CVEC Press Release
Ames, IA – Frontline BioEnergy and Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) announce the startup of their biomass gasifier system on April 9th in Benson, Minnesota. Combustible gases produced by the gasification of wood residues are now being utilized in the ethanol company’s steam generation equipment, thus decreasing the amount of fossil fuel the plant uses.
While other industrial plants have utilized steam generated by burning biomass, this marks the first time that an existing natural gas-fired boiler has been retrofitted to utilize biomass-derived gas to generate steam at an ethanol plant. Frontline BioEnergy has developed the gasification technology being installed at CVEC’s ethanol plant.
“It has been a great team effort,” said Jerod Smeenk, engineering manager of Frontline BioEnergy. “Frontline and CVEC have worked together from the start to develop feedstock handling, install the gasifier, and integrate the producer gas burner to reach this milestone. In the next phases of the project we plan to integrate this renewable gas to fire another boiler and two distillers’ grain dryers to cut CVEC’s reliance on natural gas by 90%.”
Biomass gasification utilizes a thermochemical process to break down biomass like wood residues, corn cobs, or prairie grasses into “producer gas”. Producer gas consists of a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane that can be combusted in heating applications in place of natural gas. Frontline provides a proprietary gas cleaning process called CLEANGAS® that enables the producer gas to be piped to multiple locations in an industrial facility without the typical hydrocarbon condensation concerns associated with conventional biomass gasification. Besides providing a source of heat, Frontline BioEnergy’s biomass gasifiers will be able to produce synthesis gas which can be converted to ethanol through catalytic or biological methods.
“This is the first step toward weaning our plant from fossil fuel and the high costs of natural gas. As we integrate this renewable energy source fully in our plant, we look forward to producing lower carbon, more renewable ethanol at lower cost,” said Bill Lee, General Manager of CVEC.