Category: Uses & Applications


I came across an article on how biomethane from various organic wastes is being tapped on the local scale in rural China and on the municipal scale in Beijing.

Beginning in 2000, the Agricultural Ministry of China has fostered sustainable development by promoting integrated biogas technologies with the goals of protecting ecology and the environment while also increasing farmers’ income. Full-scale projects have been implemented in over 1000 rural counties.

Construction is based on the family unit and is coupled with educational guidance on how to eliminate inefficient crop production practices, and to effectively utilize land, solar energy and biological resources. Rural methane power generation is the most significant piece of this energy-revolution program.

Structural improvements to toilets and animal sheds allow for the collection of human and animal wastes, rice straw and daily trash which serves as the raw material to generate methane. Methane ranges and cook stoves, heating and lighting fixtures powered by home-grown methane do not emit smoke and dust, thus eliminating health hazards often associated with burning raw waste materials or coal.

The liquid and solid remains after the fuel is siphoned off serves as fertilizer to enrich the soil, prevent plant diseases and control pests. Completing the natural cycle by returning materials to the earth in this way increases crop production and eliminates costs of fertilizers and pesticides. It also helps to build the rural economy.

Methane power generation has also been extended into cities in China. Methane is now being collected from the Asuwei Landfill in the Changping District of Beijing and used to generate power. This is the first city landfill methane in Northern China. Not only is it generating useful electricity, it is helping to eliminate odor problems and resolving safety concerns posed by methane emissions from decomposing organic wastes. While improving the environment in surrounding areas, this project is also providing enough electrical power to serve 17,000 families for one year in Beijing!

Source:

http://tinyurl.com/jwdcms6

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives — Scott Peters (D-CA) and Matt Salmon (R-AZ) — announced the relaunching of the Congressional Algae Caucus last week. This caucus aims to provide a forum to foster Congressional awareness of the enormous potential now being uncovered in tiny algae plant cells.

Representative Salmon commented: “In my own state we are already seeing the economic development that is possible from a thriving algae sector, from jobs to research and development. High tech jobs will help grow our economy and through this caucus, I hope to draw attention to the great economic and environmental benefits of algae production.”

Representative Peters stated, “My hope is that the Algae Caucus is a place for bipartisan discussion on how to diversify our energy policy, while also informing members of Congress about the jobs and partnerships the algae industry is creating, including at the University of California San Diego with the new California Center for Algae Biotechnology.”

Additional members of the bipartisan Congressional Algae Caucus include: Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Tom Latham (R-IA), Trey Radel (R-FL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Tim Walz (D-MN) , Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA). Hats off to them!

The algae biofuels market is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2015. Algae also offers additional applications in the food, green chemicals and plastics industries. Algae grows faster and requires fewer resources than other biologically based feedstocks.

My favorite application for algae is its use to clean up wastewater and then used the converted and harvested biomass as an energy source. But there are some really great new developments in algae biofuels that deserve special mention.

For example, the Green Crude Farm in New Mexico is now operational, refining algae into crude oil for transportation. Sapphire Energy raised about $300 million in public and private backing for the project.  Its Series C round was reported to be one of the largest venture capital deals in 2012.

The commercial success of its algae-based crude has enabled Sapphire to pay off the entire $54.5 million in federal loan guarantees the comapny obtained in 2009 from the Biorefinery Assistance Program, administered by the USDA Rural Development-Cooperative Service. “The investments being made in low-carbon biofuel production are paying off and moving technologies forward, which will produce savings at the pump for consumers, and spur sustainable, new-wealth creation here in the United States, and make our land more productive,” says Doug O’Brien, Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development.

Commercial airlines are also now testing and running on fuels that include Solazyme’s algae-based fuel. Solazyme is reportedly the first publicly-traded algae company (Nasdaq: SZYM). The company has signed a $120 million loan agreement with joint venture partner Bunge for a loan from the Brazilian National Development Bank. That loan will be used It will  be used to develop the first commercial-scale renewable oil production facility in Brazil.

The high yield per acre (up to 5,000 gallons of renewable oil per year on a single acre) and minimal environmental impact of algae biofuels make them one of the most viable and attractive biofuels on the market today.

More information:

http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/9613/congressional-caucus-formed-to-support-algae-industry

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25109

http://news.thomasnet.com/companystory/House-Members-Commended-on-Congressional-Algae-Caucus-re-launch-20016613

Kalispell Biomass Bonanza

News was published yesterday on a new state-of-the-art facility utilizing forest-product waste to generate steam for operations and electricity for the power grid. As reported by Ryan Murray in The Daily Inter Lake,  Stoltze Land and Lumber Company near Kalispell, Montana has invested about $22 million and 14 months on the five-story co-generation facility.

The plant itself generates steam to run Stoltze’s lumber-drying kilns, sawmill buildings and electricity-generating turbine.  Sawdust and forest fallings are blended into a mulch-like biomass fed into the boiler system.

Extensive permitting went into getting the plant up and running. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Renewable Energy were extremely helpful in the process, according to Stoltze Vice President Chuck Roady.

Flathead Electric and Bonneville Power Administration have signed seven interconnection agreements with Stoltze to put the power on the grid. The company will receive its first check from the energy cooperative in early November. The lumber company is also receiving renewable energy credits as part of the deal.

The plant has the ability to generate 2.5 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to power 2500 homes.

“[Stoltze] has always been leading in green or renewable technology,” Roady said. “So I wouldn’t say this is a new direction for us, but it’s certainly a new step. We’re hoping to pay it off in a little over 10 years.”

More information:

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_49425496-3dcb-11e3-b36a-0019bb2963f4.html


Algae power from muni waste!

Wanted to tell you all about a great company called Algae Systems.

