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2013 Sponsors, Supporting Organizations, Media Partners & Exhibitors

September 30 - October 3, 2013 Hilton Orlando | Orlando, Florida





EXHIBITORS Alfa Laval, Inc. Algae Biomass Organization Algae Foundation Algae Biotech Algae Industry Magazine Algae To Omega Holdings, Inc AlgEternal Technologies LLC Algix LLC AMEC Applied Chemical Technology Appropriate Technical Resources Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) BD Biosciences BioProcess Algae, LLC CBO Financial, Inc. Cellana LLC Colorado Lining International

Crown Iron Works Company Diversified Technologies, Inc EMD Millipore Energi Insurance Services Inc Evodos Flottweg Separation Technology, Inc. Fluid Imaging Technologies, Inc. GEA Westfalia Separator GF Piping Systems Heliae Corporation Measurement Specialties, Inc. MicroBio Engineering National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA) National Renewable Energy Laboratories Nexus Corporation OpenAlgae

OriginOil, Inc. Particle Sizing Systems Phenometrics Inc. Rough Brothers Inc. Sapphire Energy Inc. SCHOTT North America, Inc. Southwest Research Institute Texas A&M AgriLife Research Thar Process The Boeing Company University of California, San Diego US Department of Energy Biomass Program UTEX The Culture Collection of Algae Waterwheel Factory, Inc. Watson-Marlow Pumps Group

AS OF AUGUST 14, 2013



2013 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo 11 2014 International Biomass Conference & Expo


AGCO Corporation


Algae Biomass Organization




Biomass Power Map


Clariant Produckte (Duetchland)GmbH


Continental Biomass Industries, Inc.


Crown Iron Works Company




Fagen Inc.


GEA Westfalia Separator

By Tim Portz



Himark bioGas


Indeck Power Equipment Co.


Jeffrey Rader Corporation


Pellet Mill Magazine

06 EDITOR’S NOTE A Grower Community Musters


Portage and Main Outdoor Boilers


Renewable Energy World


REPREVE Renewables


Retsch, Inc.




West Salem Machinery Co.


14 POWER 12 NEWS 13 COLUMN Setting Record Straight on Tailoring Rule Decision By Bob Cleaves

14 FEATURE On Board with Biomass

COPYRIGHT © 2013 by BBI International

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) September 2013, Vol. 7, Issue 9. 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.

To stay operating beyond 2020, Boardman Power Plant in Oregon is testing torrefied energy crops and biomass residuals as fuel sources. By Anna Simet

PELLETS 18 NEWS 19 COLUMN Fiber Supply Critical to Pellet Project Success By Eric Kingsley

20 DEPARTMENT Casting a Wider Feedstock Net


Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling

Supporting its coal-to-biomass conversion, Drax has included energy crops in its pellet feedstock stream. By Tim Portz

THERMAL 22 NEWS CORRECTION: In the July issue of Biomass Magazine, Biomass Construction Update (p.11), the boiler type for the NPI USA CoGeneration Facility and NOVEC’s South Boston Energy plant were listed as Detroit Stoker boilers. FSE Energy designed and fabricated the boilers at NPI and NOVEC’s plants utilizing a Detroit Stoker spreader stoker grate system.

23 COLUMN Reinventing the Wood Stove: Vital to Wood Heat’s Future By John Ackerly


Setting the Record Straight on Algae Separation 3. G-forces over 10,000 allow for production of pastes that are 11.5% drier. 40 38 36 34 32 30 10 8 6 4 2 0

11.5% Difference 34 31.5

Spiral plate

Disc stack

4. Processing parameters such as speed and ejection time are adjustable on disc stack equipment. This allows production of solids with varying dry matter levels for different customer requirements.

Design elements in disc stack machines allow production of a superior product at a lower cost. Here are the facts: 1. Continuous machine operation allows for maximum up-time during processing. Solids are ejected at regular intervals with absolutely no interruption. There is no need to slow down the equipment and then bring it up to operating speed with a disc stack separator. 2. Automatic cleaning-in-place (CIP) is programmed in the machine, saving time and labor costs.

5. Thirty (30) models are available with capacities ranging from less than 1 m3/hr to over 150 m3/hr. We work with you to find the machine that maximizes production for your current operation. Most machines can be scaled up as needs change.

With six service offices throughout North America and professionals that are experts in algae separation, GEA Westfalia Separator offers the centrifugal separation equipment that can cost-effectively meet your needs. We welcome the comparison between the two separation technologies. To learn more and find out about testing one of our machines, contact Keith Funsch at 201-784-4322 or or visit us online at

6. Energy consumption, given the complete range of disc stack machines we offer, is equal to or less than what spiral plate technology offers. Disc stack machines use up to 20% less power. GEA Mechanical Equipment US, Inc.

GEA Westfalia Separator Division Toll-Free: 800-722-6622 24-Hour Technical Help: 800-509-9299

engineering for a better world


hen different technology enters a market, there is always some question about how it compares to what’s been available. That’s the case with spiral plate versus disc stack separating equipment. Disc stack separation has a proven 50-year record in algae dewatering and concentration. With over 300 installations worldwide, the process has been perfected and a significant amount of data collected.

% Dry Solids




The Largest Biomass Conference in North America

20 DEPARTMENT Real Green Heat Built with algae-filled bioreactors, the exterior of the BIQ apartment complex in Hamburg, Germany, produces heat and power. By Anna Simet

March 24-26, 2014 Orlando, FL

30 BIOGAS 28 NEWS 29 COLUMN What If We Included Biomass in Waste-to-Energy Investments? By Patrick Serfass

30 FEATURE Aiding an Energy Crisis An energy-crop consuming biogas project in the U.S. Virgin Island’s St. Croix will result in clean and low-cost energy. By Anna Simet

Biomass Power & Thermal | Pellets | Biogas | Advanced Biofuels

38 ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS 34 NEWS 35 COLUMN A Charged But Successful RFS Debate By Michael McAdams

36 DEPARTMENT More for Less Hybrid poplar and a succinct feedstock strategy are essential to Zeachem's commercial progress. By Anna Simet

38 FEATURE Dedicated Feedstock Forerunner Chemtex is gearing up to build a 20 MMgy cellulosic ethanol plant that will consume a broad range of purpose-grown energy crops. By Sue Retka Schill

At the 2013 event in Minneapolis… “I will go again next year & I will get more sales directly from contacts made at this conference.”

100% of the exhibitors

– Justin C. Miller, Scott Equipment

positively rated the quality of the entire conference

“Great show to attend. Excellent opportunity to network with industry execs and professionals as well as catch up on industry topics and developments.”

96% of exhibitors

– Matt Weidner, Weidcom

made valuable contacts

“This is a ‘must attend’ event if you are developing biomass to energy projects. All the burning issues were covered in the conference and the important equipment of exhibitors would recommend providers have an expo booth.” this conference – Guillermina Perez del Castillo, Abengoa


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A Grower Community Musters In this issue of Biomass Magazine, we investigate the momentum building for purpose-grown or dedicated energy crops and algal biomass inputs. Crops like arundo donax, miscanthus, Giant King Grass, switchgrass and others are being cultivated, as their name sugTIM PORTZ gests, exclusively for their downstream VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR conversion into energy products. On the one hand, this frees these crops from some of the agronomic practices so common in their food and feed crop cousins. Largely, energy crops are perennials, and once established, deliver abundant volumes of biomass per acre. Moreover, energy crops are often grown on marginal lands that wouldn’t deliver the requisite yields with more traditional annual cropping systems. Together, these two attributes alone form the impressive one-two punch that continues to drive investment in the kind of plant breeding, stand establishment and conversion research activities that are featured in the pages that follow. On the other hand, because these crops are designed exclusively for the production of energy products, there are no other markets driving their development or delivering additional revenue streams that could augment the revenues producers will receive for the biomass bound for energy production. Sue Retka Schill’s feature “Dedicated Feedstock Forerunner” succinctly outlines this dichotomy as she compares the feedstock plans for Chemtex’s Project Alpha in North Carolina with the plans for the cellulosic ethanol facilities currently under construction in the Corn Belt. Retka Schill reports that the acres required to deliver the necessary biomass to Project Alpha will ultimately be half of the acres required to yield the same number of biofuel gallons when compared to standard corn yields and conversion rates. The biggest difference, and arguably the biggest challenge for energy crop developers, is that growers and converters must overcome producer risk. Perhaps the last thing farmers in Iowa concern themselves with when planting corn in the spring is finding a market for the resultant bushels. Their market is virtually assured. Energy crop growers are not guaranteed this surety and, as a result, the acres currently engaged in energy crop production number in the hundreds. The opportunity is there. Collectively, the projects featured in this month’s issue will generate a market for tens of thousands of energy crop acres. If one thing is certain, it’s that energy crops are increasingly being identified as an input for every energy market this industry serves, and the success of converters and growers will follow the same trajectory.



ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elizabeth Burslie


EXTERNAL EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Shane Chrapko, Himark Biogas Stacy Cook, Koda Energy Benjamin Anderson, University of Iowa Gene Zebley, Hurst Boiler Andrew Held, Virent Inc. Kyle Goerhing, Eisenmann Corp. Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for any country outside of the United States, Canada and Mexico. To subscribe, visit 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 701-7465367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or Advertising Biomass Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Biomass Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 701-746-8385 or Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Contributions Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

INDUSTRY EVENTS¦ National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo September 10-12, 2013

CenturyLink Center Omaha Omaha, Neb. Proving Pathways. Building Capacity. Produced by BBI International, this national event will feature the world of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals—technology scale-up, project finance, policy, national markets and more—with a core focus on the industrial, petroleum and agribusiness alliances defining the national advanced biofuels industry. 866-746-8385 |

Algae Biomass Summit

September 30-October 3, 2013 Hilton Orlando Orlando, Fla. This dynamic event unites industry professionals from all sectors of the world’s algae utilization industries including, but not limited to, financing, algal ecology, genetic systems, carbon partitioning, engineering and analysis, biofuels, animal feeds, fertilizers, bioplastics, supplements and foods. 866-746-8385 |

International Biomass Conference & Expo

Get the Latest News and Information on Pellet Production Free Subscriptions Available at:

March 24-26, 2014

Orlando Convention Center Orlando, Fla. Organized by BBI International and coproduced by Biomass Magazine, the International Biomass Conference & Expo program will include 30-plus panels and more than 100 speakers, including 90 technical presentations on topics ranging from anaerobic digestion and gasification to pyrolysis and combined heat and power. This dynamic event unites industry professionals from all sectors of the world’s interconnected biomass utilization industries—biobased power, thermal energy, fuels and chemicals. 866-746-8385 |

Pellet Mill Magazine offers regular features that highlight the very latest developments in all facets of the pellet industry.

