Page 1

July/August 2017

PELLET FUEL PROTOCOL Dong Energy’s Dust Control, Fire Safety System Upgrades Page 24


Standalone Standard for Combustible Dust Management PAGE 30

AND: International Biomass Conference & Expo Photo Review PAGE 18


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Two days of peer-reviewed presentations. Technical poster sessions. The world’s top minds, research organizations, and investors in the field of thermochemical biomass conversion. And a gala dinner at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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September 19-21 Radisson Blu Aqua, Chicago, IL, USA PLATINUM SPONSORS






05 EDITOR’S NOTE Our Ever-Present Danger By Tim Portz

¦ADVERTISER INDEX 2018 International Biomass Conference & Expo Andritz Feed & Biofuel A/S Astec, Inc. Biofuels Financial Conference Biomass Engineering & Equipment Biomass Power Map CPM Global Biomass Group Evergreen Engineering Firefly AB FLAMEX Inc. Gas Technology Institute GreCon, Inc. IEP Technologies KEITH Manufacturing Company Mole Master Services Corporation Pellet Fuels Institute ProcessBarron SonicAire SWANA Solid Waste Association of North America Tramco, Inc. USIPA Varco Pruden Buildings Vecoplan LLC Williams Crusher

08 COLUMN It’s Settled: Biomass is a Carbon-Saving Fuel By Bob Cleaves

10 COLUMN Are We Ready for the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Movement? By John Ackerly

12 COLUMN An Innovative, Cost-Effective Approach to Fire Safety By Chuck Auger

13 COLUMN Wood Energy App Needs Updated Data By David Bancroft

14 COLUMN Time for a Change in the RFS By Michael McAdams

15 COLUMN Farm Bill Energy Programs: All-of-the-Above Value

44 39 2 11 29 42 28 23 22 27 3 21 16-17 26 35 9 37 34 7 20 43 33 32 6

By Lloyd Ritter

16 BUSINESS BRIEFS 18 CONFERENCE REVIEW All Things Biomass The International Biomass Conference & Expo, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is recapped in photos. By Anna Simet

24 FEATURE Changing of the Guard: Coal-Free by 2023 Dong Energy's switch from fossil fuels to wood pellets and chips requires some modifications to the plants' dust control, fire safety systems and other equipment. By Ron Kotrba

30 FEATURE The Standard in Risk Abatement The impetus behind the National Fire Protection Association’s Standard 652 is to create a single source of fundamental hazard characterization and control steps that should be taken at facilities where combustible dust is created. By Tim Portz

36 DEPARTMENT Fielding Stover Logistics AGCO Corp. is heading up Pellet Technology's corn stover harvest, collection and transport efforts. By Anna Simet

38 CONTRIBUTION Cogeneration as a Universal Power Solution

To ensure optimal performance and efficiency, several factors must be considered before installing a combined-heat-and-power system. By Christian Mueller


COPYRIGHT © 2017 by BBI International

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) Jyl/August 2017, Vol. 11, Issue 6. Biomass Magazine is published bi-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.


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Subscriptions Biomass Magazine is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge for anyone outside the United States. To subscribe, visit or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or 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 701746-8385 or Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Managing Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.






Our Ever-Present Danger After a relatively quiet year regarding fires and explosions, our team learned of three separate incidents while producing this issue of Biomass Magazine, which, a year ago, we decided would focus largely on dust management and fire detection and suppression. One, a tragic inci- TIM PORTZ dent at a Wisconsin corn-milling facility, claimed three VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT EXECUTIVE EDITOR lives. The explosion occurred between two interviews I & conducted with Guy Colonna, a division director at the National Fire Protection Association. I interviewed Colonna to better understand the motivations behind, and the development of, NFPA Standard 652 (Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust). While the explosion in Wisconsin fell outside the purview of my page-30 story, it added a certain gravity to our conversations. For Colonna, that tragedy underscored the vital importance of what the NFPA was trying to accomplish when it moved to develop the comprehensive, all-things-dust standard, beginning in 2014. During my interviews with Colonna, I learned how the NFPA engages a broad committee of stakeholders for the development and maintenance of each of its roughly 300 standards. Colonna shared with me that each committee member brings with them their own motivations for volunteering their time. In some instances, committee members are representatives from insurance companies, who know full well the financial cost of a fire or explosion. Others are representatives from detection, suppression or deflagration technology providers who use the standard development process as a means of sense-checking the relevance of their own products and services. Finally, there are committee members who have felt the impact of a fire or explosion event in a very personal way, and have vowed to do everything they can to ensure that their industry colleagues never have to experience a loss-of-life event firsthand. As our industry grows, so too must our commitment to better understand and manage combustible dust hazards. Ron Kotrba’s page-24 story on Dong Energy’s efforts to eliminate coal from its generation portfolio, “Changing of the Guard: Coal-Free by 2023,” finds the utility amending its dust management protocols at its converted facilities to account for the different challenge presented by wood dust. Of course, this risk is not limited to the boundaries of Dong’s recently converted stations. Increased biomass consumption will bring increased throughput across the sector, and the industry’s job now is to decouple this increased production from risk. Simply and solemnly put, our lives depend upon it.

Justin Price, Evergreen Engineering Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center


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It’s Settled: Biomass is a Carbon-Saving Fuel BY BOB CLEAVES

In May, the Biomass Power Association completed and released a yearlong study of the carbon emissions of biomass power. Working with two highly respected professors, Madhu Khanna with the University of Illinois and Puneet Dwivedi with the University of Georgia, we analyzed the carbon emissions of one 50-MW facility in New Hampshire. Because natural gas is often touted as a cleaner baseload option than coal, we compared the results of biomass carbon emissions to those of a natural gas power facility. The results were decisive in proving the carbon benefits of biomass. In one year, the biomass-fueled power plant saved 115 percent of the carbon emissions of natural gas. Comparing the two fuel sources for 100 years, the carbon savings held steady at 98 percent, after taking into account the fuel needed to cut, chip and transport the fuel to a biomass facility. We used what is called a landscape analysis to measure the carbon savings of biomass, meaning that factored in is the carbon that is constantly being consumed by growing trees in a given area or region, in addition to the carbon released when generating power. The study opted for this instead of a stand analysis, which would assume a harvest, and then measure the time it takes to grow back that particular stand of trees. The landscape analysis better reflects how forestry and biomass work in the real world. The results are not terribly surprising if you think about the time it takes to grow biomass fuel, versus the millennia it takes to create natural gas. Even further, biomass fuel is created as a byproduct of the forest products industry, rather than specifically harvested for energy production. It makes perfect sense to use biomass fuel materials that constantly grow and regenerate within decades, and are among the lowest-value fibers produced in a forestry harvest.


Some environmental advocacy groups have attempted to paint our industry in a bad light, claiming that our forests shouldn’t be used for energy. What is clear from this study is that healthy forests, forest products and biomass can coexist, and in fact, they all enhance one another. Proper harvesting and maintenance helps landowners hang onto their land, rather than sell it. Harvests yield lumber and unusable byproducts, which are used for biomass. Biomass is an additional revenue stream that enables loggers to put to use everything that is harvested—the “guts and feathers,” as one lumber mill operator recently put it. And it is all carbon friendly, particularly when the alternative is a fossil fuel like natural gas. Our study was released at an opportune time for the industry, only one week after Congress voted overwhelmingly to approve language recognizing the carbon neutrality of biomass. The vote capped a nearly sevenyear process undertaken by the U.S. EPA to determine how to account for emissions from biogenic fuel sources. Our carbon report underscored the obvious wisdom of recognizing the carbon benefits of biomass. We look forward to moving on, and working with Congress and the administration to develop policies to support existing facilities and spur more biomass development. Visit our website to view the biomass carbon study in full. Author: Bob Cleaves President, Biomass Power Association


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oin us this summer for two days of educational sessions, industry exhibits, extensive networking opportunities, and a golf tournament on a top-notch course. The PFI Annual Conference highlights the various applications of densified biomass, as well as trends and best practices within the densified biomass industry. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see you in Stowe!

