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From Biomass Magazine

By Anna SImet


While U.S. recycling rates are trending upward and the amount of waste generated per capita is decreasing , an enormous amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) continues to enter landfills, remaining underutilized for energy generation and greenhouse gas reductions.

A new report authored by Columbia University researchers examines recycling rates and waste generation by state between the years 2008 and 2011, and finds that if all MSW landfilled in 2011 was diverted to waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, it would supply enough electricity to power 13.8 million homes. If the steam turbine exhaust of the WTE plants were to be used for district heating, as is done in Denmark and some other northern European countries, the waste steam could provide district heating for 9.8 million homes.

Although that scenario isn’t necessarily achievable, as it isn’t economical to covert MSW in all places to energy, potential to increase energy drawn from U.S. waste is great, the study finds.

For plastic alone—which make up 11 percent of the total waste stream—even though recycling rates increased by 21 percent between 2008 and 2011, and waste-to-energy plants took in 3.9 million tons or 9.9 percent, over 80 percent was still mixed in MSW disposed in landfills. Illustrating how meaningful the conversion of MSW to energy is, the report points out that every ton of MSW combusted in modern WTE plants replaces nearly half of a ton of coal. Therefore, diversion of MSW from landfills to new WTE plants could reduce coal mining in the U.S. by about 100 million tons per year, or 10 percent of U.S. 2012 coal production.

Furthermore, this scenario could replace all coal imported by states such as New York, California, Idaho, New Jersey and Maine, and drastically reduce annual landfilling in the U.S., which is estimated to require about 6,100 acres of land each year, or the equivalent of nearly 4,600 U.S. football fields.

The report also determines quantities of waste generated in the U.S. by state and how it is disposed of, highlighting that Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire, are closest to attaining sustainable waste management, by combining  a high rate of recycling with a high WTE capacity to reduce landfilling.

Read the original here.

By University of Wisconsin-Madison


Biofuels researchers are increasingly thinking about how the energy market is changing, which challenges them to balance the basic science of new fuels with a more holistic view of the most commercially viable ways to produce them. So when a group of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers began looking at how to make jet fuel from biomass, they also strived to create a "techno-economic" framework that would illuminate the entire biofuels field.

In a paper published in Energy & Environmental Science, George Huber, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW-Madison, and his collaborators mapped out an integrated approach for processing red maple biomass into a jet fuel that costs $4.75 a gallon. Supported by funding from the DARPA Office of Science, Huber's study improves on previous research by factoring in the impurities of real biomass, an inefficiency that's not accounted for in studies that use model compounds as a starting point.

"Most biofuels research has focused on small aspects of an entire bio-refinery," says Aniruddha Upadhye, a Ph.D. student in Huber's group and one of the paper's co-authors. "There was a lack of understanding of what the integrated process would look like."

Huber focused on jet fuel in anticipation of a declining demand for gasoline. Hybrid and electric cars mean the biofuels sector might do well to focus less on the fuels that power lighter vehicles and more on heavy-duty fuels for trucks, planes, and other heavy machinery. "Unfortunately, you can't power heavy machinery with batteries," Huber says.

So in this context, papers like Huber's offer a chance for biofuels researchers to establish some long-term priorities.

Huber says the paper's findings will keep UW-Madison at the forefront as biofuels researchers continue to pursue better processes that industry partners can then scale up.

"We found out that techno-economic evaluation helps in focusing in areas that make the most economic sense," Upadhye says. "We can use process design as a way to drill down on the areas that make most economic impact."

Just as importantly, experimenting with an integrated process helped the group figure out where the process needs to become more efficient. To be truly viable, the cost needs to come down from $4.75 to about $3 per gallon. One of the group's next steps will be to identify a catalyst other than the expensive platinum, and to find sustainable solvents that can be used in place of water. "The wastewater treatment costs actually dominate the operating costs," Upadhye says.

Huber says the paper's findings will keep UW-Madison at the forefront as biofuels researchers continue to pursue better processes that industry partners can then scale up.

"The major lesson learned is that you can produce renewable distillate fuels using new technologies from biomass in an integrated process," Huber says. "The approach we outline here is a novel one that had not previously been used and is a lot cheaper than existing methods."

Other partners in the research included James Dumesic, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW-Madison; Christos Maravelias, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW-Madison; Jesse Bond, a former UW-Madison graduate student and current professor of biomedical and chemical engineering at Syracuse University; Raul Lobo of the University of Delaware; and Charles Wyman of the University of California, Riverside.

Read the original here.

From Biomass Magazine

By Anna Simet


For the past couple of years, the White Earth Nation of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe has been contemplating installation a biomass power system for its Shooting Star Casino and Event Center in Mahnomen, Minnesota, and was recently issued a minor new source review construction permit by the U.S. EPA.

The casino is located on the reservation of the White Earth Nation, which owns and operates the facility. Currently on site are two fuel oil-fired boilers and two propane-fired boilers that are used for space heating. The final minor NSR construction permit authorizes the construction of a new, 5 MMBtu/hr Solagen biomass-fired boiler, and establishes annual operating hour limitations on the new and existing boilers at the casino.

The new biomass boiler will be used to provide heat to the hotel, casino and event center, while the existing four boilers will serve as a backup to the new biomass-fired boiler.

According to a feasibility study performed on the project, a payback could be achieved in about one year and potentially save the casino over $500,000 annually on heating costs.

Mike Triplett, economic development department planner for the White Each Reservation Tribal Council, said that the council was awaiting response from the U.S. DOE in regard to additional funding for the project before the ultimate decision to move forward is made. “Hopefully, that decision will be made by the end of September,” he said, adding that if that were the case, he expects it would be about two years before the facility was operating.

Fuel for the facility must be wood chips from conifer or deciduous trees, according to permit data. Triplett said it would likely come from the greater Bemidji, Park Rapids area, but no contracts have been made yet.

Read the original here.

From Biomass Magazine

By Erin Voegele


The U.S. EPA published its proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants in the Federal Register on June 18, officially opening a 120-day comment period. The proposal, officially tilted the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Source: Electric Utility Generating Units, or the Clean Power Plan, was first announced by the EPA on June 2.

The proposed rule aims to reduce carbon emission by 30 percent by 2030 when compared to 2005 emissions levels. Specific targets are set for each state. The use of biomass-derived fuels is one of several strategies identified by the EPA as a way to meet the proposal’s carbon reduction goals.
The proposal will be implemented through a state-federal partnership that is designed to provide each state with flexibility in meeting its specific goal. Under the partnership, states will identify a path forward using either current or new electricity produced and pollution control policies. Information on proposed carbon pollution reduction levels for each state is available on the EPA website.

The EPA has announced four public hearings on the proposal. Hearings in Atlanta and Denver are scheduled for July 29. A third hearing will be held July 30 in Washington, D.C. The final scheduled hearing will take place in Pittsburgh on July 31. Additional information on the events and registration forms for those who would like to speak at the hearings is available on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan website.

Public comments on the proposal will be accepted through Oct. 16. Comments can be submitted on online via the website under Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602.

Comments can also be summited using EPA’s online form, email, fax, mail, hand delivery or courier. Additional information on how to submit a comment is available on the EPA website.

Read the original here.