Page 1

November 2015

Delayed Departure Titanic Targets, Petty Progress for Military Biofuel Use Page 30

Plus: Army Biopower

Projects Proceed Page 12


Vermont National Guard Wood Heat Tactics Page 20


: 2 2 '  3 ( / / ( 7  3 / $ 1 7 6






A U.S. Navy, Naval Air Systems Command F/A-18 tests fuel produced by Gevo Inc. PHOTO: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF NAVY

06 EDITOR’S NOTE Great Green Fleet Adrift By Tim Portz




11 COLUMN Recapping National Bioenergy Day By Bob Cleaves

12 DEPARTMENT Army Green: More Than Just a Color

The Army is moving ahead with several bioenergy projects that will guard against grid vulnerability and help meet renewable goals. By Ron Kotrba

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



15 COLUMN Volkswagen Scandal and Wood Heat Technology By John Ackerly

16 DEPARTMENT Surveying a Changing Landscape

Topics at the 2015 Exporting Pellets Conference were in stark contrast to last year’s market forecast-focused event. By Tim Portz




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NOVEMBER 2015 | VOLUME 9 | ISSUE 11 2016 International Biomass Conference & Expo


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19 COLUMN Biomass Regains Congressional Ally By Joel Stronberg

20 DEPARTMENT Operation Biomass Heat

Already experienced in wood heat technology, the Vermont Army National Guard recently installed new pellet boiler system at its Regional Readiness Training Center at Norwich University. By Anna Simet



25 COLUMN Focusing on 3 Prominent Efforts By Bernard Sheff

26 DEPARTMENT Bringing AD to Africa

Tropical Power is seizing importunities to launch biogas-based electricity projects in Africa. By Keith Loria



29 COLUMN Building Sustainable Cellulosic Biofuel Portfolios

COPYRIGHT © 2015 by BBI International

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) November 2015, Vol. 9, Issue 11. Biomass Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biomass Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.


By Rajdeep Golecha

30 DEPARTMENT Mission Incomplete

The U.S. DOD has set lofty renewable fuel goals, but there's been much more talk than action. By Katie Fletcher

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Great Green Fleet Adrift Three years ago, in the months leading up to the publication of Biomass Magazine’s first issue focused on the military’s use of biomass-derived energy products, oil prices were enjoying a near three-year run of $100TIM PORTZ VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT plus a barrel. The previous summer, dur& EXECUTIVE EDITOR ing its massive RIMPAC exercise, the Navy utilized a 50/50 blend of biofuels to power some of the branch’s most recognizable ships, including the USS Nimitz. Carrier-based F-18s screamed off flight decks while burning a renewable jet fuel blend, and Advanced Biofuels Association President Mike McAdams, who watched it all unfold in person, understandably assumed that the military’s transition to biofuels was well underway. Fast forward to July of this year, when the U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report detailing the U.S. Department of Defense’s investments in and use of biofuels. The report’s findings were a major disappointment for the industry, and highlight the difficulties next-generation liquid fuels will have while attempting to unseat the fossil fuel incumbents that are well-entrenched in the military. We covered this story online this summer, and in this issue, associate editor Katie Fletcher digs in further. Her feature, “Mission Incomplete,” on page 30, clearly articulates the stark differences between the stated goals of the various branches of the military and the results so far. McAdams couldn’t have known it in the summer of 2012, but the fuel consumed during that RIMPAC exercise would make up nearly 25 percent of the biofuels used since 2007. Since then, just 2 million gallons of biofuels have been purchased and used by the military, or .001 percent of the overall fuel total. Biofuel use in the military right now is, literally, a drop in the defense fuel bucket. In her story, Fletcher reports that for the Navy to achieve their stated renewables goals, they’ll need to use over 300 million gallons of biofuels by 2020. Clearly, these early results are not what the industry had hoped for when these goals were set. Low oil prices have only served to compound the challenges for biofuel producers, as there is real congressional pressure on the military to purchase biofuels only if they can compete with the costs of their fossil-derived equivalents. At $50 a barrel, this presents the industry with a very tall order. As Fletcher reports, the enormity of the military’s fuel usage is still very much on the industry’s radar, but the exuberance of 2012-‘13 has largely been replaced with the more measured tone offered to her by Gevo Inc. CEO Patrick Gruber, who offered simply, “It’s a long-term game.”




EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Chris Sharron, West Oregon Wood Products Amanda Bilek, Great Plains Institute Stacy Cook, Koda Energy Ben Anderson, University of Iowa Justin Price, Evergreen Engineering Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center




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Porter Joins Uzelac Industries Uzelac Industries has appointed Mike Porter sales manager of biomass. Porter will lead a team of regional sales people establishing new relationships and business partners throughout the U.S. and Canada. Porter has extensive experience in the biomass and wood drying industry having served as the director of new business for Firefly North America, as well as sales coordinator and sales manager for M-E-C Co.


Enerkem appoints Shaw as CFO Enerkem Inc. has announced that Robert Shaw has joined its executive team as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Throughout his career, Shaw held executive roles in businesses ranging from oil and gas, energy, industrial manufacturing, industrial gases, and consumer products and services. He has held financial and operating executive roles in both public and private companies, and was most recently CFO of Southwest Oilfield Shaw Products, a privately held oilfield equipment manufacturer. Prior to Southwest, he was treasurer at Transocean and at Air Liquide. His experience covers treasury, investor relations, financial planning and analysis, operational finance, risk management as well as mergers and acquisitions. Rager joins SCS Engineers SCS Engineers has announced that Eric Rager is joining the SCS team as the western regional manager of the field service construction division. Rager comes to SCS from Innovative Construction Solutions, where, as a senior project manager and estimator, he handled business development, estimating, project management, crew scheduling and resource allocation. For SCS, Rager will be managing complex environmental construction and remediation projects.


Vertimass, Technip partner to scale ORNL technology Vertimass LLC recently announced the company has chosen Technip to provide pilot testing, scale-up and initial plant design for its novel technology for converting alcohol to renewable gasoline, diesel and jet fuel blend stocks that are compatible with the current transportation fuel infrastructure. The work will be done at the Technip’s research center in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and process technology center in Boston, Massachusetts. Vertimass technology originated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where scientists discovered novel catalysts that convert a wide range of alcohols into various hydrocarbon blend stocks, offering a new pathway for biomass-derived renewable fuels. NESTEC adds Elsman to aftermarket team NESTEC Inc. has announced Ray Elsman will join the company’s aftermarket team. Elsman adds another 34 years of expert experience in the application, design, and installation of air emission control and energy conservation systems, increasing NESTEC’s unprecedented 300-plus years of staff experience. Elsman joins the NESTEC team from Lundberg located in Bellevue, Washington, with extensive knowledge of the wood industry applications.



Dreesen named Gevo board chair Ruth Dreessen has been named Gevo Inc.’s chairman of the board, replacing Shai Weiss, who has stepped down. Dreessen has served as the audit committee chairman since 2012, and will remain a member of the audit committee. Dreessen has been involved in the chemicals industry for over 25 years and has Dreessen served on the board of several public companies including Axiall Corp. (previously Georgia Gulf) and Westlake Chemical. She was also chief financial officer at TPC Group Inc. and Westlake Chemical, and spent many years at JPMorgan Securities in the global chemicals investment banking group. She is currently on the board of Targa Resource Partners LP and a managing director of Lion Chemical Capital, a private equity firm focused on the chemical industry. GFBiochemicals hires Krapivin, Ribezzo, Engendahl GFBiochemicals has appointed three new senior team members as the company gains momentum, producing levulinic acid at commerRibezzo Engendahl cial scale. Alexander Krapivin and Daniela Ribezzo both join as global business development managers. Krapivin was previously at Dow Corning and has over 15 years of experience in B2B for the specialty chemicals industry. Ribezzo has worked in commercial departments for more than 11 years at leading chemical and engineering companies, most recently at Polyscope. Bart Engendahl brings his R&D expertise as senior scientist to the company’s technology and application development. Engendahl joins from DSM, where he developed processes for polymer intermediates derived from biomass, resulting in several patents. He has also co-authored two publications on the hydrogenation of levulinic acid. PHYCO2, MSU develop algae tech to capture CO2 Michigan State University and PHYCO2 have entered into a partnership to develop algae technologies produced from PHYCO2’s patented concept that promotes algae growth and sequesters carbon dioxide from power plant emissions. Under the collaborative research agreement, MSU and PHYCO2 will investigate the performance of PHYCO2’s algae growth and carbon dioxide absorption technology, as well as algae processing technologies. PHYCO2 will test its algae photo bioreactor, technology that continuously captures significant amounts of CO2 and grows algae with LED light, at MSU’s T.B. Simon Power Plant. NOVEMBER 2015 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 9

PowerNews Green Investment Bank funds England biomass CHP The UK Green Investment Bank plc and John Laing Group plc have committed ÂŁ48 million ($74.4 million) of equity to a new ÂŁ138 million renewable energy facility in North East England, developed by Estover Energy. The biomass combined-heat-andpower (CHP) plant in Cramlington, Northumberland, will generate 213 GWh of renewable electricity annually, enough to power 52,000 homes. It is also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by circa 56 kt CO2e annually, the equivalent of taking 25,000 cars off the road during its lifetime. GIB will make a ÂŁ21m investment in the project, with John Laing investing

in a stake worth ÂŁ27 million. Barclays will provide the remainder of the funding as debt, 60 percent of which will be guaranteed by the Danish export credit agency EKF. Construction of the plant will be undertaken by a consortium of Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractors A/S, the consortium leader, and Burmeister & Wain Energy A/S. BWSC will operate the plant upon completion under a 12-year operations and maintenance contract. Up to 25 permanent positions will be maintained at the operational facility, with further jobs created within the project supply chain.