Are We Ready for the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Movement? BY JOHN ACKERLY

Many in the biomass heating movement bemoan warm winters, low fossil fuel prices and the slow pace of conversions to biomass heating systems. But systems to adopt renewable heating are being put in place, and while we could be a part of them, we are not. Scores of cities across the U.S. and Canada have already pledged to go 100 percent renewable. Even more will be announcing plans in the next year or two. Some cities are only focusing on 100 percent renewable electricity, but many are adopting a two-stage approach. The first stage addresses electricity needs, while the second stage addresses heating. Take Portland, Oregon; Hanover, New Hampshire; and East Hampton, New York. Portland is shooting for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, and plans to tackle heating from 2035 to 2050. Hanover is planning for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, and 100 percent renewable heating by 2050. East Hampton is moving even faster: 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020, and 100 percent renewable heating by 2030. Much of this heating will be fueled by electricity, but chip and pellet systems could also be in demand. A parallel trend is the Zero Net Energy movement. To be considered a ZNE building, a house, building or campus cannot use more energy than the renewable energy it generates. There is no one accepted definition of ZNE, so cities, campuses and communities have some leeway in how they define it. A strict definition says biomass has to be grown and harvested on-site, but other definitions could include biomass harvested from within 30 miles, for example. After all, the sun isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t onsite, either, but the energy from it is produced on-site. The point is that aggressive renewable energy strategies need to address heating, and if the biomass community is not at the table, we may be left out of policies and definitions. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association has been at the table, but it is also in a conflict with the natural gas industry regarding gas restrictions in ZNE initiatives.


The Biomass Thermal Energy Council is a natural leader for this type of advocacy, as they represent industry players that heat buildings and campuses. This advocacy is not cheap and could easily require a fulltime person to engage with all the organizations and agencies involved in these movements, but this would be an investment that would pay dividends over the next 10 to 20 years. The renewable electricity movement is taking off because laws require utilities to sell or produce a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. The mandates typically increase until a target year, such as 20 percent renewables by 2020, or 25 percent renewables by 2025. Legislatures can do this because statelevel public service commissions have authority over public and private utilities. But why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t we regulate the heating grid the same way we regulate the electric grid? Piped gas is just like electricity in many respects, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s regulated in many of the same ways, but are there any gas companies required to ensure that 20 percent of their Btu are renewable by 2020? If gas companies had to install some percentage of their business as geothermal, solar thermal or biomass thermal, the renewable thermal sector would develop quickly, just as renewable electricity has. Gas companies could install the systems themselves, just like utilities can install their own wind turbines or solar farms, or buy renewable energy credits from companies that build and operate them. During these Trump years, federal policy and funding of renewables will dwindle, but that is making some states, cities and campuses even more motivated to push forward. Renewable heating is part of the equation, but are we at the table? Author: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat



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An Innovative, Cost-Effective Approach to Fire Safety BY CHUCK AUGER

On an early November morning in 1999, a fastspreading fire engulfed a Rubb Building Systems storage facility at the Merrill Marine Terminal in Portland, Maine. A stray spark caused hundreds of bales of scrap paper to ignite as fire swept through the 82-foot by 120-foot structure, one of four Rubb buildings at the terminal. The fire vaporized the PVC membrane, allowing heat and smoke to escape, thereby preventing heat damage to the steel framework of the building. Fire personnel were able to fight the fire safely and effectively from outside the structure. Despite the severe fire, the structure was back in service with a new PVC membrane in less than a week after the severe fire. After the event, Rubb Inc. client P.D. Merrill commented that any other building would have been a total loss. This real life situation supports the fire performance testing and research done by Rubb Building Systems regarding fire safety and suppression in fabric-covered buildings. The high price of fire suppression systems, along with the skyrocketing cost of insurance and overall industry focus on safety, especially fire safety, the utilization of fabric structures for storage and processing of biomass products is a cost-effective and practical solution. The fire safety advantages of a fabric-covered building are fairly logical. Due in part to product familiarity and collected data, Rubb buildings are being used as the primary examples in this article; the performance of other fabric buildings may vary based on materials used in construction. The PVC cladding material (fabric) is woven to be fire retardant—it does not spread flame, contribute fuel or support combustion in a fire event. Once the internal building temperature reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the material melts, thus venting the fire. The self-venting feature of the building membrane allows smoke, heat and combustible gases to exit the structure, thereby reducing the risk of flashover, property damage and injury. From a life safety standpoint, fires can be fought from the outside of the structure—fire personnel do not need to be put at risk to “vent” the roof.


In the Portland Harbor fire event, along with fire testing on framed, fabric structures done by Factory Mutual Research Corp., it was found that in a typical fire scenario, the alarm system was actuated prior to burnthrough. However, it is questionable whether a sprinkler system would actually be effective against a flame, as fabric burn-though occurs quickly. Because Rubb utilizes hot-dipped galvanized steel, no structural damage occurs to the steel frame, as the temperature is never high enough to damage it. Conversely, in a conventional, metal-clad or wood building, the interior temperature would be expected to reach high enough levels to create structural failure. An aluminum-framed fabric building would also most likely suffer structural damage, as the heat would irreparably damage the aluminum. In the aviation industry, specifically in regard to fabric-clad hangars, full-scale flame testing has shown that due to the aforementioned self-venting, sprinkler systems are no longer required in many instances. Fabric-covered, steel-framed hangars now often only require foam suppression systems to protect the aircraft, a significant cost savings. The fire safety benefits of a fabric building are real: lower fire suppression costs and requirements, less down time in case of a fire event (the Portland building was back in business in a week), potential insurance savings and definite life safety advantages. The operational benefits of a fabric building are also real: little or no maintenance, often lower initial cost, lower energy costs, and translucent roof and flexible design features, including relocateability. As the fabric building industry continues to innovate and improve, the benefits of using these structures in the biomass industry are very real. Author: Chuck Auger Marketing Manager, Rubb Building Systems 207-324-2877

