August 27, 2020 By Madison's Lumber Reporter
North Dakota power provider gets biomass-conversion research funding
The Blue Flint ethanol power plant near Underwood, N.D., recently received a U.S. $155,000 grant to research and determine the feasibility of converting the 70 MMgy ethanol unit to biomass. Blue Flint currently sources water and steam from Great River Energy’s Coal Creek Station, a 1,100 MW coal-fired power plant, which Great River recently announced will be retired in the second half of 2022. With the impending loss of water and steam from Great River, Blue Flint’s owner, Midwest AgEnergy, is considering using the contract termination payment they will receive to reinvest in an alternative source for its process heat. An economical option for Midwest AgEnergy may lie in biomass, which would also support and benefit local farmers by consuming agricultural waste residues. The U.S. $155,000 grant, awarded by the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission, will further Midwest AgEnergy’s ongoing evaluations of alternative process heat sources, including natural gas liquids, wood pellets, and bioreactors.
Biomass grant issued to Terrace Community Forest
Terrace, B.C.’s Terrace Community Forest recently received a roughly $450,000 provincial grant to convert waste residues from forestry operations into wood pellets. The grant will support the processing and transportation of biomass waste to Skeena Bioenergy, a nearby wood pellet plant. The Terrace Community Forest has been accumulating wood waste from timber harvesting operations for two years and welcomed the financial assistance to convert waste byproducts into densified biomass for generating electricity, rather than leaving that fuel load on the ground in a wildfire-prone area. The grant comes from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, which has allocated approximately $230 million in funding to over 250 projects since its inception in 2016.
DOE funds allocated to bioeconomy projects
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced in late July that over U.S. $97 million in funding will be allocated to 33 projects that advance bioenergy research and development. The purpose of the projects is to improve the performance and lower the cost and risk of technologies that produce biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts from biomass and other residual waste feedstocks. The initiatives cover several developmental areas of the bioeconomy, including waste-to-energy strategies, cost reduction of algal biofuels, and scalable carbon dioxide electrocatalysis technologies. Of particular note to the biomass industry is funding for the development and testing of low-emission, high-efficiency residential wood heaters. Another $68 million in funding from the DOE will support basic research into making bioenergy feedstock crops – including sorghum, pennycress, poplar, and others – more productive and resilient.
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