Texas A&M Gets Grant for Biomass-to-Energy Project

swregionaldairy1Texas A&M is part of a nearly $16 million nationwide grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in part to fund projects for turning biomass into power. This article from the Stephenville (TX) Empire-Tribune says A&M’s AgriLife Research received money under the USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to help fund a two-year program to demonstrate developing technologies for water purification, treatment and recycling and power generation using biomass at Tarleton State University’s Southwest Regional Dairy Center.

More than $780,000 has been allocated for the two-year project, which aims to demonstrate a proven water treatment and recycling technology developed by Global Restoration and a biomass conversion system developed by [AgriLife Research scientist Dr. Sergio Capareda, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M] and others at Texas A&M to produce electrical power.

Capareda says the technology demonstrations will convert dry manure produced by the milking herd at Tarleton’s dairy center into heat and electricity for on-site use. The project also plans to develop resource-conservation practices in handling wastewater and solids from animal manure at the facility while developing several spreadsheet-based monitoring systems.

“The Global Restoration group will take on the water coming out of the facility and the dairy’s lagoon, and purify the water so it may be recycled,” Capareda explained. “This generates large amounts of dry manure, which will be used by our system to generate heat and electrical power.”

Officials say the project could eliminate or at least reduce the size of open ponds, as well as offer another power and revenue stream for farmers.

Cambi Group Inks Waste-to-Energy Deal

Cambi Group has inked a deal with Beijing Drainage Group (BDG) and Beijing Drainage Construction Company (BDC) to convert Chinese sludge treatment into renewable energy and byproducts. BDG and BDC are exemplifying the direction to meet China’s five goals for sewage sludge treatment: increased biogas production, sludge volume reduction, pathogen kill for safe land application, energy recovery, and recycling of resources.

The Gaobeidian wastewater treatment plant will be fitted with the Cambi THP solution and be operational within 2016. BDG is planning to build another four large-Cambi Groupscale sludge projects in the period 2016-2017. When all of the five sludge plants are operating, all the sewage sludge in Beijing could potentially be treated by the Cambi THP solution and Beijing Drainage Group will become the single largest company using advanced anaerobic digestion in the world.

The general manager of Beijing Drainage Construction Company, Mr. Lei Shi, commented, “Cambi has proven itself to have the best THP solution and technology. Our partnership is truly a historic moment for China and will provide the country with an environmentally friendly solution to the treatment of sludge.”

Cambi’s chief executive officer Per Lillebø celebrated this benchmark by applauding BDC and BDG for choosing the 21st century leading technology and doing what is right for Beijing and China, in terms of technological solution, cost efficiency and environmental sustainability: “We are proud to sign this partnership for the future and are committed to making the Gaobeidian project a successful example for the rest of China and the world,” he said.

Waste-to-Biodiesel Jet Fuel Project Gets Loan Guarantee

Fulcrum BioEnergy logoA company that plans to turn municipal waste into renewable jet fuel has received a government loan guarantee for the project. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the $105 Million loan guarantee provided through the Biorefinery Assistance Program for Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels, LLC to build a biorefinery to produce jet fuel from municipal solid waste.

“This represents a huge step forward in the development of clean, renewable, job-creating American fuels,” Vilsack said during a speech at the National Clean Energy Conference. “The nation is entering a new energy age that will make us more energy independent, cut carbon pollution and strengthen our economy, especially in rural communities where clean fuels will be produced.”

USDA is awarding Fulcrum a $105 million Biorefinery Assistance Program loan guarantee through Bank of America, N.A. to construct a facility in McCarran, Nev., to convert municipal solid waste to biodiesel jet fuel. USDA Rural Development’s loan guarantee represents less than half of the $266 million project cost. The plant is expected to produce 11 million gallons of fuel annually.

This is the first loan guarantee USDA has made for the production of bio jet fuel.

Last month, we told you how Fulcrum got investment backing from China’s Cathay Pacific Airways and negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum for an initial 375 million U.S. gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over 10 years… about 2 percent of the airline’s current fuel consumption.

