BHS Energy develops biomass briquette press

By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted Dec. 12, 2008 at 10:24 a.m. CST

Pennsylvania-based BHS Energy LLC has developed a small-scale biomass briquette press designed to compress switchgrass, but is applicable for use with other biomass materials, such as waste wood.

According to Bryan Reggie, an electrical engineer and a managing member of BHS Energy, the product was designed to benefit individual farms and other small-scale entities interested in producing their own heating fuel without the expense of investing in an industrial-scale product.

The machine produces round briquettes approximately 1.5 inches in diameter, and approximately 0.5 to one inches in length. "They are roughly the size of a golf ball," Reggie said.

The amount of briquettes the product produces is dependent on the specific feedstock used, Reggie added. When fed switchgrass, the press produces approximately 600 pounds of briquettes per hour. When fed wood, the machine can produce approximately 1,000 pounds of briquettes per hour.

The press was designed to produce heating fuel. However, Reggie said the product could also be used as part of a cellulosic ethanol process. Biomass in briquette form has less volume and easier to transport, he said.

BHS Energy is currently taking orders for preproduction machines, which will be used to finalize the design. Interested buyers may be able to purchase a press at a substantially reduced price. In exchange for the discount, those customers will provide feedback on the equipment's performance, allowing BHS Energy to finalize the design.

Reggie said commercial production of the equipment is expected to start in the spring or summer of 2009. He expects the product will retail for between $35,000 and $40,000, depending on specific options. The basic press is designed to be powered off a tractor's PTO. "We can also put a three phase motor on it," said Reggie. In addition, the press is compact, and can be loaded on a trailer for mobility.