Time for a change in the RFS BY MICHAEL MCADAMS

As I alluded to in my most recent column, for the first time in four years, Congress has stepped up its work to explore the possibility of reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard program. Efforts in both chambers of Congress are ongoing with hopes of creating an open atmosphere for debate and a good-faith exchange between multiple stakeholder groups impacted by the RFS program. Given their efforts, the time seems ripe for me to review Congress’s intent when they wrote the RFS and discuss some of its outcomes—good and bad. Whether you like it or not, there are clear winners and losers. When we think back to the very beginning of the RFS program in 2005, the policy drivers were clear. The three legs of the stool were energy diversity, energy security and carbon reduction. As we fast forward to today, we find the energy diversity and security aspects less compelling, as the advent of hydraulic fracturing has created an unforeseen wealth of domestic oil and gas supply. I would also add that, for some policymakers, support of U.S. agriculture and rural development was equally as important as energy security. As for the Advanced Biofuels Association, we have consistently endeavored to build a second-generation industry of advanced and cellulosic drop-in fuels compatible with our existing infrastructure, delivering a minimum of 50 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. A decade after the overwhelming bipartisan passage of the RFS2 in December 2007, the results are in. They are spelled out in data from the EPA’s Electronic Management Transaction System. Here are 2016’s production numbers: • D6 renewable fuel (corn ethanol): 15.156 billion gallons. • D4 biomass-based diesel: 4.003 billion gallons. • D5 advanced biofuel: 97 million gallons. • D3 cellulosic biofuel: 190 million gallons (primarily renewable biogas—not liquid fuels). The winners are the first-generation producers who, since 1978, have built their plants with the consistent support of a blenders tax credit, import tariff, or mandate—and, in some cases, all three. The losers are second-generation advanced and cellulosic drop-in

fuel producers who have barely gotten off the ground. Therefore, I believe that we must focus on fixing the advanced and cellulosic elements in an RFS reform bill. First, we have statutory issues with basic definitions of acceptable feedstocks. For instance, the use of wood is extremely constrained under the RFS, though wood is one of the most abundant and affordable feedstocks available in the U.S. Additionally, the creation of intermediate feedstocks definitions by the U.S. EPA creates expensive administrative burdens to prevent double counting of potential RINs. The regulatory scheme micromanages and constrains opportunities to add new technologies and feedstock pathways under the RFS program. Prior to the regulatory revamp in 2015, the average wait time for EPA pathway approval was 2.9 years. In addition, we must provide statutory certainty to how long a new plant will benefit from RIN generation under the program beyond the current 2022 deadline, when management of the program is slated to be relegated entirely to EPA. The cellulosic waiver credit also creates issues undercutting the current cellulosic RIN, as obligated parties can simply choose the waiver credit in lieu of a RIN generated by the production of actual cellulosic gallons. No other biofuels pool has such a waiver credit. Finally, there are many other areas of concern, including pump labeling, coprocessing, carbon-14 dating, waste definitions, segregation requirements, and oceangoing vessels not covered by RINs. The list goes on, but 10 years have passed since the passage of the RFS2, and it is time that these issues be evaluated and addressed as a part of comprehensive reform. I agree with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt: It is indeed the constitutional duty of Congress to write the laws. Decisions should come from Congress’s clear policy direction. It’s time to get it right for advanced and cellulosic fuels. Let’s not miss our opportunity. Author: Michael McAdams President, Advanced Biofuels Association


Wood Energy Financial App Needs Updated Data BY DAVID BANCROFT

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council has been collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service and University of Minnesota to update the Wood Energy Financial Calculator. BTEC has been evaluating and working to enhance the background data used in the wood boiler-sizing functions of the tool. In addition, BTEC has been refining the financial calculations through the inclusion of recently installed biomass thermal heating sites, focusing on additional fuels like cordwood and specific cost breakdowns for major project elements. Designed as a prefeasibility tool, the calculator enables commercial and institutional site owners (e.g. energy managers or building superintendents for schools, hospitals, municipal facilities, etc.) to quickly estimate the financial opportunity to fuel switch from fossil fuels to woody biomass for their onsite thermal energy needs, with an acceptable level of confidence. Accurate and timely cost information is necessary for communities and businesses when they are considering their conversion from fossil-fueled heating systems to woody biomass. Engineering and project development firms often employ their own, proprietary formulas for determining such financial analyses, though these tools are typically used as part of a larger feasibility study. This calculator bridges the gap from facilities that have only initially considered woody biomass as a replacement fuel, to a professionally conducted feasibility study. The tool allows users to do a simple and quick analysis to see if wood energy is a viable alternative for their facility, as it only requires knowledge of existing energy inputs and costs. The toolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s effectiveness is increased when candidates are coached or led through the data entry process by a trained volunteer.


One of the most important parts of the calculator, which can be accessed at, is the data detailing system costs. Currently, the wood energy system costs are several years old, so BTEC is requesting the assistance of all those in the bioenergy field who build, design and install systems to fill out a survey form on recently installed systems. That survey can be found at the top of our home page. BTEC is especially interested those systems that have been installed 2015-â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;17. Please note that any information compiled will be held completely confidential, and only aggregated data will be used within the cost curve calculations for boiler size. All survey information is requested by Aug. 1, and can be turned in to . BTEC hopes to roll out the revised tool on Bioenergy Day, Oct. 18, providing increased functionality for all those thinking about wood energy conversions. Author: David Bancroft Technical Engagement Manager Biomass Thermal Energy Council

Farm Bill Energy Programs: All-of-the-Above Value BY LLOYD RITTER

American farmers have built an impressive record of productivity in the past several years. Despite their success, rural America is facing new economic headwinds. Congress should move expeditiously with its work on a new Farm Bill to help farmers and rural communities respond to the challenge. Agriculture energy programs remain a vital part of the legislation because they help farmers diversify the sources of energy they use and the types of products they generate. Despite years of record harvests—perhaps even because of them—a worldwide decline in commodity prices cut U.S. net farm income by 15 percent to about $68 billion in 2016, the lowest level since 2009, according to the USDA. Income is projected to drop another 9 percent in 2017. That decline in income reverberates throughout rural America, undercutting the economic vitality of communities and several states. Farm Bill programs support investments in rural communities that diversify economic opportunities and bring new jobs. Every one of the farm bill energy programs is important and effective, and each of them provides a success story. While making his first policy speech in Iowa, our new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue recently thanked farmers for their innovations and technological developments, promising that this new administration would continue to look for opportunities to support the agriculture industry in its efforts to innovate. Ensuring funding for these important Farm Bill programs is one critical way to do just that. The Biobased Markets Program, also known as the BioPreferred Program, provides tangible evidence of the diversity of rural America’s contribution to the national economy. The program supports a voluntary product label that informs consumers about the biobased content of products on their local store shelf. One example is Procter and Gamble’s Tide bottles. According to USDA, sales of products that qualify for the label equaled $127 billion in 2014; the overall U.S. economic impact of the biobased industry was nearly three times higher, at $393 billion. Moreover, the biobased product industry employs more than 1.5 million people, and for every job in the industry, another 1.76 jobs are created. The Section 9003 loan program works just like the other rural loan programs to help small communities capitalize new investments. This particular program supports advanced biofuel and renewable chemical manufacturing facilities, which create new markets for agriculture, new manufacturing jobs, and new biobased products. California-based Biosynthetic Technologies is using this program to secure sufficient funds to build a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, manufacturing plant that will produce 20 million gallons a year of the company’s industrial lubricant products. Likewise, Fulcrum Sierra

Biofuels is building a new biorefinery in Storey County, Nevada, to convert the county’s municipal solid waste into jet fuel. The Rural Energy for America Program helps farmers, ranchers and small businesses cut energy costs with modern, energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy. It also helps them build investment in new sources of energy. Nearly 13,000 projects have been awarded in all 50 states since the 2008 Farm Bill, leveraging more than $3 billion in private investment. The program has enabled farmers to take waste streams—manure and crop residues—and make energy, soil amendments, fertilizers, biogas and even raw materials for renewable chemicals and bioplastics. These new products diversify income for farmers during times of uneven commodity prices. The Biomass Research and Development Initiative underpins research opportunities across the country to explore new agricultural biomass sources and conversion technologies. Under this program, Dartmouth University is researching biomass pretreatment technologies that are bringing down the cost of cellulosic biofuels and other products. Innovation is necessary for every industry, and this program ensures that development of new technology targets the needs of American rural industries. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program helps farmers and forest owners establish, produce and deliver new biomass resources. Without this program, farmers would have to take a multiyear risk in planting new energy crops before they could harvest a return on their investment. And biobased product manufacturers might never be able to establish a new market for the new crops. BCAP was critical in helping Aloterra work with northeast Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania farmers to establish 5,000 acres of a new perennial grass on underutilized cropland in. That cooperative effort enabled Aloterra to build two new manufacturing facilities in Ashtabula County, Ohio. So while the U.S. farm economy is facing economic challenges in the near-term, there is a solution for the long-term. The all-of-the-above energy approach of the Farm Bill energy programs enables investment in rural America, supports innovation and new manufacturing industries, and generates economic opportunities and jobs. Congress should reauthorize the entire energy title—and ensure proper funding—because each program has a proven track record of diversifying the farm economy.

