Biomass Magazine's Sponsor Spotlight

This month's Sponsor Spotlight details Continental Blower's efforts in the biogas and RNG industry, TerraSource Global's Jeffrey Radar TubeFeeder technology for fiber storage and reclaim, and E=MC3's progress toward developing a high-quality, high-
By Sponsored Content | January 06, 2020

Turning Air into a Tool
With well over 100 years of experience and 40,000-plus global installations for hundreds of applications, Continental Blower LLC is armed with the knowledge, skill and motivation to serve the growing North American biogas market.

The company’s natural segue into the sector stemmed from its extensive work in Europe’s now-mature biogas industry. To date, Continental Blower has provided thousands of landfill gas and biogas blowers and exhausters in the U.S. and Canada. “The industry here is beginning to scale up, just as it did in Europe,” explains Dan Mirizio, Continental Blower founder and manager.

Specific applications include landfill gas extraction to flare or gas-to-energy, and renewable energy from landfills or digesters at wastewater treatment plants and dairy farms. “We’re seeing more opportunity in the industrial and municipal sectors—for example, manufacturers in the food and beverage industry that have in-house or on-site waste water treatment facilities, and are collaborating with emerging companies creating new technologies,” says Peter Cerimeli, Continental Blower managing director. “This is moving the biomass sector, which we have a wealth of experience in, to a whole new level.”

Continental Blower offers a simple design, enabling smooth operation and pulse-free air and gas, says Mirizio. “This makes the blower very reliable under some of the harshest conditions. In addition, our large product breadth across various sizes and stages, in conjunction with standardized customization, allows for extensive design flexibility.”

Importantly, the company prides itself on its responsiveness to customers, points out Mike Malfitano, biogas market manager. “We answer the phone,” he says. “Our focus is on blowers, we respond to quotes or requests for quotations within a day. Here, you can always get someone to help you, whether it’s making a selection or simply increasing your blower knowledge for your specific needs.” 

In response to growing demand, Continental Blower—currently involved in several notable biogas and renewable natural gas projects under construction in North America—plans to make itself accessible at numerous upcoming biogas and related trade shows, including the Value of Biogas West 2020 in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Jan. 14, and the Global Waste Management Symposium in Indian Wells, California, Feb. 23-26.

In the meantime, Cerimeli adds, the company is working on enhancing its offerings to help support industry needs. “We’re developing solutions for higher flow and higher pressure, in conjunction with enhancing our seal design to help support these higher-performance characteristics,” he says.

Mirizio and Malfitano highlight Continental Blower’s stocking program—homing in on components and blower models of blowers that fall into the sweet spot of the biogas market. “When blowers go down, we have complete blowers and spare parts of various sizes on hand,” Mirizio says.
And, the company offers quick shipment for new projects. “The blower tends to require the longest lead time, so we’ve managed to stock certain components that align with the performance range for many biogas projects,” Mirizio says.

“There are so many different applications,” he adds. “Often, the blower is the heart of the process. Without it, the process doesn’t work.”

Innovation in Material Reclaim Efficiency
Fuel preparation is vital for efficient combustion, a critical component to the overall profitability of biomass energy plants. Many factors must be accounted for to ensure quality fuel preparation, such as controlling dust, removing foreign and oversized particles, and ensuring appropriate material storage and high-quality homogenization. TerraSource Global’s Jeffrey Rader TubeFeeder system uses innovative technology to thoroughly and cost-effectively handle all of these challenges, making it an integral component for reclaiming biofuel from silos or storage piles at the most efficient biomass facilities.

TubeFeeders offer full homogenization at a uniform rate of fuel, while maintaining substantially lower power consumption compared to alternative solutions. Over 100 TubeFeeders are installed worldwide, primarily in pulp and paper and bioenergy operations. However, TubeFeeder technology is also a viable reclaiming option for several other applications beyond forest products, including coal, cement, pellets and many others. With the increasing demand for sustainable bioenergy, the TubeFeeders have gained a reputation for being the optimal solution for companies operating in this market.

A TubeFeeder is composed of an outside tube with uniform slots spread along the length of the machine, which is key to controlled combustion. Pile height is not an issue, as TubeFeeders are easily adaptable to desired height and silo volume. Conveying occurs by gravity flow through the slots, which helps diminish the required operational power by at least 70 percent compared to conventional systems. Each slot is furnished with an activator. The intelligent design employed in the tube and screw configuration constitutes a closed-forces system, meaning no thrust forces into the structure are generated.

As the tube rotates, material is reclaimed into it. Material being conveyed inside the tube is protected from the static pressure exerted by the remaining material in the pile/or silo. Tube rotation is controlled by variable frequency drive, and the typical span is one to six revolutions per minute (rpm), allowing for uniform material reclaiming and blending along its length. A screw auger operates inside the tube at a fixed rpm, conveying fuel to the outlet end. Capacity is proportional to the tube rotation speed, with a 15 to 100 percent repeatable rate within a selected capacity window. Tube rotation depends on travelling direction, thereby ensuring consistent operation regardless of travel direction. The whole unit traverses on rails across the base of square silos or in round silos on a swivel around the center.

Overall, biomass facilities can expect major performance and operational advantages by choosing the TubeFeeder as the critical component of their storage and reclaim solution, including lower operational costs due to energy-efficient design; thorough homogenization of fuel and a uniform feed rate, leading to excellent boiler control and efficiency; reduced cost in structural and electrical infrastructure, and minimized downtime for maintenance and wear-part replacement.


