May 17, 2009

Another set of Bio Char Test Results

We can probably call the "biochar debate" with the number of precints that have already reported.

Yet each study is helpful as it adds to the overwhelming preponderance of evidence.

Now Blue Leaf in Canada has reported the results of a recent study.

Results include:
  • Crop Yeild Range: +6% to +17%
  • 68% greater root length
  • 24% increase in plant density

In addition, some of the best work has been done at Cornell.

Biochar for carbon sequestration has the potential to instantaneously ignite (maybe not a good word when talking about torrefaction) the torrefaction industry, as well as being a viable solution to cost effective global warming. So we'll continue to track it.

May 12, 2009

More on the BEPEX Project

I've been contacted by several people for more information on the Bepex project, asking for more information.

I think the most interesting thing about the Bepex project is its use of corn stover. While removing corn stover requires that you add nitrogen back into the soil, that cost can be covered if coal prices rise or carbon credits kick in the right way.

The pilot plant is very small in volume compared to the expected production plant.

Interestingly, Bepex calculates that the larger production plant (100 KT per year) can support a 11.3 MW plant or 10% co-firing for a 113 MW plant.

The corn stover would be sourced from a 30 mile radius using only 3% of the available stover. That gives you an idea of just how much stover exists in the corn belt! That's a pretty reasonable plan.

Bepex plans a co-firing trial in August. That should be pretty interesting, and they will capture emissions. If the co-firing trial goes well it could be an accellerant for the industry. I will, of course, follow up and post what I learn.

The price of coal (which is very low in the corn belt) and the uncertainty of Carbon Credits are the main hurdles. Bepex has the technical expertise and corporate size to pull this off. At $ 1,000 per installed ton/hour of production, Bepex is getting close.

I've been asked to update and compare Bepex to Agri-Tech. The Agri-Tech solution continues to make progress, and I think that it will more likely be targeted at what I refer to as a Mini-Mill. Not field deployable in the first iteration, but a small community plant that farmers could own in a co-op arrangement. The visionary founder has a clear idea of how torrefaction could help rural communities. Bringing both these solutions to market would be great for the industry.

May 3, 2009

Alterna --Another Report from International BioMass Conference

Torrefaction vs. Carbonization:

Alterna Energy of Canada presented on their carbonization program.  (Charcoal)

An inspiring presentation.  The business is up and running and generating revenue, with two plants in operation.  The plant in South America is co-located with a nut processing facility so they have access to shells as a low cost waste steam.  In South America, they sell charcoal as a retail cooking fuel. (higher price).  Unfortunately, high priced cooking fuel or sales of industrial charcoal do not a large scale renewable energy business make.

However, Alterna Energy may be able to get there first because part of their plant cost is covered by sales of industrial charcoal.  This is one to watch.