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Proposed Neb. plant to produce biomass fuel, bioenergy

By Erin Voegele | April 25, 2014

A proposed project under development by Southwest Renewable Resources aims to develop a unique biomass fuel production facility and up to 25 MW of bioenergy capacity in South Sioux City, Neb.

Earlier this year, the Nebraska cities of South Sioux City, Wakefield and Wayne, along with the Northeast Public Power District, entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SRR. Under the MOU, the four public entities and SRR have agreed to work together to supplies electricity to the three cities and NEPP via a biomass-fired cogeneration system.

Tracy Willson, senior partner of SRR, told Biomass Magazine his company has been working with South Sioux City on the project since last October. The proposed facility is expected to house a manufacturing operation for the SRR’s patent-pending Southwest Renewable Fuel. The resulting biobased fuel would be fed directly into a cogeneration power unit. Willson said the exact size of that unit it still being determined, with 15 MW and 25 MW of capacity currently under consideration.

According to Willson, the solid biofuel developed by his company is a mix of biomass and polyethylene plastic. While he was unable to offer specifics on the manufacturing process, he did note that the resulting fuel is waterproof. In addition to wood and other types of cellulosic biomass, the process can also incorporate nonrecyclable municipal solid waste into the fuel. Willson also stressed that the fuel is not pelletized.

“Our [fuel] burns so consistently and clean that it’s a perfect opportunity to divert waste from a landfill,” Willson said. He also added that SRR is also looking at incorporating animal fat and grease into its fuel for use at the South Sioux City facility.

According to Willson, SRR’s biomass fuel has been tested by independent labs and an engineering firm that designs cogeneration systems. Information supplied by SRR indicates that the moisture content of the company’s fuel is 3.9 percent or less, compared to 20 percent or greater for standard biomass. An estimated 0.0625 MW of energy can be generated from one metric ton of SRR biomass fuel, compared to 0.03625 MW for standard biomass. Overall, SRR’s fuel is estimated to generate 42 percent more energy than standard biomass.

In addition to the proposed Nebraska facility, Willson said his company has plans to establish similar biomass fuel manufacturing facilities all around the country. SRR is also working to miniaturize its fuel production process and mobilize it so that the technology could be used to create fuel for use during disaster situations.

In addition to manufacturing its patent-pending biomass fuel, SRR is also active in the pellet space. Earlier this year, the company purchased the former Precision Pellet facility in Snowflake, Ariz.  

 

 

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