Author: Lloyd Ritter Director, Agriculture Energy Coalition 202-215-5512



Uzelac hires vice president, general manager

Uzelac Industries Inc., manufacturer of design-build rotary drying systems, is pleased Hobbs to announce the hiring of Mike Hobbs as vice president and general manager. Before joining Uzelac, Hobbs served as operations manager at Rockwell Automation. He began his career at Siemens, where he held engineering, project management, sales and management roles. He later served as general manager at Avanti Wind Systems. A Wisconsin native, Mike graduated with honors from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology. He is a LEED-accredited professional and a registered professional engineer in Wisconsin.



Aries Clean Energy hires Witt, Gardner

Mark N. Witt has joined Aries Clean Energy’s executive management team as chief financial officer, bringing more than 35 years of experience in the industry. Witt spent 10 years helping formulate financing and growth solutions for multiple companies as founder and president of Commercial Energy Services in Houston, Texas. Prior experience includes financial management positions at British Petroleum, Goldman Sachs and KPMG. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Witt also completed the investment

management program at the London Business School, and the executive program at the University of Virginia. He has served on the board of directors for Green Biologics, K3 Oil & Gas, Mainland Resources, Virginia Gas Company and BP Federal Credit Union. Also joining Aries Clean Energy is Ben Gardner, who will serve as vice president of engineering, directing all efforts in design, construction and operations, as well as the company’s ongoing research and development programs. Gardner, recently a consultant to several energy companies, provides Aries with almost 20 years of progressive engineering, project management, project controls, commissioning/startup and plant manager experience. His career path in the power and chemical industries includes Southern Company Services, Range Fuels, and RTI International. As an independent resource, he has worked on the technical and management teams at such industry pioneers as Agilyx Corp., Sundrop Fuels and Brightleaf Power.


Virent has named Stacey Orlandi as CEO following Edwards’s departure. Most recently, she was vice president of technology for Novel Processes and New Energies at Royal Dutch Shell, and previously with BP, where she held numerous roles, including Cherry Point Refinery manager, refining technology development manager and refining supply manager. Edwards


Lignetics Acquires Marth ABFA salutes first chairman, Companies founding member on retirement Lignetics Inc. has acquired Marth ComFollowing many years of service to the biofuels industry as the first chairman of the Advanced Biofuels Association and CEO of Virent, Lee Edwards retired, effective April 30. One of the founding members of ABFA, Edwards joined the association in 2008. Edwards brought with him 25 years of global energy experience at BP, including his roles as CEO of BP Solar, president of BP Pipelines, North America, chief information officer for Downstream, and vice president of BP Global Brand.

panies, including its wood pellet manufacturing plants in Marathon, Athens, and Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and Marth Transportation trucking assets. Lignetics is the largest residential wood pellet manufacturing company in the U.S., now having a production capacity of approximately 650,000 tons annually. The company has nine plant locations in Maine, Oregon, Idaho, West Virginia, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Former UK energy minister joins REA board

Baroness Verma, former U.K. energy minister, has joined the Renewable Energy Association as an indepenVerma dent nonexecutive board member, looking at the strategic role of renewables and clean tech in the U.K. and trade opportunities for British services and manufacturing in emerging markets. As energy minister during the coalition government, Verma took the Energy Act 2013 through the Lords, before becoming minister at the U.K. Department for International Development in 2015, with responsibilities that included climate and environment.

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The 10th International Biomass Conference & Expo general session, held April 10 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, included discussions of strategy and impacts of the industry under the Trump administration.


ore than 800 attendees and 160-plus producers of biomass power, heat, pellets biogas and advanced biofuels met in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the 10th annual International Biomass Conference & Expo and three preconference seminars to discuss the state of the industry, policy, projects, technology and

more. Following the simultaneously held Biomass Preparation, Handling and Storage Workshop, Heating the Midwest and the Emerging Biomass Feedstocks Forum, the three-day event included a general session featuring industry leaders, 24 technical breakout sessions, a closing networking event at U.S. Bank Stadium and an industry tour of District


Energy St. Paul and combined-heat-andpower plant Koda Energy LLC. In 2018, the International Biomass Conference & Expo will be held in Atlanta, April 16-18. Compiled by Anna Simet Photos by Gamut One Studios


Biomass Magazine and BBI International named Richard Hess, left, recipient of its annual Excellence in Bioenergy Award. Highland Pellets received the Groundbreaker of the Year award for its new pellet facility in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Accepting the award on Highland's behalf was Alex Adome, director of finance.

General session participants included Tim Portz, panel moderator and Biomass Magazine executive editor; Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council; Jeff Serfass, executive director of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council; Carrie Annand, vice president of external affairs at the Biomass Power Association, and Stan Elliot, chairman-elect of the Pellet Fuels Institute.


Pumping Solutions Inc.'s Bob Bridges, second from left, and George Gregorowicz, second from right, discuss the company's technology with customers.

Charlie Mayer of Clarke Energy USA visits with trade show attendees.

Becky Phillips of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute greets booth traffic.

Jim DeWitt, Bauer North America, explains how the company's press screw separator for fiber and liquid separation works.

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Roger Kelly of Bliss Industries LLC, center, and Jason Kessler of Kesco Inc., right, make new connections on the trade show floor.

Feeco International Inc.'s Stephen Rice, left, and Walter Hawkins, right, and Daniel Collins, Ruff Briquetting Systems, pause for a photo on the trade show floor.

Tim Brown of Biomass Equipment & Engineering, right, showcases a Smart Conveyor to a crowd of exhibit visitors.

Roger Bruere of 4B Components demonstrates the Watchdog Super Elite hazard monitoring system for bucket elevators and conveyors.

Following the general session, the International Biomass Conference & Expo hosted 24 technical breakout sessions with more than 90 speakers, including, from top left, Charlie Niebling of Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, Beth Ann Clark of Blue Sphere Corp., David Grandaw of IEP Technologies; and, from bottom left, Erin Hazen of the University of Iowa, and William Strauss of FutureMetrics Inc.


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VJ Bluebaugh mans the booth of Stinger Inc., manufacturers of self-propelled bale wagon, cube-line square bale wrappers, and baled biomass transport equipment.

John Rawlings, far right, and Judi Tyacke, second to right, visit with booth traffic at Rawlings Waste Wood Recovery's exhibit.

Ed Clemson, center, and Frazier Thomas, right, demonstrate a Thomas and Muller Anna Simet, managing editor of Biomass Magazine, Francis Sharron of Solagen Inc. Systems Ltd. screw feeder. and Tim Portz catch up on the trade show floor.


