BIOMASS 08: CVEC fires up gasifier

By Jessica Sobolik | April 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted April 21, 2008 at 11:26 a.m. CST

Frontline BioEnergy LLC announced the start-up of a biomass gasifier at Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. in Benson, Minn., at the International Biomass Conference & Trade Show in Minneapolis on April 16.

Norman Reese, general manager of Frontline, told attendees of a breakout session that the unit will displace 90 percent of the ethanol plant's natural gas usage by burning approximately 280 tons of wood waste per day. It is capable of burning corn cobs, corn stover, grass, liquid injection oil, fiber and bran from fractionation, and distillers dried grains with solubles. Construction of the gasifier began in June 2007, and the first batch of producer gas was produced April 9.

CVEC General Manager Bill Lee, who moderated the Biopower Gasification breakout session at the conference, also detailed his plant's exploration of corn cobs as a biomass energy source for the gasifier. He said two harvest methods would be publicly demonstrated this fall. "We're an organization owned by farmers, so we'll go to our members first," he said. The cobs will be harvested with the corn, similar to a demonstration conducted by Poet LLC last fall.

Lee said CVEC chose to focus on corn cobs rather than corn stover for several reasons, one being that cobs produce approximately one-third less ash than stover when burned. Cobs can also be harvested more efficiently, transported cheaper and stored easier than corn stover. They are the least-helpful part of the corn plant that replenishes the soil after harvest.