USDA is working on three more loans for biorefineries in Iowa, North Carolina and Oregon, turning woody biomass, municipal solid waste and energy grasses into renewable fuels.

Air Force Turning Waste into Synthetic Diesel

synthetic-diesel1It takes a lot of energy to run the world’s most powerful military, and the U.S. military is looking at more non-petroleum options for its operations. This article from my favorite scientific blog, Armed with Science, talks about a method by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO) to turn synthetic gas (syngas), which could be collected from waste sites even at the most forward of bases, into synthetic diesel.

APTO utilized a company with extensive experience in the Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) synthesis process. In this application, syngas is passed through a sealed reactor vessel over copper condenser tubes that are coated with a cobalt catalyst. Applying proper heat in the reactor causes a chemical reaction that results in synthetic diesel fuel. The fuel can be used in ground vehicles or diesel generators to create electricity for base operations.

The initial demonstration system, contained in a steel-framed skid for portabililty, produced less than one barrel of fuel per day. Further system refinements could increase the output, with the capability to improve to 10 barrels. Test results showed that the created fuel successfully operated a 20kW diesel generator.

The team created its own syngas supply through a methanol dissociation process, but APTO has other ongoing efforts to supply syngas through Waste to Energy systems that use biomass or municipal solid waste to create syngas.

Not only does this help ensure a fuel supply, but it also helps a base reduce its waste, while helping keep us less energy dependent on some parts of the world that might not be that friendly towards us.

Bluesphere Plans to Turn Landfill Methane into Power

Blue-Sphere-Corporation-logoIsrael-based Bluesphere Corp. has announced a plan to convert the methane gas coming off U.S. landfills into clean energy. Company officials say it can be done with technology that is already available.

Methane can be converted into energy by drilling pipes into the landfill. Through these pipes methane is directed into a gas turbine or internal combustion engine which converts the gas into electricity. The electricity can either be used on-site or sold to the local electric utility and fed into the grid.

Bluesphere CEO Shlomi Palas commented, “A large number of the landfills in the U.S., particularly in the southeastern region, are not productively using methane gas emitted from landfills. These landfills are the oil fields of the future.”

“We believe we can offer a very favorable partnership to current landfill owners by providing the equipment, expertise, and power purchase agreements to convert what is now an unused asset, methane gas, into a revenue stream. We’ve been in talks with state representatives looking to increase green energy production and reduce methane emissions. They have invited and welcomed our efforts to work with landfill owners in their jurisdictions on methane-to-electricity conversions.”

Bluesphere officials believe this is a win-win-win-win situation, as they’ll generate revenues for landfill owners and Bluesphere, while cleaning up the environment AND generating clean, renewable energy.

Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Published

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have published a new report that outlines new federal initiatives to support growth in the private biogas/waste-to-energy sector. The Biogas Opportunities Roadmap concluded that developing a viable biogas industry in the U.S. can boost the economy as well as provide a reliable, distributed source of renewable energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Blue Sphere Corporation logoThe report found that today there are 2,000 biogas sites operating and with opportunity for another 11,000 additional biogas systems to covert waste to energy and co-products. However, to make way for these additional biogas systems, there must be support from federal agencies, significantly more investment, increased research and development and expanded markets for biogas, according to the report.

In the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, the federal agencies identify programs that will promote biogas utilization and help the private sector take advantage of the full potential of biogas system without legislation. These programs include:

  • Using existing agency programs to leverage over $10 million in research funding.
  • Fostering investments in biogas systems including reviewing government procurement programs for products of biogas systems.
  • Strengthening markets for biogas systems and system products including by modernizing existing Federal incentives.
  • Improving communication and coordination by establishing a Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Working Group that will include participation from DOE and EPA, as well as the dairy and biogas industries.