Senate Democrats release national energy bill U.S. Senate Democrats have released a tax reform proposal that aims to address future U.S. energy challenges. The American Innovation Act of 2015 proposes programs focused on renewing economic growth in the energy sector, modernizing infrastructure, cutting carbon pollution and waste, investing in clean energy, and supporting research and development It also proposes to repeal tax incentives currently granted to major integrated oil and gas companies. Among its many proposed programs are a distributed energy loan program that would help states, tribes, utilities, and universities deploy projects that recover or produce useful thermal energy from waste heat or renewable thermal energy sources; a technical assistance grant program would provide aid in identifying, evaluating, planning and de-

signing distributed energy systems at for-profit and nonprofit entities; a program offering that would authorize the federal government to enter into up to 30-year contracts for the acquisition of renewable energy or energy from cogeneration facilities; and a DOE loan program reform section would allow state financing entities to obtain loan guarantees through the DOE loan programs, Another section extends current alternative fuel tax credits—including natural gas and propane, hydrogen, cellulosic biofuels, and biodiesel—to 10 years for facilities that are placed in service on or after Jan. 1, 2018. Facilities placed in service prior to Jan. 1, 2018 would be able to qualify for a 10-year credit stream beginning Jan. 1, 2018.







Recapping National Bioenergy Day BY BOB CLEAVES

Oct. 21 marked the third annual National Bioenergy Day. This year’s participation increased 30 percent over last year, with more than 60 organizations demonstrating their involvement with bioenergy. On what has really become the “North American Bioenergy Day,” top Canadian officials joined with a lung health nongovernmental organization to publicly state support for our industry. With continued support from the U.S. Forest Service, we produced a video on bioenergy, focusing on its role in the thriving forest products industry in northern Maine, as well as its role in keeping forests healthy. We are also pleased this year to welcome a new sponsor, the U.S. DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, and to maintain the sponsorship of our previous supporters: Plum Creek, Pellet Fuels Institute, Biomass Thermal Energy Council, U.S. Industrial Pellet Association and Biomass Magazine. With the addition of the DOE, National Bioenergy Day now counts cellulosic biofuels into the mix of bioenergy types involved in the day. One of the biggest developments this year was the creation of the Congressional Biomass Caucus, which held a kickoff event on National Bioenergy Day. Reps. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., and Bruce Wsterman, R-Ar., are serving as co-chairs of the Biomass Caucus, whose aim is to raise awareness on all types of bioenergy. The kickoff panel included representatives of biomass power, export and domestic pellets, the U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. So far, the caucus counts 10 members, and we are looking forward to encouraging many more to join.

All events are noteworthy, and I encourage readers to look at to see the news generated across the country on National Bioenergy Day. I also want to highlight a few of the events held that day: • Louisiana State University held a day-long conference on bioenergy. The USFS’s Dan Len gave the keynote address on wood supply in the Southeast. Other speakers explored opportunities and challenges for cofiring, exporting pellets, landowners and attracting more bioenergy companies to Louisiana. • The state of Kentucky focused on small-scale combined heat and power initiatives. • Biomass facilities held tours in California, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Maine, North Carolina and Ontario, Canada. • District and building pellet heat demonstrations were held across the Northeast. • Washington State University’s Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest teamed up with the USDA to hold a “webinar-a-thon,” a weeklong series of webinars looking at various aspects of biofuels production. National Bioenergy Day continues to grow, and we look forward to this opportunity every year to help all in bioenergy engage more closely with their communities to show them what bioenergy is all about. Visit for more information. Author: Bob Cleaves President, Biomass Power Association



SECURE, SUSTAINABLE ENERGY: ReEnergy Black River LLC, a 60-MW biomass power plant, supplies Fort Drum—home of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division—with 100 percent of its power needs. PHOTO: REENERGY HOLDINGS LLC

Army Green: More Than Just a Color The U.S. Army relies on renewable energy and biomass power to become more energy-secure and resilient, while meeting its congressional mandates. BY RON KOTRBA


he U.S. Department of Defense is one of the largest single users of energy in the world and, as such, operates under congressional mandates and branchspecific goals to reduce consumption and increase renewables, including the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA requires the defense department to produce or procure 25 percent of all energy from renewables by 2025. A few years ago, the U.S. Army solicited bids for $7 billion in renewable energy contracts. In June, the Army published its strategic roadmap to future energy security and sustainability. Kathy Ahsing, the director of renewable energy programs at the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives, tells Biomass Magazine that the Army views renewable energy as a key component to its energy security and sustain-


ability strategy. “The Army is looking at renewable energy on our lands to increase resiliency and security for our missions when grid interruptions and outages occur, to ensure we can continue our operations,” she says. Ahsing adds that if the Army focuses on security and resiliency of its installations, then it will be able to achieve the mandates established by Congress.

Redstone Arsenal

In October 2014, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, Alabama, in coordination with OEI and Redstone Arsenal, released a request for proposals (RFP) for a 25-MW biomassfueled combined-heat-and-power (CHP) project. Redstone Arsenal is an Army garrison located in the Tennessee Valley in Madison

County, Alabama. The installation has more than 70 tenant organizations including the U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. According to Terri Stover, public relations specialist with U.S. Army Garrison-Redstone Arsenal, the base occupies more than 38,000 acres and has 37,000 employees, 1,100 of whom are military (mostly officers) with 20,000 civilians and 16,000 contractors. Sharon Greshem, program manager for the USACE Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement Multiple Award Task Order Contract, oversees the $7 billion bids for renewable energy contracts. She tells Biomass Magazine that 94 companies have been awarded base contracts. These include 50 so-

POWER¦ all the way through the process from award through delivery.” Richardson says the nearly complete intertie is a complex engineering project. “We’re targeting mid-October to be delivering behind the meter to the Fort Drum substations,” he says. “In doing so, we’re creating a microgrid.” He says this was the largest renewable contract to date by the Army. “We think it’s truly a model of not only a renewable energy source but a secure energy source that’s inside the fence, capable of providing 100 percent of its energy needs,” Richardson says.

Schofield Barracks

GREEN BIDDING: Col. Robert Ruch welcomes some 40 biomass industry representatives to a preproposal meeting for Redstone Arsenal's renewable combined-heat-and-power project in 2014. Huntsville Center is managing the acquisition for the Office of Energy Initiatives project. PHOTO: JULIA BOBICK

lar, six geothermal, 21 wind and 17 biomass companies. Gresham says a series of destructive tornadoes hit the area in 2011, triggering the CHP project. “Redstone Arsenal was shut down for two or three weeks from the tornadoes,” she says. “If that happened again, the power and steam from the biomass CHP plant would allow this installation to keep all mission-critical infrastructure operating.” All power and steam produced by the 25-MW CHP plant will be used on the installation and will not be sold to the grid or to Tennessee Valley Authority’s transmission—from where Redstone Arsenal currently gets its power. The average power consumption at Redstone Arsenal is approximately 49 MW, with a peak load of 75 MW and a minimum load of 38 MW. The installation also issued an RFP last year for a large solar project to supplement power to the base. The Army is still in the process of making a selection for the CHP project, Gresham says. The Army intends to execute a land-lease agreement and sign a 30-year PPA for the renewable heat and power at a price no higher than what it currently pays TVA. The contract will also include an escalation rate.