NEW FUEL IN TOWN: Dong Energy’s two Avedøre power stations near Copenhagen were originally designed to operate on coal and natural gas. The company converted the natural gas-fired station to wood pellets in 2014, and switched the coal line to pellets just last year. Here, the new fuel, pellets (left), is juxtaposed with the old fuel, coal (right). PHOTO: DONG ENERGY



CHANGING OF THE GUARD: COAL-FREE BY 2023 Dong Energy has converted five of its seven Denmark power plants from natural gas or coal to biomass, with the remaining two conversions expected in the next few years. Executives at Dong Energy discuss how dust management and fire safety systems are impacted by the switch from fossil to biomass fuel. BY RON KOTRBA


ong Energy, the Danish energy conglomerate that formed in 2006 when six energy companies in Denmark merged, announced an ambitious goal in February to stop its use of coal in power generation by 2023. The European energy giant has already made significant strides in slashing coal consumption, cutting it by 73 percent over the past decade. “We’ve decided to take the final step and phase out the use of coal at all our power stations,” says Henrik Poulsen, Dong Energy CEO. “The future belongs to renewable energy sources, and therefore we’re now converting the last of our coal-fired power stations to sustainable biomass.” The company achieved its 73 percent drop in coal use through a reduction in the number of power stations it operates, as well as through conversions to biomass. Dong Energy also claims to have constructed more offshore wind production

capacity than any other company in the world. In essence, Dong Energy has transformed from being one of the most coalintensive utilities in Europe to being among the continent’s greenest energy companies. Dong Energy has used wood chips and pellets in increasing percentages at two of its power plants, Herning and Avedøre (near Copenhagen), since 2002. Last year, the Avedøre and Studstrup (near Aarhus, Denmark) power stations underwent conversions to operate on 100 percent biomass, mostly wood pellets, but some straw as well. This spring, Dong Energy completed another conversion project at its Skærbæk Power Station near Fredericia, Denmark. That facility, originally fueled by natural gas, now runs on 100 percent wood chips. While elimination of coal is Dong Energy’s 2023 goal, two of its power plants, the Herning and Skærbæk power stations, have been converted from gas to wood chips. “If you want to transform a gas-


the existing turbine and, in that way, we will be utilizing as much of the existing infrastructure as possible.”

Conversion Upgrades

BOILER UPGRADE: This spring, Dong Energy completed a conversion project at its Skærbæk Power Station near Fredericia, Denmark. Originally fueled by natural gas, Dong Energy installed two new boilers at Skærbæk Power Station to run on 100 percent wood chips. PHOTO: DONG ENERGY

fired unit to biomass, you will often have to build a new boiler, depending on which biomass fuel you choose,” says Ole Thomsen, senior vice president and chief operating officer in Dong Energy’s bioenergy

and thermal power division. “We are commissioning Skærbæk Power Station this autumn, after a comprehensive conversion, where we have constructed two new boilers. The new boilers will be connected to


Thomsen says the conversion from coal to wood pellets is relatively simple. “Most of our power stations have been converted from coal-fired to wood pelletfired,” he says. “Both coal and wood pellets are dust-fired—meaning we are grinding the fuel and blowing it into the boiler with air. Therefore, we can use the existing boiler, fuel mills and burners where we inject the fuel. But we need to modify [other] existing equipment to make it ready for wood pellets.” The two main areas in the conversion process from coal to wood pellets, according to Thomsen, are changes in transportation of the fuel to the boiler, and changes in the air temperature and flow. “The differences between coal and wood pellets are quite big,” he says. “Wood pellets are more sensitive to moisture, so we store them inside. The wood pellets are dustier and the

POWER¦ calorific value is a bit lower than coal. But, from an environmental perspective, wood pellets are much better for the climate.” Dust management at coal plants is relatively simple and straightforward, says Morten Reinhold, senior project manager at Dong Energy. “In the flue gas, an electrostatic filter is used,” he says. “And on the fuel logistics side, only intermediate water spray systems are used to minimize dust from the open coal yards.” When these coal plants are converted to use wood pellets, however, Reinhold says there is a big difference in dust management on fuel logistics since pellets are dustier. He adds that the quality of pellets effects how much dust they emit. “The conveyor system has been redesigned to manage the extra dust in the fuel,” he says. “That means closed storage and conveyor systems with appropriate dust aspiration systems.” While the coal plants utilized open storage, converting to wood pellets required Dong Energy to build closed silos to house the wood pellets. “The open conveyor system has been modified to a closed

OUTDOOR VS. INDOOR FUEL: Coal is stored openly outside, as shown here at Dong Energy’s Avedøre Power Station near Copenhagen, but since wood pellets are dustier and more sensitive to moisture than coal, the company built silos to house the renewable fuel. PHOTO: DONG ENERGY

conveyor system at dusty hotspots,” Reinhold says, “and a dust aspiration system has been installed at dusty hotspots.” He notes that these changes in the dust management systems were fully implemented even

at Dong Energy’s power stations that had previously incorporated wood pellets on a percentage basis. The two power stations originally designed for coal, but now fueled by wood

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MAJOR GHG REDUCTIONS: With biomass conversions such as SkĂŚrbĂŚk Power Station near Fredericia, Denmark, Dong Energyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s share of Denmarkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s GHG reductions over the past decade amounts to more than 50 percent.


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pelletsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Studstrup and Avedøre 1 (the Avedøre plant consists of two separate power production units, the original of which was fueled by coal)â&#x20AC;&#x201D;utilize the same emissions control systems designed for coal with no changes, Reinhold says. These systems include a variety of elements, Reinhold says, such as low-NOx burners. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The fuel burners have been optimized for minimum generation of nitrogen oxides in the flue gas,â&#x20AC;? he tells Biomass Magazine. Then, to remove most of the NOx that is still generated from lowNOx combustion, the power stations feature de-NOx units that add ammonia to remove 94 percent of the NOx from the flue gas. In addition, each facility includes desulfurization units, which remove 98 percent of the sulfur dioxide. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This works by adding water and limestone to the flue gas,â&#x20AC;? Reinhold says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The byproduct is gypsum, which is then sold for industrial use.â&#x20AC;? Finally, an electrostatic filter is employed to absorb nearly allâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;99.9 percentâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;of the ash particles in the flue gas. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The ash is used in the cement industry,â&#x20AC;? Reinhold says. Other major areas of consideration when converting coal power plants to wood pellets are spark detection, fire suppression and general fire safety protocols. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Introducing wood pellets at our

power plants has made a large impact on the safety protocol,â&#x20AC;? Thomsen says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As wood pellets are a more biologically active product and sensitive to moisture than coal, self-ignition is a bigger issue regarding fire.â&#x20AC;? He says the greater amount of dust generated from wood pellets during transportation means a higher risk for dust explosion. Reinhold says Dong Energy has developed and implemented new systems to improve fire safety at the converted power stations that now employ wood pellets. These include spark and fire detection systems; explosion suppression systems; and automatic, semiautomatic and manual firefighting systems. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve also established new administrative procedures, and training in firefighting developed and implemented in close cooperation with the authorities and local fire brigade,â&#x20AC;? Reinhold says.

