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Project Generating Electricity with Biomass Is First of Its Kind


The University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) has successfully generated electricity from biomass with an exciting, cost- effective gasification technology in a diesel engine. Biomass includes forest residues, wood chips, sawdust, and agricultural by-products.

This fall, the EERC has completed over 100 hours of continuous operation of a biomass gasifier firing wood chips. The process converts wood chips into gas (similar to natural gas) that can be fired in a small gas turbine (microturbine), diesel, or conventional combustion engine. The technology can run automatically, providing a clean, quality gas for power generation. This gas was successfully utilized to operate a 100-horsepower John Deere diesel engine and conduct emission testing.

“We believe this demonstration project utilizing biomass to produce a gas that is burned in a diesel engine is the first of its kind in North America,” said Darren Schmidt, EERC Research Manager in charge of the project.

“The major opportunities for this technology are at remote sites where it’s difficult to bring in fuels, such as many Indian reservations in the West,” said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold. “This provides many exciting opportunities for enhancing national energy independence and could significantly reduce the use of landfills,” Groenewold said.

Project sponsors include the U.S. Department of Energy; the California Energy Commission; FlexEnergy; the North Dakota Department of Commerce Division of Community Services; Primeboard, Inc.; the Biomass Energy Resource Center; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

To further demonstrate and support commercialization of the technology, the EERC and its commercial partners are seeking partnerships with industries interested in biomass management and demonstrating the technology at forest product sites around the country.

The EERC operates essentially as a high-tech business within UND, allowing great flexibility to quickly craft teams and provide timely technical answers to address critical worldwide energy and environmental issues. Since 1987, the EERC has established working relationships with more than 780 clients from the public and private sectors in all 50 states and 47 countries around the world.

| newswise
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