up to $1.6 million to conduct a sustainability assessment of energy crops such as miscanthus, switchgrass and hybrid poplar, and examine the impacts of removing crop residues within watersheds representative of conditions in the upper Midwest, according to the DOE. The project will gauge sustainability in relation to soil erosion, biomass yield and aquatic biodiversity impacts and develop methods to optimize watershed landscapes to improve water quality and associated ecosystem services. The University of Minnesota will be awarded
up to $791,000 to analyze the Mississippi River watershed and determine what bioenergy feedstocks to use, where to produce or collect them, and what environmental impacts they will have in terms of climate change or other environmental shifts, according to the DOE. The goal is to estimate the biophysical ON THE WEB and economic impacts To read more about these of different placements awards, go to www.energy. of feedstock producgov/9462.htm. tion operations on the landscape in order to maximize net benefits returned to farmers, biorefineries and the public. In announcing these Sustainable Bioenergy Feedstock Production awards, the DOE also announced the investment of up to $12 million in four projects over three years for Advanced Biofuels Technology Development. Recipients include W. R. Grace & Co. in Maryland, $3.3 million; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington, $3.1 million; the Gas Technology Institute in Illinois, $2.4 million; and the Batelle Memorial Institute in Ohio, $3.2 million. Together, the $16.5 million will support the expansion of renewable transportation fuels production through advanced thermochemical conversion technologies and the designing of landscapes that produce feedstock while protecting air, soil, water and wildlife.
First Energy gets OK for biomass conversion The Ohio Public Utilities Commission has approved renewable energy certification of First Energyâ€™s proposal to convert two 156-megawatt (MW) coal-burning power units at its R.E. Burger plant in Shadyside, Ohio, to run on biomass. First Energy plans to use about 1 million tons of woody and agricultural biomass, including pellets, briquettes and/or bales with coal, while relying on fuel oil for start-up and flame stabilization. Historically, the power plant has been burning about 800,000 tons of coal each year. Once the $200 million retrofit is complete, the facility is expected to be one of the largest biomass power projects in the U.S. The OPUC ruling comes from an application originally filed in December 2009.
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Senators reveal stand-alone RES bill BY ANNA AUSTIN
A bipartisan stand-alone bill proposing a national renewable energy standard (RES) would mandate sellers of electricity to retail customers to obtain 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2021. Introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and several others, the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 would require electric utilities to produce at least 11 percent of their power from biomass, wind, solar and other renewable sources of energy. The remaining 4 percent could be achieved through energy efficiency improvements. Utilities selling less than 4 million megawatt hours per year would be exempt from the requirements. The bill is nearly identical to the RES proposed in the bipartisan American Clean Energy Leadership Act, apart from a few date changes and scoring/technical corrections. Targets in the bill are 3 percent in 2012'13, 6 percent in 2014-'16, 9 percent in 2017'18, 12 percent in 2019-'20, and 15 percent from 2021-'39. According to Bingaman’s office, the current sponsors are working to secure 60 cosponsors so that the bill can be brought up for consideration before Congress adjourns
Proposed National RES Bill Year Target 2012-'13 3 percent 2014-'16 6 percent 2017-'18 9 percent 2019-'20 12 percent 2021-'39 15 percent
this year. Currently, 29 U.S. states have a RES. States such as New Mexico that have a higher RES than the bill proposes would not be affected, but states with no RES or a lower one would have to comply with the 15 percent RES. Though many renewable energy groups and advocates maintain that 15 percent renewable energy by 2012 isn’t an aggressive enough goal, many welcome the new standalone bill. Marchant Wenthworth, deputy legislative director of the Union of Concerned scientists, said that while the proposed RES is not perfect, the U.S. cannot afford to wait any longer to create a national clean energy policy. “[If passed] it would keep us in the clean energy race and begin to address the need to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector,” he said. Sean Garren, clean energy advocate for
ON THE HILL: The proposed RES would require 15 percent of electricity be from renewable sources by 2021.
Environment America, said that while the standard is weaker than America can and should achieve, the Senate must pass the bill quickly to deliver to the entire country benefits that states with standards already enjoy. Biomass Power Association President Bob Cleaves emphasized the bill’s job generating capabilities. “The RES would help create clean energy jobs in every state in the union, including in the Southeast, where there is enormous potential for biomass industry growth,” he said.
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 21
State funds boost WTE plant's progress BY LISA GIBSON Three years after its start, a waste-to-energy (WTE) facility proposed in International Falls, Minn., is slowly moving forward, having been given a jump start by the release of $2.5 million in state funding that was announced in 2008, but delayed because of complications and specifications in the language of the agreement. Koochiching County Economic Development Authority, planning agency for the project, will use the money for preliminary engineering and preconstruction and design work, according to Paul Nevanen, director of KEDA. When the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency first awarded the money, the agency thought it would be used for feasibility studies, warranting changes in the agreement before the money could be released. “We had to go back and finesse,” Nevanen said. Feasibility studies had been conducted, but made obvious the need for further engineering and design work. “The first round of
feasibility studies actually raised more questions than it answered,” Nevanen said. The state money, which will be matched by the U.S. DOE, will allow KEDA to look more deeply into the project and address issues the studies raised, he said. The facility will employ a plasma gasification technology capable of running on municipal solid waste, woody biomass, wastewater sludge and other feedstocks, although no contracts have been put in place. “We’ve identified the feed shed; where that radius would be,” Nevanen said, adding that KEDA has contacted most of its potential sources and is more than confident in the available supply. KEDA will begin the permitting process in the first quarter of 2011 and if all goes well, a build team will be put together in 2012. But past delays are a reminder of the lengthy development process. “Nothing has gone according to plan,” Nevanen laughed.
“We’ve lost of a lot of steam here.” The funding was the biggest hurdle in moving forward, but KEDA is also struggling with other significant changes made between the project’s initial proposal in 2007 and today. Originally, the agency thought it would need about 100 tons per day of feedstock, but has reconfigured the number to 180 tons per day, he cited. “There’s always going to be room for change,” he said. KEDA has also been in discussions with a local paper mill for offtake agreements, although nothing has been agreed upon. Ideally, KEDA would find an industrial partner that could complement its natural gas with syngas from the facility. Nevanen said the process has been frustrating, KEDA has learned a lot and would probably do some things differently if it could start over. “All of our partners have been very patient,” he said. “We’ve got a great team in place. It’s just moving the funds.”
Taylor Biomass expects millions in federal funding BY LISA GIBSON With two New York politicians behind him, Jim Taylor, president of New Yorkbased Taylor Biomass, is poised to receive final approval from the U.S. DOE for a $100 million loan guarantee that will allow construction of a biomass gasification facility and expansion of the company’s existing recycling operations. The Montgomery, N.Y., project is being constructed near the Taylor Recycling Facility and will generate 20 megawatts of electricity through gasification of waste wood, municipal solid waste (MSW) and possibly construction and demolition debris. The expansion will increase the company’s capacity to 450 tons per day of construction and demolition debris, 100 tons per day of wood waste and 500 tons per day of MSW, according to Taylor Biomass. The recycling facility currently at the 95-acre site has a capacity of 307 tons per day of construction and demoli-
tion (C&D) debris and 100 tons per day of wood waste. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., have both visited the existing Taylor Biomass site and subsequently have personally spoken with DOE Energy Secretary Steven Chu in support of the proposed expansion. “After years of work, we are at the one year line with this project,” Schumer said in a statement. “Over $100 million in investments and hundreds of jobs are within our grasp. Once the project is completed, this will be the preeminent place in the country for people to learn about biomass energy, and other pioneering companies will be encouraged to choose the region for their new projects. This investment isn’t just good news for Taylor Biomass and the people they will employ, but good news for the entire Hudson Valley economy.”
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The facility will be the nation’s first commercial biomass gasification plant to use MSW, according to Hinchey’s office. It will create 400 local jobs during construction and another 80 full-time positions once operational. The plant has strong support from the community, according to Hinchey, including Orange County, which has committed to supplying it with solid waste. Proposed upgrades to the facility include improvements to the existing C&D processing structure, construction of a new post collection separation facility structure, two biomass storage silos, the gasification unit and a power generation pad, according to Taylor Biomass. The company has also received funding for the project through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the 18-month construction period is underway.