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

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

Interested in advertising to 8,000+ targeted pellet and biomass industry pros? Phone: 866-746-8385 Email: @BiomassMagazine




Attorney moves practice to California Stoel Rives partner Graham Noyes is transferring his practice to the firm’s Sacramento, Calif., office. He represents clients involved in conventional Noyes has extensive and advanced biofuels, experience in as well as forestry, the biofuels and bioenergy sectors. agricultural, and solid waste-to-energy projects, and biogas projects involving anaerobic digestion, thermochemical gasification, and other advanced technologies. Noyes has extensive experience with the federal renewable fuel standard and California’s low carbon fuel standard. He is also a well-known speaker and writer on renewable energy credits and renewable identification numbers.

BTEC releases developer tools The Biomass Thermal Energy Council has announced the release of two new tools to help manufacturers, project developers, engineers and architects better understand biomass systems for the commercial building sector. A resource library hosts more than 100 documents on a variety of topics, from technical and financial topics, to information on policy, case studies and health and environment. The second is a stakeholder document that outlines the individuals and groups of people in a community that project developers should consider when deliberating the development of new projects. Development of the tools was supported by a grant from the Wood Education and Resource Center of the U.S. Forest Service.


BioNitrogen announces board, executive changes Biobased urea fertilizer producer BioNitrogen Corp. has made several changes to its board. Carlos Contreras, CEO of the company, was promoted to chairman of the board. Mario Beruvides, previous chairman of the board and a professor of industrial engineering at Texas Tech University, is continuing to serve on the board of directors. Juan Vazquez has stepped down from the board, but is continuing to act as an advisor to the company. Roger Imperial, who has served as a senior consultant at Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, also joined the company’s board of directors. In addition, Ernie Iznaga, who previously served as operations manager of BioNitrogen, has been promoted to the position of vice president of operations. Drax reveals biomass railcar The Drax Group plc has unveiled the U.K.’s first purpose-built biomass rail freight wagon at the National Railway Museum in York. The wagon was developed by designers at Lloyd’s Register Rail and manufactured by WH Davis. It will transport biomass from the Ports of Tyne, Hull and Immingham to the Drax Power Station, which is located near Selby. The wagon has a capacity of 116 cubic meters and can transport 71.6 metric tons of biomass. The volume of the newly designed wagon is nearly 30 percent larger than freight wagons currently in use in the U.K. CPM appoints general manager CPM, a supplier of process engineering, process equipment and aftermarket parts for the biofuels, oilseed, animal feed and food processing industries, has appointed Todd Fierro as Crown Companies general manager. Fierro fills a new executive management position responsible for global coordination of all sales, operations, engineering, strategy, and administrative functions. He will be based in Roseville,

Minn., and will report to CPM CEO Ted Waitman. Most recently, Fierro served as president of Oshkosh Corp.’s commercial segment, focusing on new product introduction and strategic development. ACORE announces interim president, CEO The American Council on Renewable Energy’s board of directors has announced Michael Brower, Mosaic Federal Affairs senior federal policy director and principle, will step in to lead the organization during its search for a new president and CEO. Brower is currently a member of the board of directors. He will begin the role in September and will immediately begin working in collaboration with Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, ACORE’s outgoing president and CEO. McGinn was recently nominated by President Obama to serve as the next assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment. Senate approves EPA administrator The U.S. Senate has voted to approve Gina McCarthy’s nomination to lead the U.S. EPA by a vote of 59 to 40. Prior to her nomination, McCarthy served as Representatives of assistant administrator the ethanol industry have applauded for the EPA’s Office McCarthy’s of Air and Radiation. approval She replaces former Administrator Lisa Jackson, who resigned in December. Emera completes sale of Canadian plant The Nova Scotia government has announced the sale of the 30 MW biomass-fired Brooklyn Power Corp. plant is complete. Emera Energy Inc. purchased the facility for $25 million. The government first announced the sale in December 2012 following its


decision to purchase Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. from Resolute Forest Products Inc. and change the name to ReNova Scotia Bioenergy Inc. The Brooklyn Energy facility was purchased as part of that deal. Kephart named to advisory committee USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz have appointed Kevin Kephart as the new committee co-chair of the Biomass Research Kephart has and Development expertise in biobased projects and fuels. Initiative Technical Advisory Committee. Kephart, vice president of research and development at South Dakota State University, will serve as co-chair beside former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. The committee is made up of 32 volunteers from industry, academia, nonprofit organizations and local government who discuss and work with technical issues involving energy and agriculture. Canadian thermal system gains EPA qualification Heat Smart Plus Inc., the factory representatives for Manitoba-based Piney Manufacturing, announced that the company’s new biomass heating system has gained U.S. EPA qualification for North American distribution. The news comes following two years of development and testing. The Portage and Main EnviroChip 500 biomass heating system is fueled with wood chips. A large fuel storage bin is coupled with a high-efficiency boiler to consistently generate 280,000 Btu per hour. A water and glycol mix is pumped from the boiler into a building by means of insulated underground pipe. Resulting heat is dissipated by a heat exchanger or in-floor hydronic heat loops.

Sundrop Fuels selects contractor Sundrop Fuels Inc. has named international engineering and construction firm IHI E&C International Corp., a U.S. subsidiary of Toyko-based IHI Corp., as contractor of choice for its inaugural facility near Alexandria, La. The combined commercial and demonstration plant will annually produce approximately 60 million gallons of gasoline from natural gas while providing the platform for Sundrop Fuels to prove its proprietary gasification technology for making renewable gasoline from woody biomass. DOE grant supports development of sugar analysis system Carbo Analytics was awarded a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant for fiscal year 2013 from the U.S. DOE to support the development of a biofuels sugar analysis system. The technology aims to provide a rapid determination of accessible C5 and C6 sugars in a biomass sample. The company has partnered with CEM Corp., a developer of microwave digestion systems, to prepare biomass samples. The combined solution is expected to allow biofuel operators to flag potential feedstock problems and facilitate suppliers in developing and supplying the highest value products. NSF funds biobased isoprene research Biofuels research underway by C5.6 Technologies of Middleton, Wis., and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is getting a boost from a $224,292 National Science Foundation grant. C5.6 Technologies and the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable

Technology at UW-Stevens Point will use the funding to support continued research on the development of bacteria that will ferment sugar into isoprene, a high-energy molecule that can be used to make jet fuel and other products. The funding was awarded through the NSF’s Small Business Technology Transfer Program, which promotes innovation in the private sector by linking businesses with university researchers. Mississippi pellet plant planned The Mississippi Development Authority has announced Green Circle Bio Energy plans to locate a wood pellet plant at the George County Industrial Park near Lucedale, Miss. The 500,000 ton per year facility is expected to be operational by spring 2015. Pellets produced at the proposed facility will be exported from the Port of Pascagoula to European markets. The project represents a company investment of $115 million. Iowa landfill gas project expands Waste Management of Des Moines announced the expansion of its Des Moines Metro Methane Recovery Facility at the Metro Park East landfill in Polk County, Iowa. The plant is the results of a public-private partnership between Waste Management and Metro Waste Authority. The plant currently generates 6.5 MW of power. Once the expansion is complete, the production capacity will expand to 11.2 MW. The new plant will add three additional engines to convert landfill gas into energy, with room to add a fourth engine in the future.

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Sponsors, Supporting Organizations, Media Partners, & Exhibitors SPONSORS _____________________________________________________________________________

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS ______________________________________________________________

MEDIA PARTNERS _________________________________________________________________________

EXHIBITORS _____________________________________________________________________________ American Supply Company Chromatin, Inc. Cooling Technology Institute EAD

Himark bioGas Hydro-Klean, LLC Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory Nebraska Screw Press

North American Industrial Services PIP - Process Industry Practices Scott Equipment Company Team Industrial Services


CO -L O CAT E D E V ENT September 10, 2013 | Omaha, NE

PowerNews Independent power production contributes to UK energy mix

Conversion of Altavista Power Station complete

A report published by U.K.-based U.K. independent power projects energy purchaser SmartestEnergy highlights the contribution commercial-scale independent renewable energy projects are making to the region’s energy industry. The analysis, titled “Energy Entrepreneurs Report 2013,” indicates that 392 projects came online in 2012, with 2,011 independent power projects in existence in the U.K. at the end of the year. In 2012, the total number of independent biomass projects grew by 2 percent, while anaerobic digestion projects increased by 5 percent. Biomass projects now make up 32 percent of onsite capacity, with anaerobic digestion projects accounting for 22 percent. Onsite projects are defined as those developed by a business to power manufacturing facilities and commercial premises. Farm-owned generation capacity was the fastest growing category of independent generators, with a 74 percent increase in projects. Biomass accounted for 2 percent of on-farm projects, and anaerobic digestion 9 percent. Farmers owned 17 percent of the U.K.’s commercial-scale independent renewable energy projects last year.

