– by Frank Jossi, April 2, 2018, Energy News Network
Photo: Energy News Network
At a research lab in the northwoods of Minnesota, scientists are roasting tree waste until it turns into something that looks and burns like coal — without the heavy metal pollution. The finished product is called “biocoal” or “torrefied biomass,” and a team of University of Minnesota-Duluth researchers hope it might someday displace coal to fuel power plants, reinvigorating the region’s forestry economy and reducing carbon emissions at the same time.
The work at the Natural Resources Research Institute lab, about 200 miles north of the Twin Cities, appears to be the latest technical advance for woody biomass. The team’s facility is able to produce as much as 6 tons per day of the biocoal, which has energy values similar to coal. It’s been successfully tested in a Milwaukee tourist train and a large, coal-fired power plant owned by Minnesota Power, the investor-owned utility in the area.
– by Erin Voegele, February 13, 2018, Biomass Magazine
U.K.-based Active Energy Group plc has announced its CoalSwitch plant in Utah officially became operational the week of Feb. 5 and is producing the company’s high-calorific, high-bulk-density biomass pellet. Active Energy said biomass fuel produced at the facility will be prepared for delivery under offtake agreements that are already in place.
According to the company, CoalSwitch is produced primarily from forestry waste and other industrial cellulose waste products. The product can be fired with coal in existing coal-fired power plants at any ratio, up to 100 percent.
– by Emery Cowan, January 5, 2017, Arizona Daily Sun
Photo: Jake Bacon / Arizona Daily Sun
When state utility regulators held a workshop last month about increasing the use of forest biomass for power, one topic did not make it into the discussion: the emissions produced from burning small trees, branches and treetops hauled from Arizona’s forests.
Compared to coal, burning biomass emits lower amounts of key pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, but it generally equals or surpasses coal in the amount of carbon dioxide it emits per unit of heat.
– by Olivia Adams, October 15, 2017, The Red and Black
Photo: Fast Company
Wood pellets used for biomass energy, an alternative to fossil fuels, are produced right outside of Athens, but do not expect to see biomass energy adopted here. Those pellets are shipped straight to Europe, and new University of Georgia research shows why.
“With global warming, we really want to reduce carbon emissions,” said Dr. Richard Bin Mei, co-author of a study on biomass-produced electricity. “In the United States, unfortunately, we do not have the mandate or government subsidies, so our study looked at whether it is economically feasible to co-fire wood pellets with coal to produce power, and the answer is no, unless the government does the same thing as the EU.”
– by William Strauss, March 15, 2017, Biomass Magazine
The use of U.S.-produced wood pellet fuel blended with coal in large utility power stations could sustain coal mining jobs, create tens of thousands of new jobs in another sector that is experiencing significant job losses—the forest products sector—and stimulate billions of dollars of new investment in new U.S. manufacturing plants.
By supporting the blending of industrial wood pellet fuel with coal in pulverized coal (PC) power plants, policy will lock in the need for PC power plants, therefore guaranteeing significant demand for coal. This well-proven strategy, which is already in place in many other countries, can provide certainty for the need for U.S.-produced coal for decades, and certainty for U.S. coal mining jobs.
– by Jess Shankleman, January 31, 2017, Bloomberg
Rocky Mountain Power, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will test a new biomass fuel that may reduce the amount of coal being burned by power plants.
The U.S. utility, which is part of Pacificorp, will use a plant in Utah to test a biomass fuel made by Active Energy Group Plc, Paul Murphy, a spokesman for RMP, said by phone. Active Energy’s fuel, called CoalSwitch, is processed from low-grade forestry residue.
– by Hilary Corrigan, November 8, 2016, Bend Bulletin
Proposed biomass facility for La Pine, Oregon
While two firms continue to develop plans for new biomass facilities in Central Oregon that would produce power and fuel, a utility continues researching whether biomass could run its coal-fired power plant in the region.
Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co., based in Vancouver, Washington, still plans to build a 25 megawatt facility — first suggested in 2009 — on a nearly 20-acre site in La Pine’s industrial park.
“We’re just on hold,” said Rob Broberg, president of the firm.
Building the $75 million project depends on securing a contract to sell the power, likely to a utility in Oregon or California trying to meet requirements for renewable energy.
– by Paul Davenport, October 28, 2016, News OK
Coronado Generating Station (Photo: AZ Central)
An Arizona water and power utility is conducting an experiment to add forest-thinning debris to coal burned by an electricity-generating plant, hoping to make thinning more economical to help avoid devastating wildfires producing runoff that would contaminate reservoirs.
A test conducted Wednesday at the Salt River Project’s Coronado Generating Station near St. Johns in eastern Arizona showed that the plant’s machinery can handle mixing woody biomass material with coal, SRP officials said.
That sets the stage for stage for two 10-day periods of burning biomass in November, said SRP water strategy analyst Ron Klawitter.
Klawitter said SRP then will study costs and other data collected during the planned biomass burns before deciding whether to using forest debris to augment coal as a fuel source on a regular basis.
– by Eric Mortenson, October 24, 2016, Capital Press
Morihara’s company announced it has refined a process for turning logging slash or other biomass into briquettes that can be burned in coal-fired electrical plants such as the one in Boardman, Ore. His company, HM3 Energy Inc., has built a $4 million demonstration plant in Troutdale, Ore., just east of Portland. It plans to license the technology and sell it worldwide. A Japanese firm, New Energy Development Co., has invested $2 million in HM3 and said it will build a production plant at an undisclosed location in Oregon.
The fuel is produced through a method called torrefaction, in which woody debris, crop residue or other plant material is essentially roasted in the absence of oxygen. The end product is a brittle, briquette-looking material that can be crushed and burned.