Enginuity moves to Mexico, Mo., to scale up eCARB process

By Sue Retka Schill | April 07, 2014

Enginuity Worldwide LLC has moved its research and development activities into the Missouri Plant Science Center in Mexico, Mo., in order to produce larger quantities of its biomass-based engineered pellets for large-scale testing.

The company is on a fast track to get the demonstration facility operational in the second quarter with the first 700 tons bound for a test burn at the municipal power plant in Columbia, Mo. Columbia Power & Light has worked with Missouri Corn Growers Association and Enginuity in getting grants from the American Public Power Association to help with the costs for the test burn, including the fuel and monitoring. Nancy Heimann, Enginuity president, says they intend to test multiple blends with different proportions of corn stover, miscanthus and mixed grasses. In December, the company received a $500,000 USDA grant through the Rural Energy for America Program to continue its research and development.

With a capacity of 6,000 tons per year, the demonstration facility is scaling up Enginuity’s process to produce its patented eCARB biofuel. The core technology is a binder that achieves 98 percent durability with a variety of ag feedstocks, a value that is higher than coal’s, says Heimann, The patented binder is comprised of all combustible material including a starch and a hydroxide as adhesives, a silicate as a viscosity agent, a preservative and a Btu additive. Unlike typical pellet mills where uniform size reduction is a critical factor, the binder doesn’t work through mechanical means, but rather encapsulates every fiber and sticks them together, Heimann explained. The binder also permits the use of a variety of shapes.

Bob Heimann, mechanical engineer and lead inventor, introduced the company’s novel technology for drying and binding at the International Biomass Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., in March. In an effort to avoid using external energy for hammermill and drying operations, Heimann co-developed a patented process that uses only the forces of compression and friction to produce steam, thereby hydrothermally drying the biomass. No other source of energy is required, Heimann, explained. The biomass leaves the process dried down to less than 12 percent and ready for densification or direct burning in coal plants using pulverized fuel. The company is targeting coal-fired power plants that wish to reduce emissions by cofiring biomass. The Enginuity Worldwide technology requires minimal retrofitting by the power plants, according to the company. 

For an earlier article on Enginuity, click here.