Fort Drum

Home to the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum is an Army installation in New York state with 37,000 soldiers and family members, and almost 4,000 civilians. The base encompasses more than 108,000 acres

in Jefferson and Lewis Counties. Its average electricity load is around 20 MW with peak load at roughly 28 MW. In September 2014, ReEnergy Holdings LLC was awarded a 20year PPA to supply 100 percent of the installation’s on-site electricity requirements from its 60-MW Black River biomass power plant. Fort Drum remains connected to the utility grid but, as part of the contract, ReEnergy is adding a substation intertie from the power plant, located within Fort Drum’s gates, to the base’s north and south substations. The substation intertie connections will allow Fort Drum to maintain mission-critical operations in case a system-wide outage occurs. ReEnergy owns and operates eight biomass power plants in the Northeast with 300 MW of installed capacity. Larry Richardson, CEO, says the company acquired the Black River plant in 2011—then a shuttered coal plant—and 18 months and $35 million later, the converted plant was operational. “While doing the retrofit work and building our supply infrastructure with loggers in the region, we were going through the procurement process with Army,” Richardson tells Biomass Magazine. ReEnergy’s feedstock, mostly logging residues, is certified through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. ReEnergy began delivering 100 percent of Fort Drum’s power Nov. 1, 2014. Richardson says the two-year-plus award process was challenging. “We learned a lot, so did they,” he says. “It’s one of the first contracts to work

At Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, the Army is prepared to lease roughly 10 acres to Hawaiian Electric Co. for construction of a 50-MW, multifuel power plant to be owned, operated and maintained by HECO. The plant will utilize six Wärtsilä 34DF engines capable of running on diesel, biodiesel or liquefied natural gas. Instead of executing a PPA, Ahsing says, “We are leasing land to them and not entering into a separate PPA with Hawaiian Electric. We will continue to procure our power from Hawaiian Electric through the existing tariff.” The only arrangement as part of the lease agreement is the base will have first call to power if the grid goes down. Together, Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, and Field Station Kunia require approximately 32 MW of peak power. Ahsing says the project awaits completion of two important actions before moving forward: Issuance of the final Environmental Impact Statement, and approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. She says the final EIS should be issued in late October and a decision from HPUC is expected by this November. Bob King, president of Pacific Biodiesel Technologies, which owns and operates the 5.5 MMgy Big Island Biodiesel plant in Hawaii, says when the fuel procurement bid process begins, PBT will participate. “They’d like to buy fuel from us,” he says. In October, HPUC approved a two-year contract for PBT to supply up to 3 MMgy of biodiesel to HECO for power generation on Oahu. King says, “We need these long-term commitments to get other renewables going.” Author: Ron Kotrba Senior Editor, Biomass Magazine 218-745-8347


PelletNews NEPCon earns first Sustainable Biomass Partnership approval The Sustainable Biomass Partnership announced it has approved NEPCon’s application to become an SBP certification body, the SBP’s first full approval. NEPCon, a Danish nonprofit, conducts certification audits for numerous forestry certification schemes including the Forest Stewardship Council, SAN/Rainforest Alliance and the PEFC Forest Management Standard. The SBP was formed by industry stakeholders in 2013 to help producers of biomass inputs demonstrate compliance with a growing array of country-specific certification requirements. “NEPCon has been through a rigorous approval process, which amongst other things has included the witness by SBP assessors of a NEPCon audit of a biomass producer and SBP’s approval of NEPCon’s audit team through training and examination,” said Peter Wilson, executive director of the SBP. NEPCon leveraged its current status as an accredited certification body for both FSC and PEFC forest management schemes to gain SBP approval. To do so, certification bodies must already be accredited to provide FSC or PEFC certification “We decided to engage in SBP certification because the market for woody biomass is growing fast," said

2014 March: Biomass Assurance Framework Consultation Draft published with


invitation for interested parties to comment April: Close of BAF consultation period. September: Publication of BAF Response to Consultation and Biomass Assurance Framework Standards version 0.0. September to December: Further refinement and testing of BAF Standards version 0.0 and engagement with industry parties.

SBP created, continues work of former Initiative of Wood Pellet Buyers

Sustainable Biomass Partnership Timeline


Q1: Launch of the SBP Framework version 1.0, followed by 18- to 24-month of learning by doing to inform development of the SBP Framework version 2.0.


Continuation and conclusion of the development of the SBP Framework version 2.0.

Peter Feilberg, NEPCon executive director. "The impact of this trend on the world’s forests depends on how the biomass is harvested. SBP is about ensuring that it is done in the right way." In order to gain SBP approval, NEPCon had to demonstrate an ability to implement the SBP requirements and completed an SBP-approved training course. NEPCon will be monitored on an ongoing basis and the audits they perform for biomass producers, including pellet mills, will be reviewed by the SBP.

Lignetics acquires Geneva Wood Fuels Lignetics Inc. has announced the acquisition of the assets of GF Funding LLC (whose facility was formerly known as Geneva Wood Fuels), expanding its footprint into Maine and upper New England. Lignetics is the largest residential wood pellet manufacturing company in the U.S., with a production capacity of approximately 550,000 tons of wood pellets per year. The company is the only pellet manufacturing company that has wood pellet manufacturing plants on both the east and west coasts in six plant locations in the states of Maine, Oregon, Idaho, West Virginia and Virginia.

Lignetics acquired the wood pellet manufacturing facility of GF Funding LLC, based in Strong, Maine, which produces hardwood pellet fuel for residential and commercial use. The facility produces Maine's Choice and Geneva Wood Pellets brands of residential hardwood pellet fuel which can be found at independent retailers and select chains throughout the Northeast.


Volkswagen Scandal and Wood Heat Technology BY JOHN ACKERLY

The Volkswagen scandal should be a wake-up call to everyone who makes appliances that have to be tested for emissions and efficiency. The new reality is that independent, real-world testing is getting cheaper and more common. Passing a government-mandated test is one thing. Standing up to scrutiny by others who test is another. Pellet stove sales rose 41 percent last year in the U.S. and are likely to outsell wood stoves in coming years. In much of Europe, they already are. If we are going to promote this technology as a more widespread alternative to fossil fuels, we need to be confident that their emissions and efficiency values can hold up once they leave the lab. I think about this a lot because my organization just began independently testing pellet stoves in simulated real-world conditions. We wanted to find out if pellet stoves performed similarly in the real world as they do in the lab. Our testing showed that after over a month of intensive use, most of the stoves produced very similar exhaust gases as they did in the lab. This result is radically different than what happens with wood stoves, as manufacturers can coax impressive numbers out of a stoves in labs behind closed doors, numbers that consumers can rarely get in their homes. However, to be fair, wood stove testing is not supposed to approximate emissions in the real world. The artificial lab testing conditions have long been approved by the EPA as a way to test stoves fairly against one another. Pellet stoves and their larger cousins, pellet boilers, offer society a cleaner, more controlled combustion that extends beyond the lab into homes, businesses and institutions. Like cars, they are increasingly run by software that can be periodically updated or updated instantly online. Moreover, companies are not allowed to introduce changes in pellet stoves without first retesting them in an approved lab and recertifying, to avoid improving some aspect of performance at the cost of emissions. The temptation by companies to tout their green credentials often gets ahead of how green they actually are. In the case of VW, that temptation led to poor decisions by senior management who may now face criminal charges in addition to billions in fines and public shame. Stove manufacturers need to beware of a credibility gap between company claims and how stoves often perform in the hands of consumers.

Outdoor wood boilers are the main type of wood heater that failed this credibility gap and have thwarted government oversight for many years, in part because regulation was in the hands of an underfunded EPA office that couldn’t afford much independent testing. The EPA took five years to do what should have been done in one or two, allowing tens of thousands of large polluting boilers to be installed in communities year after year. Change is brewing in the wood stove world that will reduce the huge differences between emissions recorded in the test lab and emissions measured in the real world. A few innovative stove manufacturers are voluntarily starting to test and certify their stoves with cordwood, instead of the twoby-fours the EPA protocol required during the past quarter century. The EPA may now be more willing to recognize those companies and steer consumers toward them. But for this to succeed in the short term, the EPA and state agencies will need to speak out more loudly about new stoves that certify with cordwood. If the EPA and states promote these stoves, it will help build consumer demand and put pressure on more companies to certify with cordwood. Closing this credibility gap requires more than just designing and certifying with cordwood. Now coming to market are stoves that use sensors and microprocessors to deliver the exact amount of air needed to the firebox at each stage of combustion. Quadrafire, a company in Washington, just introduced an automated line of stoves. A team of University of Maryland engineering students who won awards at the Wood Stove Design Challenge also says it’s bringing a highly advanced stove to market in 2016. Low-cost mobile testing devices that exposed VW will also be able to keep tabs on various types of wood heat technologies, helping to ensure that all companies play by the same rules. In addition, low-cost sensors will also help engineers make wood and pellet heating cleaner and cleaner. As biomass heating gets cleaner and testing shows a greater consistency between lab and real-world conditions, the technology will gain legitimacy with policymakers so that clean, renewable energy doesn’t just have to mean solar and wind. Author: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat 301-204-9562




PRODUCER PANEL: The 2015 Exporting Pellets Conference wrapped with a panel discussion moderated by USIPA executive director Seth Ginther. From left to right: Mike Williams, Westervelt; James Roecker, Georgia Biomass; Ginther; Richard Peberdy, Drax; Thomas Meth, Enviva; and Harold Arnold, Fram. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ, BIOMASS MAGAZINE

Surveying a Changing Landscape The fifth annual Exporting Pellets Conference found an industry trying to find certainty and stability as a newly elected conservative government regains power in the United Kingdom. BY TIM PORTZ


n stark contrast to the 2014 event, this year’s Exporting Pellets Conference, produced and hosted by the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association in Miami on Sept. 20-22, dedicated very little time to haggling over differences of opinion around market forecasts. While the event opened with a thorough market analysis offered by perennial conference favorite John Bingham of Hawkins Wright, the intense


debate that surrounded forecasts offered last year was noticeably absent. Bingham’s prediction of a 30 million-ton global pellet market by 2020, a near doubling of the industry’s current size, generated little reaction or dispute. Rather, attendees seemed more interested in hearing about the nearterm impediments constraining industry growth, including a conservative majority in Parliament, ongoing austerity measures

in European governments and a pitched battle with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for a social license to do business.