“The potential for biogas to increase renewable energy production, reduce landfill waste, benefit the environment, and spur economic growth in the U.S. is significant. We are very pleased to see the U.S. government publish a report that outlines these benefits and opportunities,” said Shlomi Palas, CEO of Blue Sphere Corporation, a company specializing in biogas technology.  “Bluesphere is actively working in several U.S. states to develop biogas facilities. We have brought our global expertise in building and operating waste-to-energy facilities to the U.S. market and we’re finding very strong interest in the value proposition we have to offer. We are eager to expand our operations in the U.S. in conjunction with some major partners and to capitalize on biogas opportunities.”

Bluesphere has begun design and engineering work, and is scheduled to break ground in 2014 on a 5.2 MW waste-to-energy anaerobic digester in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is also developing in a 3.2 MW waste-to-energy project in Rhode Island and has a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a 5.2 MW waste-to-energy project in Massachusetts.

MIT Researchers Convert Lead to Solar Power

Researchers at MIT are recycling materials from discarded car batteries into long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions free power while keep lead out of landfills. The system was described in the journal Energy and Environmental Science and was co-authored by Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammon along with graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.

The system is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.

“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” said Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.

Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. However by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades. In addition, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.

As an added advantage, the production of perovskite solar cells is a relatively simple and benign process. “It has the advantage of being a low-temperature process, and the number of steps is reduced” compared with the manufacture of conventional solar cells, Belcher explained.

Those factors will help to make it “easy to get to large scale cheaply,” added. Continue reading

Albion Community Power Funds Biogas Project

Albion Community Power logoAlbion Community Power (ACP) has funded the development of a small scale landfill gas engine in Docking, Norfolk (UK). The project will be developed in conjunction with ACP’s biogas partner AlphaGen Renewables who will oversee the installation and operation of a 50kW microgeneration landfill gas engine. The project will generate power from the landfill gas resource at the site under a 20 year agreement with Norfolk County Council. The Docking projects represents the first project with AlphaGen Renewables and the first Biogas project in the ACP portfolio.

Richard Tipping, Chairman of AlphaGen Renewables said, “We are delighted to be partnering with ACP on this project, which is set to deliver strong returns. Renewables such as biogas are playing a growing role in the UK’s energy production.”

ACP undertakes projects in biogas as well as projects incorporating wind, hydro and solar energy. The company is looking to build a portfolio of similar, high yielding, landfill projects going forward.

David Gudgin, Head of at Renewables at Albion Ventures added, “Biogas is an increasingly popular area of renewable energy and we are looking forward to working with AlphaGen both on this project and others in the future.”

ClosureTurf Featured in Hartford Landfill

The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) has begun the final phase of the Hartford Landfill closure with the addition a 40-acre cap utilizing ClosureTurf, a three component erosion control closure system, topped by six acres of solar panels. ClosureTurf consists of an impermeable geomembrane layer, engineered turf and sand infill. This system ensures durability, longevity and the elimination of drainage and odor. According to Watershed Geosynthetics, the developer of the ClosureTurf, the state-owned landfill is now an example of innovation in renewable energy for future landfill closures in Connecticut and across the nation.

“When we began working with the City of Hartford on the future of the landfill, we wanted to find innovative ways to use the land,” said Thomas D. Kirk, CRRA President. “Solar energy was an idea we all agreed on right away.”

ClosureTurfClosureTurf is a durable system that allows for a multitude of post-closure uses with easy accessibility and clean surface having little maintenance. “Solar panels on top of a landfill, is an extremely beneficial re-use of typical dead space when a landfill is closed,” explained Mike Ayers, president of Watershed Geosynthetics. “The ClosureTurf system makes solar a very viable option since the panels are located in a remote place over large areas which allows the opportunity for installation of a large number of solar panels (making it easier to reach critical scale in megawatts installed) with very minimal maintenance.”

With the completion of the installation, the Hartford Landfill is now the first in the state of Connecticut — and one of few in the nation — to be transformed into a renewable energy source through the generation of solar power. Collected energy will be sold to the regional power grid in Connecticut. The CRRA plans to generate enough megawatts to power more than 1,000 Hartford homes. When the closure project is completed, the entire 96-acre landfill will be encapsulated with ClosureTurf.