Phytosanitized Wood Chips for CHP
Exponential growth in demand for renewable energy sources such as biomass is derivative of global warming, climate change initiatives enacted across the European Union to reverse GHG emissions and reduce the global carbon footprint. Simultaneous to this expanding need, Maine experienced a calamitous loss of an equivalent 75 percent of its historic paper manufacturing base. The convergence of significant circumstances put the EU and Maine in the perfect storm of demand and supply. In April 2015, E=MC3 was formed for the sole purpose of designing, developing and delivering a high-quality design mixture of biomass, with high energy values, high density properties to compete with ocean freight costs equivalent to wood pellets, and a below-market rate cost per gigajoule (GJ) delivered to cogeneration facilities.

A bankable, certificated and sustainable wood fiber supply originates from a select few landowners, each with more than of 1 million acres of managed forests. All fiber is low value and derived only from forest residuals, slash, trimmings and mill shavings. Between the ports of Searsport, Maine, and St. Johns, New Brunswick, the bankable fiber supply for biomass to the EU exceeds 1 million metric tons annually. Additional sources of fiber are under negotiations in Connecticut and would be shipped out of the Port of New Haven.

All 28 EU Members require an import treatment to sanitize any wood fiber originating from North America. Fumigation procedures have evolved dramatically since 2015, when the EU mandated the phasing out of chemical fumigant on board vessels. Methyl bromide and phosphine applications are either fully outlawed or will be terminated soon. The internationally recognized treatment for wood fiber imports to the EU is heat treatment, or phytosanitation, where all fiber must be heated to its core to a minimum temperature of 56 degrees Celsius (C) for a period of no less than 30 minutes. E=MC3 wood chips will be produced at 60 degrees C for a minimum of 45 minutes to be ahead of anticipated requirement changes in the EU.

To make this biomass product effectively marketable, several key cost components were scrutinized to identify cost containment tasks while implementing low-carbon and efficient logistical operations and procedures. Traditional fiber harvest costs, inland transportation costs and ocean freight costs are the key variables to the supply chain success.

These three cost centers are dramatically mitigated by: sourcing only low-value fiber as mentioned above; collecting and transporting up to 70 percent of that fiber to the processing plant by rail (from and to St. John, Quebec, and Millinocket, Maine,  direct to the E=MC3  fiber hub yard at the Port of Searsport); establishing a meaningful alliance with a vessel owner-operator with the capacity to dedicate vessels for the E=MC3 program; and by bundling and handling the fiber in a highly compacted or densified medium. As a result of the above cost containment measures, E=MC3 biomass is a low-cost supplementary alternative to wood pellets.

By getting ahead of the curve with woody biomass cogeneration or combined-heat-and-power (CHP), operators can substantiate their commitment to sourcing renewable energy products at the lowest carbon footprint cost available. A quick review of woody biomass versus wood pellets includes the following points:

• To produce 1 million metric tons (MT) of wood pellets requires roughly 2.2 million MT U.S. tons of wood chips.

• Production of 1 million MT of wood pellets requires approximately 21 acres of forest clearing per day.

• Wood pellets produce about 17 GJ of energy per MT while the E=MC3 material is roughly 13 GJ per MT.

• The carbon footprint to process wood pellets is approximately three times the cost to phytosanitize wood chip residual.

• A 2020 forward looking FOB-NWE price for wood pellets from Northeast U.S. and Canada is projected to be approximately $160.00 per MT, or $9.41 per GJ, and for phytosanitized biomass wood chips, approximately $82 per MT, or $6.30 per GJ.

Our ocean freight owner operator will execute agreements direct with buyers to mitigate or remove any risk mark-ups, and thereby hold prices down. Stowage and ocean loading density is equivalent to wood pellets, so the ocean freight is no longer the upset factor in this supply chain.

High-energy, high-density, baled woody biomass does not require outside buildings or storage structures. The E=MC3 material can be stored at the origination port for extended periods, waiting for will-calls or to provide a long-term, high-volume supply solutions for biomass that: do not degrade when moving; creates no dust particulate in handling or loading; has no off-gassing characteristics; eliminates combustible pile scenarios and the requirement for high-cost pellet storage facilities; extends life-cycle of the biomass, and is delivered in unitized quantities and sizes applicable to metric transportation requirements.

The above is a snapshot of the benefits to investigating how E=MC3 woody biomass can become an essential part of any CHP plant’s long-term environmental planning. E=MC3 is not a replacement product for wood pellets, however. Rather, it is a supplementary alternative to any CHP plant’s need for sustainable supplies—the addition of the E=MC3 technology to the procurement mix will enhance the environmental credentials of the CHP plant, as well as bottom line margins by blending a low-cost product with pellets.

Several major CHP plants have begun the process of evaluating E=MC3 as a viable woody biomass source. E=MC3 is especially attractive to those CHP plants with their own receiving dock located at their plants. Currently, two major inland wood fiber production, processing and distribution yards are exploring the opportunity to import E=MC3 to their facilities for subsequent inland distribution to plants in remote locations.

EMC3 will present all of the above at the upcoming 2020 International Biomass Conference & Expo in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 3-5.