Northeast Biomass Conference & Expo panel to explore feedstock supply chains, life cycles

By Anna Austin
Posted June 18, 2010, at 9:33 a.m. CST

Securing local, uniform, low-carbon feedstocks is key to an efficient industrial-scale power operation, but it isn't a simple task. Different feedstocks possess vastly different physical and chemical properties, and performance varies considerably from one conversion technology to another. Furthermore, one feedstock may make sense in a given region, but not in another.

Shifting the resource base for chemical and energy production from fossil fuels to renewable raw materials is seen by many as one of the key strategies toward sustainable development, according to Philip Nuss, University of New Hampshire researcher. Considering organic waste such as from municipal solid waste streams as well as construction and demolition (C&D) as alternative feedstocks could help to reduce pressure on global arable land and enhance landfill diversion, Nuss said.

Nuss will discuss gasification followed by synthesis gas combustion in a steam boiler as a way to transform C&D-derived biomass into renewable electricity and heat, during the panel Getting it Right: Building a Low Carbon Biomass Supply Chain to Meet Industrial Scale Demand at Biomass Magazine's Northeast Biomass Conference & Expo in Boston. "My presentation will explain the system-wide environmental burdens associated with this route using life-cycle assessment," he said. "Results are compared to the use of virgin greenwood biomass as alternative gasification feedstock as well as to conventional fossil-based energy provision."

Nuss added that he is hopeful that results of the study will add to the current debate on sustainable biomass utilization in the Northeast, and to support near-term options for enhanced waste utilization.

Joining Nuss on the panel will be Idaho National Laboratory's Christopher Wright, who will introduce a new supply system that will improve physical and chemical properties of biomass feedstocks and supply logistics. Focusing on issues surrounding smaller farm sizes and localized farm transportation systems, Wright will detail how the system will enable development of high-capacity, lower cost commodity-scale supply systems that take full advantage of current Northeast transportation infrastructure and traditional conversion facility economies of scale.

Other speakers on this panel include Chris Jedd of Clean Coal Briquettes Inc., who will discuss an alternative briquetting technology developed utilizing biomass to help coal-fired power plants meet their renewable energy portfolio standards and reduce emissions, and Dan Conable of Cato Analytics LLC, who will explain the methodology and significance of designing a closed-loop supply chain in the Northeast.

For more information about the Northeast Biomass Conference & Expo, go to http://ne.biomassconference.com.