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Enviva acquires pellet plants, expands production BY LISA GIBSON
Enviva LP, manufacturer of processed biomass fuels, has acquired two U.S. wood pellet plants and will increase both facilities’ capacities by tens of thousands of tons to meet demands of its customers in both the U.S. and Europe. Most recently, Enviva acquired Tomorrow Energy’s Piney Woods pellet plant in Wiggins, Miss., and will increase its capacity from 50,000 tons per year to 150,000 tons. The plant will be renamed Enviva Pellets Wiggins and will provide 22 more jobs and another 30 throughout its logging and forestry supply chain, according to Enviva. The company has also acquired an Amory, Miss., pellet plant formerly known as CKS Energy Inc. Newly named Enviva Pellets Amory, the plant will ramp up production from 50,000 tons to more than 100,000 tons, according to the company. Since pellet manufacture is a capital-intensive business, both facilities will require investments in substantial new processing equipment, according to John Keppler, Enviva chairman and CEO. “We’re anxious and enthusiastic about deploying capital into expanding these facilities and delivering some pretty significant environmental benefits,” he said, declining to release a cost estimate for the expansions. Keppler said Enviva views the market for pellets from a utility perspective to be mainly in Europe, but expects a larger adoption of biomass fuels for fossil fuel replacement in the U.S. over time. “In the very near term, a significant portion of our demand is over-
24 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
seas, but increasingly, we’re working with U.S. customers on meeting their renewable energy needs with biomass,” he said. Enviva has been a biomass supplier since 2004 and has built an expansive portfolio of customers, Keppler said. “Each of these facilities will be an important part of our global fulfillments against the contracted demand that we have,” he said. The Amory facility has already been expanded within its existing infrastructure, but the full build-out of both facilities should be complete in the first or second quarter of 2011, Keppler said, adding that Enviva has customers waiting for the expansion and prepared to purchase more biomass fuel.
Mendel plants miscanthus on reclaimed mining land BY LISA GIBSON
Mendel Biotechnology and Ohio-based coal mining company Oxford Resource Partners will team up for a pilot project that will experiment with growing Mendel’s proprietary miscanthus varieties on Oxford’s reclaimed mining lands. A small trial crop has been planted this year in eastern Ohio to establish a baseline performance for miscanthus and to conduct studies into the potential of the perennial grass on the nutrient-poor lands, according to Rasto Ivanic, senior director of business development for Mendel. Reclaimed lands offer opportunities for energy crops on several levels, Ivanic said. First, the land is less productive in traditional food agriculture, making a low-input crop like Rasto Ivanic, senior miscanthus an attractive option. The lands are director of business also surrounded by a working transportation development for Mendel, says planting infrastructure, allowing efficient production energy crops on and delivery to power plants. Finally, perennial reclaimed mining crops such as miscanthus establish extensive land would benefit root structures in the soil, which stabilize the the existing energy reclaimed land and help to reduce erosion, he infrastructure, Ohio's agricultural community said. The root structures also enrich the soil and the environment. with carbon, contributing to a favorable carbon profile of biomass production in general, but particularly in reclaimed lands. The crops in the trial will be used for testing by Mendel and its partners, but if the project succeeds in developing a robust biomass
MOVING ON MISCANTHUS: Mendel and Oxford are growing Mendel's miscanthus varieties on Oxford's reclaimed mining lands.
production system, they could be used in renewable energy production, Ivanic said. The multiyear project and its scale-up will be determined by the needs and objectives of the project and partners. Partnerships like this help end-users and crop developers gain experience with miscanthus in a bioenergy industry that’s still in its early stages with many unknowns, Ivanic said. “We see this MendelOxford trial as an opportunity to connect traditional energy with renewable energy in a way that creates new opportunities rather than being a ‘zero-sum-game.’ We believe the production of energy crops on reclaimed mining land would be a win-win-win opportunity for existing energy infrastructure, the Ohio agricultural community and the environment.”
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 25
Equipment manufacturers are designing harvesting and handling machinery tailored to biomass material, but marketing those systems outside of Europe is proving difficult without robust biomass markets. By Lisa Gibson
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NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 27
he claw-like mechanism on John Deere’s woody biomass harvester and bundler grabs slash from the forest floor left behind by forestry and logging operations, compresses it by about 80 percent and then wraps and cuts it into slash logs about 10 feet long and 24 to 32 inches in diameter. Despite its size, the giant equipment moves smoothly and seemingly effortlessly through the forest, exerting about the same amount of pressure on the ground as would a walking human being. The John Deere 1490D Eco III Energy Wood Harvester is one of only a few commercialized machines that have been developed specifically for biomass handling, although many developers of these purpose-built, modified systems say a more robust biomass market would drive sales and spur more development of equipment still stranded in the research phases. From forest biomass to shortrotation, woody crops and herbaceous dedicated energy crops, U.S. markets seem to be lagging behind the European curve, prompting equipment developers to look overseas for models of effective harvesting and handling systems used in Europe’s already-developed biomass markets.
Filling a Need The 1490D was launched in 2002 in Finland, where forest biomass currently generates about 30 percent of electricity demand and most cities and villages employ wood-fired district heating systems. The machinery was released onto the U.S. market the following year, targeting loggers of both softwood and hardwood. Mike Schmidt, manager of forestry renewables for John Deere, says the equipment was a reaction to a market necessity. “It was a need,” he says. “In Europe, they’ve been in the renewable energy business for a long time. They needed a better way to collect slash. It’s a very difficult product to collect if you go out into the
28 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
woods to get it.” Development of the biomass harvester and bundler began in Sweden in the early 90s by a company called Timberjack and transferred to John Deere when it acquired Timberjack in 2000. “John Deere in essence completed the research and development of the machine,” Schmidt says. The system, a mounted bundler on a forwarder, has the capacity to compress, wrap and cut more than 25 bundles per hour, each weighing between 900 and 1,300 pounds and providing about 1 megawatt hour of energy, according to Schmidt. The extended-reach boom, purpose-designed grapple and ecofriendly design allow it to maneuver around a stand with minimal movement, leaving healthy trees and much of the forest floor untouched. The machine was originally designed to work with traditional forwarders and wheeled harvesters, but when modifying it for U.S. use, John Deere integrated it into U.S. systems, which can vary, Schmidt says. “When you’re talking about biomass harvesting, you’re talking about taking different combinations of traditional machines and integrating them with a machine like this 1490,” he says. “We’ve integrated it into every type of system to make it work around the U.S. and Canada.” The 1490D is at work in 16 countries and feedback has been positive, but U.S. markets have been slow to develop, Schmidt says. “We’ve got customers who want to buy the machine as soon as they have a market for that material,” he says, adding that markets are beginning to develop more quickly in states with renewable portfolio standards. “Biomass is by far the cheapest of the renewable energy and so you’re seeing more plants scrambling. And they’re having to go out and try to find biomass in untraditional ways, which brings in the bundling because you can haul these bundles on log trucks and can get into areas of the forest where you cannot get the chip vans.” Schmidt says those vital markets are growing rapidly and that will mean a substantial increase in demand for the biomass harvester.
PHOTO: JOHN DEERE
BUNDLING BIOMASS: John Deere's Energy Wood Harvester has the capacity to cut more than 25 bundles, weighing 900 to 1,300 pounds, an hour.
