Eagar, Arizona, biomass power project to break ground mid-2015

By Katie Fletcher | December 30, 2014

At a December Eagar, Arizona, town council meeting Concord Blue Energy Inc. shared construction plans for a 1 MW biomass power plant expected to break ground late spring or early summer 2015. Early conceptualization and project plans for a biomass plant were developed by Western Energy Solutions in 2010. The company joined Concord Blue formally in 2012 and now the facility will be owned and operated by Concord Blue Eagar LLC. A long time coming, both the community and partners are excited the project is moving forward.

Gregory Bilson, chief development officer with CB, co-founded Western Energy Solutions. “The development company that I started with my father, we’ve been working on the Eagar project for going on almost six years,” Bilson said. “It’s near and dear to our hearts to get it off the ground finally next year, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The Eagar community is receptive to the project and its recent progress. “Everybody is very excited,” said Tami Ryall, town manager of Eagar. “We’re in the heart of timber country in Arizona, so this just makes sense to fully utilize the resources in the area.”

The plant’s location is screened by a mountain, and mill waste and in-forest thinning residue will be brought to the facility to the tune of 40 tons-per-day dry basis.

Over the past year the Eagar project has made headway. A power purchase agreement (PPA) was executed with Navopache Electric Co-Op Inc. The Interconnection Agreement is in the final stages of discussion and negotiation. All permit requirements are understood and fully scoped, and Bilson expects all permits will be received by late spring or early summer. A larger 11.95-acre site has been fully surveyed and archeological on-site survey completed. In addition, lean-burn, spark-ignited reciprocating engine procurement is well underway.

Evergreen Engineering has also been hired to assist with wood yard design and a grading and drainage plan, as well as a general arrangement for the site and balance of plant engineering. Over the year, significant engineering has been completed on CB’s Concord Blue Reformer technology.

The CBR waste-to-energy technology will be deployed at the biomass plant. CBR is an advanced steam thermolysis technology using staged reforming. Bilson said, the technology’s uniqueness is three-fold with its scalability, feedstock flexibility and product diversity.

The CBR works in a modular fashion and has commercial facilities in development that will produce as little as 250 kW of electricity up to hundreds of megawatts. “We have incredible scalability in our technology,” Bilson said.

CBR’s feedstock flexibility allows a facility to modify the inputs that it’s receiving within the life-cycle of the plant. Multiple products can also be derived from the main product. “Our first product that we have produced is a syngas, but our syngas is very high quality and high in hydrogen, and so we have the correct ratio of hydrogen to carbon monoxide to be able to produce liquid fuels and chemicals,” Bilson said. “Having a syngas clean enough with virtually no tars gives us the ability to run it in reciprocating engine to produce electricity.”

The staged reforming takes place in three spatially separated vessels. After waste material is segregated and dried, ceramic beads—used as the indirect heat carrier—first flow to the gas phase steam reforming vessel where the gas is purified and most tars are converted. After that, the beads flow to the thermolyser where waste material is decomposed to about 80 percent gas and 20 percent char. The char and ceramic beads are separated and then the char and/or syngas is fully oxidized to provide heat to the ceramic beads. Through a strategic partnership made in October, Lockheed Martin is manufacturer of the technology.

Right now CB is in the final stages of designing and engineering, and expects plant commissioning in late 2015 or early 2016. “We’re very excited about the project, and eagerly wait for them to break ground, and for the whole community to celebrate,” Ryall said. “This has been a long time in the planning phases and everyone is thrilled to see it coming together.”