Monday, August 24, 2009

Biomass 09 Workshop Wrapup from 14-15 July

More than 300 people from 25 states and three Canadian provinces attended the two-day event, which was held July 14-15 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. During four main sessions, 30 different speakers focused on trends and opportunities in power utilization, biofuels, feedstocks and the use of biomass to generate heat and power.
The Energy & Environmental Research Center’s Biomass ’09: Power, Fuels, and Chemicals Workshop was held 14-15 July 2009 in Grand Forks, ND. Besides the typical faux enviro BS from politicians like Senator Dorgan (ND), some useful ideas were discussed.
...In the area of bioenergy, the U.S. has few incentives for large utility cofiring of biomass, Zygarlicke said. “But we are starting to see a positive slope.” Distributed biomass gasification is one good solution, he said. It requires low water consumption and simple gas cleanup, among other positive aspects....

...National trends in anaerobic digestion of agricultural manure have increased between 2000 and 2007 from fewer than 50 million kilowatt hours (kWh) per year to more than 200 million kWh per year, according to Dan Stepan, senior research manager with the Energy & Environmental Resource Center in Grand Forks, N.D., and a presenter at the organization’s Biomass ’09.

A key niche for the process is converting biomass materials to methane gas. In the U.S. this year, 98 anaerobic digesters are using dairy farm manure, 19 use hog manure, three use manure from caged layers, two from ducks and one each from boilers, beef and mixed manure, Stepan told the crowd.

“But there’s still potentially a large untapped resource,” he said. The potential biogas-to-energy production from swine farms is more than 3.1 billion kWh per year, he showed in a graph, and the potential from dairy farms is more than 3.3 billion. About half of the country’s wastewater treatment facilities have anaerobic digesters, but only 19 percent use the biogas, Stepan said. _Biomass_via_Bioenergy

Biomass can make electricity, it can make liquid fuels from methanol to longer chain hydrocarbons (via F-T), it can also make gaseous fuels from methane to synthesis gas, plus it can make solid fuels such as torrefied biomass -- biocoal -- and other types of high-density solid fuels.

In addition, plastics and high value chemicals can be made from biomass, which in many cases may provide a quicker return on investment. The fact that farmers, ranchers, foresters, entrepreneurs, bankers, and others who are close to the grass roots are looking more closely at biomass, signals a turning point toward a more renewable energy picture.

The only way to make wind and solar practical, is to back them up with a reliable baseload power source. Biomass could be that reliable backup, given enough development of infrastructure.



Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

Even if biomass was less economical than other energies it has the advantage of being able to cut into the market for petrochemicals. Every barrel of oil not used is a kick in the teeth to the petrostate thugs.

1:09 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

That's why I like microbe energy and other ways of producing hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals directly from biomass and waste.

Craig Venter thinks he can pull it off in the next few years. Most people think it will take ten years to make a differences, if not more.

Personally, I think these small farmers, ranchers, foresters, tinkerers, and entrepreneurs are going to get impatient if made to wait too long.

Bioenergy is a field where important innovations can take place without having a billion dollar lab or fabrication facility.

3:50 PM  

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