Sea Change in Britain

After providing country-by-country details influencing his forecast, Bingham moved on to a discussion of the changes in the British government and the potential impacts to the wood pellet sector. In May,


Keedy both suggested that as governments have to make tough decisions about where to invest finite public monies, the industry would be wise to highlight the low total cost of biomass.

Winning a Social License

CRITICAL COMMUNICATION: Vice presidents of communications, Kent Jenkins, left, at Enviva, and Chris Hughes, USIPA, discuss strategies for taking the industry’s message of forest health, jobs and low-cost, low-carbon, baseload energy to policymakers and the general public. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ, BIOMASS MAGAZINE

the conservative party won its first majority in nearly 20 years, and as a result, are in the driver’s seat for setting energy policy direction. Bingham then outlined some actions the newly installed majority had already taken that while “not aimed at biomass specifically,” will certainly be viewed as slowed momentum. First, the conservatives are taking a very close look at the Levy Control Framework, a budget instrument the government uses to control its investment in renewables. If this investigation suggests that the government is already overcommitted, a ratcheting back will likely follow. Evidence of this is already beginning to accumulate, and in June, the secretary of state announced the government’s intention to close the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind projects nearly a year early. Bingham also pointed out that the government has removed the exemption that renewable electricity, including power generated from wood pellets, had for an existing climate change levy. On the second day of the event, Nigel Adams, a member of Parliament representing the area surrounding the Drax power station, and who is arguably the biggest

proponent for biomass in the British government, underscored Bingham’s last point, telling the audiences that when the climate change levy exemption was taken away, the market value of Drax dropped £425 million ($642 million).

Affordability in Age of Austerity

This environment of austerity is not limited to the U.K., and each speaker made it clear that if biomass power is going to continue to be tapped by European governments as a means of achieving their carbon reduction goals, the industry must make a better case to convince them that repowering with wood pellets offers a proven, low-cost solution. “We see biomass as a low-cost, affordable technology, and very competitive on a whole system costs basis,” said Deborah Keedy, head of biomass procurement at Drax Power. Bingham reminded the audience that other low-carbon solutions like wind have to be backed up by expensive, fossil fuel-powered generation because of their intermittency. Additionally, to move generated power, these solutions required new transmission lines that biomass conversions do not. Bingham and

In addition to proving its solution offers an inexpensive pathway toward a lowcarbon future, the industry is well-aware that policy makers answer to voters who are continually bombarded with misinformation from NGOs fiercely opposed to the industry. “We welcome the scientific discussion around the use of wood for energy to be had,” said Richard Peberdy, vice president of sustainability at Drax. The conference organizers continued in their tradition of providing attendees a forest sciencebased panel that articulated the complex science of carbon accounting that is so often lost on policymakers. Other presenters, including Mike Williams from Westervelt, offered a simpler, easier-to-digest argument that outlined the industry’s ability to operate sustainably. “We plant more seedlings in a year than most environmentalists will in their lifetime,” he said. “We deliver real benefits to forests. We have to talk about that,” added John Keppler, Enviva LP CEO, the event’s second morning keynote speaker. The industry, in an effort to assuage the concerns of European policy makers, has launched a comprehensive wood pellet certification program, the Sustainable Biomass Partnership. During the event, Williams announced that Westervelt had successfully completed its certification audit, becoming the world’s first SBP certified producer. The announcement complimented Keedy’s earlier remarks, which, together, left no doubt that the SBP program would become commonplace in the industry. “We are very clear at Drax that we want all of our producers to be SBP–certified by 2016,” she said. Authors: Tim Portz Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-739-4969


ThermalNews B&W Volund, Stobart win England biomass CHP plant contracts

:PVSHMPCBM FRVJQNFOU TVQQMJFS GPSUIFCJPNBTT JOEVTUSZ An artist's rendering of the Teesside Renewable Energy plant. PHOTO: ECO2

Plans for the Teesside Renewable Energy Plant, a 40-MWe biomass cogeneration facility to be located at Port Clarence in Cramlington, Northumberland, England, continue to advance, with the sale of the facility and signing of design, construction, operation and fuel supply agreements. Project developer Eco2, which has developed several other U.K. biomass projects, and Temporsis Capital began the project two years ago, and recently sold the facility to Glennmont Partners via a £160 million ($242 million) deal. The project is being funded by Glenmont Partners with debt arranged and provided by Deutsche Bank and Danske Bank, supported by EKF, the export credit agency of Denmark. Babcock & Wilcox Vølund A/S recently won a contract to design and build the

plant with joint venture partner Lagan Construction Group Ltd., as well as a separate contract to provide operations and maintenance services for the plant, a collective contractual value of more than $190 million. Stobart Energy has landed a contract to provide fuel to the facility. Under the agreement, Stobart will source, process and supply 250,000 metric tons of recycled waste wood to the plant annually for 14 years, equating to 3.5 million metric tons over the life of the agreement. Project engineering of the Teeside Renewable Energy Plant is underway, and construction is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2018.

NSF International becomes SBP-approved certification body The Sustainable Biomass Partnership announced that NSF International has become an SBP-approved Certification Body. NSF has provided evidence that it meets the SBP requirements regarding its existing accreditations and has demonstrated sufficient resource and competence to manage the SBP certification program under the SBP Framework. The SBP Framework of standards and processes enables biomass producers, typically pellet and wood chip mills, to demonstrate that they source their feedstock 18 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER 2015

responsibly and that it complies with the regulatory, including sustainability, requirements applicable to power generators burning woody biomass to produce energy. NSF has been approved for the certification, in Canada and the U.S., of biomass producers and the biomass supply chain— for example, biomass producers and components of the downstream supply chain, such as trade, transport and processing that require chain of custody certification.





Biomass Regains Congressional Ally BY JOEL STRONBERG

Biomass thermal energy is too often treated by Congress as the underappreciated offspring of alternative energy. This may soon change, as the House Biomass Caucus has recently been rechartered under the leadership of freshman Rep. Bruce Westerman, (R-Ark.), who holds a master of forestry degree from Yale, and second-term Rep. Ann Kuster, (D-N.H.). The last time there was a Biomass Caucus in the House was 2012. A congressional caucus, whether on the House or Senate side, may best be described as a group of legislators with a common interest, e.g., the Congressional Hispanic Caucus or the House Diabetes Caucus. Unlike a formal committee, they have no legislative authority but serve as a meeting ground for members of similar interests to discuss their concerns and often to come up with concepts that frequently are turned into proposed legislation. Think of them as idea incubators. The biomass industry is fortunate to have Westerman and Kuster as cochairs of the caucus. They are both committed to the sustainable use of biomass as an energy source despite their otherwise differing overall political viewpoints. Westerman may correctly be cast as a relatively conservative Republican, while Kuster is a moderate Democrat. These differences, however, may well serve as a major benefit to the biomass industry as their collaboration is an unusual example of bipartisanship in an era of political divisiveness. Their separation on the political spectrum will not go unnoticed by other members. Whether the new caucus will move the policy needle for our industry depends on a number of factors. Among these are: the number of other representatives who choose to become members; the development of an agenda that truly addresses issues that prevent biomass from playing a more prominent role in the nation’s energy future and that improves the economies and environments of various states and districts; the willingness of the members to pursue the Caucus’s agenda; and the establishment and maintenance an active relationship with this industry. While a formal announcement of the rechartering of the caucus has not yet been made as of this article’s writing, a kickoff event in Washington, D.C., is planned for National Bioenergy Day on Oct. 21. The Biomass Thermal Energy Council will be asking its members to contact their congressional representatives encouraging them to become caucus members. We also encourage our biomass industry allies to contact their respective members of Congress, asking them to join this effort and educating them to the importance of supporting the caucus and the industry.

