Adding to Bottom Lines

Among the many benefits of the industry segments we cover in Biomass Magazine is that most often, the feedstock or fuel source would otherwise go unused—waste wood, food waste and other organics, municipal solid waste, biogas and the list goes on.
By Anna Simet | September 09, 2019

Among the many benefits of the industry segments we cover in Biomass Magazine is that most often, the feedstock or fuel source would otherwise go unused—waste wood, food waste and other organics, municipal solid waste, biogas and the list goes on. But now, it's being used to create heat, power or other fuels.

What’s really exciting is that we’re seeing some real innovation on the backend of these bioenergy processes—in short, the “waste” leftover from the waste is being used, too. A perfect example of that is discussed in detail in Ron Kotrba’s page-18 feature, “Get With the Program,” which underlines the value of digestate, a post-anaerobic digestion product that is rich in nutrients. Despite that value, there is not yet adequate awareness amongst consumers and potential buyers—but the American Biogas Council is working hard to change that via its Digestate Standard Testing and Certification Program. Says Patrick Serfass, executive director of the ABC, “Few people recognize its incredible nutrient and agronomic value today. It’s a perception issue.”

On the theme of byproducts, another topic that always creates a buzz in this magazine is biochar, a carbon-rich product that remains after biomass gasification or pyrolysis, the markets for which are growing steadily. Our page-28 contribution, “Biochar: If You Make it, Will They Come?,” by Kathleen Draper, mentions Aries Clean Energy, a plant in Tennessee that is generating power via gasification, and as a result,  1,000 tons per year of consistent, high-quality biochar. The facility is a tour site at the International Biomass Conference & Expo in February, where attendees will have the opportunity to see it in person.

Being that coproducts is a topic in this month’s issue, I felt compelled to cover the impressive growth the barbeque pellet market has experienced over the past few years. While making these pellets isn’t as easy as it might seem, when done right, the margins are good, and potentially, could help offset weak heating seasons. That said, the past few heating seasons have been strong, so many of the producers newer to the barbeque pellet game haven’t had a chance to experience that just yet—a good thing, of course.

All of the stories in this edition are tied together in that they are focused on making each operation more profitable through resourcefulness and innovation. While they are all quite different, the versatility of the biomass industry is what makes it so unique and fascinating.


Author: Anna Simet
Editor
asimet@bbiinternational.com