Future Conversions, Impacts

Two remaining facilities, the AsnĂŚs and Esbjerg power stations, must now be converted to biomass in order for Dong Energy to accomplish its goal of becoming coal-free by 2023. The company says itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in dialogue with the heating customers in Kalundborg and Esbjerg to discuss converting the two combined-heat-and-


power (CHP) plants to use wood chips instead of coal when their respective heating agreements expire at the end of 2017 and 2019. “If we reach an agreement with our heating customers to convert Asnæs and Esbjerg to biomass, our biomass consumption in 2023 will be approximately 3 million metric tons in total,” Dong Energy’s lead media advisor Carsten Birkeland Kjær tells Biomass Magazine. She explains the total breaks down to roughly 1.7 million tons of wood pellets, 1.2 million tons of wood chips and 125,000 tons of straw. “In 2023, the company will have reduced its annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by almost 18 million tons compared to 2006 levels,” Birkeland Kjær says. “The total reduction corresponds to the annual emissions of more than 9 million cars. In 2023, the company’s electricity and heating production will emit approximately only a half-million tons of CO2 annually, primarily from gasfired boilers covering peak loads in the district heating system and situations with lack of power.” The likelihood of Dong Energy reaching an agreement with its heating customers is high. “Cooperation with our heating customers is good,” CEO Poulsen says. “The large cities have ambitious goals to reduce their CO2 emissions and demand green district heating from our power stations. In cooperation with the municipal heating companies, we’ve already converted a large part of our power plants to using sustainable wood pellets and wood chips as fuel instead of coal and gas.” Copenhagen Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs Morten Kabell, who also chairs the Metropolitan Copenhagen Heating Transmission Company (CTR), says the city has a goal of becoming the world’s first CO2-neutral capital. “Through our heating contracts, CTR has contributed to making the district heating from Avedøre Power Station green,” he says, “and now coal is disappearing altogether. It’s an important element in our strategy that all heating must be CO2-neutral by 2025.” While the share of coal—the highest CO2-emitting fuel around—in global electricity production is still a major slice of the pie at 40 percent, Denmark is a shin-

ing example of environmental stewardship. Over the past decade, the small European country has reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 25 million tons of CO2 annually, according to Dong Energy. And for those skeptics who question whether one company with offshore wind power and a handful of converted power plants fueled by biomass can really make a difference, Dong Energy’s contribution to Denmark’s total reduction in GHGs amounts to well over half.

“With the combination of electricity from our offshore wind farms and green district heating as well as flexible green power from our biomass-fired power stations, we are well on our way towards a green, independent and economically sustainable energy system,” Poulsen says. Author: Ron Kotrba Senior Editor, Biomass Magazine 218-745-8347



The Standard in RISK ABATEMENT The National Fire Protection Association has advised facilities about the risks associated with combustible dust for nearly 100 years. NFPA 652 is its latest effort to mitigate risks and prevent catastrophe. BY TIM PORTZ

DUST DISCIPLINE: As its backbone, NFPA 652 uses a thorough analysis of the risks at a given facility associated with combustible dust. This analysis is known as a Dust Hazard Analysis, which helps facilities identify trouble spots needing improved operating procedures to mitigate the identified risk. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ, BBI INTERNATIONAL


AN ONGOING RISK: The manufacture, transportation and handling of biomass feedstocks including wood pellets generates fine dust that introduces fire and explosion risks to those facilities that process, store and move these materials. The National Fire Protection Association and its volunteer-based committees are working to ensure that their standards remain valuable resources for facilities looking to, as much as possible, mitigate the risk inherent in combustible dusts. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ, BBI INTERNATIONAL

A CONSTANT STRUGGLE: Pellet plant operators know that dust management requires constant attention, as the extrusion of wood flour into pellets generates significant fines and dust. Pictured is dust that has collected on the motors and the pellet press housings. PHOTO: TIM PORTZ, BBI INTERNATIONAL



ccording to data from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), there were 50 combustible dust incidents in American workplaces from 2008 to 2012. Collectively, these incidents injured 161 people and claimed 29 lives. This sobering statistic was cited by Guy Colonna, division manager at the National Fire Protection Association, in his March 2015 NFPA Journal article “Credible Risk,” in which he outlined the motivation for and development of NFPA standard 652, Fundamentals of Combustible Dust. Those statistics are not an anomaly, Colonna DJHLVODQG& tells Biomass Magazine. When statistics from a longer time frame are examined, results are similar. In 2006, the CSB published a comparable report that found from 1980 to 2005, there were 281

incidents, or over 10 per year. The frequency and volume of these events led the CSB to the conclusion that combustible dust presentsed an ongoing and persistent threat to American workers and businesses. “To me, the most crucial thing, when you look at investigations like those from the CSB, or similar studies and statistics from places like the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, is that there is a common thread, and that’s an apparent lack of understanding of the enormity of the hazards of combustible dusts, when all of the variables necessary for a reaction come together and event occurs,” Colonna says. For a combustible dust reaction to occur, a relatively complex sequence and chain of events must take place, Colonna





points out. “For example, if you look at risk, risk is a combination of two variables. One is frequency, the other is magnitude. What tends to happen is that combustible dust incidents involving explosions are on the fairly low order when it comes to frequency, but the consequences are very high. Ignitions and small fires happen easier and require fewer variables to occur, but their magnitude is far less. Just about anyone can respond and deal with them. The complicated nature of a dust explosion tends to make people complacent, and they struggle to believe that something like that could happen at their facility, with their process. It only takes one incident however, and everyone becomes a believer.” Raising the level of understanding throughout industry is emphasized in the NFPA’s mission, “We help save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge and passion.” This is carried out via the creation of over 300 different codes and standards, all written and revised according to strict procedural guidance from the American National Standards Institute. Some of NFPA’s codes are broad in scope. NFPA 1, for instance, is simply Fire Code, while others have more specific titles and purviews, like NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. The NFPA has been producing standards for dust since the 1920s, with the early standards focusing on coal dust and agricultural milling. Prior to development of NFPA 652, the association maintained five standards on managing dust and its associated risks—NFPA Standards 61, 484, 654, 655 and 664—with four of them focusing on specific sectors. For instance, NFPA 655 focuses exclusively on sulfur dust, while NFPA 484 focuses on combustible metals. Each of these documents deliver incredible value to their respective industries, but Colonna recognized a need for a unifying document that outlined the common hazards presented by combustible dust, regardless of the nature of their industry. This document became NFPA


652, Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust. In the standard’s opening pages, the story of its development is outlined, and its purpose is articulated. The standard references the five industry-specific standards already in place, but asserts that “some users of the NFPA commodity-specific standards believed that the requirements were inconsistent between the various industry sectors and the dust types, leading to confusion in determining which standard applied and how to protect similar hazards within a given process.” In response to this situation, the NFPA established the Technical Committee on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust, whose charter was to create a standard that unified the common practices across the four sector-specific standards, and direct people back to those sector-specific standards when appropriate. Working alongside this committee was another committee, comprised of representatives from each of the sector-specific standards, to oversee the work to develop and revise NFPA 652, as well as ongoing revisions in the sector-specific standards. Work on NFPA 652 began in 2012. Task groups were used to develop draft chapters based on an outline proposed by the committee. These draft chapters, and the early outline, were used by the committee to win go-forward approval from the NFPA’s Standards Council to formally establish the standard and its revision cycle. The standard was initially approved for inclusion in the 2014 cycle, but was held until the 2015 cycle because the technical committee felt it needed more time to review the extensive public comments offered. Standard 652 was finally issued by the Standards Council in August 2015, and approved by ANSI the following September.

parties and facilities that do not align their dust management protocols with those outlined in NFPA standards. In two separate incident reports generated by the CSB for events that occurred in 2003 and 2006, the board concluded that “incidents would have been prevented or consequences mitigated” had the facilities complied with existing NFPA standards. The CSB took the conclusions a step further, recommending that OSHA develop a federal standard to address the workplace hazards associated with combustible dust. The federal standard could reference NFPA standards, but would differ in that an OSHA standard would be enforceable through inspection and fines. OSHA took no regulatory action on the CSB’s recommendations until 2008, when an explosion and fire destroyed the