The core themes you should be relaying to your representatives are: Thermal energy represents 40 percent of the energy used in the U.S.; support for biomass technologies in federal, state and local laws and regulations will grow local economies in terms of jobs and investment and help states meet the regulatory requirements recently implemented by the U.S. EPA; biomass is a truly renewable resource; its capacity to provide combined heat and power will result in more efficient buildings and industrial processes; and it has the advantage of being a dispatchable, nonintermittent energy source, unlike clean energy technologies like wind and solar. In a period of historic drought and massive forest fires, one should also underline the beneficial relationship between good forestry practices and reductions in the number and intensity of forest fires. In addition to your own members, consider writing a note to Kuster and Westerman thanking them for their reestablishment of the Biomass Caucus and willingness to expand the use of a native resource, since biomass not only provides heat and power but by its nature serves to improve the quality of life, whether as a carbon sink or a wildlife habitat for all to enjoy. You may contact Westerman by calling his office at 202225-5206 and Kuster at 202-225-5206 and asking to speak with the staff member responsible for agriculture and forestry matters. Another excellent means of thanking the cochairs while educating the public about the importance of biomass energy is to write a letter or op-ed piece for one of your local newspapers or contacting other local media outlets. It is time for thermal biomass to step out of the shadows of solar and wind energy technologies and to be accorded the same respect as these other alternatives to fossil energy. With the support of the House Biomass Caucus and your active involvement at the federal, state and local levels, biomass energy can assume its deserved role in the clean energy family. Author: Joel Stronberg Executive Director, Biomass Thermal Energy Council 202 596-3974




The Vermont Army National Guard’s Readiness and Regional Technology Center is located at Norwich University, the oldest military school in the country.

Operation Biomass Heat Wood heat is keeping the Vermont Army National Guard warm during the winter. BY ANNA SIMET


ince it opened in 2003, the Vermont Army National Guard's Readiness & Regional Technology Center has been referred to as the armory of the future, housing numerous different branches of the U.S. military. The 87,000-square foot, cutting-edge training and technology center serves as headquarters to the 86th Infantry Brigade Support Battalion (Mountain), an information operations schoolhouse for both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, and a premier training and simulation center for the Northeast U.S. Located at the oldest private military school in the country, Norwich Univer20 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER 2015

sity in Northfield, Vermont, the facility has continued its trend of innovation with the recent installation of four P4 Fröling wood pellet boilers, which was complete in the spring. “The decision to install the pellet system was driven by the need to increase our renewable energy sources, but it needed to have an acceptable return on investment, or savings to investment ratio,” says VTARNG Energy Manager William Moore. “Payback was calculated with wood pellet pricing at $12.24 per MMBtu, or $208 per ton,” he says. At that time, the boilers presented a higher return on investment than solar PV panel electricity generation,

solar domestic hot water heating and solar building heat, adds Major Jere Berg, project manager. But fast forward to October 2015, and bulk-delivered pellets are being sold at an average of $245 and $275 per ton, considerably higher than projected. While not ideal, as commissioning of the system looms, wood pellet prices are much more stable than those of oil, and pellet heat remains an effective, simple means of meeting military renewable mandates and achieve energy self-sufficiency. The system was installed by Sunwood Biomass, a Vermont–based firm that has



INDOOR OVER OUTDOOR: Pellets at the RRTC are stored in two 25-ton storage silos located in the boiler room. Indoor storage was found to be the most suitable option for the facility, as available outdoor space was insufficient. PHOTO: SUNWOOD BIOMASS


BEST IN BULK: Pellets are delivered in bulk to the RRTC armory and pumped into indoor storage silos. PHOTO: SUNWOOD BIOMASS

completed over 130 projects across the state. Owner David Frank highlights the unique storage system at the RRTC, which was devised after determining outdoor space wasn’t sufficient. Pellets are delivered on site and pneumatically pumped into two 25-ton storage silos located in the boiler room. “Pellet silos are vented to the outside to minimize any carbon monoxide (CO) concerns, and are activated with a CO sensor,” Frank adds. The automatic, low-maintenance system, Moore says, is clean and simple to operate. It is estimated to offset roughly 19,000 gallons of fuel oil annually, providing an annual savings of around $30,000. While the pellet boiler system is yet to be commissioned, the VTARNG is no stranger to wood heat. A ChipTek wood chip gasifier was installed at the Combined Support Maintenance Shop at Camp Johnson in Colchester, Vermont, in 2000, and is still heating the facility today. Unlike the wood pellet boilers at RRTC, the Chiptek system was part of the facility’s original design. “The main driver for installing the wood chip system was economics,” says Moore. “The cost of wood chips then was

about $39 per ton, and natural gas at CSMS was 89 cents per CCF. Other than the gasifier itself, the system is fairly simple, says Peter Tousley, also an energy manager, and parts are “pretty much off the shelf.” At Camp Johnson, wood chips are stored in a circular storage barn and delivered to the auger trough bin via a front-end loader. The system does requires quite a bit more oversight than the pellet system will, which includes refilling the chip hopper, cleaning out the ash, and keeping the augers operating. However, Moore notes that the wood chip unit is nearly 15 years old, and says technology has likely significantly evolved since then. Wood chips for the system are supplied via a state contract. Moore says the facility has been using an average of about 230 tons per year for the past few years, and local suppliers have included Vermont companies such as Claire Lathrop Band Mill and LimLaw pulp. Finding a supply of wood chips hasn’t been a problem, according to Tousley, but increasing fuel costs have been a challenge. “Most recently, when the chip supply con-

tract went out to bid, our supplier didn’t bid,” Moore adds. Up until last year, the wood chip boiler operated from roughly November to March and was approximately one-half the cost of natural gas, Tousley says, although since it was installed 15 years ago, wood chip prices have doubled and natural gas has been on the downslide. However, as is the case with oil, natural gas prices are volatile and, eventually, will rise again. Despite temporary challenges with increasing fuel costs, utilization of wood chip fuel, as well as pellets and cordwood—a few of its firing ranges in Jericho, Vermont, are heated with woodstoves—keeps the Vermont Army National Guard on par with mandates “It [biomass] helps the VTARNG meet renewable energy goals as outlined in Executive Orders to the Department of Defense,” says Tousley. Authors: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4961


BiogasNews Oberon Fuels, Ford, FVV partner to build DME-fueled passenger car Oberon Fuels Inc. has partnered with Ford and a conglomerate of companies and academia involved with the European automotive industry to develop Oberon’s pilot plant is located in Brawley, California, and the world’s first production pas- produces up to 4,500 gallons of dimethyl ether per day. senger car powered by fuel-grade PHOTO: OBERON FUELS dimethyl ether (DME). California-based Oberon Oberon is partnering with Ford, ForscFuels has been working to develop the mar- hungsvereinigung Verbrennungskraftmaschinket for DME fuels made from biogas and en e. V. (FVV) and other FVV member comindustrial waste streams in the U.S. through a panies for the project. combination of technology development—in Technical preparations and combustion concert with Volvo Group—as well as with engine development will span the first two several regulatory bodies including the U.S. years of the project with the third year focused EPA, the California Air Resources Board, ISO on building demonstrator cars based on the and ASTM International. Ford Mondeo. The 3-year, €3.5-million ($4 million) projOberon Fuels will supply DME for the ect will research, analyze and test the potential project from its small-scale pilot plant in Brawof DME and oligomethyl ether (OME) as die- ley, California, which has a nameplate capacity sel replacements in passenger cars and heavy- of 4,500 gallons of DME per day. duty vehicle engines, respectively, and will result in the first OEM-produced DME passenger car in the world.

Greenlane Biogas contracts with CR&R on California AD project Greenlane Biogas has received a contract to provide engineering services to CR&R Waste & Recycling for its biogas to renewable natural gas (RNG) project in Perris, California. Under the terms of the agreement, Greenlane’s scope of work will involve detailing a design solution to enable the RNG produced at the facility to meet the stringent Rule 30 requirements for injection into California pipelines. Rule 30 is a guideline created by the state utilities specifying the pipeline gas quality RNG producers must meet in order for RNG to be received and distributed. One standard in Rule 30 that has inhibited producers from injecting their RNG into pipelines is the requirement for the RNG to have a heating value of 990 BTU/ SCF. To meet the 990 BTU/SCF criteria, a higher heating value fuel such as propane, would normally need to be blended into the RNG. 24 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER 2015

This practice reduces the “green” content of the RNG and it may be cost prohibitive. Lower heating value requirements for RNG, most commonly 960 BTU/SCF, have been adopted in other states making the California requirement the most rigorous in the U.S. Greenlane previously provided a Totara biogas upgrading system for the CR&R RNG facility, which is being developed in four phases. With a capacity range of 400 to 1,250 standard cubic feet per minute, the Totara system will initially convert biogas produced from the anaerobic digestion of 80,000 tons annually of municipal organic waste into 1 million gallons of diesel gallon equivalent RNG to fuel CR&R’s fleet of waste collection vehicles. Subsequent phases will see the facility expand to process over 300,000 tons annually of organic waste to produce RNG for both vehicle fuel and pipeline injection.