Dominion Virginia Power placed its biomass-fired Altavista Power Station into commercial operation in July. The 51 megawatt facility in Altavista, Va., is the first of three stations the company is converting from coal to biomass. Dominion is also converting two similar stations in Hopewell, Va., and Southampton County, Va., to run on biomass. Dominion acquired all three power plants in 2001. They had been in operation since 1992 and were used primarily to produce steam for manufacturing plants, and intermittently to meet peak electricity demand. In April 2011, the company announced its plans to invest approximately $165 million to convert the plants to be fueled with waste wood. According to Dominion, conversion of the Hopewell and Southampton stations is progressing on schedule. Both plants are expected to reach commercial operation before the end of the year. All three plants are expected to operate continuously following conversion to biomass, helping to meet Virginia’s voluntary renewable energy goal of 15 percent by 2025.

12 Greenway Plaza Suite 1100 Houston TX 77046 Toll Free: 1 855 8HIMARK (1 855 844 6275) email:



Setting Record Straight on Tailoring Rule Decision BY BOB CLEAVES

In the aftermath of the D.C. Circuit’s decision on how the U.S. EPA will regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from biomass, many questions have been raised, indicating a lot of confusion about what the decision means for the regulation of biogenic CO2 emissions. First, let’s clear up what the decision actually achieved. Importantly, contrary to some press reports, the decision is not about whether EPA can legally exclude biomass, and also does not halt the three-year study. To quote the court, “Because the Deferral Rule cannot be justified under any of the administrative law doctrines relied on by EPA, this opinion… leaves for another day the question whether the agency has authority under the Clean Air Act to permanently exempt biogenic carbon dioxide sources from the PSD (prevention of significant deterioration) permitting program.” If and when EPA adopts a permanent exemption for some or all biogenic carbon dioxide sources, we will have the benefit of three years of scientific study, as well as fully briefed and contextualized arguments about EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act. In other words, the Court found EPA’s rationale for deferring GHG regulation as lacking, not that regulation of biomass was scientifically sound or even justified under the Clean Air Act. Here’s a summary of the rule’s sordid history, which is needed when trying to understand the recent decision. Shortly after promulgating the Tailoring Rule, EPA issued a Call for Information, seeking technical and scientific information to “evaluate different accounting approaches” for measuring biogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Specifically, EPA sought information about how to treat biogenic carbon dioxide sources differently for purposes of measuring the emissions that trigger the PSD and Title V permitting programs. For example, EPA requested comments on how to “determine the net impact on the atmosphere of CO2 emissions” and the “appropriate spatial/geographic scale for conducting this determination.” In March 2011, EPA, citing its ongoing efforts to understand the unique characteristics of biogenic carbon dioxide, issued a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comment on whether it should defer regulation of these sources for a three-year period. Simultaneously, it published a guidance document for determining best available control technology (BACT) for biogenic carbon dioxide emissions from sources that were regulated under the PSD permitting program at Step One of the Tailoring Rule.

Based on comments and studies received during the notice-and-comment period, and following up on the Call for Information, EPA issued a rule—the one challenged in the court case— postponing regulation of biogenic carbon dioxide sources for three years. In support of this so-called Deferral Rule, EPA repeatedly emphasized that “the issue of accounting for the net atmospheric impact of biogenic CO2 emissions is complex enough that further consideration . . . is warranted.” It is important to keep in mind that the Deferral Rule contains a sunset provision: absent further agency action, on July 21, 2014, biogenic carbon dioxide will be regulated under the PSD and Title V programs, as modified by the Tailoring Rule. Although the Deferral Rule is a temporary regulation, it functions, in effect, as a permanent exemption from the PSD permitting requirement for any biogenic carbon dioxide source constructed during the three-year deferral period. Exempted sources would have to obtain PSD permits only if they undertake a modification project after the deferral period ends. The Deferral Rule is also voluntary. To quote EPA, “Each state may decide if it wishes to adopt the deferral and proceed accordingly.” At least one state, Massachusetts, is currently regulating biogenic carbon dioxide sources at Step Two of the Tailoring Rule. Contrary to reports in the media, EPA’s position is not to permanently exempt biomass. In fact, as noted by the dissenting judge, EPA has conceded “the possibility…that more detailed examination of the science of biogenic CO2 will demonstrate that…some biogenic feedstocks…have a significant impact on the net carbon cycle.” EPA is not permanently treating biogenic CO2 emissions differently. As the Deferral Rule explains, EPA believes, based on the evidence currently in its possession, that further study may support a decision to give special treatment to some biogenic emissions. We look forward to working with EPA to craft a rule that acknowledges the benefits of biomass as a way to fight climate change and promote healthy forests, and the need to expand—rather than close—energy markets for biomass. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association



BIOMASS OR BUST: Portland General Electric is in the midst of determining whether it will repower its 600-MW power plant in Boardman, Ore., with biomass or shut down. PHOTO: TED TIMMONS



On Board with Energy Crops Torrefied biomass may extend the life of Portland General Electric’s Boardman Power Plant by several decades. BY ANNA SIMET


ear the Columbia River just outside of eastern Oregon’s Boardman sits the state’s last operating coal plant, a 600-MW facility built in the late 1970s. Though the plant has plenty of years left in it, the state's decision to phase out coal left Portland General Electric exploring its options. In 2010, PGE was approved to continue to burn coal at Boardman until 2020, with some temporary emissions controls upgrades. After that, $500 million in additional pollution controls would be required to comply with federal and state sulfur, nitrogen and mercury rules, thus en-

abling the plant to continue operations until at least 2040. Ultimately, PGE faced three possibilities—closing by 2020, making costly upgrades, or switching to another fuel source. If closed, it would make history as the youngest coal plant in the U.S. to shut down as a result of air quality regulations, but doing so and building a new plant elsewhere makes more economic sense than keeping it open for upgrades. With the upgrade option ruled out, the fate of the plant rests on the feasibility of using torrefied energy crops as fuel, and PGE has spent the past several years


¦POWER conducting in-depth research and rigorous testing to determine what the possibilities are.

Exploring Options Initially, PGE looked into repowering with natural gas, but rendered that option unfeasible. “We did a study on natural gas and found the area didn’t have a gas line, but that wasn’t the real issue,” says Jaisen Mody, PGE projects manager. “The issue was that the Boardman boiler was designed for coal combustion, and using gas in the existing boiler made it highly inefficient. The cost wasn’t conducive to running the plant longterm, as we would have to change out the boiler. We decided that converting an old Rankine cycle coal boiler wasn’t the way to go because of the capital expenditure.” Basically, it boiled down to the notion of using gas meant building a new gas plant, adds Steve Corson, PGE spokesman. When PGE began evaluating biomass back in 2010, wood pellets were tested but gummed up the plant’s pulverizers. Crop research began at that point, and arundo donax was chosen as a fuel of interest due to its great growth potential. It’s been found to produce upwards of 35 dry tons per acre per year, compared to switchgrass, which will yield 4 to 13 dry tons per acre per year. PGE has been growing arundo test plots around the Boardman area for the past couple of years—about 92 acres—and has harvested it a few times, storing the crop for test burns, Mody says. He adds that while the initial emphasis was mostly on arundo, that’s changed a bit. On one hand, a single energy crop is attractive because it’s dedicated

PGE is no stranger to renewable energy. According to the U.S. DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory, PGE has more renewable power customers and sold more renewable energy than any other utility in the U.S.

to producing feedstock volumes needed, but reliance on a single fuel source is risky for a number of reasons, including harsh weather, natural disasters or pests. “So we’re also investigating other biomass sources, including sorghum and ag waste,” says Mody. One thing that’s certain is that if energy crops and biomass are used at Boardman, they will be torrefied first. “Torrefaction is the right way to repower Boardman with biomass, because we’re anticipating no changes to plant equipment,” Mody says. Corson adds that torrefaction would allow the plant to pulverize the fuel just as it is doing with coal, but green biomass would require a lot of changes. Additionally, researchers have found that torrefied biomass is more hydrophobic than Prairie River Basin coal, which is currently used at Boardman. Later this year, PGE is installing a torrefier at Boardman, and will then begin its test burns, according to Mody. “These test burns are critical for us,” he says. “We think running this test will prove to us that we can run torrefied biomass through the plant, and we’ll also collect emissions data. Then we’ll sit down and figure out what it’ll take to run the plant for air permitting and the economics of that.” Mody notes that each feedstock tested—arundo or sorghum—


PGE has concluded a successful small-scale pilot project using algae to capture and consume carbon dioxide emissions from the Boardman Plant. It is among the first utilities to undertake a dedicated investigation into using algae to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The process involves capturing CO2 and feeding it to algae, which is being grown adjacent to the plant. During photosynthesis, the algae ingest CO2 and release oxygen into the air, retaining oil and other byproducts. The oil can be squeezed out of the algae and used to produce biodiesel. The remaining biomass has the potential to produce ethanol and proteins for livestock feed.

could have a different effect on the boiler, slagging or fouling it, so close attention will be paid as to what source is torrefied and how. According to a study done in 2012 by researchers at the University of Washington, Washington State and Oregon State University, operating at 300 MW and producing power under optimal economic conditions, about 1.25 million tons of torrefied arundo would be used by Boardman, based on the Btu content of torrefied arundo (10,400 Btu per pound). About 794 dry tons of arundo would produce 52.7 tons of torrefied chips, the researchers found, so a total of 67.6 thousand acres of arundo would be required to produce 1.25 million tons of torrefied chips and support torrefaction, assuming 33 dry tons per acre per year.

Of course, while multiple sources would be used, Mody admits obtaining necessary quantities remains PGE’s biggest challenge in the quest to repower with biomass.

