U of Montana board approves Nexterra as gasifier provider

By Lisa Gibson | June 02, 2011

Moving step by step in the development process, the board of regents at the University of Montana has approved Nexterra Systems Corp. as the equipment provider for a combined-heat-and-power (CHP) system on its Missoula campus.

Nexterra was initially selected through a bidding process last fall, but was just recently formally approved by the board, according to Darcy Quinn, manager of marketing and business development for Nexterra. The $16 million system will be located in a high-end facility, Quinn added, and should be operation in the second quarter of 2013. It will produce 34,000 pounds per hour of heat and 700 kilowatts of power. The process will use 15,600 bone dry tons per year of woody biomass.

“This is our fourth university project and it represents a significant milestone as we expand into the higher educational market across North America,” says Jonathan Rhone, Nexterra president and CEO. “Biomass gasification is ideally suited to universities and colleges as a clean, cost effective way of lowering fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions by converting central heating plants from fossil fuels to renewable fuels. We’re confident the students, faculty, along with the greater community of Missoula will be pleased with the results.” 

By switching from natural gas to biomass, the new energy system will allow the university to reduce its carbon footprint by approximately 10,000 metric tons per year, about 22 percent of the overall campus carbon footprint, according to Nexterra. It will contribute to the university’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020. In addition, the university will incorporate the gasification system into the curriculum for the College of Technology’s energy technician and forestry programs.

In related news, Nexterra has secured (CAN) $2.5 million ($2.58 million) in equity financing from the Business Development Bank of Canada. The proceeds will be used to accelerate the growth of Nexterra’s business, according to the company. Coupled with a recent investment of $15 million from Tandem Expansion Fund and ARC Financial, Nexterra has secured a total of $17.5 million in 2011 to further its biomass energy system business.