Imperial Sugar refinery in Savannah, Georgia, killing 14 people. The event served as a catalyst to, once again, look at the CSB’s recommendations, and OSHA launched a national emphasis program on combustible dust that leveraged existing NFPA standards in two ways. First, the standards were used by OSHA compliance teams to better understand where to find dust hazards within the facilities it was inspecting. Next, the standards served as a jumpingoff point for compliance teams to make recommendations to those facilities for risk abatement strategies. While the national emphasis referenced and utilized existing NFPA standards in an advisory capacity, it lacked the teeth of enforceable regulation, and in October 2009, OSHA published an advanced notice of proposed rulemak-


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Standards, Not Regulations

The standards developed by the NFPA are voluntary, and meant to provide technical information and guide behavior. The NFPA has no enforcement authority, and cannot levy fines or other punishments to


ing (ANPR) that suggested the existing NFPA standards may serve as the backbone or reference for more stringent regulation. The ANPR set into motion an inquiry into the feasibility of using the NFPA standards as the basis for a regulation, and asked the question of whether or not the existence of multiple, sector-specific standards would introduce confusion to the process. In part, this question gave rise to the development of Standard 652, a unifying standard that OSHA, if it chose, could reference in regulation. Absent an enforceable federal regulation, the best practices and technical expertise generated by existing or developing NFPA standards rely largely upon state and local fire codes to influence and impact behavior in industrial settings. Time and time again, in investigative reports produced after explosion and fire incidents at industrial facilities, the CSB arrives at the same conclusion—that local or state fire codes already direct facilities toward existing NFPA standards for guidance on managing combustible dust. “Whether you are using NFPA 1 or the International Fire Code, both documents point to the NFPA standards on combustible dust,” Colonna says. “Not so much 652, because that is newer, but the sector-specific standards are already embedded into local fire codes. It becomes a question of awareness among the industries, and then, for those specific documents, implementation from an enforcement standpoint at the state and local levels. In several occasions in states that have had incidents, that is why one of the recommendations the CSB has made is for state fire marshals to have training so that they can inspect for combustible dust hazards.” Now, the open question is whether or not there is an appetite within OSHA to take on combustible dust, and roll out a federal regulation on its management. The ANPR on combustible dust published in October 2009 remains on the books at OSHA, but very little has happened since the ANPR was issued. On its website the Chemical Safety Board states, “The CSB believes that a general industry standard for combustible dust is greatly needed to prevent future tragedies. OSHA commenced rulemaking in October 2009; however, the agency has yet to issue a proposed rule. Moreover, the next step in the rulemaking process, the convening of a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel, has been postponed several times.” Colonna doesn’t see that occuring in the near-term. “I’m very convinced that there won’t be much happening within OSHA with respect to the proposed rule that has been on the books since October 2009,” he says. “The movement that we are up to, procedurally, is that OSHA should complete its economic assessment, and that hasn’t moved off of dead center for a couple of years. I don’t see a lot of sentiment to pursue that any further right now—it is still a long way away.” 34 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | JULY/AUGUST 2017


The Value of Awareness

For now, Colonna and the NFPA are choosing to focus on the spirit of their mission, to “help save lives and reduce loss with information.” While OSHA has not moved forward with the rulemaking that it announced in 2009, there is an existing National Emphasis Program for combustible dust that specifically cites NFPA standards. The first NEP for combustible dust was published in October 2007 and reissued in March 2008, after a loss-of-life incident at a sugar refinery. Colonna sees the reference to NFPA standards within the NEP as a means to accomplish two important tasks. First, the standards provide a pathway to the sources of potential hazards of combustible dust within facilities for workers, owners and inspectors. Second, the standards provide the most current guidance on the technologies and approaches that can be used to abate those hazards. “There is quite a reliance on the standards already, with or without a federal rulemaking step,” Colonna says. “With respect to the purpose of Standard 652, the reason I proposed we create it was so that we could have a single source for all of the fundamental hazard characterization and fundamental hazard control steps we should be taking at facilities where solids processing happens, and some form of combustible dust is created, and needs to be managed. In the absence of an OSHA rulemaking, 652 and our other dust standards remain the best technical documents available. It is the most current document with the greatest potential to respond to changes in the technology.” Within the first 10 pages of Standard 652 there is a flow chart that directs a reader through a sequence of yes/no questions. These questions help a reader determine whether or not their facility has a combustible dust that, left unmanaged, could introduce risk into their operation. Depending upon the responses, the reader either learns that they do not have a combustible dust that could introduce risk into

their operation, or they are directed to other sections of the 652 or the sector-specific standards on combustible dust. Colonna recalls the development of the flowchart, and the reaction of the committee once it was finalized and published. “There was a high level of satisfaction with the idea that they were putting this kind of a tool in the beginning of a brand new document,” he

adds. “It was a way of saying that we hope this helps people better understand what they should do.”

Author: Tim Portz Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4969


Both Massey Ferguson and Challenger Series high-horsepower tractors pull balers processing corn stover bound for Pellet Technology USA's Plant in York, Nebraska. PHOTO: AGCO CORP.

Fielding Stover Logistics AGCO Corp.’s latest large-scale crop residue endeavor is utilizing and adding to the company’s well-established harvesting knowledge base. BY ANNA SIMET


or quite some time, cellulosic ethanol has been the end use of focus when it comes to corn stover. As result of new U.S. corn production records being set each year—up to 15.2 billion bushels-plus in 2016 from 13.8 billion in 2013—the volume of leaves, stalks, and husks left in the field post-harvest is also at an all-time high, thus creating even more of a need to remove some of it. Especially in continuous-corn regions, stover is creating an extra revenue stream for farmers who are selling it for other uses. For some corn farmers in the York, Nebraska, area, that opportunity is being provided by Pellet Technology USA. At the beginning of 2017, Pellet Technology brought online

a $30 million plant that takes in corn stover purchased from area farmers, and, through a propriety process, pelletizes the stover to be marketed as feed and fuel products. And not only is it putting cash back in farmers’ pockets, aside from a few large operations that opted to harvest the stover themselves, it’s alleviating them of the task. Realizing their expertise was in the pelleting process and not in the field, Pellet Technology initially began investigating what the feedstock harvest, collection and transportation model would have to look like—baling and hauling 90,000 tons of corn stover is no minute task—and professional industry contacts referred them to AGCO Corp. “They were made aware of our expe-


rience through our work in cellulosic ethanol, and they reached out to us,” says Glenn Farris, AGCO director of strategic segment solutions. “We’d begun talking to Caterpillar about teaming up with them and their Job Site Solutions Group, so they ended up becoming the supplier for Pellet Technology, and we became the contractor.” For Pellet Technology's feedstock collection program, AGCO has taken the logistics reins and now heads up the harvesting, baling, stacking and delivery of the corn stover bales to the pellet plant. The first harvest was last fall, and AGCO will be back in the fields this year as part its contract with Pellet Technology. “In a nutshell, Pellet Technology has relationships with farmers in


and around York, contracts with them that allow AGCO to harvest and remove stover off their property,” Farris explains. “Once the grain is harvested, the farmer informs them the field is ready, and then we remove it within a certain window.” From there, AGCO takes charge. “We cut and windrow the corn stover with a flail shredder, then we use our large square bailers to bale the material in the windrows, and we contracted with Stinger Ltd., which has selfpropelled bale stackers that stack the bales at the field edge. At that point, the trucking company we hired comes in to deconstruct and load the bales on a trailer behind a tractor rig and haul them to the plant.” That work isn’t as simple as it sounds— in 2016, AGCO worked with over 66 farmers, covering some 40,000 acres across more than 300 fields to harvest nearly 93,000 tons of corn stover. This stover was processed into 143,800 bales and required 3,852 truck deliveries to Pellet Technology’s facility, work that was completed by a fleet of 25 highhorsepower tractors, 12 large square balers, 12 shredders, six self-propelled (Stinger) stackers, and nine tractor trailer rigs.