Moving Foward “It's [repowering] always been one issue—the source of biomass,” says Mody. “How can we procure and move enough in an economic manner that would sustain a large plant? The production of biomass, whether we’re growing or buying it, remains our biggest challenge. That’s why we’re looking at diversity now—one species isn’t the answer. It’s about what we can grow at a reasonable price, and what’s available out there.” If the torrefaction test burns are successful, more work has to be done to calculate the economics and emissions profiles of a full-scale torrefier. Once that data is complete, PGE will bring it to its integrated resource planning process, which is a comprehensive plan presented to the public utility commission that lays out its generating portfolio resource requirements. At that time, the next step for Boardman will be decided, Corson adds. “At this point, what we’ll really be saying is, okay, we know we can do this, is it better than the other options?” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-751-2756

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Handling a World of Materials

PelletNews Canadian pellet consumption forecast to grow Canadian wood pellet data 2008





2013 (estimate)

2014 (forecast)

Number of plants








Capacity (million tons)








Production (million tons)








Consumption (million tons)








Exports (million tons)








SOURCE: USDA FAS GAIN, Canadian Biofuels Annual report

An annual biofuels report filed with the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service Global Agricultural Information Network provides an overview of the rapidly expanding Canadian pellet industry, noting production increased by approximately 33 percent from 2010 through 2012. The country was home to 42 pellet plants with a combined capacity of 3 million metric tons last year. In 2010, Canada was home to only 33 plants with a combined capacity of 2 million metric tons. Since 2006, the vast majority of Canadian pellets have been exported,

but the percentage of product being shipped overseas has been reduced in recent years. In 2014, the report predicts that 2.21 million metric tons of the 3.23 million metric tons of pellets produced in Canada will be exported. While production has grown rapidly, consumption of wood pellets in Canada held relatively steady from 2006 through 2011, averaging between 65,000 and 95,000 metric tons per year. Consumption increased to 233,000 metric tons last year and is projected to reach 690,000 metric tons in 2014.


Prototype pellet plant breaks ground Chip Energy has broken ground on a biomass recycling and pelletizing plant in Goodfield, Ill. Once complete, the prototype plant will be capable of producing 100 tons per day of condensed biomass from a variety of feedstock sources, including wood waste, energy crops and agricultural residues. In addition to pellets, the facility will have the ability to produce briquettes and logs. The plant is expected to be operational during the third quarter of this year. The plant is being constructed from recycled shipping containers configured in a vertical fashion, which results in a footprint spanning only 70 feet by 104 feet, but reaches 70 high. Paul Wever, president of Chip Energy, said the design will increase the efficiency of the facility. Wever also operates a construction equipment company that prototypes and builds specialized tools for the off-highway equipment industry. He has leveraged that experience to develop the pellet plant, with the aim to supply the equipment and technology to a wide range of customers, particularly those in the power and cellulosic fuels industries.


Fiber Supply Critical to Pellet Project Success BY ERIC KINGSLEY

You can’t run a wood pellet mill without wood. This seems obvious, but I frequently hear from people who think they have identified a technology and customer combination that will make for a successful project, but yet they haven’t given much, if any, thought to their wood supply. Of course, identifying wood supply is critical to a pellet project’s success, and should be one of the earliest steps taken when evaluating opportunities. Whether building a pellet mill to serve the domestic heating market or offshore export, finding a location and developing a wood supply strategy that allows for a consistent and reliable supply at a price the mill can afford and suppliers can profit is critical to a project’s success. Many developers— often at the urging of financial backers—seek to find long-term contracts that lock in the volume and price of wood for years. In a few places, such a strategy might actually work. Unfortunately, many of the contracts that I have seen cross my desk as part of due diligence simply don’t—and can’t—provide the certainty and surety that the developer wants it to. There are a few reasons for this: • It is hard to find a wood supplier that is sufficiently creditworthy to stand behind a long-term contract. Yes, there are good organizations, run by good people, with years or decades of experience in the forest industry. I am sure they will do everything they can to honor a contract (or, perhaps more importantly to them, a handshake). However, many companies just don’t have the financial resources to stand behind a long-term contract, and if a supplier can’t back a contract, it is of limited value. • Wood supply relies upon a fragmented supply chain, with landowners, foresters, loggers and truckers all participating before wood gets to the mill. It is uncommon to find a firm that has all of these components, and it’s very hard to contract a credible promise to supply something you don’t own or control. • Wood used for energy is low-grade, and just isn’t worth as much as other products coming off a logging job. Landowners make much more money selling sawlogs for lumber production than wood for pellet production. The money from sales to pellet mills may be important, but it often isn’t the primary focus for assuring long-term profitability.

Given these challenges, wood pellet projects should instead concentrate on developing a system and infrastructure to manage a wood supply that is consistent, reliable, and provides for stable volume and price. In truth, this is important with or without a long-term wood supply agreement. Elements that a project should consider include: Diversity of supply. Make certain that there are multiple suppliers, perhaps providing multiple types, of feedstock. This way, failure of a single supplier doesn’t have catastrophic results for the pellet mill. Surge capacity with existing suppliers. Make certain that suppliers can “turn up the volume” for short periods of time, to account for interruptions from other suppliers. Significant wood storage capacity. Allow for buying when supplies are plentiful and to provide a buffer against any short-term supply interruptions (e.g., weather, or market-related downtime at a sawmill that provides sawdust as a feedstock). Clear price expectations. Make the price something that loggers know and can make enough money to justify investment in equipment. Sometimes efforts to squeeze the price down as far as it can go has shortterm benefits, but almost always causes some suppliers to leave a facility and results in a higher, more volatile price in the long-term. Reflect supplier costs. Suppliers use diesel in the harvest, processing and transport of wood to a facility. They also have no control over diesel costs. Communicate to suppliers how changes in diesel—both increases and decreases—will be reflected in the price you pay them. Pellet mills are simply the latest in a long line of forest industries that need significant and price-stable volumes of wood. No matter what a supply contract does or doesn’t say, a project’s real success can be best addressed by giving careful thought and planning to wood supply. Author: Eric Kingsley Vice President, Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC 207-772-5440



AUTOMATION DRIVES EFFICIENCY: The lightly staffed pellet facility at Goole utilizes state-of-the-art unloading, handling and stacking equipment to facilitate rapid truck unloading. This equipment unloads 12 square bales of miscanthus, wheat or rapeseed straw at a time.

Casting a Wider Feedstock Net Drax Group is leveraging its capabilities to build the most sustainable supply chain possible. BY TIM PORTZ


he conversion of half of its generating capacity from coal to biomass has placed Drax Group and its power station in Drax, England, among the top stories in the biomass-to-energy sector. Once complete, Drax Group will own and operate the largest biomass-derived power station in the world. But while the bulk of attention is given to the conversion activities at the power facility, the innovation generated by this transition is certainly not limited to the plant alone. The pellet facility, located just 6 miles east of Drax in the village of Goole, was built in 2008, fully commissioned in 2009, and may well be the world’s first commercial-scale pellet facility processing significant quantities of ded20 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2013

icated energy crop inputs, predominantly miscanthus. This 100,000-ton-per year facility has added energy crops to its input stream, and the crop now represents about 40 percent of the material consumed at the facility. Wheat straw and rapeseed straw make up the rest, representing 45 percent and 15 percent of the input volume, respectively. Once pelletized, miscanthus pellets can deliver between 16.8 and 17.1 gigajoules per ton (GJ/t). Comparatively, wood pellets typically generate between 17 and 18 GJ/t. Drax Group is diligently working to build the most sustainable biomass supply chain possible for the power station. Commenting on the role that energy crops like miscanthus will play in this endeavor, Melanie Wedgbury, head

of external communications, notes, “Miscanthus presents a long-term, dedicated fuel with great sustainability credentials. It can be grown on marginal land and is a viable option for U.K. farmers. The product does not require any mechanical drying and can be processed through pellet mills that are designed for straw pelleting with some modifications.” In order to keep the facility in Goole adequately supplied with the requisite volumes of miscanthus, Drax currently has supply agreements with nearly 120 farmers in the area. Drax's initial contracts were with producer groups only, avoiding individual contracts. Realizing that in order to achieve the volumes it was targeting, Drax would also need off-take


Excellence in

PRECISE AND ORDERLY: The material-receiving and temporary storage at the Goole pellet facility is a study in precision. A machine unloads the trucks and stacks the bales in neat rows and delivers the bales into the in-feed chute when the mill needs more material.

contracts with individual producers, and thus formed a producer program titled Green Shoots Programme. Drax’s decision to offer off-take agreements to individual farmers provides them with the surety they need to procure capital and make the investments necessary to establish the crop on their land, including the purchase of harvesting equipment. “For farms with marginal land or areas of the farm that are expensive to farm, FINISHED PRODUCT: Newly extruded pellets are warmed this is an easy decision,” Wedgbury by both the pressure from the roller assembly and the says. “Cash flow is an issue for introduction of small amounts of steam before the material is fed into the die. smaller farmers, however, banks and finance companies will now support this remains a vital aspect of the company’s longactivity on farms.” term biomass strategy, and continues to deliver Establishing and growing required input valuable discoveries for Drax. “Energy crops volumes is only a part of the challenge Drax and the Goole pellet plant have created a yearhas worked to overcome. Effectively pelletiz- round opportunity for local growers, haulers ing the fibrous miscanthus came with a steep and labor forces, as well as a source of usable learning curve, and for this, Drax worked hand- sustainable biomass,” Wedgbury adds. “Wider and-glove with its pellet mill supplier Andritz. than that, it has been an essential part of Drax’s “Andritz has been very helpful throughout learning curve in understanding how pellet the project at Goole and the collaboration has mills operate and has informed our decision resulted in a joint learning program, for both making for other investment opportunities in Drax and Andritz, when tackling the process- the biomass supply chain.” ing of difficult materials, such as miscanthus,” Author: Tim Portz says Wedgbury. Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine While Goole’s production volumes repre651-398-9154 sent a tiny fraction of the 6 to 7 million tons of biomass the power station will require, it

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ThermalNews Analysis outlines economic benefits of biomass thermal incentives


UK sets tariff levels for residential RHI program The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change has published tariff levels for the residential version of its Renewable Heat Incentive program. A similar program has been operational in the U.K.’s non-domestic sector since November 2011. A tariff level of 12.2 pence per kWh (p/kWh) was set for biomass heat. Biomass technologies eligible for participation in the program include biomassonly boilers and biomass pellet stoves with back boilers. Other

renewable thermal technologies are also eligible for the program, including air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and solar thermal installations. “Investing for the long term in new renewable heat technologies will mean cleaner energy and cheaper bills. So this package of measures is a big step forward in our drive to get innovative renewable heating kit in our homes,” said Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker.