Focusing on 3 Prominent Efforts BY BERNARD SHEFF

The American Biogas Council is in its fifth year of existence. The council has grown and expanded over the these years, making inroads in supportive public policies and biogas and digestate market development. This past year, the ABC has been influential in the significant progress of the biogas industry, due in part to the support and financial contributions of our members. Our efforts in biogas energy advocacy on Capitol Hill and throughout the U.S. are bearing fruit. Biogas is now more present in discussions regarding our nation’s energy portfolio. We are influencing policies at the federal, state and local levels, and we have won many influential supporters. In addition, we are educating the public and media about the economic and societal benefits of biogas. Media and industry analysts come to the ABC for information on the biogas market, and we are educating those within and outside the biogas industry with events and educational tools. One of the more active ABC working groups has been the AD Co-Products Working Group Digestate Standard Task Force. A year ago in Baltimore, as part of the REFOR14 Event, ABC sponsored an in-person workshop, “Developing A New Classification System For Digestate and Digestate-Derived Products.” The outcome of the workshop was the consensus to create a standard for digestate similar to the U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance program, and take from the United Kingdom standard as well. The ABC’s Co-Products Working Group created the Digestate Standard task force that has been meeting regularly since December 2014. That group prepared and presented a draft standard for circulation at ABC Workshop at the April BioCycle conference in Portland. The task force will meet again this October at the BioCycle REFOR15 Conference in Boston to carry the mission forward at its third workshop. The foundation of the ABC Digestate Standard is set and the intent is to finalize many of the pieces this October. This standard has significant potential to bring increased value to digestate and digestate-derived products. This value is warranted, and the value play is simply not understood by the public. Several things are certain. Phosphorus is not renewable, and the sources for it are dwindling. It does not take extensive research to find many projections that predict significant shortages in the near future. The digestate from the digestion of animal

manures, food waste and biosolids provide a recoverable source of phosphorus. The development of a standard that attaches a correct quality and value to this renewable source of phosphorus, in addition to the capture of nitrogen in the form of ammonia, potassium and fiber for soil amendment, is a desired consequence of the AD Co-Products Working Group Digestate Standard. This standard will benefit the entire industry in the marketing and sale of digestion coproducts nationally. The ABC has continued building on the success of the 2014 publication of the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, written jointly by the USDA, U.S. DOE and U.S. EPA. The ABC had a seat at the table through the researching and authoring of the roadmap, and helped extensively with supplying information and editing. This document has put biogas squarely in front of federal policymakers and lists dozens of commitments for actions the agencies will take to better use existing funds to help grow the biogas industry in the U.S. In 2015, the ABC worked with the White House and the USDA, EPA, and DOE to make sure the commitments in the roadmap are met. In July, a large contingency of the ABC spent two days on Capitol Hill meet with congressional and committee offices to reinforce the daily efforts of the ABC lobbyist. The group also presented USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack the Champion of Biogas award. Vilsack publically commended the ABC’s efforts to meeting the USDA plan for deployment of a minimum of 500 farmbased digesters in the next 10 years in the U.S. Finally, the ABC has always taken the roll of education as one of paramount importance to the industry. We are embarking on an effort to provide a focused “Digester Operators University.” The industry that ABC is helping build will need trained individuals to operate what will become both distributed power and renewable fertilizer, in a safe manner that fits into the local landscapes. More details will be developed regarding this effort in the coming months, but in the end, the focus will be to provide an industry of existing digester operations and new developers with trained operators.

Authors: Bernard B. Sheff VP of Engineering, ES Engineering Services Chairman, American Biogas Council



FORGING A PATH: This year, Tropical Power brought online an anaerobic digester at Gorge Farm Energy Park. The facility is the first grid-connected plant of its kind in Africa. PHOTO: TROPICAL POWER

Bringing AD to Africa Tropical Power has chosen Kenya to house Africa’s first-ever anaerobic digester, and is focusing on the country for additional projects. BY KEITH LORIA


n August, Tropical Power Energy Group opened Africa’s first grid-connect anaerobic digester plant in Naivasha, Kenya. Part of the Gorge Farm Energy Park, the $7.5 million project took nearly a year to get up and running. The plant is expected to utilize 50,000 metric of organic crop waste each year and produce at least 35,000 metric tons of nitrogen-rich byproduct. Energy experts agree that the Gorge Farm AD Plant is a pioneering power project for Kenya. Distributed power projects, which generate electricity close to the point of use, are vital to Kenya’s energy security, reliability and efficiency. “Government ministries, departments and agencies are working together to encourage the private sector to develop high-quality distributed renewable power assets, like the Gorge Farm En-


ergy Park,” says engineer Joseph Njoroge, principal secretary for the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum. “Kenya is open for business for investors and developers interested in clean, renewable and bankable energy projects. The biogas technology at this cutting-edge project will provide Kenyans with more clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity in their homes and businesses.”

Getting Off the Ground

Tropical Power is a joint venture between Mike Mason, a British entrepreneur, and the owners of Vegpro, an agricultural company in Kenya. Mason wanted to generate renewable power from biomass and Vegpro wanted to reduce its carbon footprint and be more resource-efficient, so the two teamed with ClimateCare in taking its

2.8-MW biogas digester plant in Naivasha, Kenya, through the voluntary gold standard. “The aim of the company is to make efficient use of locally available renewable energy feedstocks, such as harvest waste on the farms where we operate,” says Tom Morton, director of ClimateCare’s Nairobi office, and a key member of the Tropical Power team. “We use this to generate costeffective renewable energy, to displace fossil fuels and, where possible, use the byproducts as a fertilizer.” Getting the project off the ground wasn’t easy. There were few engineers in Kenya and certainly not enough to get the job done. ClimateCare and Vegpro both provided help from other facilities around the world and helped train more than 50 Kenyans in the jobs necessary to get it


WASTE TO WATTS: Daily, the Gorge Farm Anaerobic Digestion Plant uses about 150 metric tons of crop waste that is produced on site. PHOTO: TROPICAL POWER

done. “Vegpro has operations in Kenya,” Morton says. “When investing in a project, we seek partners that control the feedstock, have capital to coinvest and have an energy demand. It therefore made sense to work on one of Vegpro’s farms initially, before rolling the model out with third parties.” The facility is set up as a two-stage AD plant to use local, organic crop waste as feedstock, which is expected to be more than 30 percent more efficient than conventional single-stage plants. According to Morton, the waste is then digested by microorganisms feeding in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas, which is combusted in gas engines to produce electricity and heat. “Through biogas and solar, we want to displace expensive and imported generation fuels—like diesel and heavy fuel oil—from Kenya’s distributed power mix,” says Johnnie McMillian, Tropical Power’s managing director. “The Gorge Farm AD Plant is physical proof that locally produced feedstock can be used to generate clean and cost-effective distributed power for all Kenyans.” The plant has an effective life of 25 years and the project is expected to have a six-year payback period due to the combi-

nation of grid sales and higher-tariff energy supply to Gorge Farm. “The biology of the microbes that make the gas and the feedstocks that provide the source of energy are unique from site to site, and require time and expertise to understand,” Mason says. “Tropical Power has been supported in this with extensive help from the Universities of Oxford and Southampton.” Other companies who had a hand in the success include Snow Leopard Projects GmbH, providing Tropical Power’s exclusive development license; GE, which deployed two Jenbacher J420 gas engines, provided by Clarke Energy; IET Siemens for switchgear and transformers, SAR GMBH for instrumentation and control systems, and Paulmichel for agitators and stirring equipment. The Gorge Farm AD Plant will be owned and managed by Biojoule Kenya, an independent power producer. Morton feels there is great potential for other biogas power projects in certain parts of Africa. “While we are focusing on large-scale opportunities, such as Gorge Farm Energy Park to begin with, we are also doing R&D on reducing the scale of

the operations so that they can be applicable in areas with less feedstock and lower electricity demand,” he says. “This is the first AD plant, and we also have a small plant in Kenya that uses rose waste to displace kerosene in a rose propagation unit.”

Looking to the Future

Tropical Power has a 5-MW biogas project in development in Ghana at the Kpong Farm Energy Park, but Morton says it’s still in the planning stages and there isn’t much he can share. He does reveal that next year, Tropical Power will begin construction on a further 10 MW of solar generation capacity at the plant that will be colocated with the AD plant in Naivasha and will feed directly to the grid.“The key thing for the AD is to have ownership of the feedstock, to coinvest and to have an electricity demand,” he says. “We also need a grid connection to sell the surplus power. Ideally, there would also be a set for the waste heat from the engines and we are exploring possibilities for this in Naivasha.” Authors: Keith Loria Freelance writer, Biomass Magazine


AdvancedBiofuelsNews Tests show UPM's renewable diesel significantly reduces emissions Finnish wood-based UPM BioVerno diesel has been found to significantly reduce harmful tailpipe emissions. A number of engine and vehicle tests have been carried out across a number of key research institutes such as VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., University of Vaasa in Finland and at FEV, an internationally recognized vehicle engineering company based in Germany. UPM BioVerno renewable diesel has already been shown to function just like conventional diesel in all diesel engines yet it generates up to 80 percent less greenhouse gas emissions during its life-cycle compared to conventional fossil diesel fuels. Additional proof of the excellent properties of the Finnish wood-based UPM BioVerno diesel is provided by the latest test results, which show that UPM BioVerno also reduces harmful tailpipe emissions. These emissions, such as particle mass, hydrocarbon, carbon di-

oxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide emissions, were reduced by up to dozens of percent compared to conventional diesel fuel, depending on vehicle technology and blend. All the tests showed similar or improved efficiency of the engine, without compromising the engine power, when UPM BioVerno was introduced to the fuel blend. In addition, it could be shown that by using 100 percent UPM BioVerno diesel, fuel consumption decreased. FEV Germany carried out a series of tests on UPM BioVerno's effect on engine functionality and emissions with both a diesel blend containing 30 percent UPM BioVerno and 100 percent UPM BioVerno diesel. In addition to measuring engine output and fuel consumption, the tests focused on tailpipe emissions and the performance of UPM BioVerno compared with conventional diesel.

