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Biomass Energy Takes a Step Forwards

A paperboard packaging company in US Georgia is commencing work to install a 40 MW turbine generator to produce electric power production for in-house use.The mill, which currently produces about 1,600 tons of paperboard each day, is expected to become fully self-sufficient regarding its electricity and steam generation, and could also export electricity to the grid.

The 40MW generating unit would produce the equivalent power to the supply for about 27,400 homes, the company said. Making use of about 400,000 tons of timber industry residuals, the project would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 200,000 tons a year by avoiding use of fossil fuels.

The company said about 3.3 million tons a year of wood residuals were currently available in the Macon area. _Brighterenergy

A University of Minnesota professor who has studied biomass energy for 15 years, believes that torrefaction of biomass to be co-fired with coal, may become the largest biomass market in the US.A production economist in U of M’s extension service, Tiffany has immersed himself in renewable energy process economics, particularly those of running ethanol plants, producing biodiesel and wind energy, and using biomass to generate power.

Throughout his studies, one technology has continued to find its way into the economic equation—torrefaction....Tiffany said that during the torrefaction process, about 30 percent of the feedstock’s mass is driven off, and 10 percent of the Btus. However, the Btus become much more concentrated. “They are 130 percent more per unit of mass at the end, so we drive off the parts that don’t burn,” he said. _Biomassmag

Specialised biomass crops are being created by companies such as Ceres, Inc.The industry, still in its infancy, involves growing plants for biomass that are trucked to a conversion facility, where plant wall cellulose is broken down for conversion to glucose sugar and then cellulosic ethanol. Biomass can also be co-fired with coal and wood to produce heat, steam, and electricity at bioenergy refineries.

Existing grain-based ethanol will continue to serve as an important farm-grown fuel in the future; additionally, there are benefits from the high quality distiller’s grain produced in the conversion process, which can be used for livestock feed. Cellulosic conversion is viewed as the next generation of liquid farm fuel technology.

The list of current and potential biomass crops include the grasses switchgrass and miscanthus, plus high biomass sorghum, energycane (high biomass sugarcane), alfalfa, and other crops. These can offer farmers the opportunity to diversify their cropping systems and boost their income stream. _WesternFarmPress

Biomass farmers are just beginning to learn how to best fit biomass crops into their rotations, and how to establish the best markets for their product.

Besides terrestrial biomass crops, a growing number of brackish water and saltwater biomass crops are being developed, to make use of a much larger area of Earth's surface. Such a rapid expansion of growing area for biomass crops outside of traditional food and feed crop areas, should put an end to the nonsensical "food vs. fuels" debate.

By. Al Fin




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