AGCO’s 25-tractor fleet processed corn stover into more than 143,800 bales for Pellet Technology, during the 2016 harvest. PHOTO: AGCO CORP.

Though the end use of the stover is different than AGCO’s previous endeavors, Farris says the efforts are the same. “We’re taking on more responsibility than we have in the past by providing all of the services, but what’s going on is more or less identical to the ethanol projects,” he says. Now, AGCO is gearing up for another harvest, and will draw on last year’s experience to maximize overall efficiency of the logistics operations. But, as Farris says, there’s still knowledge to gain. “Despite the fact that we have this vast experience, we still learned

BIOMASS to ENERGY ProcessBarron is there every step of the way.

a lot this year, and a lot of it was surrounding equipment performance and how to maximize it, and how to minimize downtime and maintenance costs,” he adds. “We’re always learning something we didn’t know, and I think that puts us in a pretty good position, because we already had a lot of experience, and we continue to add to that every harvest.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4961

FUEL | AIR | GAS | ASH 205-663-5330

PACKING A PUNCH: CHP can substantially increase energy efficiency and independence, while reducing fuel consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants.

Cogeneration as a Universal Power Solution


Cogeneration technologies are poised to play an increasingly important role in the energy mix of the future.


ogeneration technology, including combined-heat-and-power (CHP) systems and district heating-and-cooling (DHC) systems, offers many economic and environmental benefits compared to conventional methods of energy production. By simultaneously producing thermal and electric energy from a single fuel source, such as natural gas or biogas, the systems require less total fuel to produce the same amount of energy—and generate enormous cost-savings potential. Because less total fuel is consumed, greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants are also reduced. In fact, CHP technologies are estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new power generation by more than 10 percent by the year 2030. Cogeneration of energy on-site can also support corporate environmental goals for sustainability and use of renewable resources, while simultaneously reducing the dependence on other regions or countries for imported energy. By increasing energy efficiency and helping to offset costs, cogeneration can give businesses a competitive edge.


Heat Sources Provide Opportunities

Cogeneration systems achieve more than 90 percent energy efficiency by extracting and using thermal energy produced during the generation of electricity, heat that would otherwise be wasted. Systems based on gas-fueled reciprocating engines include several potential heat sources, and the ideal use depends on aligning the heat requirements of the facility with the available heat sources on the system. Exhaust gas, for example, reaches temperatures exceeding 450 degrees Celsius, hot enough to support an absorption chiller, which, in turn, creates cooling energy. Sources such as the lube oil, jacket water or high temperature air/fuel mixture, on the other hand, reach temperatures closer to 90 to 200 degrees C, which makes them ideal for industrial processes, drying processes, building heat and steam production. Other heat sources below 90 degrees C include the low-temperature air/ fuel mixture, calorific value boiler and radiator, which are ideal for drying processes, underfloor heating and return temperature heat. When using all the available heat sources, a cogeneration system from MTU Onsite Energy can achieve overall efficiencies of up to

96 percent—a best-in-class rating and a major improvement compared to conventional methods of energy production.

Site-Specific Factors

To ensure optimal performance and efficiency, several factors must be considered before installing a cogeneration system. Methane Number Most gasses are a mix of methane, hydrogen and other gas constituents. The methane number (MN) provides an indication of the gasses, tendency to knock—or combust prematurely—which can damage the engine. For example, pure hydrogen would have an MN of 0. A low MN signifies an extremely explosive gas with the potential to ignite before the spark plug fires, resulting in uncontrolled combustion. Pure methane (CH4), on the other hand, would have an MN of 100. Gasses with a high MN are less explosive, and therefore less likely to ignite before the spark plug fires, resulting in a more controlled combustion. Natural gas has an MN of 80 to 90, making it ideal for controlled combustion. Gas composites (such as biogas) have an MN be-

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).




Exhaust Gas @842ยบF (450ยบC)

Usable Opportunities

Customer Benefits Absorption Chiller

Direct Fired

Drying Processes

Mixture HT @392ยบF (200ยบC) Lube Oil @203ยบF (95ยบC)

Building Heating Hot Water/Steam

Industrial Processes Steam Production

Jacket Water @194ยบF (90ยบC) Mixture LT @194ยบF (90ยบC) Calorific Value Broiler Heat @122ยบF (50ยบC)



Medium/Low Temp. Water

Radiant Heat Down to 95ยบF (50ยบC)

Drying Process Underfloor Heating


Return Temp. Rising = up to 96 percent overall efficiency

tween 120 and 130. Understanding the knock resistance is important when specifying an engine for a gas-powered cogeneration plant. Elevation Smart marathon runners train for the race conditions theyโ€™re going to runโ€”especially if higher elevations are involvedโ€”otherwise, theyโ€™ll never be able to catch their breath. Similarly, the altitude of an installation site can significantly influence the power output of a cogeneration system. As elevation increases, air density decreases, and engines need air to breathe. When specifying a gas-powered cogeneration system for a high-altitude installation, proper preparation and planning are essential to avoid operating below the engineโ€™s maximum power rating. For instance, a gas-powered MTU Onsite Energy Series 4000 cogeneration system can operate at full load in altitudes up to 6,700 feet without any derating simply by adjusting its turbocharger nozzle ring, which essentially enables the engine to take deeper breaths. Temperature Like elevation, the ambient temperature of an installation site can significantly impact power output. This is because air volume increases as temperature rises. In warmer climates, if the ambient temperatures exceed a certain point, it can become difficult to provide the necessary volume of intake air for the engine to perform optimally, resulting in lower power output. Cogeneration system manufacturers frequently offer different equipment models to account for these variations. And in some cases, the equipment will be installed in a temperature controlled (air conditioned) room to help offset the impact of excessive ambient temperatures.

Humidity Air humidity and dew point must also be carefully considered when specifying a cogeneration system. Dew point is the saturation temperature for water and air, the point at which water droplets begin to condense and form. This measure of moisture varies according to atmospheric pressure and humidity. To ensure maximum power output, specifications must include an analysis of humidity and its related dew point temperature based on the climate of the installation site, along with other factors such as methane number and type of gas. Similar to temperature, cogeneration system manufacturers frequently offer different equipment models to account for these variations. The need for highly efficient electricity, heating and cooling is universal. Cogeneration is a powerful solution that can generate cost savings and environmental benefits just about anywhere in the world. A wide number of applications utilize cogeneration systems, including office buildings, condos, shopping centers, schools, community pools and dairy farms. The key to a successful cogeneration project is proper specification and planning, which should take into account climate- and site-specific factors such as methane number, elevation, temperature and humidity, in addition to thermal and electric requirements. While determining if a facility is an ideal candidate for CHP is an extensive process, exploring the option is a smart move for any facility with simultaneous needs for heat, cooling and electricity. The potential gains of CHP are too great to be ignored. Author: Christian Mueller Gas Power Systems Sales Engineer, MTU Onsite Energy






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2017 July/August Biomass Magazine  

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