Advanced biofuel leaders discuss negative effects RFS proposal Nearly two dozen top executives from the advanced and cellulosic biofuels industry recently sent a letter to President Obama regarding the U.S. EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) volume requirement proposal, four of whom spoke during a Sept. 16 conference call to discuss its message. In the letter and during the call, it was emphasized that the May 29 proposal is negatively impacting investments and partnerships in advanced biofuels, is sending projects and jobs overseas, and is at odds with the president’s initiatives to combat climate change. “As you know, the point of the RFS was to require oil companies to buy and sell an increasing amount of renewable fuel to address the fact that the oil industry would otherwise use its market position to cut off market access for competitors and thereby smother investment in cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels…,” the letter reads. “And yet, for the first time in RFS history, EPA is proposing to change the rules in the middle of

the game to allow challenges related to the “distribution” of renewable fuel by oil companies—i.e. the oil industry’s refusal to buy and distribute low-carbon, renewable fuel and its willingness to block brand-licensed gasoline retailers from selling higher renewable content blends under their branded canopy to be cause for waiving the RFS on a year-to-year basis.” “It’s very frustrating for us, and we think just a little but ironic, that the RFS, which is based on the concept of lowering greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicle fuels, has been undermined by one of the most active administrations in fighting climate change,” said Chris Standlee, executive vice president of global affairs at Abengoa Bioenergy. Adam Monroe, North American president of Novozymes, Dan Cummings, Poet-DSM president, and Vincent Chornet, Enerkem Inc. CEO, also spoke during the call.

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Building Sustainable Cellulosic Biofuel Portfolios BY RAJDEEP GOLECHA

Bioenergy has attracted increasing investments and support in recent decades, as a result of a growing emphasis toward energy security and greenhouse gas emission reductions. More than 30 billion gallons of biofuel were produced globally in 2014, of which around 50 percent was corn ethanol produced in the U.S., and 30 percent was sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil. The U.S. EPA now places greater emphasis toward advancement of second-generation biofuel produced from cellulosic biomass such as agricultural and forestry residues and perennial grasses. This involves a more complex conversion of biomass (cellulosic and lignocellulosic material) into ethanol. The EPA’s current target is to produce 20 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuel per year by 2022. Studies have shown this will require close to 200 million metric dry tons of biomass. In the U.S., corn stover is one of the largest sources of agricultural residue for cellulosic biofuel production. Studies have found that cellulosic biomass, such as corn stover, have 20 to 30 percent supply variations, compared to 12 to 15 percent variations for corn grain itself. This is because while corn stover yields are proportional to corn grain yields, a portion of stover has to be left on the ground due to equipment limitations, and maintaining soil organic carbon. The effect is an increased overall variation in corn stover compared with corn grain. In addition to exposure to higher supply variations, cellulosic biorefineries will be required to source biomass locally, due to long-distance transport limitations. In the absence of a feedstock strategy, these regional imbalances in cellulosic biomass supply and demand will transform into significant variations in biomass price, and ultimately lead to sustainability issues for cellulosic biofuel business. Engineering solutions, such as biomass storage, pretreatment using torrefaction, pelletization, and pyrolysis, can partially mitigate supply variations but entail significant costs.

Winning Strategy

An effective risk mitigation strategy associated with feedstock supply variations is a portfolio strategy. Using the approach of modern portfolio theory (MPT), companies venturing in cellulosic biofuels can develop a diversification framework that optimizes its business portfolio. Simulation shows that up to 70 percent of business risks associated with biomass supply variation can be mitigated by using a portfolio approach. These strategies do not require additional infrastructure, and can be used together with engineering options to aid in designing biomass supply chains to facilitate the development of a sustainable cellulosic biofuel industry.

According to MPT, creation of a portfolio by mixing assets, the effective variance of the portfolio is always less than the individual variance of underlying assets. This is because the variation of one asset could counter the variation of the other asset, and the net effect is a lower overall variation for the portfolio. In the case of cellulosic biofuel, an optimal portfolio can be created by investing in biorefineries that are based on different feedstocks such as corn stover, wheat straw, switchgrass, energy cane and sugarcane bagasse. Switchgrass has the potential as a dedicated energy crop using marginal cropland, and produces comparable ethanol as corn stover. Wheat straw, another attractive alternative for feedstock diversification, is also abundant in the U.S. Corn Belt. Energy cane, miscanthus, and sugarcane residue are other potential options. By varying the proportion of investment on each feedstock type, companies can achieve an optimal portfolio that offers the highest expected return for a defined level of risk (known as the efficient frontier). Portfolios that are not on the efficient frontier are considered suboptimal, because they do not provide enough return for the level of risk. Companies operating in both first- and second-generation ethanol may look for diversification between products to hedge against policy and price variation.

Impact on Business Risk

Based on simulation, an optimal portfolio using corn stover, wheat straw and switchgrass could achieve 70 percent reduction in risks associated with individual supply variations, while increasing the biomass cost by only marginally (less than 5 percent). The biomass cost hike is because switchgrass is assumed to be more costly than corn stover. Further advancements in switchgrass research and development to reduce its production cost could further enhance the advantage of using switchgrass to mitigate year-to-year supply variations in corn stover. The amount of risk in supply variation a biorefinery is willing to accept will depend on the fundamental business strategy of the biorefinery, and the amount of premium they are willing to pay to reduce risks associated with biomass supply variations. Author: Rajdeep Golecha Biofuel business portfolio developer 517-755-7880



ALCOHOL-TO-JET: The U.S. Navy, Naval Air Systems Command and Gevo Inc. successfully conducted the first ATJ supersonic flight at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, last year. The F/A-18 testing is a significant milestone leading to a military specification. PHOTO: : U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Mission Incomplete The U.S. Department of Defense has yet to purchase alternative fuels beyond testing and demonstration purposes, but intentions remain. BY KATIE FLETCHER


n July, the U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report observing U.S. Department of Defense investments in alternative fuels. Its purpose was to review the extent to which the DOD, the single largest consumer of energy in the federal government, has purchased alternative fuels and demonstrated its ability to meet safety, performance and reliability standards. It also evaluated DOD’s alternative fuel purchasing process, how cost differences between alternative and conventional fuels are taken into consideration, and how the DOD has used Defense Production Act authorities to promote the development of a domestic biofuel industry.


The report, which was delivered to the chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, found that in 2014, the Navy, Air Force and Army purchased about 3.8 billion gallons of petroleum fuel and other fuel products at a total cost of about $14.4 billion—not adjusted for inflation. DOD has an operational energy strategy that indicates a disruption of oil supplies is plausible and increasingly likely in the coming decades given the realities of global oil markets. For this reason and others, one of its goals is to expand its energy options. U.S. DOD Energy Policy—DOD Directive 4180.01—was released in April 2014, and states that DOD will “diversify and expand

energy supplies, including renewable energy sources and alternative fuels.” Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, believes biofuels are one of the most significant tools for the aviation industry, in particular, to tackle climate change issues. “What the military does is important because they are the front runner for demonstrating the ability for these fuels to be used in what is one of the most strenuous performance criteria in the world, and that is military use,” he says. Each of the three military departments has energy guidance documents that address alternative energy or alternative fuels.


Two of these departments—the Navy and the Air Force—have also established usage goals for alternative fuels. The Navy has a goal of deriving 50 percent of total DOD energy consumption from alternative sources by 2020. “Toward this goal, the secretary of the Navy has established partnerships with DOE and USDA to assist in the development of a commercial biofuels industry,” says Michael Domen, a chemist at the Defense Logistics Agency Energy. According to Navy estimates, to meet this goal, it would annually require using about 336 million gallons of alternative fuel, both naval distillate and jet fuels, by 2020. Besides these quantitative goals, the guidance established a goal of demonstrating and deploying the Great Green Fleet. This demonstration of ships and aircraft fueled by alternative fuels and other alternative energy sources was completed in 2012 and aims to be deployed in 2016. The Air Force has a goal of increasing, to 50 percent of total consumption, the use of cost-competitive, drop-in alternative jet fuel blends for noncontingency operations by 2025. Patrick Gruber, president and CEO of Gevo Inc., believes from a very fundamental, strategic standpoint, it makes sense for the military to have options that are alternative to oil. “They are also smart enough to realize that these options can’t just be turned on like a spigot,” he says. “It takes massive amounts of technology, investments, infrastructure, building capital in a plant in order to make it happen. It’s a longterm game.” This is perhaps why the findings enclosed in the GAO report are not as far along as one would assume with ambitious energy targets ahead. The GAO report states that the DOD has purchased small quantities of alternative fuels for research, development and demonstration purposes, but hasen’t purchased large quantities for military operations yet. From fiscal years 2007 through 2014, the military departments have purchased about 2 million gallons of alternative fuels and naval distillate fuels at a premium price to conduct the department’s testing, approving and demonstration activities at a total cost of about $58.6 million—adjusted for inflation to fiscal year 2015 dollars using the gross domestic product (GDP) price in-