A white paper published by FutureMetrics investigates the positive economic impacts that Biomass Thermal Utilization Act of 2013 could lead to, should it become law. The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate in May and the U.S. House of Representatives in July. The report was prepared by William Strauss, chief economist of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council. The bill aims to provide tax incentives to support the installation of commercial and industrial biomass heating systems. According to the white paper, the substitution of biomass fuels for heating oil and propane systems will have a “dramatic positive effect on the economies of thermal energy dependent states.” The report specifies that when used in modern high-efficiency boilers, biomass fuels can lower the cost of heat by 40 to 60 percent when compared to heating oil. The bill would help ensure money that would have been spent on heating oil or propane stays in the local economy and reduces heating bills, leading to additional disposable income being spent locally. The measure would also support the biomass supply chain, creating new jobs. The sale and installation of new heating systems would also generate jobs, and lead to sales tax revenues and income tax revenues.


Reinventing the Wood Stove: Vital to Wood Heat’s Future BY JOHN ACKERLY

About 4 million Americans heat with U.S. EPAcertified wood stoves, and 8 million with old, uncertified ones. Neither group is getting the low emissions and high efficiency that they should, so a new breed of wood stove is needed to ensure that homeowners don’t routinely dampen down airflow to get longer burns. The solution is to control combustion air by a computer, not by a human. Computer chips are optimizing efficiency in virtually every major household appliance. Soon, sensor technology will control airflow, indicate the optimal time to refuel and average efficiency, when to clean the chimney and how many gallons of oil were avoided. This will not only increase efficiency and save money, but also reduce emissions and improve safety. The Alliance for Green Heat and Popular Mechanics created the Wood Stove Design Challenge to showcase and test cutting-edge innovations along with newly designed hybrid, masonry, condensing and electricity-producing stoves. An expert panel of 10 judges selected 14 finalists from five countries out of 50 applicants, and the teams will compete in the Wood Stove Decathlon in Washington, D.C., in November. There, the stoves will be rigorously tested for emissions and efficiency, and assessed for potential end-user error. Many in the stove industry are excited about a new breed, but others are resistant or sensibly cautious about new designs. To stay competitive, however, companies need to anticipate the most significant technology trends that are shaping their industry. Connecting stoves to the Internet allows engineers to monitor how their stoves are being used and what can be modified to better them. This can also enable technicians to diagnose problems remotely, saving time and money by instructing the stove owner over the phone on proper maintenance and use. Stoves that monitor and meter heat can be eligible for renewable energy credits (RECs) or certificates just like solar panels or geothermal systems. RECs give owners of renewable energy appliances an ongoing energy production subsidy, enabling a shorter payback period. This helped the solar panel industry take off, and it can do the same for wood and pellet appliances. Will this technology innovation provide one more option, or disrupt and dominate the market? Pellet stoves added an option. This one will, too. Automation and sensor

technology may help reduce the cost of wood stoves and make it easier to meet the EPA’s upcoming stricter emissions standards. Regardless, wood heat needs an image makeover if it is going to be embraced as a major component of our renewable energy future. Otherwise, it will be sidelined or even restricted, like Montreal’s recent ban of the use of all wood stoves by 2020, even U.S. EPA-certified ones. One of the hallmarks of energy efficiency innovation is the removal of the consumer from the equation. Savings are achieved not because one operates something correctly, but because the technology does. Our cars, furnaces, dishwashers and refrigerators embody this principle. Woodstoves are beyond ready to join this revolution. The real value of the Wood Stove Design Challenge is not instigating the invention of new technology, but it will: • Speed up the integration of technologies that already exist and make them more affordable. • Bring together people from different disciplines to tackle challenges, share ideas and develop partnerships. • Draw policymaker attention and raise the profile of the technology featured. • Generate public enthusiasm and influence consumer attitudes. • Engage youth and encourage inventors outside the industry. When Ben Franklin invented the Franklin stove, he amalgamated existing designs into a mediocre stove despite the existence of far cleaner and more efficient designs already prevalent in Europe. Franklin’s major contribution was the ability to market a mediocre technology that people were ready and willing to use. His challenge was to get consumers to stop relying on smoky fireplaces, and he was pretty successful. Today our challenge is to get consumers to stop relying on old, uncertified wood stoves and prevent them from routinely using EPA certified stoves poorly. If wood stoves are going to continue to be a major residential energy player, we need a new breed that is genuinely clean, efficient and user friendly. Join us in November to be part of the process. Author: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat



PHOTO: IBA-Hamburg


SUN SUCKER:Two exterior walls of the BIQ apartment complext in Hamburg, Germany, are made of bioreactors that capture sunlight to produce heat, and grow for algae for biogas production.

Real Green Heat

The epitome of “green” energy, a building in Hamburg, Germany, produces heat and power from algae. BY ANNA SIMET


hen viewing photos of the BIQ apartment complex in Hamburg, Germany, one might question whether or not it’s real. The futuristic-looking, gleaming green facility was officially put into operation at the end of April, and its makers claim it is the world’s first photobioreactor (PBR) facade. Hosting 200m² of integrated photobioreactors, the five-story, 15-unit apartment complex grows algae on its surface and produces


heat and power as a result. The microalgae used in the facades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors, according to designer Arup’s European research leader Jan Wurp. “In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the southwest and southeast faces of the four-story residential building. The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management center where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to be stored and used to generate hot water,” says Wurp.

The innovative facade system is the result of three years of research and development by Colt International, based on a bioreactor concept developed by SSC Ltd. and design work led by Arup. Funding support came from the German government’s ZukunftBau research initiative.

How It Works The photobioreactors positioned on the southwest and southeast sides of the

THERMALÂŚ BIQ Energy Outputs Basic data per m2 bioreactor area Biomass production

15 g TS/m2/day (900 kg/year)

Energy production in biomass

345 kJ/m2/day

Biogas production from biomass

10.20 L methane/m2/day


Energy indicators for 200 m2 bioreactor area with 300 days of production per year Biomethane production

612 m3 methane/year

Energy in methane

6487 kWh/year

Energy loss (auxilary power, etc.)

30 percent of production

Net energy as methane

approx. 4541 kWh/year

Net energy from heat

approx. 6000 kWh/year



building grow algae not just for energy production, but also for controlling light and shade in the building. Each is 70 cm wide, 270 cm tall and 8 cm thick, and is mounted on a steel frame and arranged within a group. Photobioreactors are filled with an aqueous solution and CO2 is constantly added as a nutrient, which enables the algae to flourish. It is supplied to the algae via a saturation device that directly introduces flue gas from a micro-CHP (combinedheat-and-power) system into the water circuit. The use of CHP is controlled as needed for the desired growth of algae, and a monitoring network continually checks all parameters relevant to the process, which is almost fully automated. The culture medium in the photobioreactors is constantly stirred by supply of compressed air through an airlift to prevent the microalgae from sinking and settling. Small, lattice-like beads serve as scrapers and are enclosed within the photobioreactors, and prevent algae from depositing on the glass. The photobioreactors are all connected in a series, so algae and its medium circulate through all of them when the system is operating, according to concept designer IBA-Hamburg. The photobioreactors may reach a temperature of 35 degrees Celsius (95 de-

grees Fahrenheit) during the day when facing sunlight, thus acting as solar thermal absorbers. As the medium is heated, it is circulated through the building service center. At a central location, algae biomass is filtered out from the culture medium and collected, which takes place in a flotation system, specially developed by IBM-Hamburgh together with company AWAS International GmbH. After the liquid is separated from the algae, most is returned to the photobioreactors, with a small amount being removed from the system and discharged into a public sewer. The harvested algae is fed to an external biogas plant, which sends power to the grid, and powers the micro-CHP. On the thermal side of the equation, heat demand by the building is relatively low, and needed on a seasonable basis, so several components are in place to store and make use of heat when necessary. Heat is drawn off the algae-filled medium through a heat exchanger, and thermal energy is distributed throughout the building for several uses, including heating the air and preheating hot water. Excess heat is stored 80 meters deep in geothermal boreholes, from which energy is drawn with heat pumps as needed in periods of low heat generation by the bioreactors. At the same time, waste heat from


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WALL ARMOR: Photobioreactors on the BIQ building are about 2 feet wide, 9 feet tall and and 3 inches thick.

the flue-gas production process—the nutrient for the photobioreactors—is captured and also used to heat water, and surpluses are stored. According to IBA-Hamburg, although it wasn’t implemented, the original plan used photovoltaics on the roof. Though it could easily be done in the future, in the meantime, electricity will be drawn from the grid. While the initial photobioreactor facade design was implemented at an apartment, IBA-Hamburg believes it is a good fit for several other applications, including industrial and commercial constructions, buildings for public infrastructure, trade, or residential buildings. Rainer Mueller of IBA-Hamburg points out that this is an example of algae production technology leaving the lab and being brought to real life, as a piece of architecture. “So now we have to survey the bioreactors,” Mueller

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Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-751-2756

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says. “We do this monitoring together with renowned universities, and we also use the feedback of the residents. As for now, everything is running smoothly from the operational point of view. Some of the people who moved in told us that in the beginning, they just had to get used to the occasional bubble sound made inside the water panels.” Boiled down to a very basic idea, IBM-Hamburgh’s vision behind the energy concept is the connection of different energy sources working together, thus bringing together, in one circuit, solar energy, geothermal energy, a condensing boiler, district heating, and the production of biomass in the bioreactor facade.

ONE OF A KIND: The unique BIQ building prototype took three years to develop from initial concept development to completion.