“It’ll spur sales and we’re trying to plan for that rush,” he says. The expected rush for forest woody biomass harvesting equipment could come any day and many manufacturers are preparing, but economics always have a significant influence. “Somebody just has to decide that it’s economically feasible to go ahead and purchase
those machines and put them to work,” says Tom Gallagher, associate professor of forest operations at Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences in Alabama. “And at the moment, on the baling and bundling side, it’s marginally economically feasible. On the chipping side, there are plenty of people out there doing
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PHOTO: TIM VOLK, SUNY ESF
WOODY CROP CHOPPER: Case New Holland's forage chopper can be fitted with a cutting head suitable for harvesting willow and poplar trees.
it already.” Chipping is economic as long as transport distance isn’t more than about 50 miles, but bundling and baling will need the market to pick up a little bit, he adds. “I believe we’re just starting with this,” Gallagher says. “As this process and opportunities develop, I think we’ll look to Europe because Europe’s kind of ahead of us with their higher fuel prices and they’re doing some of this already. I think there’s a lot of development that has to take place over here as we apply it to what I consider our existing conditions.” For instance, Europe already has efficient modified harvesters capable of handling short-rotation plantations of willow and poplar, he cites.
Willow and Poplar Chopper Tim Volk, senior research associate with the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse, had been bringing in equipment from Europe to harvest his research team’s willow and poplar trees
until he got a call from Case New Holland. “They said they could run a forage chopper through our willow,” Volk says. “And we said, ‘By all means, come and do it.’” The company developed a cutting head for its forage chopper that will cut and chip willow and poplar up to 4 inches in diameter. The forage chopper is traditionally used for corn or grass, but the new cutting head allows the conventional equipment to harvest short rotation woody crops as well. “So the advantage of this machine is that people can use it to harvest agricultural crops during the growing season and then after leaf fall, which is when we harvest, they can change the cutting head on the front of the machine and run it through willow and poplar,” Volk explains. Much like John Deere, Case New Holland developed its machine after seeing a need in the market, mainly in Europe. “We didn’t invent forage harvesting like this, but we’ve perfected it, if you will,” says Dave Wagner, brand marketing manager for New
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Holland. While several units have been sold in Europe where the wood chip industry is further along, Wagner says the equipment is still in experimental stages in North America, evaluating the end uses for the material. “The cutting head itself is ready now,” he says. “What we’re missing is really a stream of product to harvest and the ultimate uses of that product.” The header itself comes with a price tag of about $105,000 and the entire chopping package with a self-propelled harvester runs about $400,000, Wagner says, reiterating Volk’s point that the cutting head can be switched after traditional harvests, allowing for another viable season for use of the forage harvester to help put more hours on it and pay for itself sooner. A high-quality, salable product pays off, too. “In the past few years, the material we’ve been getting out of this system has been very nice,” Volk assures. “It’s very consistent quality and the chip size fits well within the specifications of all the end us-
EQUIPMENT¦ ers we’ve talked to. So people have generally been very happy with the end product that’s coming out of the machine.” Some coordinating and logistics issues remain, such as how to get the chips off the field fast enough and dump them into trucks, Volk says. His willow harvests have been going to heating plants and combined-heat-andpower plants, as well as coal plants. For the most part, hybrid poplar and other short-rotation woody energy crops in the U.S. cater to forestry equipment, planted farther apart and harvested only after it reaches a certain size suitable for the heavier-duty forest machinery. Europe, however, has tens of thousands of acres that are harvested using a more efficient modified sugarcane harvester. “Forestry equipment is not efficient for these crops,” Volk says. “You need to modify ag equipment.” There’s no question that a stronger biomass market in America would drive sales of that modified equipment, Wagner says. “If there were uses for the products that are created this way and there were a source for the raw material … we’re ready to go today,” he says, adding that it would take a few months to build more heads, but that’s just a drop in the bucket in the life cycle of a tree. Volk thinks the market for Case New Holland’s forage harvester and cutting head will develop with custom operators who will cut others’ wood crops, instead of landowners and loggers using the machinery themselves. It’s just too expensive for every landowner to own one. “Just like not everybody owns a combine or a forage harvester now,” he explains. “They often hire out that work to be done and I think that model will continue.”
to warrant forestry equipment. The Biobaler uses a large cutter drum and is pulled behind a traditional tractor. “It cuts the trees, chips them, throws them into a bale chamber and wraps them into a 4-by-4-foot, roughly halfton bale,” says Peter Gillitzer, Stempower president and co-founder. The Biobaler is the only commercial woody biomass baler on the market, Gillitzer says, adding that other brush cutters just shred the material on-site and blow the pieces back onto the ground, but don’t gather
it in an efficient way for use. “The main benefit is first you can use an existing tractor,” he emphasizes. “And the second is instead of a chip—where you’re basically locked in at that moisture content and you have to utilize that within three to six months—bales can be stored, inventoried and dried down. You’ll increase the Btu value of it.” Even with the material drying advantage, selling the machine has proven difficult because a lack of market for the product stands in the way. Gillitzer’s strategy has continued on page 33
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Baling Biomass Stempower Resources, based in St. Joseph, Minn., has experienced a similar lag in machine sales for the Biobaler, developed by Anderson Group in Quebec, Canada. Stempower is marketing the machinery in the upper Midwest, focusing on the area’s thick brush that is too dense for traditional agricultural machinery, but not thick enough
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 31
PHOTO: STEMPOWER RESOURCES
BRUSH BALER: The Biobaler can be pulled behind a traditional tractor and is ideal for thick brush biomass harvesting.
32 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
EQUIPMENT¦ continued from page 31
been to encourage a marriage between the Biobaler and land management, marketing to state and federal agencies and private landowners. “In the long term, I think it’s pretty attractive because it’s going to offer a type of material—small diameter trees and shrubs—that currently there’s no viable way to harvest,” he says.
Volume and Moisture One major challenge in harvesting dedicated energy crops is the volume of the material in comparison with agricultural crops, according to Sam Jackson, research assistant professor with the Center for Renewable Carbon at the University of Tennessee. “When you start talking particularly about dedicated energy crops, the volume of material of biomass per acre typically is far greater than anything that these folks have encountered in terms of harvesting hay crops, alfalfa crops and things like that,” he says. “So one of the hurdles they’re working to overcome is how do we efficiently handle this volume of biomass that in some cases
can be four times what a normal hay field might yield?” Dedicated energy crops are typically cut and mowed, then baled, while crop residues can be effectively harvested using bales or cob caddies, Jackson says. His team has been working with switchgrass and aims to develop an efficient single-pass harvesting system, with moisture content being the biggest hurdle. The team works with researchers from Genera Energy, a company developed by the university, and received a grant from the U.S. DOE to evaluate in-field chopping of switchgrass to replace baling. The experiment is expected to yield higher operating efficiencies, as the chopped material can be handled in a more automated way than large bales. Currently, though, the team uses relatively standard machinery. “Typically what we’ve used has been standard hay equipment that is unmodified or has been slightly modified with larger pickup heads or a higher-capacity throughput mower,” Jackson says.
That type of modification will be seen more in the herbaceous energy crop sector, he predicts, as minor modifications can typically make existing equipment suitable for the current scope of dedicated energy crops being harvested in the U.S. “There will be more specialized equipment in the future, but I think as of right now, you’re seeing most of these manufacturers being able to modify existing equipment.” Those manufacturers are certainly researching and testing new ideas, recognizing the market potential biomass represents. “All in all, I think they’re all fairly bullish on the market opportunity for them, and this investment—in terms of testing equipment, modifying equipment—is something that will pay off in the future for them,” Jackson says. Author: Lisa Gibson Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4952 email@example.com
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 33
Packing Heat and Power The biomass briquette business is rebounding after enduring tough economic times that drove some interest away from the industry. By Anna Austin
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NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 35
Weighing in on Briquettes Briquetting is largely an automated process, Smith says. “Generally speaking, we can briquette things in the range of 10 to 20
PHOTO: RENEW ENERGY SYSTEMS
ombusting compact biomass briquettes, cubes or logs for heat and power isn’t as common in the U.S. as it is in Europe, but it’s starting to make some headway in the country’s solid biomass fuel sector. Private and municipal power utilities, universities and others are interested in using the fuel as a means to reduce emissions, efficiently utilize waste streams that they would otherwise have to pay to dispose of or to meet renewable energy mandates such as state renewable portfolio standards. Wood or agriculture-based briquettes vary in weight and shape but are typically 10 to 12 times less the bulk density of the original biomass source and have an energy value of about 7,500 Btu per pound. The most important factors in producing briquettes are the type of biomass used and its particle size and moisture content, according to Steven Smith, managing partner of Renew Energy Systems, an Iowa-based equipment distributor for C.F. Neilson, which is a Denmark-based biomass briquette system manufacturer that has been selling machines globally since the 1980s.