PAVING THE WAY: In June 2012, the U.S. Air Force flew an A-10 Thunder Bolt jet aircraft powered by a Gevo-produced blend of 50 percent ATJ fuel and 50 percent JP-8 (the traditional MIL-SPEC jet fuel). PHOTO: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

dex. About 450,000 of those gallons were for the Navy’s Great Green Fleet demonstration—part of a larger, biennial multinational maritime exercise known as the Rim of the Pacific exercise. These alternative fuel gallons are greatly overshadowed by the approximately 32 billion gallons of jet and naval distillate conventional petroleum fuel purchased over the same period at a total cost of about $107.2 billion—adjusted for inflation to fiscal year 2015 dollars using the GDP price index. DOD has a standard process to purchase all fuels for military operations and is currently required to ensure alternative fuel purchases for operational purposes are cost competitive with conventional fuels. “One of the main factors that must be considered before biofuel blends can be purchased for operational use is price,” Domen says. “As with conventional petroleum products, quality assurance, technical requirements and compliance with solicitation terms are other important considerations when evaluating offers.” Before any alternative fuel can be used in military operations, DOD must test the fuel to validate whether it can meet unique

safety, performance and reliability standards of military equipment and platforms. The military departments follow a testing and approval process that is similar to that used in evaluating whether to include prospective alternative fuels in the commercial jet fuel standard issued by ASTM International. Some fuel properties important to these standards include flash point, energy density, freezing point, thermal stability, lubricity and viscosity. In support of DOD’s large-scale fuel program, the Defense Logistics Agency Energy activity provides worldwide energy support. “It provides an outlet for producers and suppliers to sell their products,” Domen says. “Much like the many supply agreements and partnerships that have been announced recently between airlines and alternative jet fuel producers, DLA-E’s purchase program solicitations are announced on an annual and continual basis, and the recent incorporation of biofuels to these solicitations sends the signal to industry that a large demand is there.” DLA-E provides the vast majority of fuel and other energy related products and amenities to the military services. “We are NOVEMBER 2015 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 31


able to take full advantage of the efficiencies of scale, both in terms of product pricing and end-to-end logistics,” Domen says. According to Domen, DLA-E utilizes the Defense Working Capital Fund and operates under a customer-based approach where the military services or other federal agencies pay DLA-E for the product and then DLA-E uses those funds to purchase the product from commercial industry. DLA-E charges the customer a standard price for each product, regardless of the price of energy that week. DOD rebalances the fund by updating the standard prices on an annual basis. The DWCF can absorb this price volatility, which minimizes disruption to the military services and simplifies annual budgetary planning. Fuel must first meet DOD’s technical fuel specifications and other technical evaluation factors as part of the consideration for purchase. “For military operations, we want jet and distillate fuels that are dropin (compatible with existing infrastructure and platforms, and indistinguishable from conventional petroleum fuel to equipment operators),” Domen says. The first alternative fuels purchased were synthetic paraffinic kerosenes made from coal and natural gas via the FischerTropsch process in 2007. Two years later, the first alternative fuels made from renewable sources–– fats, oils and greases via a hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) process––were purchased. From there, DLA-E has procured and delivered several additional emerging fuels made from various processes and starting materials, including direct sugar to hydrocarbon jet and diesel fuel (also termed synthetic iso-paraffin), alcohol-to-jet (ATJ), hydroprocessed depolymerized cellulosic diesel and most recently catalytic hydrothermolysis jet and diesel fuels. Biofuels for large-scale operational use are currently being incorporated into DLA-E’s domestic bulk fuels procurement programs. Last year, they were solicited through the Inland East/Gulf Coast annual solicitation, and this year, under the Rocky Mountain/West Coast annual solicitation. Both support the U.S. Navy and U.S. 32 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER 2015

Department of Agriculture Farm-to-Fleet initiative, whereby qualifying offers were eligible to receive a per-gallon production incentive made available via USDA funds. Domen says for an offer to qualify for the incentive, the product must meet the requirements of either the Jet Propellent-5 Navy aviation fuel or the F-76 Navy marine distillate fuel specifications, consisting of between 10 and 50 percent biofuel made from either the FT or HEFA process produced from one or a combination of USDA-approved feedstocks. They must also meet the GHG limitations as mandated in the Energy Independence and Security Act. Outside of the Farm-to-Fleet program, offers for other types of aviation biofuel blends used by the military—JP-8, F-24, F-34, Jet A and Jet A-1—as allowed by the respective specification, will also be accepted in future solicitations. Contracts for alternative fuels to be used in military operations may be awarded whenever offerers can meet these fuel specification requirements and other solicitation requirements. The 2014 IEGC and 2015 RMWC bulk-fuel purchase programs were the first time DLA-E solicited for operational volumes of alternative fuels. The 2014 IEGC program did not award any contracts for biofuels, and the 2015 RMWC program is still under evaluation. If successful, these biofuel purchases will help the Navy fulfill its 2016 Great Green Fleet goal of deploying a Green (Carrier) Strike Group composed of ships and aircraft that utilize biofuels as part of their regular, scheduled deployments. The DLA-E could not provide specific information about the response rate for these solicitations or speculate on the rationale for submitting or not submitting offers other than that under the IEGC program in 2014, the DLA-E received one offer for a biofuel blended F-76 and no offers for JP-5, and no offers were awarded. The current RMWC program is under evaluation. Contract awards for biofuels, if successful, are anticipated to be made at the end of September. “As long as alternative fuels continue to play a larger role in the U.S. and the rest of the world, it’s prob-


ably safe to say that DLA will play a larger role in purchasing alternative fuels for the military,” Doman says. According to McAdams, there is only a limited number of biofuel companies currently making the fuels that hit military specification (MIL-SPEC). “We sort of have a chicken-and-egg thing going on here in terms of the military putting out procurement,” he says. “They put out procurement notices for alternative fuels or biofuels and the number of people bidding on them has been somewhat low, which reflects there are just not a whole lot of guys who can make the specs they need at this particular time. Additionally, you have a situation at the current time where the fuels have to be pretty much in the same cost ballpark as traditional fuels.” Gruber agrees with McAdams’ reasoning for the limited response to these solicitations. “There is a chicken-and-egg problem,” he says. “As the military pursues this, the agency has a check box that requires that they come out and inspect a facility prior to being able to sign a contract. That’s a problem for anyone who has something new, because we all don’t have commercial plants.” Gevo is currently working on securing ASTM certification for its ATJ fuel, which should occur sometime in the next month or two, according to Gruber. “We expect military specification early next year, at which time we’d be able to compete for contracts,” he says. “We intend to put ourselves in a position so that we can compete to supply jet fuel to the Navy and make it competitively priced.” Late last year, the Navy Fuels Team at Patuxent River, Maryland, tested and evaluated the performance of a 50/50 ATJ blend. According to Gevo, the F/A-18 testing is a significant milestone leading to MIL-SPEC. This MIL-SPEC would allow for commercial supply of ATJ fuel to the Navy and Marines Corps. Although biofuels deployment in military operations has been slow, there has been progress, and in the long run, the military intends to use alternatives to meet renewable energy goals. “Will they do it in the long run? I think yes,” Gruber says. “To

what degree depends on the overall environment politically, economically and all the rest as to what rate of speed they adopt.” McAdams says that with the industry in its early days, funding must come from the private community to build plants to create biofuels, and it’s a tough environment. He believes now the financial and the regulatory climates need to be firmed up to provide certainty. “That certainty will lead to people being more likely to finance the building of the plants needed to provide and make these fuels cost completive into the future,” he says. “The problem is we have not had an EPA that has been able to get its RVOs (renewable volume obligations) out on time. It’s created a lot of uncertainty, which has had a direct, negative impact on the continued financing for the building of these plants.” Last year, Red Rock Biofuels, Fulcrum Bioenergy and Emerald Biofuels were

awarded contracts under the U.S. DOD’s DPA to construct and commission biorefineries that will produce a collective 100 MMgy of drop-in biofuels for military and private-sector transportation needs, for an average price of $3.45 per gallon. “The military has seen the importance of having the ability to have a portfolio of options and that is why the Navy has stayed strong in terms of trying to build these facilities of 10 million gallons or more to show that these kinds of portfolio options are available and that the fuels can be made to spec,” McAdams says. “We look forward to the finalization of those projects.” Authors: Katie Fletcher Associate Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4920


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November 2015 Biomass Magazine  

The U.S. Military Bioenergy Production and Use Issue

November 2015 Biomass Magazine  

The U.S. Military Bioenergy Production and Use Issue