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Cat Financial to finance Blue Sphere AD project

BIG ON BIOGAS: The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and its partners break ground on an anaerobic digestion plant at Rosendale Dairy.

UW Oshkosh breaks ground on new AD system The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and its partners recently broke ground on a new 1.4 MW biogas plant that will include a public education center at Pickett, Wis.-based Rosendale Dairy, the state’s largest dairy farm. The $7 million project is funded by the UW Oshkosh Foundation and will utilize livestock waste to generate, capture and combust methane. In addition to supporting the university’s goal in creating a carbon-neutral campus, the facility will also provide its environmental science, microbiology, sociology and other students with

an off-campus laboratory to develop expertise as renewable energy and rural social scientists. Additional partners in the project include Milk Source, BioFerm, the Viessmann Group, Soil Net, Alliant Energy and Infinity Lawn and Garden. The Rosendale facility will produce seven times more energy than the existing UW Oshkosh dry-fermentation anaerobic biodigester, which went online in 2011. Both facilities feature technology provided by Viessmann and BioFerm.


Blue Shere Corp.’s proposed 5.2 MW anaerobic digestion project in Charlotte, N.C., has received a signed commitment letter from Caterpillar Financial Service Corp., the financial division of Caterpillar Inc., to provide $17.785 million in debt financing. The commitment is 100 percent of the debt financing required for the project. Blue Sphere, along with its German-based partner Biogas Nord AG, is acting as integrator of the project though its joint venture company, Bino Sphere. With the debt financing commitment in place, Blue Sphere is completing all closing conditions, including investment tax credit monetization, feedstock supply and permits. The company expects to break ground on the project during the third quarter of this year, with completion expected during the third quarter of 2014. According to information released by Blue Sphere, it will retain a 37.5 percent ownership position in the Charlotte project. The company is also developing a 3.2 MW anaerobic digestion project in Rhode Island. That project is expected to break ground before the end of the year.


What If We Included Biogas In Waste-to-Energy Investments? BY PATRICK SERFASS

Early July, the U.S. DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office issued a request for information regarding waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies. The American Biogas Council was pleasantly surprised that questions included biogas, and had lots to say in response. In this month’s column I’ll share just the main points. In the biogas industry’s eyes, we are a WTE industry. Biogas systems take valuable resources considered by most to be waste, and use a natural, biological process to turn it into energy and other valuable coproducts. To most people, however, WTE only relates to combustion, incineration or gasification of waste to create heat (for steam to make electricity) or synthesis gases. The DOE has taken a similar narrow view on other terms; their biomass program has famously only focused on liquid, direct substitutes (drop-in) for gasoline or diesel, leaving out multitudes of other biomass industry needs. As a result, taking an appropriately inclusive view of WTE was both surprising and welcome. Biogas systems, turning waste into energy using anaerobic digestion (AD), is proven with thousands of commercial installations around the world, predominantly outside the U.S. Even with that maturity, research and development (R&D) is still needed to evolve in our rapidly changing energy world. Today, the segment of the biogas industry focused using food waste, industrial organics and municipal solid waste to feed biogas systems is just starting to grow, while the established segments, mostly farms and wastewater facilities, expand. There’s great opportunity because there’s a lot of waste, but globally, the WTE industry tends to mature most rapidly in markets where waste disposal and energy costs are high. In the U.S., however, the low costs of waste disposal and energy generation have stunted efforts. As an industry, we have to get more creative in the way we develop biogas systems that are competitive in this environment. Communities and states striving to reach landfill diversion targets of 75 percent, and in some cases zero waste, will find it impossible to do so without diverting the organic fraction of waste (often 25 percent or more) to organics recycling facilities like biogas systems. Therefore, it makes sense for government entities to invest in infrastructure and permitting improvements for biogas development as an essential public service for generating renewable energy, reducing disposal and reaching greenhouse gas and low-carbon fuel goals. Over many years, federal policy has failed to recognize the many benefits of biogas systems—emissions reduction, waste reduction, odor reduction, renewable energy generation, soil amendment production, nutrient separation and

dozens of related economic and social benefits—which has put the U.S. in last place when it comes to biogas R&D. Federal policy has focused on systems with fewer benefits overall, putting the U.S. far behind in the R&D and implementation of biogas systems, a key WTE technology. In the meantime, countries including Germany, Netherlands, the U.K. and India have advanced the technology and the biogas industry with more than 20,000 installations. Here’s where the biogas industry wants some R&D: • Biogas upgrading to biomethane and compressed vehicle fuels. • Higher efficiency, lower-cost biogas to electricity conversion equipment. • Enhanced pretreatment systems for unique or contaminated waste streams before they enter the digester. • Greater container mixing effectiveness and net energy efficiency. • Coproduct/digestate processing for nutrient sequestration and separation. • Higher-efficiency heat exchangers and waste heat utilization. In the U.S., where the term “biofuel” usually connotes only liquid fuels, lack of R&D funding puts biogas in a disadvantaged position. This has limited the number of public and private researchers with expertise in the field, and without a steady stream of technology advancements, industry growth and investment is slowed. Increased R&D could lead to larger, private investments and industry growth. While AD biogas for transportation fuel is given credit under the EPA’s renewable fuel standard, there are no federal policies or subsidies to encourage the use of biogas for thermal energy production, whether as a medium-Btu fuel via a dedicated pipeline or as a high-Btu fuel injected into the interstate pipeline network. This is in stark contrast to the massive support provided to geothermal and solar thermal technology. A steady investment over the next 10 years would build the U.S. capacity for renewable energy generation, create new products to support American agriculture, move communities and states towards zero waste, regain U.S. R&D leadership and create a multitude of economic and social benefits that we can all use. Author: Patrick Serfass Executive Director, American Biogas Council 202-640-6595





Aiding an Energy Crisis Biogas and other renewable projects that capitalize on existing resources may be one answer to daunting energy challenges faced by island countries. BY ANNA SIMET


ike most of the world’s islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands is nearly 100 percent reliant on imported fossil fuels. On average, homeowners are paying about 47 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, nearly 30 cents more than in New York, the highest-paying state in the contiguous U.S., and close to 40 cents higher than Washington, which boasts the lowest rates. In early 2012, the Hovensa oil refinery in USVI’s St. Croix—the only one on the island and one of the largest in the world, employing about 1,200 people—closed, citing reasons of financial loss due to low prices of U.S. natural gas, and a weakened demand for petroleum products prompted by the global economic slowdown. The closure has not only affected energy costs, as the refinery provided No. 6 heavy fuel oil and No. 2 diesel fuel to generate most of the electricity on the island, but also eliminated 2,200 direct and indirect jobs associated with the refinery. This has spurred devastating ripple effects on St. Croix’s and the USVI’s economy, including elimination of about $60 million in annual government revenue. For the past few years, there’s been a great deal of focus on renewable energy development in the country. Self-sustained, fast-tracked projects are a necessity and strong area of focus, and include wind, solar, biomass and biogas. A project in St. Croix, being developed by Tibbar Energy USVI, is strategically utilizing the island’s year-round warm climate and frequent rainfall to grow a fast-growing, high-yielding energy crop that will be used to produce power via anaerobic digestion.

Exploring Options Las Vegas-based Tibbar Construction Services owner Tania Tomyn and her brother Mark, an environmental engineer, learned of the U.S. Virgin Island’s high energy cost situation, and how it has escalated to a serious energy crisis. Considering St. Croix a second home, the two decided to investigate the possibility of launching an energy project there, and along with the rest of the company’s team and multiple partners, are in the midst of developing a 7 MW biogas plant. Resulting company Tibbar Energy had an initial goal of evaluating what organic feedstocks were available, and will be taking part in a SEPTEMBER 2013 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 31

fats, oils and greases and food waste joint recycling partnership with the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, a recycling option the island currently doesn’t have. “Landfill space is limited, and we didn’t overlook this,” Tomyn explains. “However, those streams are small, and don’t make up volume that creates any significant amount of energy.” The company will continue to explore other organic streams in the Caribbean and on the island, but Giant King Grass—supplied by licensee company Viaspace Inc.— was selected as the feedstock of focus for a number of reasons. Partly because it is native to the tropics, but also because relatives of the grass—napier and elephant grass— have done well in the same climate. Viaspace CEO Carl Kukkonen says GKG has properties very similar to corn straw or stover in terms of combustion and biogas, biofuel and pellet production. What sets it apart from corn straw are its extremely high yields, which Kukkonen says are “10 times the yield of corn straw per acre per year.”

He adds that the company is making GKG pellets every day, but electricity production via direct combustion or biogas is the simplest way to utilize the grass. “We believe that biofuels and biochemicals will be a major opportunity in the future, but there are no real commercial opportunities today,” he says. The first GKG for the St. Croix projects SUPER SOAK: GKG stalks are cut down into pieces that include a was planted, initially by node, and gathered to be soaked in organic root stimulant before being hand, at the end of last planted. September. “Then we Tibbar’s farm team has spent a year in moved to a mechanized system with transGKG trials, growing in the driest and wetplanters,” says Tomyn, describing the process as similar to transplanting vegetables test parts of the island, working with mulfrom a nursery. These initial three GKG tiple agronomists who have grown some of nurseries, totaling an estimated 30 acres, are the largest energy crop plantations in the where the plants will be grown to populate world, according to Tomyn. “What we have found is that GKG has performed very well the 1,500 acres needed for the project.

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Since St. Croix is an environmentally sensitive ecosystem, it is imperative that a project work within those parameters, Tomyn points out. “St. Croix has other types of renewables like wind and solar, but they don’t provide base load power like our technology. The utility has to keep spinning re-



Benefits and Milestones


with minimal irrigation and likes the tropical climate,” she says. The GKG will be harvested like any silage crop, and transportation equipment will be similar to corn silage equipment, which will haul feedstock to the plant each day. “We will also have silage in storage in silage packs if it is too wet to harvest,” says Tomyn. Other partners in the project include Bioenergy Crops of Spain, Austria-based Entec, which will build the plant, technology provider Layne/Entec, and Denmarkbased engineer/builder/operator Renew Energy a/s. Tibbar has also strategically partnered with the USVI Department of Agriculture Commissioner Louis Peterson to further develop large ponds and gutters for maximum water runoff harvesting capacity.