POWERFUL PUCKS: Briquettes can be broken down into pucks or pieces and then packaged for residential or industrial use.
percent moisture, but it really depends on the type of feedstock,” he says. “For wood, we want that number to be somewhere between 8 and 15 percent moisture.” Once proper moisture content is determined, or the material is dried, the bri-
quetting process begins with feeding the biomass into the system. From there, the process is relatively simple—the material is compressed, pressured and heated to between 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In Renew’s system, the material is fed out of
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DENSIFICATION¦ the machine in a continuous line and cut into 4½- to 5-pound briquettes and packaged into 20-pound bags for residential use, or broken into pucks or pieces for industrial use. The largest machine, which comes with a $325,000 to $400,000 price tag, is capable of processing about 1 ton of briquettes every half hour, up to 2 tons per hour. “If you’re briquetting straw, miscanthus, switchgrass, hay or anything very spongy that doesn’t have a lot of density, you won’t get 2 tons an hour,” Smith explains. “With hickory or oak, we can pack more punch into a foot, and the brick is a lot heavier.” Dave Schmucker, president of California-based Biomass Briquette Systems LLC, points out that some agricultural feedstocks such as miscanthus and switchgrass, depending on how the machine is built, may need some type of binder. “A wood feedstock binds well because it has lignin in it,” he says. “Others don’t, so you’ll have to add a binder or mix in some other feedstock that has a natural binder.”
performs the installation. The company’s Chairman and CEO Bill Brake says Web page contains a feature allowing buy- the 1¼x1¼x2 inch cubes, which are comers and sellers of densified fuel to post ads posed of locally sourced wood and agriat no charge. cultural feedstocks, have about the same While Renew Energy and Bioenergy content as coal. “We mass Briquette primarily provide know customers need somebriquetting systems to customers, thing that looks, handles and Cliffs Natural Resources subsidiary performs as much like coal as Renewafuel LLC has entered the bripossible,” he says. quetting business from a different To make their product angle—building, owning and opermore economical, Renewaating plants that serve as alternative fuel’s transportation rule of fuel suppliers. Renewafuel’s product, Bill Brake, chairman thumb is 75 miles to source CEO of which is smaller and in the shape of and the feedstock and 150 miles to Renewafuel LLC, a cube, differs slightly from typical says their goal deliver the finished product. is to produce a briquettes. “Our model is very much refuel that The company recently complet- biomass gional—from the collection to looks, handles ed construction of its first full-scale and performs as the processing and delivery of much like coal as biomass cube production plant in biomass,” Brake says. Marquette, Mich., and is focusing on possible. Beyond coal replacemarketing the cubes as a cofiring opments, a biomass briquette or tion for large-scale coal-fired utilities. cube may serve as an attractive
Choosing a System Biomass Briquette Systems currently markets two commercial-sized briquetters, a hydraulic system and a mechanical system. “Hydraulics are typically, but not always, less expensive overall, and they are slower with lower production, so they’re good for small- to medium-size operations,” Schmucker explains. “Mechanical systems are usually used in high-volume operations and are more expensive.” Similar to Renew Energy, Biomass Briquette System’s machines are manufactured overseas, but engineered and designed in the states to ensure that they meet U.S. standards. The company has a parts warehouse in southern California, and manufactures support equipment including silos, grinders and augers to feed the biomass into the briquetters. Renew is also the exclusive U.S. distributor for Denmark-based LIN-KA’s biomass boiler systems. Biomass Briquette Systems aids in the design and layout of a briquette plant and NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 37
¦DENSIFICATION alternative to pellets, depending on the desired end use.
PHOTO: CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES
Briquettes Versus Pellets
COMPACT CUBES: Renewafuel recently completed construction of its first full-scale biomass cube production plant in Marquette, Mich.
38 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
Briquette producers believe their process is more efficient than pelleting because the biomass materials they use don’t necessarily have to be preprocessed or uniformly ground up, according to Smith. If they do have to be preprocessed, the preparation required is less forgiving than it is when making pellets. “Because of the mass of a briquette compared with the small pellet, we’re able to briquette things that can’t be pelletized,” he says. “For example, we can briquette manure, and we’ve briquetted things such as pepperoni sausage casings from food processing plants.” Briquetting waste byproducts and using them on-site for energy rather than transporting them to another location or to a landfill can save on disposal costs. Renew has a mobile briquette system that can be set up inside or outside a factory to briquette waste materials. “Obviously geographic factors are limiting, but the connection time is a lot quicker than if we set up a whole feed system in a factory,” Smith says. Further comparing briquettes to pellets, Smith says they generally use less horsepower to produce—Renew’s largest machines, including the feed system, use about 105 horsepower (HP). Schmucker says Biomass Briquette’s largest machines use 100 HP motors, but the cost of running them largely depends on the regional power rates. Based on those rates, the company will help customers determine the cost of running their machines. Schmucker says that from a capital purchase standpoint, the machines used to make briquettes are less expensive and require less maintenance than pellet machines. There are advantages to using pellets, however, he points out. “Pellets have been considered more of a residential fuel even though they are used in some larger, commercial applications, Schmucker says. “Arguably, if you’re doing a lot of trans-
PHOTO: RENEW ENERGY SYSTEMS
ON A ROLL: Interest in biomass briquettes has increased as coal-fired power plants look for renewable alternatives.
porting, after you densify a pellet and put it into a container you get more pounds per foot than you would a briquette, especially if the briquettes are larger, just because of the air between them when they are stacked.” Overall, it’s a matter of the application and purpose, he adds.
permit new facilities or expand the capacity of existing facilities and need a fuel to help them become compliant with regulations,” he says.
An operator who burns bulk fuel month after month must have the proper heat output and furnace stability to switch fuels, Brake says. “Understanding the type of furnace they have, the type of coal they are currently using and the type of delivery system that they have determines the variety of biomass blends and configurations that we think would work best. What works best in a suspension type pulverized coal boiler is not necessarily at all the same fuel that would work well in a traditional stoker bed.” Overall, Brake adds, biomass fuel runs the gamut of users and motivations. “In general, we’re finding that the enlightened user understands the value [of biomass] and the need to adapt.” Author: Anna Austin Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4968 firstname.lastname@example.org
Business and Interest Business in the past few years has fluctuated, Smith says. “We went through a period where interest was huge, but the economy drove some of that away and we saw a decline in equipment sales.” Lately, the value of the euro and the U.S. dollar has been more balanced and that’s been a bright spot for Renew. “The equipment that we sell is made in Denmark, so it’s imported and sold in euros,” he says. “When it was 1:5 or 1:6 a year-and-a-half ago, it was much more difficult to afford than now—it’s at about 1:2 right now. So as far as getting equipment imported from Europe, it’s a whole lot cheaper and that interest is coming back.” New interest is also being driven by state and federal legislation prompting utilities and other companies to look at energy and biomass systems, he says. Mindset and adaptability of customers plays a big role as well, according to Brake. “We’re doing test burns with utilities, and there’s interest from some who want to
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 39
JAM PACKED: The tabletizer can squeeze four times as much material into a tablet as a baler can wrap hay into a bale.
40 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
Energy Tablets Researchers in Missouri have developed a biomass compactor they say can produce tablets with higher material density, and therefore higher energy density, than other unified biomass products on the market. By Lisa Gibson
PHOTO: BRADFORD RESEARCH AND EXTENSION CENTER
esse VanEngelenhoven and his colleagues had two goals in mind when they began designing their biomass compressor. They wanted to develop a system that yielded a product sized somewhere between bales and pellets, and perhaps more important, they were determined to make the system less energy intensive than the pelletizing process.
