biomass magazine - january 2010

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January 2010 Biomass Magazine



    January 2010

    Biomass Technology TrendEverything from Algae to Biosolidsto Woody Biomass is ConvertedInto Renewable Energy inSacramento, Calif.


  • 1 |2010 BIOMASS MAGAZINE 5


    FEATURES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    22 EMISSIONS Stack AttackProject developers sometimes have their work cut out for them convincing people that emissions from biomass power plants will not cause health risks and are monitored and regulated by state and federal agencies. By Lisa Gibson

    28 INNOVATION Building on its Biomass Base Sacramento, Calif., is capitalizing on its biomass, whether its waste wood or wastewater. The city is also home to a unique laboratory where biomass technologies are developed and tested. By Lisa Gibson

    34 POLICY Methane Migraine California dairy farmers who operate anaerobic digesters believed they were being environmental stewards. Now some are scrambling to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from the combustion engines used to turn biogas into electricity.By Anna Austin

    40 FEEDSTOCK Bad Boy Crop Deserves a Second Chance A scam in the 1970s and 80s left the Jerusalem artichoke with a bad reputation, but some people believe the crop has great potential as a source of inulin for human food products, as a livestock feed and an ethanol feedstock By Rona Johnson

    CONTRIBUTIONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    46 SWITCHGRASS SDSUScientists Re-Discover Switchgrass Moth The discovery of a switchgrass-feeding moth has researchers thinking about the need to design pest management programs for native grasses as they become more prevalent in the production of cellulosic ethanol production. By Lance Nixon

    48 LOGISTICS Strategy and Implementation of Biomass Conversion at Mt. PosoIn switching from coal to biomass power at the Mt. Poso Cogeneration Co. the plant has encountered and dealt with several challenging logistical issues.By Desmond Smith

    POLICY | PAGE 34

    DEPARTMENTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    06 Editors NoteNavigating the Biomass Industrys Hills and ValleysBy Rona Johnson

    07 Advertiser Index

    08 Legal PerspectivesDeveloping Large-Scale Wood Biomass Projects ChallengingBy Jordan Hemaidan

    09 Industry Events

    10 Business Briefs

    12 Industry News

    51 BPA UpdateParity in the Production Tax CreditBy Bob Cleaves

    53 EERC UpdateThe Quest for Renewable Biomass Electricity By Chris Zygarlicke

    54 Marketplace


    Navigating the Biomass Industrys Hills and Valleys

    here are several important stories in this months maga-zine, but I would like to point out a couple that address what I believe will be ongoing issues for the biomass in-dustry. In the fi rst, Stack Attack (page 22), Associate Editor Lisa Gibson delves into biomass-power plant emis-

    sions and the heated opposition to the use of biomass for power in Russell, Mass.

    Gibson did an excellent job covering both sides of this issue even though at Biomass Magazine, we are clearly proponents of biomass power. We do believe its important, however, for our read-ers to be aware of this opposition and to see the kind of disruption it can provoke, whether the opponents are in the right or are totally off base.

    The biomass power emissions issue became even more per-vasive when the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources suspended consideration of any new biomass projects for participation in the states renewable portfo-lio standard until a study is conducted to evaluate the sustainability of biomass resources in the state and the carbon neutrality of biomass power. Furthermore, biomass opponents are circulating a petition to pass a law that would require waste-to-energy and biomass renewable energy sources relying on combustion or pyrolization (decomposition caused by heat) to emit no more than 250 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour in order to be considered renewable energy generating sources, Class I renewable energy generating sources, or alternative energy properties under state laws concerning renewable and alternative energy programs.

    We need to keep our eyes on these developments, and make sure that they don't become models for other states to follow.

    Another feature I would draw your attention to is Methane Migraine (page 34) written by As-sociate Editor Anna Austin, who talked with air quality offi cials and dairy farmers in California about anaerobic digestion permitting headaches.

    Even though, as pointed out in the article, digesters greatly reduce methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than CO2, the dairy farmers are being told that they need to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) released by the combustion engines they use to turn the biogas into electricity. This is especially onerous for dairy producers in regions considered severe non-attainment areas for ozone, where stricter NOx emissions standards exist.

    Although this issue is currently specifi c to California dairies, we should keep in mind that many air quality rules adopted in this country originated in California.

    Despite these issues, the biomass industry continues to grow and government support hasnt waned. In fact, in early December, U.S. DOE Secretary Steven Chu and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack selected 19 integrated biorefi nery projects to receive up to $564 million from the American Recov-ery and Reinvestment Act to speed up the construction and operation of pilot-, demonstration- and commercial-scale facilities.

    As with any new industry there are going to be hills and valleys, we just have to make sure the valleys dont turn into sink holes.


    Rona JohnsonEditor


  • 1 |2010 BIOMASS MAGAZINE 7


    2010 International BIOMASS 56Conference & Expo

    2010 International Fuel 52Ethanol Workshop & Expo

    Agra Industries 25

    Agri-Systems 30

    Biodiesel Magazine 4

    BRUKS Rockwood 39

    Buhler 45

    Detroit Stoker Company 43 50

    Energy & Environmental Research Center 3

    Ethanol Producer Magazine 21

    Frazier, Barnes & Associates, LLC 44

    Indeck Power Equipment Co. 36

    Mid-South Engineering Company 27

    Peterson 33

    R.C. Costello & Associates Inc. 26

    Stoel Rives LLP 2

    The Teaford Co. Inc. 32

    West Salem Machinery 37

    WestMor Industries, LLC 24


    EDITOR Rona Johnson

    ASSOCIATE EDITORSAnna Austin aaustin@bbiinternational.comLisa Gibson

    COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann


    ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund

    GRAPHIC DESIGNERSElizabeth Slavens bslavens@bbiinternational.comSam Melquist


    CHAIRMANMike Bryan

    CEOJoe Bryan


    SALES DIRECTOR Matthew Spoor

    SALES MANAGER, MEDIA & EVENTSHoward Brockhouse


    ACCOUNT MANAGERSMarty Steen msteen@bbiinternational.comBob Brown




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    Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more informa-tion, contact us at (701) 746-8385 or

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    Letters to the Editor We welcome let-ters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or e-mail to Please include your name, address and phone num-ber. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

    Cert no. SCS-COC-00648



    he use of wood biomass as fuel for energy production is not new. Utilities and other industries have been using a

    variety of technologies to turn wood waste into energy for decades. By some accounts, there are thousands of wood-fueled projects producing power and heat, largely for industrial applications throughout the world. What is new, however, is a trend toward advanced technology such as wood gasifi cation, and an increase in the scale of wood biomass energy projects for uses such as base-load electric generation.

    Three factors appear to be driving this trend. First, as utilities anticipate signifi cant regulation of carbon emis-sions, increases in state renewable port-folio standards, and the possible cre-ation of a federal