SOUTH SHORE STAND: Tibbar Energy CEO Tania Tomyn, left, stands with USVI Sen. Judi Buckley and Chris Mitchell, chief researcher at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, in front of the South Shore Giant King Grass Nursery.

serves for those nonbase-load renewables, and our project works with the USVI Water and Power Authority to generate power to the island in the most efficient manner and at the lowest cost.” St. Croix is similar to a small, rural community, and has the highest energy cost in the U.S., Tomyn emphasizes. “Keeping that in mind, we needed to design a project that created value for the community and made good sense. So how do you add value? By creating jobs and agricultural opportunities, and hopefully an agricultural renaissance.” Tibbar’s project will create 30-plus permanent jobs for 25 years, and additional temporary jobs during the construction phase. The company will invest $70 million into the island within the next two years and expects it to have a very positive effect on tourism, as the focus currently is on showing the “sustainable side” of the island, Tomyn says. The most recent milestone the project achieved was the securing of a power pur-





chase agreement (PPA) with WAPA, at the end of June. WAPA approved an interconnection agreement—the result of a study performed to determine how energy produced from Tibbar will be integrated into the grid—and signed a 25-year PPA with an option for an additional five years at the end of the contract. Per the agreement, WAPA will pay 24.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to Tibbar for the first five years, 24 cents for years 6 to 20, and 23 cents for the remainder of the contract. “We are now working hard on design and farm planning and final agreements,” Tomyn adds. “We expect to have permitting done by late fall, then Layne/Entec starts to build the plant. We will be producing power per our June 2015 PPA schedule.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-751-2756

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Court ruling leaves California LCFS in place In July, California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal issued its opinion in the lawsuit filed by Poet LLC against the California Air Resource Board in regard to its implementation of the state’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) program. The court’s decision essentially upholds the LCFS program, but requires CARB to correct certain aspects of its implementation. Under the ruling, the LCFS regulations in effect for 2013 will remain in effect until CARB completes the corrective actions specified by the court.

Among the roughly half-dozen corrective actions named by the court is a requirement for CARB to accept public comments for a 45-day period for all issues related to the approval of several proposed LCFS regulations, including those associated with carbon intensity values attributed to land use changes. The board is also required to include four emails from consultants regarding the computer model used to calculate indirect carbon emissions in the rulemaking file. Those emails were previously left out of the file.

Sapphire pays off USDA loan guarantee early Sapphire Energy Inc. has paid of its entire $54.5 million USDA loan guarantee. The company was awarded the guarantee in late 2009 under the USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program to support the construction of a fully integrated, algae-to-crude oil commercial demonstration facility in Columbus, N.M. The Green Crude Farm was completed on time and on budget, and is currently producing renewable crude oil on a continuous basis. According to Sapphire, the operational crude oil farm has led to additional investment in the company and commercial partnerships. Sapphire repaid the remaining loan balance in full after receiving additional equity from private investors. The company also recently announced that it is expanding its partnership with The Linde Group to commercialize a new industrial-scale conversion technology needed to upgrade algae biomass into crude oil. Together, the companies will refine the hydrothermal treatment process developed by Sapphire. That process sis currently operating at the pilot scale.

DOE invests in algae, biomass supply chain The U.S. DOE has announced more than $22 million in new investments to help develop cost-competitive algae fuels and to streamline the biomass feedstock supply chain for advanced biofuels. Of the investment, nearly $16.5 million will be split between four algae projects; two located in California, one in Hawaii and another in New Mexico. The goal is to boost the productivity of sustainable algae while reducing capital and operating costs. Hawaii Bioenergy was awarded a $5 million investment to develop a photosynthetic open pond system to produce algae oil. The project will also demonstrate re-


processing technologies that reduce energy use and the overall cost of extracting lipids and producing fuel intermediates. Sapphire Energy was also awarded $5 million. The funding will support the development of a new process to produce algaebased fuel that is compatible with existing refineries. The project will also work on improving algae strains and increasing yield through cultivation improvements. An additional $5 million will go to New Mexico State University, where the investment will support research to increase the yield of microalgae. The project will also develop harvesting and cultivation

processes that lower costs while supporting year-round production. Finally, California Polytechnic State University is receiving $1.5 million to increase the productivity of algae strains and compare two processing technologies. The project, based at a wastewater treatment plant in Delhi, Calif., includes 6 acres of algae ponds. The remaining $6 million will support a project led by RDC Enterprises to reduce the harvesting, handling and preprocessing costs of the biomass feedstock supply chain.


A Charged But Successful RFS Debate BY MICHAEL MCADAMS

In Washington, the renewable fuel standard (RFS) remains a lively topic of debate. On July 23-24, the House Energy and Commerce Committee hosted two panels that included 15 stakeholder groups to explore the current impacts of the RFS. These panels brought together representatives serving the interests of biofuels, oil, automotive, agriculture and the environment. I represented the Advanced Biofuels Association on the first panel, alongside Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association; Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute; Charles Drevna, president of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers; and Jeremy Martin, a senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientist. Our panel was peppered with questions for nearly three hours. In what could fairly be described as a charged environment, no less than six members of Congress addressed this first panel and explained that the Committee was neither likely to repeal the RFS nor leave the program untouched. Both Gerard and Drevna took the position that the RFS was broken and beyond fixing, and therefore should be repealed. However, Dineen and I were able to illustrate that the blend wall issues being discussed represented less than two-tenths of one percent of the entire fuels pool projected in 2013 for America. I also informed the Committee that the private sector has invested $14.7 billion over the last six years in an effort to stand up the advanced and cellulosic sector called for under the RFS, according to Bloomberg Energy. In more targeted questioning, members of the committee probed into the progress of the advanced and cellulosic sectors. Although the oil industry representatives continued to complain that there are no cellulosic gallons available and that they are being taxed, I was able to highlight the opening of a number of cellulosic facilities currently making gallons. Additionally, I reminded the committee of the recent district court case, which vacated the 2011 and 2012 cellulosic standards and returned their funds. Problems addressed and remedied.

Of particular interest were the bipartisan natures expressed and the interest from both sides of the aisle to continue support for the advanced and cellulosic industries. For example, at one point during the panel, Congressman Joe Barton, R-Texas, told Mr. Gerard that if he had spent $15 billion, he would not be asking the committee to ignore the progress and investment. At the end of the ABFA statement, I suggested the committee draft a letter inquiring as to EPA’s authority to deal with any of the short-term blend wall issues. I also advised that the EPA not only has sufficient authority to address these issues in an expeditious fashion, but also that Congress should encourage EPA to release a framework for both 2014 and 2015 to send a clear signal as to how they plan to set the future Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO). I am delighted to write that on Aug. 6, EPA released its 2013 final RVO numbers, which once again lowered the cellulosic pool in line with the court directive to six million gallons for 2013. In a major victory for the ABFA and National Biodiesel Board, the EPA denied the request from Growth Energy and RFA to lower the advanced pool and maintained the number at 2.75 billion gallons. This is a great accomplishment for the advanced biofuels industry in just three short years. In addition, EPA stated their plan to release 2014 RVO numbers for comment in late September. In its statement, EPA suggested it has the necessary authority to address current concerns with the blend wall and will evaluate what the appropriate numbers will be for 2014. These latest actions have set about a dual track to address blend wall concerns between the regulatory process, led by EPA, and the legislative process, led at this time by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. As such, we can expect an extremely active and eventful fall for the RFS. So, stay tuned and stay engaged, as I expect everyone reading this column has an interest in the outcome of this debate. Author: Michael McAdams President, Advanced Biofuel Association (202) 469-5140





POPLAR PREP:GreenWood Tree Farm Fund chips and transports poplar feedstock to the Zeachem's biorefinery, which consumes 10 bone dry tons per day.

More for Less Zeachem Inc.’s use of dedicated hybrid poplar trees means more feedstock at a lower cost. BY ANNA SIMET


hen Zeachem was scouting a location for the company’s 250,000-gallon-per-year demonstration-scale biorefinery, locating next to a pre-existing, 28,000-acre hybrid poplar plantation in Boardman, Ore., was a no-brainer. As Zeachem’s primary partner, Forest Stewardship Council-certified GreenWood Tree Farm Fund is under contract to harvest, chip and transport poplar feedstock to the biorefinery, which consumes 10 bone dry tons (BDT) per day and is located just five miles away. The company will continue to supply Zeachem with hybrid poplar when it completes its first commercial plant. 36 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2013

Poplar trees and some other types of dedicated energy crops offer a distinct advantage over biomass residuals—much more feedstock per acre, says Carrie Atiyeh of Zeachem. “If you look at the volume of biomass you’re able to produce per acre from poplar trees, it’s in the range of about 10 to 15 bone dry tons (BDT) per acre, so it has a very high density,” she says. “Biomass residuals, depending on type and location, amount to about 2 to 3 tons per acre. Poplar allows for a much smaller footprint in terms of the number of acres needed, and that cuts down on managing and transportation costs, and emissions profiles.” Poplar trees mature in 3 years and regenerate after being cut at the stem, only

needing to be replanted after five harvests, or 15 years, Atiyeh says. “We call it our ‘storage-on-the-stump’ strategy, part of which is co-locating our refineries with our feedstock source, as it really minimizes the logistical costs of our biofuel and biochemical production.” Wheat straw, abundant in the region, is also used at the plant. Atiyeh describes the company’s feedstock strategy as utilizing 60 to 70 percent from a dedicated energy crop, and ag residue for the remainder.