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 41
¦INNOVATION Three years later, VanEngelenhoven, research director of Columbia, Mo.-based Ecologic Tech, has real physical evidence that the idea holds water, or in this case biomass. With the help of the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research and Extension Center, VanEngelenhoven and fellow researchers constructed the tabletizer, a machine that compacts biomass so tightly it can squeeze four times as much material into a tablet as a hay baler can wrap into a bale. “Conventional methods of unitizing biomass are either balers or pelletizers,” VanEnglenhoven says. “What we wanted to do is try to fill that gap and be more efficient than the pelletizers.” Work on the system began in 2007 and took off in 2009 with receipt of a U.S. DOE grant to build.
PHOTO: ECOLOGIC TECH
The partnership between Ecologic Tech and the Bradford Research and Extension Center was a no-brainer, as the two have complementary research opportunities and an existing relationship through the University of Missouri. Ecologic Tech was founded in 2000 by a retired MU civil engineering professor who had been with the school for 30 years. “We have a close relationship,” VanEngelenhoven says of his company and the university. “Bradford Research farm had the biomass and the facilities to build the machine and to provide biomass. With the relationship we already had with the university, it worked out really well.” Bradford owns 600 acres of
TONS OF TABLETS: The tabletizer tightly compacts biomass without the need for additional binders.
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land planted with switchgrass, wheat, miscanthus and corn, and leases another 280 acres planted with the same crops, according to Tim Reinbott, farm superintendent. Harvests from Bradford’s fields are traditionally used for other testing such as in research projects for graduate students and faculty at the university, he adds. But biomass isn’t the only thing the Bradford center contributed to the project. The tabletizer was built in Bradford’s lab and represents the first piece of biomass equipment to take up space there, Reinbott says, adding that his team’s research focuses mostly on in-field evaluation and testing dealing with harvesting, crop rotation and economics. “[Ecologic Tech] did the design and we just provided the area for them to do it,” he says. Testing on the equipment was also done in the lab and, besides Bradford’s crops and residues, also featured sawdust, wood chips, pine cones and waste paper. “The only thing that didn’t really behave itself without a little bit of effort was the switchgrass,” VanEngelenhoven says. “Everything compacted really well.” Reinbott echoed that conclusion, saying corn stover seemed to yield the best tablet product.
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The tabletizer works like this: a hopper with a hydraulic motor turns the auger and feeds the 4- to 6-inch diameter cylindrical mold with biomass. Then a ram pounds the biomass tightly into the mold, shrinking the material from about 10 inches to 2, which
PHOTO: BRADFORD RESEARCH AND EXTENSION CENTER
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FARMING FEEDSTOCK: The Bradford Research and Extension Center provides biomass for testing in the tabletizer.
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PHOTO: BRADFORD RESEARCH AND EXTENSION CENTER
COMPRESSION CRACKERJACK: The Tabletizer squeezes biomass into high-material density tablets that weigh about 1.2 pounds each.
44 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
is smaller than most biomass briquettes. “Basically, it squeezes the snot out of it,” VanEngelenhoven laughs. The mold then turns and ejects the compacted tablet. The pressure exerted on the biomass in the mold is about 20,000 pounds per square inch, enough to force the material to adhere together without additional binders. “We don’t put anything extra in it,” VanEngelenhoven says. Long, coarsecut feedstocks are favorable in the process, as they stick together more easily, he adds. The resulting tablets have an average density of 55 pounds per cubic foot, compared with average bale density of 15 pounds per cubic foot and pellet density of about 45 pounds per cubic foot, VanEngelenhoven boasts. “So it’s significantly better than a baler, but it uses more energy as well,” he says. “So in that realm, you have to try to compare how much energy this machine is using versus another machine and is there one that’s inherently better? And the answer is, it depends on what you want it to do.” If the densified material is being used at a power plant or to burn for heat in a home, a bale doesn’t fit the bill because it’s too big, VanEngelenhoven says. “So if you want something smaller, you can go with pellets, or now you have this option.” Each tablet weighs about 1.2 pounds and the time it takes to produce them depends on how much material is being compacted and how fluffy it is, VanEngelenhoven says. He considers corn stover, corn stalks and switchgrass to be fluffy. “The density is really low and you have to get a lot of volume to get to 1.2 pounds.” The tablets have not been tested extensively for energy density, but VanEngelenhoven says the higher material density will bring along with it higher energy density. The experiments have been geared toward use of the tablets in power plants, but VanEngelenhoven says he has not evaluated whether the material would make good feedstock for gasification processes.
INNOVATION¦ Testing thus far has centered on the speed of tablet production and energy use. By comparison, VanEngelenhoven says pelletizers on average produce between 20 and 30 pounds of biomass per horsepower of energy per hour. “We were trying to beat that number and, given the measurements we took and the speed that the machine operates at, we were able to basically double that number,” he says.
Scaling Up The tabletizer has only been constructed on a lab scale, but a commercial system wouldn’t be much bigger in size. “This will produce the size of tablets that we want, but the difference between this and a commercial-scale machine would be that a commercial machine would need a bigger hydraulics system,” VanEngelenhoven says. A commercial system would also need a larger motor than the lab-scale’s 20 horsepower engine in order to operate heavier hydraulics and make the machine economically feasible. Ecologic Tech has applied for more DOE funding to help with the build out, but does not yet know if it will receive the money. Scaling up, unfortunately, is dependent on outside funding and if that grant doesn’t come through, the company will look to commercial partners to push forward. “The timeline is really funding dependent,” VanEngelenhoven says. “Right now we’re kind of in a place where we want to further develop the machine, but the cost associated with building the next prototype makes it prohibitive for us. Since we’ve got other technologies in our stable that appear to be more profitable, that’s where we’re devoting our resources at this time.” Reinbott hopes to spark interest in some of the students doing projects at the extension center in further developing the system and helping with the scale up. Many have expressed a desire to pursue the project and Reinbott says they realize the importance of such a process. “We’d like to see it fully developed,” he says. “I think there’s more to do and further testing.” Costs for the commercialized system will be $100,000 to $200,000 but most likely will not be for single-user applications. “Most people won’t be able to use the entire capacity of the machine by themselves,” VanEngelenhoven says. “We are talking 17,000 tons per year and that’s a lot of biomass.” As international export trends develop for wood pellets, one can’t help but wonder if the tablets could enter and enhance those markets. VanEngelenhoven responds with an enthusiastic yes. “Absolutely,” he says. “Simply because we can produce a product that has a significantly higher density than pellets and so because of that fact, our shipping costs will be lower and our energy density will be higher.” Author: Lisa Gibson Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4952 firstname.lastname@example.org
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NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 45
STUDYING SWITCHGRASS IN THE FIELD: A Ceres switchgrass researcher collects field data in a breeding nursery.
46 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
Researchers in the Southern U.S. are drilling into the challenges of establishing dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass in anticipation of increased demand. By Anna Austin
PHOTO: CERES INC.
iomass utilization isn't the only way to meet rising energy demand and decrease fossil fuel use, but it will play an important role in the future of renewable energy. This perennial grass has only been studied as an energy source the past 30 years or so, but compared with centuries-old corn and soybeans, switchgrass has the potential to be an important crop, especially in the Southern U.S. David Parrish, a retired agronomist and professor at Virginia Tech, where he says the story of switchgrass began, says switchgrass is a good candidate for a dedicated energy crop for electricity or biofuel production but advancements need to be made. Parrish has studied the establishment and management of switchgrass for more than 30 years, and took part in the U.S. DOEâ€™s initial research project to study switchgrass as an energy crop. One of the first steps to growing switchgrass is selecting an appropriate variety, Parrish says.
