Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gasification Power Plants Suit Campus Size

More Universities and other campuses are discovering that biomass gasification can be a good fit for the energy and heating needs of a campus - sized operation.
At the University of Minnesota, Morris, a new biomass gasification facility is being tested that will use corn stover and other local agricultural waste to replace as much as 80 percent of the campus’s heating and cooling needs now generated by fossil fuels, mainly natural gas.

“We can find enough biomass within 20 miles to easily supply our needs,” says Joel Tallaksen, the biomass project coordinator at Minnesota-Morris. “In our area there’s just not enough wood” to burn wood chips or pellets, he says. But there is a plentiful supply of corn stalks, wheat straw, and soybean residue. The university will need about 4,000 to 5,000 acres of material per year, and the surrounding county has about 150,000 acres of corn crop alone, he says.

...The wood-gasification process differs somewhat from the workings of a wood or wood-pellet stove. The chips are delivered by conveyor belt to a giant box, where they are “roasted,” driving off combustible gases. The gases are sent into another combustion chamber, where they are burned at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees F.

The college’s administration and governing board were very receptive to the idea of building a renewable-energy heating plant, says Tom McGinn, project manager at Middlebury, and liked the idea of cutting the need for imported oil. By using local wood, he says, you don’t end up with oil from Venezuela or the Middle East, but with fuel from some local “guy with a chain saw.” _Source
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus is also in the process of building a biomass gasification plant to provide power for the facility. In Iraq, portable gasification facilities on US military bases provide power while eliminating the steady flow of garbage and waste from the base.

Gasification plants can be built to power anything from a small farm or ranch up to a large industrial plant, or municipality, and anything in between. As the method picks up steam, the economies of scale will improve from the feedstock end to the power and heat distribution ends.

Canada has a head start in many areas of the gasification supply chain and technology structures. The US, unfortunately, is stuck in a political quagmire of carbon hysteria and denial of impending demand and importance of electrical power and liquid fuels. Reality will be a harsh taskmaster for the ignorant and incompetent Luddites who currently control the US government.

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Blogger Michael A. Gregory said...

There are a few ethanol plants using biomass gasification for process energy as well.

POET - Chancellor, SD
Corn Plus Cooperative - Winnebago, MN
Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op - Little Falls, MN
Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company - Benson, MN
Panda Ethanol - Hereford, TX

Considering the number of plants using this technology in Minnesota and the university that you mention, I wonder if Minnesota has some program promoting this technology.

7:41 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

There is the Minnesota Power Biomass Initiative,

It would be nice if large numbers of power utilities would take a similar path.

11:54 AM  

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