Technology and the Future In a nutshell, Zeachem’s technology platform uses hydrolysis to break down biomass into sugars, which are fermented



AERIAL VIEW: At its demonstration facility in Boardman, Ore., Zeachem can manufacture a variety of products, including acetic acid, ethyl acetate and cellulosic ethanol.

to produce acetic acid. The acetic acid may be purified into an intermediate chemical used in the production of paint or inks—a $16 billion annual global market—or be sent through a recovery and conversion process to produce ethyl acetate. The ethyl acetate

can be sold into the coating and adhesive market, or reacted with hydrogen to produce cellulosic ethanol. Right now, Zeachem is continuing to optimize production at its demo unit to collect all data needed to bring on line its first

commercial plant. “We’re operating on what we call ‘campaign mode,” which means the plant is running for a certain amount of time to meet specific performance target in terms of production and efficiency, making sure all individual process units are optimized,” Atiyeh says. Chemicals produced at the demonstration plant are being used for internal testing purposes, but Atiyeh says as larger quantities are produced, Zeachem intends to sell them into the chemical and consumer markets. The commercial facility, a 25 MMgy facility currently under development, will also be located in Boardman, adjacent to the demo plant. “A benefit here is the really tight logistics, Atiyeh reiterates. The further it is to transport feedstock, the more impacts on the economics. That’s why we liked the Boardman area—access to existing resources. “That’s a strategy we’re procuring as we move forward into commercial production.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-751-2756



PROJECT PARTNERS: Paolo Carollo, executive vice president of Chemtex, and Mark Conlon, vice president of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, stand in front of a second-year Arundo donax plantation. While the center lost its state funding this summer, Conlon reports the N.C. departments of agriculture and commerce will be continuing much of its work. PHOTO: BIOFUEL CENTER OF NORTH CAROLINA



Dedicated Feedstock Forerunner Chemtex’s Project Alpha targets multiple energy crops BY SUSANNE RETKA SCHILL


roject Alpha in North Carolina is going to commercially test a broad range of purpose-grown energy crops. Chemtex International Inc. received a $99 million conditional loan guarantee from the USDA a year ago, along with a $3.9 million grant from the USDA through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, to support the establishment of more than 4,000 acres of miscanthus and switchgrass across 11 counties in North Carolina to help supply the new facility. “The Chemtex project in Clinton, N.C., will use a multifeedstock strategy including switchgrass, high biomass sorghum and arundo donax, as well as select hardwood tree species, miscanthus and Bermuda grass residuals,” says Mark Conlon, vice president of sector development for the Biofuels Center of North Carolina. Chemtex’s planned 20 MMgy cellulosic ethanol facility will require between 20,000 and 30,000 acres of energy crops. “That’s considerably less than the corn acres that would be required for a facility of that size,” Conlon points out. A corresponding 20 MMgy corn ethanol plant based on Iowa average corn yield would need more than 54,000 acres, he says, and in the South, where yields can run half that of prime Corn Belt corn crops, considerably more. Chemtex will be the first cellulosic ethanol plant to rely on a mixture of purpose-grown energy crops. Most plants in various stages of development are planning to use nondedicated feedstocks, or a combination of the two. For example, two plants under construction in Iowa, one by the Poet/DSM partnership in Emmetsburg and the other by DuPont in Nevada, are planning to use corn stover. Abengoa Bioenergy’s

plant in Hugoton, Kan., will use mixed feedstocks including straw, corn stover and purpose-grown switchgrass. Enerkem Inc.’s nearly complete plant in Alberta is using municipal solid waste (MSW), as are several others in earlier development stages. Zeachem in Oregon is utilizing hybrid poplar and wheat straw, and Ineos New Planet BioEnergy LLC, located next to a landfill, is using mixed vegetative and wood waste at startup, with plans to include MSW in the future. “The Chemtex biomass mixed-feedstock, supply-chain strategy is unique,” Conlon says. “It provides a greater level of flexibility in dealing with unpredictable supply chain iterations and reduces overall inventory costs, in that harvest can be spread out over a greater number of months. It’s a very well-thought-out, cost-efficient strategy where eastern North Carolina farmers gain profitable market options with the new Chemtex demand for energy crops.” Creating a 30,000-acre supply chain to supply a biorefinery that hasn’t begun construction yet—using a brand new conversion technology—is no small task when using crops that have never been grown before. But as Chemtex and others are showing, the new technologies work, and North Carolina is providing an example of how the farmer side can be developed. Travis Hedrick, director of operations for Repreve Renewables LLC, says BCAP is a very important part of signing up farmers to try miscanthus. “BCAP is absolutely helping with the cost and it’s a useful program—it shows support from the USDA.” Due to budget wranglings in Washington, the final


¦ADVANCED BIOFUEL go-ahead for the BCAP project came late in the season, shortening the available time for grower meetings. “We had a two-month signup period where we were able to sign up 200 acres,” Hedrick says. The results from the fall plantings have been good, he adds. “The farmers that signed up are excited with their stands.” Getting a good stand with a highdensity plant population is critical to getting good yields, and that’s something Hedrick’s company has focused on while developing its proprietary system and equipment for growing the vegetatively propagated, high-yielding perennial grass.

Advanced Pathways When Chemtex first announced Project Alpha, it named switchgrass and miscanthus—both feedstocks that already had approved pathways with the U.S. EPA for use as advanced biofuel feedstocks. Chemtex petitioned EPA for a pathway for arundo donax (giant reed), one of the multiple feedstocks used at its first-of-its-kind cellulosic ethanol plant that completed its commissioning process early this summer in Crescentino, Italy. EPA announced its final rule in June, adding giant reed and napier grass as approved pathways for advanced biofuels. Since they are the first feedstocks to be approved that are considered potentially invasive, the EPA included new requirements for addressing potential invasiveness (see sidebar). “The EPA-approved pathway for arundo donax and napier grass is welcome, appreciated and very much doable,” Conlon says. North Carolina did a thorough assessment of the perennial grass that is widely used as a landscaping plant, he adds, ultimately deciding that it did not need to be declared a noxious weed. Biomass supply agreements in North Carolina are going to include most of the EPA requirements regardless, as they must meet state requirements for best management practices for energy crops, as well as the terms of the USDA loan guarantee that Chemtex received. The protocols will include such things as new farm/producer orientation to discuss production and best management practices, setbacks and buffer requirements, monitoring programs, annual producer reporting and eradication protocols. 40 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2013

Managing Invasiveness Risk When napier grass and giant reed joined the list of feedstocks approved by the U.S. EPA as pathways for advanced biofuels, the ruling came with a new set of requirements addressing the potential invasiveness of the energy crops. The EPA is asking that the biofuel producer “submit a letter from the appropriate USDA office with its registration materials, stating USDA’s opinions regarding the likelihood of the feedstock spreading beyond the planting area, and the sufficiency of the risk mitigation plan.” The risk management plan (RMP) outlined in the rule is comprehensive, including: • A hazard analysis of critical control points. • Best management practices that include strategies to minimize escape and eradication protocols. • A site decommissioning plan. • A plan for ongoing monitoring and reporting, both during production and for a sufficient period after the site is no longer in use to ensure the crop didn’t spread. • A communication plan for notifying federal, state and local authorities if the feedstock is detected outside the intended area. • Documents showing the biofuel producer has agreements in place with growers and any intermediaries responsible for the harvesting, transport and storage of the feedstocks. Annual third party audits are required to verify the RMP is being adhered to, with the possibility of more frequent monitoring for new growers in the first growing cycle. The provisions go on, covering other documentation and reporting requirements. The EPA stresses that none of its rules supersede any local, state or federal authority to restrict these feedstocks. The handling of invasiveness risk is going to vary greatly. While North Carolina doesn’t anticipate giant reed will become a problem, California and Texas have declared it a noxious weed as it has spread since being introduced more than a 100 years ago to stabilize stream banks. Bill Anderson, an energy crop researcher wtih the USDA Agriculture Research Service, explains that while giant reed doesn’t produce seeds, it does form secondary shoots along the upper nodes of the plant which can break off and float along in a river or a flood event to propagate elsewhere. Eradication can be a problem since it requires multiple applications of glyphosate to kill and produces large rhizomes that can be a challenge to deal with. Napier grass presents other issues. In more tropical climates, it sets seed and will spread, and is thus a concern in southern Florida, although one since-discontinued project did get permitted to use the crop, Anderson adds. Further north it won’t set seed due to killing frosts and must be propagated vegetatively. With potential yields of 15 dry tons a year, or higher with good fertility, napier grass shows promise as a biomass crop along the southern coastal states and east Texas, Anderson says.

A big part of the equation in North Carolina is providing alternative crops for the fields used for swine lagoon and poultry litter disposal. The state regulates how much waste can be applied to fields depending upon the soil type and the ability of the crop to take up

nutrients with the goal of minimizing leaching. Coastal Bermuda grass is one of the most commonly used crops, Conlon says, resulting in a surplus of hay in the state. That surplus can be utilized by Project Alpha, he says, and farmers are very interested in the prospect of


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better-returning alternatives. Murphy-Brown LLC, the livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc., signed a long-term agreement for the supply of purpose-grown feedstocks for Project Alpha to be grown on approximately 6,000 acres—land not typically used for grain production. Having a range of feedstocks to select from will be an advantage, Conlon adds. Farmers will like the ability to make choices, particularly with the option of the annual high-biomass sorghum. For the biorefinery, a range of crops should mean harvest and collection can be spread over a larger time frame. “Unique to Chemtex, supply contracts with farmers are being established based on stumpage prices—crops standing in the

field,” he says. “Chemtex can and will arrange for direct chop harvest and delivery to its facilities as needed. Limited baling and storage are required and to this extent, supply chain infrastructure is complete and ready to go. In the shorter term,” he adds, “feedstock supply from mixed hardwood stands abundant in eastern North Carolina will fill the supply chain while purpose-grown energy crop acreage develops and matures to peak yield expectations.” Author: Susanne Retka Schill Senior Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4922


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