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 47
¦SWITCHGRASS Choosing a Variety
Switchgrass is generally categorized Switchgrass has three main establishinto upland and lowland varieties, but ment enemies—weeds, dry ground and Parrish says the title of each has little seed dormancy, which is commonly conrelevance to where they are and can be sidered the biggest hurdle. grown. “The titles imply that the lowlands “If you harvest switchgrass seed diare found in river bottoms and uplands rectly from the plant and plant that seed, are found in drier areas, but it won’t grow,” Parrish says. that’s not necessarily the case,” Ninety-five percent of switchhe says. “Lowland types may grass seed will not germinate. be found in drier sites and can “If you look at the seed tag inbe productive there as well. A formation on the bag, it will rebetter generalization for them port that the seeds are 80 to 90 is that the lowland types are percent germinable. That’s true, southern/southeastern and the but those tests are done when upland types are more north- David Parrish, they’ve performed a procedure retired agronomist ern.” Lowland varieties are not that breaks the dormancy.” hardy and wouldn’t survive well and professor at So how do you get the seeds Virginia Tech, says in harsh weather conditions switchgrass is a to germinate? There are a couple found in the northern U.S., Par- promising dedicated of ways to do that on a commerenergy crop but rish adds. cial scale, the first is a biologiadvancements in Once a variety is chosen, crop production still cal process called after ripening. the next step is to get the crop need to be made. “If you just leave it for a couple established. of years, [its dormancy] disap-
GRAND STAND: Switchgrass planted on good soil in the South should yield 8 to 10 tons per acre.
48 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
pears,” Parrish says. “It naturally becomes more germinable over time. That won’t work from the seed salesman’s standpoint because he wants to sell it, but the grower can plan two or three years ahead of time and hold on to the seed until it’s ready to germinate in a few years.” The other way to break dormancy is a process called stratification, where seed is moistened and exposed to a cool environment. This mimics what happens in nature when seeds fall from the plants and onto the ground during winter and when spring approaches, they are ready to germinate. This can be done with a 100-pound bag of seed by dropping it into a garbage can full of water, letting the seed soak up the water, pulling it out and letting most of the water drain off, according to Parrish. The bag should then be enclosed in a plastic bag to retain moisture, placed in a refrigerator and stored at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for a month.
TO MATERIAL HANDLING
TINY SEEDS, BIG YIELDS: Switchgrass seeds may be small and slow to germinate, but once the crop is established the plants can survive for 10 to 15 years.
“The real problem comes when you take the seed out of the cool temperature, because now it is ready to germinate so the seed has to be dried very quickly,” he says. Spreading the seed out and drying it with fans is a quick solution. It is extra work, but it could be the difference between success and failure in establishment, or having to buy 20 times more seed, if only 5 percent is germinable, Parrish says. The cost of seed varies, mainly depending on whether it is an upland or lowland variety, says Frank Hardimon, certified crop adviser and director of sales at Ceres/Blade Energy Crops. “A good lowland variety will vary, but for seeding cost per acre, generally it will be about $100 to $120 per acre, depending on the amount of pure live seed that you are putting on,” he says. Parrish says if demand for switchgrass suddenly goes up, as it did during the 1980s in response to the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program, farmers will want to get by with as little seed
as they can because prices will go up. “There are almost a quarter million seeds in a pound, so if you get every one of them to germinate, you’ll have plenty of switchgrass just planting a couple of pounds per acre,” he says. Perennial grasses are typically slow to establish, says Chuck West, an agronomist/forage and biomass physiology and ecology professor at the University of Arkansas-Monticello. “Annual crops establish quickly because they have to; they only have one growing season to complete their life cycle,” he says. “Switchgrass seeds are very small—small packets of energy that provide for seedling growth—and the smaller it is, the less energy it has.” Unlike switchgrass, which is slow to germinate and emerge, the weeds that grow amongst it are mostly annuals and are genetically programmed to germinate fast and take over. Parrish recommends spraying the whole field to kill off existing vegetation or burning it off, if there is enough crop residue to sustain a fire, a
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NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 49
ÂŚSWITCHGRASS 'Some varieties have been improved, but itâ€™s still very much a wild species. When we do fully understand its biology and needs, it will serve us well; itâ€™s just going to take some time.' â€•David Parrish, retired agronomist and professor, Virginia Tech
month or so before planting. â€œThen plant into that killed and burned stubble,â€? he says. â€œThere will be some that escapeâ€” perennial weeds that germinate and come up after the sprayâ€”so a second shot at planting time to catch emerging weeds should level the playing field.â€?
Harvesting and Yields In Virginia, Parrish says he has seen the best success when switchgrass was planted in about the third week of June. â€œWeâ€™ve found itâ€™s best to wait and plant after the soil is fully warm, but also being mindful of weeds germinating during that time.â€?
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Of course, planting late means harvesting will be late. â€œIf you harvest late, after it goes through that natural die-back, then youâ€™ve got a better quality biomassâ€”itâ€™s lower in nitrogen content and already dry, so a farmer can cut it and bale it in the same day,â€? Parrish says. When using the grass for pyrolysis, gasification or biochemical processes, nitrogen can negatively impact the quality, Parrish says. Because the nitrogen stays in the soil, farmers donâ€™t have to add more nitrogen into the soil. While a farmer may not initially notice the advantage of harvesting switchgrass late, it will become more apparent over time. â€œIf you wait until September to November to harvest, youâ€™re going lose about 10 percent of your yield, but thatâ€™s only for one year,â€? Parrish says. â€œIf you look at it over multiple years, youâ€™ll find that harvesting before the die-back has occurred will reduce yields in the next year because the plant is weakened.â€? On good soil in the South, a realistic target is 8 to 10 tons per acre, according to West. In some southern locations with poorer soilâ€”rocky, sloping or sandyâ€” yields will be in the 5 to 7 ton per acre range. â€œDuring the first year, if you can get your switchgrass plots to about knee high in September, thatâ€™s great,â€? he says. â€œIf you can get it waist high, thatâ€™s phenomenal. Youâ€™ve got a fantastic stand if you have one plant for every 2 square feet.â€? Growers should consider the concepts of switchgrass establishment and growth or yield separately because at the end of the first year the plants may not even be worth harvesting, but the establishment could still be excellent, West says. â€œItâ€™s really getting the plants to come up and survive all that weed pressure. Once youâ€™re over the one- to 1Â˝-year establishment barrier, switchgrass may be there for 10 to 15 years, so annual costs become minimal. While interest in planting switchgrass is growing, its growth rate hinges on one factorâ€”demand. â€œIf there was a market for switchgrass, more farmers would probably grow it,â€? Parrish says.
SWITCHGRASS¦ Market-Driven Interest Establishing a market for the crop involves getting farmers to do something out of their comfort zone and building facilities to use the crop. “Based on my observations and conversations, [energy crops haven’t] really caught on with farmers at-large,” Parrish says. He believes that has much to do with some farmers being set in traditional ways of doing things. “Many aren’t ready to try something new, and like what already works.” In Arkansas, nobody is jumping into it because there are no buyers for the biomass. West says. “Farmers aren’t likely to grow a new crop unless they’re sure there’s an end market—meaning a contract with an end-user,” Hardimon adds. “It could even be an export opportunity; they just want the economics to work out.” Hardimon provides support between biorefineries or utilities interested in biopower applications and farmers who want to grow energy crops for them. He’s been involved in growing switchgrass for a Genera Energy, DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol and University of Tennessee project, and says this spring he supervised the planting of more than 1,000 acres of switchgrass, which are faring well. Part of Hardimon’s work involves holding educational meetings for farmers interested in growing switchgrass and other energy crops to discuss soil preparation, correct seed planting depth and what problems may emerge. “When a project is getting off the ground, these grower meetings are critical to set expectations for the project,” he says. Parrish, West and Hardimon all agree that if the Biomass Crop Assistance Program is adequately revised and running again, it would help get things moving. “It will help alleviate some of the costs and risks of establishment and make it more attractive,” West says. “Even then though, there is no big biomass user or power plant that I know of in or near Arkansas using biomass. When a user does
get established here, the word will go out that they’re looking for producers and that might change. We have a lot of land in Arkansas that switchgrass would do very well on—better than row crops—some of which has been abandoned or underutilized.” BCAP will help, Hardimon says, but the U.S. also needs to focus more on renewable energy and provide funds to build qualified conversion facilities, which will be tied to growing the crops.