Free Webinar: Muncipal Solid Waste to BioProducts

Renewable-Waste-IntelligenceMunicipal solid waste is a big concern for cities around the world and many are discovering that they can make money from their waste. How? But converting the waste stream into biofuels and bioproducts. Yet a question that remains to be answered is where and when will this development play out and how are developers strategizing their business model to reach commercialization?

People can learn the answers to these questions by signing up for Renewable Waste Intelligence’s  free webinar, “The challenges of achieving a commercial scale MSW to biofuels and bio-products project“. The webinar will take place Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 10:30 am ET.

Speakers include experts from several of the country’s leading biofuels and bioproducts companies who will share their views on the unfolding project plans, how commercialization has been reached and how MSW can be used to produce a viable and green “drop in” solution for the biochemicals industry.

Speakers include:

  • Tim Cesarek, VP, Enerkem
  • Steve Csonka, Executive Director, CAAFI
  • Sadesh Sookraj, EVP, Novomer

For more information and to register click here.

DOE Allocates $4B in Loan Guarantees

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a loan guarantee solicitation making as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.

DOE_logo1“As the President emphasized in his Climate Action Plan, it is critical that we take an all-of-the above approach to energy in order to cut carbon pollution, help address the effects of climate change and protect our children’s future,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Investments in clean, low-carbon energy also provide an economic opportunity. Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the Department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy. Today’s announcement will help build on and accelerate that success.”

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market-ready. Within the solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the appropriate requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities including micro-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams; and efficiency improvements.

Wastewater Has Potential as Biodiesel Feedstock

luxresearchWastewater streams could provide the feedstocks for biodiesel production. This article from Water Technology says a new study from Lux Research shows the potential to capture industrial fats, oils and greases (FOG) from the streams to make the green fuel.

Growing demand for biodiesel amid a restricted supply of feedstocks drives recovery of industrial FOG. However, current economics don’t favor lithium and phosphate recovery, noted the release.

“Many current wastewater streams contain resources worth billions of dollars of lost product and lost opportunity,” said Tess Murray, research associate and author of the report titled, “Recovering Valuable Resources from Wastewater.”

“As the value of resources rises, recovery technologies are beginning to make sense for even parts-per-million traces of materials such as precious metals and oil,” she added.

You can read the full report here.

GENERcoin to Back Renewable Alternative to Coal

Now this is an interesting concept that I’ve run across – a mix of digital currency with renewable energy. The crypto currency is backed by real Green ENERgy and their product is coined ‘GENERcoin’. The product is being offered through Arterran Renewables and according to the company combines stable value together with economic utility that neither debt-backed or gold-backed currencies offer.

Ok, let’s take a step back. Arterran Renewables is a nextgen biofuel company whose technology converts any waste with a suitable cellulose content into a solid biofuel that can replace coal.  According to the company, the result is a renewable and abundant source of energy that produces significantly more energy than industrial wood pellets, with no off gassing, superior combustion characteristics, and lower handling costs.

“Arterran Renewables is very enthusiastic about the potential from this partnership with members of the crypto currency community. The mutual discovery of the benefits that each of us can offer the world is enormous,” said Arterran’s CEO Lloyd Davis. “Arterran believes both parties have disruptive innovation at the core of our technologies and our innovations will change the World.”

GENERcoinNow back to GENERcoin. The solid biofuel, which is a replacement for coal, is reality thanks in part to GENERcoin, whose currency is in essence backing the technology.

“GENERcoin is simply about one thing: a World with sustainable renewable energy. The world cannot afford to ignore the effects of 150 years of fossil fuel use, nor can it continue down the big energy business as usual path,” said GENERcoin’s lead visionary David Tiessen. “The effects of fossil fuel use will continue to increase the CO2 levels of the planet and negatively affect our climate and the future of thousands of species, including ours.”