Here’s a little summary from their website:

Algae Systems takes sewage from cities and feeds it to living algae, creating fuels, fertilizers and clean water, while removing CO2 from the atmosphere in the process. In just three years, our fuels will be cost competitive with oil. At scale, our fuels could replace fossil fuels within a generation.

from:

http://algaesystems.com/

This company;s containment systems for treated municipal wastewater are stationed out at sea, so they don’t take up valuable land. The algae consumes the biomass using CO2 from the air or from point sources.   Not only do these systems consume greenhouse gasses, they produce aviation and cargo fuels, as well as biochar (a charcoal product used for soil improvement), and leave clean water behind.

That’s a win-win-win! Check it out!

UK fuel and fertilizer from stable waste

A horse jockey club in the UK has revealed plans to create a biomass power plant run exclusively on horse manure from the stables.

In an article published from edie.net, GG Eco Solutions have proposed to install the facility at Jockey Club Estates land at Southfield Farm in Newmarket, UK. The plant will convert stable waste into biomass fuel (to heat nearby schools and businesses), as well as to produce fertilizer for use on nearby gallops, studs and farmland.

Totaling 25,000 tonnes of waste per year, the club has been seeking an alternative method of disposal for years.

More:

http://www.canadianbiomassmagazine.ca/content/view/3045/57/

MD Clean Bay Project

In Maryland farm animal waste could become a source of electricity for people. A state program called the Clean Bay Power project intends to use animal poop as a fuel for creating methane which is burned to spin turbines that generate electricity. The technology is known as a biogas digester. Maryland’s program requires the new proposed biogas digester plant to be able to generate ten megawatts of electricity. The program will also reduce the amount of chicken litter and farm animal manure entering the Chesapeake Bay. Nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients from animal farms get washed into the regional watershed and wind up in the bay where they damage the marine ecology. Oxygen-deprived dead zones in the bay result from excessive amounts of such farm-related chemicals.

“Maryland is leading the nation’s efforts in clean energy and sustainability, and our state’s growing green jobs sector is vital to our ability to create jobs and compete globally in the new economy,” said the state’s governor. (Source: Hometownannapolis.com)

Reducing animal waste entering the bay could also save money because trying to do clean-ups once it is already there is very expensive. The old adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies in this situation to the tune of about five to ten billion dollars. That is the cost estimate for the state’s proposed program to clean waste from the bay by 2017.

A company called Fibrowatt has indicated an interest in submitting a proposal for a plant. Their design and construction cost is about $300 million. Permitting and construction would require about forty months. This company already has one such facility operating in Minnesota, but it initially showed excessive air pollution from its smokestacks. The problem apparently was fixed, and would actually help improve the design of their next plant it has been reported.

Already about $850,000 has been granted to local farmers for manure-to-power plants by the federal government.

Municipal plant power

Fort Lauderdale City Commission has granted initial approval to Power Green Energy, a start-up company in Florida,  to install an anaerobic digestion system at the city’s waste-water treatment plant.

The plant will generate electricity to feed into Florida Power & Light’s powerlines by mid-2012. The project will generate enough electricity for 1000 homes.

The anaerobic digesters will also upgrade the biosolids remaining to eliminate pathogens, bacteria and viruses.

I hope they are going to use the biosolids for soil enrichment!

For more information:

http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2011/09/27/poop-generated-power/

Google buys into Duke’s pig-power project

Google is offsetting its energy footprint by investing in Duke University’s open-source  pilot project to generate biomethane from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative and its partners built an innovative waste management system at Loyd Ray Farms in Yadkin County, outside of Winston-Salem, NC. The system utilizes anaerobic digestion of hog wastes to generate electricity.

The system reduces greenhouse gas emissions, generates electricity, makes for a healthier local environment and benefits farmers and communities economically. Through this pilot, Duke is showing how these projects can make economic sense for North Carolinians and lead to dramatic reductions in emissions over the long term to develop open-source anaerobic digestion systems for hog farms.  operations.

More information:

http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/09/pig-power-google-signs-up.php

Midwest Rural Energy Council

From the Midwest Rural Energy Council’s website:

Anaerobic digesters convert the energy stored in organic materials present in manure into biogas.  Biogas can be fed directly into a gas-fired combustion turbine.  The type of turbine most often used for small-scale electricity production is the microturbine.  Combustion of biogas converts the energy stored in the bonds of the molecules of the methane contained in the biogas into mechanical energy as it spins a turbine.  The mechanical energy produced by biogas combustion in an engine or microturbine spins a turbine that produces a stream of electrons, or, electricity.  In addition, waste heat from these engines can provide heating or hot water for use on farm.

As a fuel, biogas composed of 65% methane yields about 650 Btu per cubic foot.  Often used when designing systems for the anaerobic digestion of manure, these energy estimates can predict the amount of power production per animal.  General estimates predict one kilowatt of electricity production requires five to eight dairy cows.

Lots more good information:

http://www.mrec.org/anaerobicdigestion.html

Statistics from the American Biogas Council

  • Over 150 anaerobic digesters are operating on farms in the U.S. (www.epa.gov/agstar), primarily at dairies and some hog farms. Farm digesters reduce odors associated with manure, as well as pathogens. In addition to generating electricity, heat from gas engines is captured and utilized in farm operations. Many farms also are accepting food waste streams from area generators, which provides a revenue stream and boosts biogas production.
  • More than 1,500 municipal wastewater treatment plants have anaerobic digesters to process the solids stream. Increasingly, these treatment plants are capturing the biogas to offset electricity and natural gas use, savings that go directly to the cities’ bottom line. A handful of facilities are being designed in the U.S. to process organics such as food waste and yard trimmings from the municipal solid waste stream. In September, construction of the first facility got underway in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

More:

http://www.americanbiogascouncil.org/biogas_benefits.asp

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