Switchgrass is not an established crop so there is still much to learn about it, Parrish says “Some varieties have been improved, but it’s still very much a wild species,” he says. “When we do fully understand its biology and needs, it will serve us well; it’s just going to take some time.” Author: Anna Austin Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4968 email@example.com
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NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 51
BY CHAD DARBY AND DANIELLE LENZINI
Biomass Boilers —Déjà Vu?
A proposed new Maximum Achievable Control Technology standard that would impose stricter hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emission limits and other requirements on biomass boilers and process heaters could lead to greater expenditures, and the financial tipping point, for some operators. If this feels like déjà vu, it is. BY CHAD DARBY AND DANIELLE LENZINI
n April 29, the U.S. EPA issued the proposed National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters, 40 CFR Subpart DDDDD, including requirements for both new and existing sources. This rule is often referred to as Boiler MACT. The proposed rule replaces EPA’s original 2004 rule, which was vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In the original rule, there were requirements for single categories of new and existing biomass boilers. In the latest proposed rule, new and existing biomass boilers are each broken into four subcategories, which are based on boiler type: stoker, fluidized bed, suspension burner/Dutch oven and fuel cell. Emission limits are proposed by subcategory for five air pollutants: particulate matter, hydrogen chloride, mercury, carbon monoxide and dioxin/furan. Figures 1-5 provide a comparison by pollutant of the original proposed 2004 MACT emission limits to the new proposed MACT emission limits, categorized by combustion technology, for biomass boilers. On each graph the red bars represent the emission limits that would be imposed on existing biomass boilers and the blue bars represent the limits proposed for new biomass
The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Power & Thermal or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).
52 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
boilers. For particulate matter, hydrogen chloride, and mercury, the graphs show that the proposed MACT limits are much smaller than the original MACT limits. For carbon monoxide and dioxin/furan, there is a wide range of proposed limits by combustion technology, which could influence the choice of combustion technology for facilities proposing to install new biomass combustion units. Some technologies, such as fluidized bed designs, are recognized as being much more efficient at combustion and generally have lower carbon monoxide emissions than other technologies. However, this boiler type generally has a much higher capital equipment cost and now the proposed Boiler MACT imposes a much lower emission limit, potentially dis-incentivizing this choice of a lower-emitting boiler design for future projects. One of the most significant complaints about the proposed Boiler MACT emission limits is that each limit was developed independently from the pool of boilers and process heaters for which EPA had available data. While existing boilers may meet some of the emission limits, industry groups are pointing out that no single boiler in the U.S. meets all of the standards. What this means is that every major source biomass boiler, to which the rule applies, would be required to install one or more control technologies to become compliant with all five of the pollutant categories. What concerns many biomass boiler owners is that the necessary controls may be prohibitively expensive. In the preamble of the proposed rule, EPA has stated: “We could not identify better HAP emissions reduction approaches that could achieve greater emission reduction of HAP than the control technology combination (fabric filter, carbon injection, scrubber and GCP (good combustion practices)) that we expect will be used to meet the MACT floor level of control.” In addition to expensive emission control systems, the proposed rule would also require that boilers rated at greater than
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 53
ÂŚREGULATION 100 million Btu per hour (MMBtu/hr) heat input install a continuous emission monitoring (CEM) system for carbon monoxide to demonstrate compliance with limits. Biomass boilers with a heat input greater than 250 MMBtu/hr would be required to install a particulate CEM system. Compliance with other emission limits could be demonstrated through fuel analysis, performance tests and parametric monitoring. All existing boilers will be required to conduct an energy assessment
to identify energy conservation measures, implement recordkeeping, and conduct reporting of compliance. Fortunately, small boilers (those under 10 MMBtu/ hr) will not have emission limits, and will only be subject to work practice standards which include a periodic tune-up of the boiler.
evaluate compliance with the proposed Boiler MACT. The boilers ranged from 31 to 450 MMBtu/hr of biomass heat input. Each was evaluated pollutant by pollutant using specific facility source test data, where available. Filterable Particulate Matter: Five of the 16 boilers would meet the particulate matter limit with existing conMeeting Proposed Limits trol devices, three would have to modify Golder Associates evaluated 16 bio- their control devices and eight would mass boilers at major source facilities to have to install a dry or wet electrostatic precipitator. Hydrogen Chloride: Six of the 16 boilers would be in compliance with the proposed limits and nine boilers had no data so the status is unknown. One boiler burns wood fuel previously in contact with saltwater and would need a 75 percent reduction in emissions by an added control device. Based on the data available, it appears that the hydrogen chloride limit could be met by most boilers, except for those with elevated chloride in the fuel from saltwater exposure or composite panel resin. Mercury: Four of the 16 boilers would be able to meet the proposed limit with existing controls and eight boilers do not have data so the status could not be determined. Four boilers would need an added control device to meet the proposed limit. It appears from the data that most boilers would be able to meet the proposed emission limit, unless the fuel contains elevated mercury content. If mercury emissions need to be You Just Canâ€™t Beat A Morbark reduced greater than 90 percent to meet For Speed And Consistency. the proposed limit, then changes to the If youâ€™re â€™ llooking ki to make k hay h with i h high hi high-speed h speedd sawdust d prod production, duction i fuel stream would be required because it look no further than Morbark. With a MorbarkÂŽ Horizontal Grinder is unlikely that add-on control devices or and a 16-knife Quick Switch option, you can produce hardwood carbon injection would be sufficient. sawdust for wood pellet production, direct co-ďŹ re input, or animal Carbon Monoxide: Four of the 16 bedding more efďŹ ciently than ever before. And whatâ€™s more impressive, you can get an unmatched 40 tons of hardwood sawdust per hour boilers would be in compliance with the with 95% 1/4â€? minus, all day â€“ every day. To see for yourself, go to proposed limits, and 12 boilers would www.morbark.com for a video demonstration and specs, or call need to reduce carbon monoxide emis800-831-0042 to set the time and place to see it in action. sions to comply. Many boilers have nitroSee it in action at www.morbark.com gen dioxide limits, and have been tuned to achieve lower nitrogen dioxide emis-
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REGULATION¦ sions, which can cause the boiler to emit carbon monoxide at a higher rate. It was assumed that up to a 30 percent reduction could be achieved through a combination of fuel handling improvements and combustion improvements; otherwise a control device would need to be installed. For most of the boilers Golder Associates reviewed, add-on controls would be necessary. Dioxin/Furan: Fifteen of the 16 boilers did not have any data and the compliance status was not known. The one boiler that did have emission data would need an 80 percent reduction in dioxins/furans to meet the proposed limit. Some solid waste was being added to the hogged fuel, which can contribute to high dioxin/furan emissions. Given the scarcity of data, it is unknown whether most boilers will need to install control equipment to meet the proposed limit. According to the EPA, rapid cooling of the boilers exhaust before a particulate control device, to less than 400 degrees Fahrenheit, can effectively control dioxin/furan emissions, but this may not be easy for existing boilers to achieve.
Boiler MACT rule by Dec. 16. EPA has received a one-month postponement until Jan. 16. According to a letter from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., “the final standards will most assuredly differ from the proposed ones.” This is in response to the significant number of comments EPA has received. When the rule is finally promulgated, existing biomass boilers will have three years in which to attain compliance with mandated requirements.
Authors: Chad Darby Senior Consultant, Golder Associates Inc. (503) 607-1820 Chad_Darby@golder.com Danielle Lenzini Senior Project Specialist, Golder Associates Inc. (503) 607-1820 Danielle_Lenzini@golder.com
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What’s Next? Based on Golder Associates’ review it was obvious that many biomass boilers have not been tested for all of the pollutants that will be the subject of emission limits in the Boiler MACT. A successful compliance strategy will be contingent on understanding a boiler’s emissions and to what degree they would need to be reduced in order to meet the MACT standards. Facilities that have not already conducted emissions testing should consider doing it now, before the final rule is promulgated. Source test companies and pollution control vendors may be stretched beyond capacity once the rule is finalized. Being prepared early may be critical. By court order, EPA was required to promulgate the final major source The solution behind the solution.
