Engineers: the Heart of Innovation

By Anna Simet | October 24, 2013

This year’s last issue of Biomass Magazine is now in production, and if you enjoy learning about new and/or improved equipment, products and innovation, you’re going to love this one.

One particular piece that I’m working on putting together is focusing on the biogas sector, and it’s a little different from our typical articles. Right now—though the deadline is closing in—I’m currently accepting submissions for all (new/improved/innovative) products or equipment involved in the generation, clean up, combustion, compression or transmission of biogas. In order to potentially be selected for inclusion in the article, you have to fill out a brief questionnaire, and, if applicable, include a high resolution photo of your product. Email me at if you’d like a submission form.

In other sections, we’re going to be honing in on the machines that do work in the forests to size and prepare your feedstocks, and hopefully give you a good understanding on what inspires and enables companies to continually find ways to improve and innovate.

Recently, I had a conversation with Lockheed Martin—which I’m sure you know of, as they seem to do a little bit of everything and a whole lot of work for the U.S. Department of Defense—about how important engineers are to the success of the company. Their many, many engineers, that is (we’re talking tens of thousands). Chatting with Paul Klammer, director of bioenergy programs, and Gary Bennett, business development manager for bioenergy, they explained the purpose and massive benefits to having so many specialized engineers on board. “You might have a situation where a particular problem arises [during a project] and you need an expert in this one very specific technology area, and we can go inside the corporation and find that one person whose life revolves around that one area, and he/she comes in and solves that problem,” Klammer said.

This reminded me an article we printed in Biomass Magazine about one year ago, called “Engineering a Better Biomass Supply Chain,” written by James Dooley.

Here’s an excerpt:

Engineers at equipment firms are making improved combines and balers to enable single-pass harvest of corn and stover. High-density bales of dedicated energy crops and commodity-scale pellets improve transportation payloads, thus reducing the cost and fuel consumption for delivery from producers to refiners. Biological engineers who have special expertise at the intersection of plant biology, bioprocessing, and engineering are decreasing the energy consumed in grinding and drying. They are substantially improving yields from both biochemical and thermochemical conversion of biomass to biofuels and bioproducts to get more product out of each unit of biomass input.

So, while the December issue of Biomass Magazine showcases some of the newest, sharpest and most efficient equipment and products within the bioenergy sector, let’s not forget those men and women behind the curtain—the engineers. They are truly the workhorses behind innovation.