“We now have the choice of business as usual and the continued burning of dirty fossil fuels and the polluting of the planet, or renewable and sustainable alternatives like Arterran Renewables,” continued Tiessen. “Mankind now has at our disposal clean, sustainable energy alternatives and Arterran Renewables with their ability to directly replace coal is the latest exciting addition. GENERcoin is the medium to deploy Arterran’s NextGen Renewable Solid Biofuel and we’re excited to get down to the business of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

GENERcoins will be released through a crowdsale taking place on the Master Protocol on June 11, 2014. Each participant will actually be pre-purchasing Arterran’s NextGEN Solid Biofuel at the rate of $0.062 USD per coin, equivalent to 10,000 btu calculated at a significant discount (according to current market prices as reported by Argus Media). Each coin holder then has the option of redeeming their coins for the fuel or exchanging or trading them as they see fit.

DEINOVE & SUEZ Enter Into Waste to Ethanol Project

DEINOVE has entered into a collaborative agreement with SUEZ ENVIRONMENT Group to explore the potential for developing a new industrial sector for transforming urban organic waste into ethanol through the use of Deinococcus bacteria. The goal of the two-year agreement is to define the optimum conditions for producing ethanol on a per-industrious scale.

Today, organic waste is essentially recycled through composting and methanization. The abundant availability of this source of carbon, its cost and its composition, which is favorable to the growth of microorganisms, make it a realistic candidate for innovative recycling into molecules of industrial interest, including commodities, according to DEINOVE.

Deinoccoccus bacteria“With its amazing capacity for effectively degrading all types of biomass, Deinococcus creates value from waste that is little used today,” said Emmanuel Petiot, CEO of DEINOVE. “In cooperation with SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, one of the world leaders in processing and recycling waste, we are expanding our potential markets and are contributing to the development of a real circular economy.”

During the past six months, DEINOVE has been working with SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT who has been providing various types of waste coming from its processing units. The results of this upstream research phase have confirmed that these substrates can be transformed into interesting molecules, including ethanol, by Deinococcus bacteria.

As a result of the R&D, the partners have decided to undertake a two-year collaborative extension of their DEINOL programme. The first phase will focus on optimizing the main stages of the process’ development including: choice of substrates supplied by SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT and pretreatment conditions; choice of a Deinococcus strain adapted to these substrates; and the definition of the conditions for fermentative production in order to achieve a satisfactory ethanol production rate in 20-L bioreactors.

Smithfield’s Renewable Energy Commitment Tangible

Smithfield Foods commitment to renewable energy is showing tangible results according to the company. During the past several years, the company has been monitoring scientific advancements that have removed barriers to efficiently and sustainably create renewable energy from agricultural waste, in particular the use of anaerobic digestion processes that covert decomposing organic matter, such as hog manure, into renewable energy.

“The bottom line is that our company’s commitment to creating renewable energy is about to produce some very tangible and beneficial results,” said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods.

cute pigsPope noted that two Smithfield Foods strategic partnerships at Murphy-Brown LLC facilities in northern Missouri and Milford, Utah, involving anaerobic digestion technology are seeing results and the projects will soon deliver electricity to neighboring communities.

“Our Missouri and Utah projects are a classic win-win. We will considerably reduce the greenhouse effects on the Earth’s atmosphere by recycling agricultural waste, help to protect our natural resources and provide a more environmentally friendly energy source,” Pope said.

In northern Missouri, Murphy-Brown of Missouri, LLC (MBM) and Roeslein Alternative Energy, LLC, have announced joint plans to develop a $100 million renewable biogas project. Biogas produces energy when organic matter decomposes without oxygen present. The biogas will be harvested from MGM finishing farms in northern Missouri and construction is set to begin this spring.

In addition, the company’s project Milford, Utah, is ramping up. Murphy-Brown’s
Circle 4 Farms will be producing electricity via two methane digesters. In this project, manure will be converted to energy and as a result, the manure, or solid waste, will no longer be stored in lagoons.

Pope added, “Our manure-to-energy projects are just another step in our sustainability
journey.”