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 55
¦TECHNOLOGY BY JOHN HEEKIN
PHOTO: FECON INC.
FOREST FUEL: The RTC 22 chipper from Fecon transforms waste from cut-to-length logging operations into wood chips that can be sold to cogeneration plants, allowing the generation of cleaner electricity.
Harvesting Forestry and Logging Waste Profitably New technology developed by Fecon engineers and North Carolina State University forest experts turns green waste into gold. BY JOHN HEEKIN
f one man’s trash is another’s treasure, then harvesting that treasure and transforming it into a saleable resource just got easier. By modifying their field-proven line of mulchers and chippers, Fecon Inc. engineers, working with Joe Roise, an industry leader in forestry from North Carolina State University, have developed a line of biomass harvesters that transform the
slash and debris from forestry and logging operations into biomass fuel. These technologies provide another revenue stream for foresters, loggers and contractors who work in the woods and address ecological (and economic) concerns such as sustainable energy, forest fire fuels reduction and wildlife habitat restoration.
The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Power & Thermal or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).
56 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
Abundance of Opportunity Woody biomass in North American forests is a concern because the fast-burning underbrush provides a “ladder” for fires to reach tall tree tops, which is the fastest way to spread forest fires. The underbrush also endangers species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker because the brush allows predators easy access to their nests. At the same time, as a nation we are striving to enhance our production of sus-
PHOTO: FECON INC.
INTO THE WOODS: Fecon and Joe Roise, a North Carolina State University forestry expert, have been developing a line of biomass harvesters that transform the slash and debris form forestry and logging operations into fuel.
tainable energy. Clearly something must be done. Fecon engineers have developed new products to harvest the woody debris that is at the root of the problem, and use it for biomass power generation facilities. The electricity generated would be cleaner— emitting less CO2 into the atmosphere— while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. And the woody debris is carbon neutral because plants are part of the atmospheric carbon cycle. Currently, 27 states have renewable electricity standards in place—a measure of the importance of renewable and sustainable energy production. Each state has mandated that a certain percentage of their energy must be generated through sustainable means by a target date. For example, Ohio must generate 12.5 percent of its electricity demand through renewable resources by 2025. North Carolina, where Roise lives and works, is more aggressive,
targeting 12.5 percent of its retail electricity demand through renewable energy by 2021. While there are numerous cogeneration facilities around the country that can accept biomass materials, there are nowhere near enough to provide 12.5 percent of the retail electricity demand. That is due to several reasons—not the least of which is supply. Currently, the only way to economically harvest woody material for cogeneration facilities is to harvest mature trees and utilize the tops and branches. Residual biomass is a byproduct of traditional forest product harvesting and much of the cost is supported by saw timber and pulp. Thus the biomass supply will fluctuate with the demand for lumber and paper, which is not ideal for supplying energy to a cogen facility. Conventional forest harvesting requires workers with specialized equip-
ment, including feller bunchers and whole tree chippers. Add the costs to transport the harvested biomass to a cogen facility (which would be offset by the price the facility pays for clean cogen materials) and it is understandable why the geographic range for these activities is limited. It is only economically feasible to harvest biomass near cogen facilities. Because conventional methods harvest mature trees and leave the underbrush, the problems with ecosystem degradation and the potential for catastrophic forest fires still exist. “It is a chicken and egg situation,” Roise says. “Without a supply of material it does not make sense to build the plants – and without a market for the materials, why would you own the equipment?” But Roise and the Fecon team have a vision to change that by working together to build and test several variations of biomass harvesting technology.
NOVEMBER 2010 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 57
¦TECHNOLOGY Simple Concept, Difficult Delivery The Bio-Harvester started out as an adaptation to the Fecon line of mulchers, which are used to clear rights-of-way for utilities, remove underbrush to mitigate forest fuels loading and general land clearing for development and habitat restoration projects. Until now, the shredded material was left on the ground. With the Bio-Harvester, however, the shredded materials are collected and blown into an attached collection wagon called a hopper. When full, the hopper is emptied into a truck for transport to a cogeneration facility. Materials are handled once by a single operator, making it simpler and more economical to harvest. While the concept is simple, the devil is in the details. For starters, the rotor which contains the teeth that shred the woody materials is flipped so that it rotates backwards, discharging materials upward rather than downward. Previously the design used the ground as an anvil to help tear woody materials apart—now the upward rotation simplifies collection but at a cost (smaller diameter materials are targeted). A second technology—fitting a drum chipper onto a tracked carriage—is also being developed for harvesting biomass. So far, initial testing of both methodologies is promising. Operators are able to tweak the machines’ performance, bringing them closer to providing a machine that will increase the range of harvesting biomass further from cogeneration facilities.
Processing Parameters, Operator Preferences When the team designed and built the first prototype Bio-Harvester they were striving to produce 10 tons per hour of shredded green waste that could be harvested by a single operator. “The machine is designed for materials less than 8 inches in diameter at breast height,” says Mark Ferguson, Fecon product manager. “It is designed to gather materials that are not practically harvested by any other method.”
Fecon has also developed the RTC-22, a disc chipper mounted to a tracked machine called a forwarder, which chips waste material from logging operations and other forestry applications. This tracked carrier is equipped with a grapple to feed the woody debris into the chipper. The RTC can handle materials up to 22 inches in diameter, and has a processing speed of 35 to 40 tons per hour. “Each technology addresses a different need,” says Brian Sellers, RTC product manager. “The RTC is ideal for chipping of debris left from cut-to-length logging operations. If material is stacked and ready at a landing site, we can process 35 to 40 tons per hour of good quality fuel chips.” These production rates take into account the assumption that cogen facilities will pay $18 to $28 per ton for materials (the rates at time of initial testing). Naturally, if the price increases over these rates, then the operations have more leniencies in terms of their production rate, operating costs or profit margins. Additionally, some states (including Texas) have matching funds to supplement the price of biomass and help develop markets, or ensure an adequate supply of material. Also the federal Biomass Crop Assistance Program program will provide matching funds to biomass producers who deliver to a processing facility. These numbers do not take into account the fact that landowners currently pay $500 to $1,000plus per acre to mulch brush and hazardous fuels.
Fuels Reduction Potential In addition to the potential for developing sustainable energy and reducing dependence on coal or oil, the Bio-Harvester also shows potential for fuels reduction in forests, which are clogged with underbrush due to what could be considered the law of unintended consequences. “In the past 60 years or so we have been very successful in suppressing fires,” Roise says. “Unfortunately that has allowed the growth of brush to continue unchecked— creating an unprecedented buildup of flammable materials in the forest.”
58 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | NOVEMBER 2010
While eliminating this nuisance is important, using the materials for a beneficial purpose is why Roise and the Bio-Harvester team are excited about their success. Another unintended consequence of the growth of underbrush in our forests is that it alters ecosystems. Take the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, for example. When forest fires would naturally maintain the growth of brush, the red-cockaded woodpecker was relatively safe in its nests. As brush grows higher, though, its habitat becomes more undesirable as natural predators such as snakes can slither through the brush, giving easy access to the woodpeckers’ nests. Disappearing habitat has catapulted the red-cockaded woodpecker onto the list of endangered species. A Bio-Harvester test in North Carolina successfully re-established habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker by removing the hazardous fuel load and clearing the way for lower intensity prescribed fire treatments. As various states and the country as a whole seek to increase the percentage of electricity generated from renewable resources, biomass power generation is poised to provide more electricity to the grid. Until now, a stumbling block has been the supply of clean green waste to burn. One reason for that shortage is because operators using multiperson crews are limited to a short distance from the cogen facilities. This technology allows a single operator to profitably process materials for cogeneration or wood waste power plants. Seeing this equipment in action is an example of sustainability and keeping Americans employed making the equipment that allows contractors to work in the woods. More importantly, it is an example of turning trash into treasure—clean, sustainably generated electricity—that we can all enjoy. Authors: John Heekin President, Fecon Inc. (800) 528-3113 www.fecon.com
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