Poet Biorefining plant uses wood waste to power its facility

By Ann Bailey | October 16, 2015

Poet Biorefining in Chancellor, S.D., is currently powering its plant with wood waste from Spencer, Iowa.

“We are a fuel-switching plant where we can switch to the most economical type of fuel,” said Dean Frederickson, general manager of the plant. For example, besides burning wood, the facility also uses methane from wells drilled in the Sioux Falls landfill to power the refining plant. “That’s been a great renewable energy source, also,” Frederickson added.

Poet-Chancellor installed a solid fuel boiler in 2006 to offset the cost of fossil fuel. The plant has natural gas as a back-up energy source, he said.

Besides using renewable energy sources such as wood waste and methane from the landfill, Poet-Chancellor uses magnets to remove metal from wood pallets before burning, and then recycles the scrap steel.

Even the ash that is a by-product of the wood burning is recycled. “We found a beneficial use for that, too,” Frederickson said. The plant ships the ash to construction companies which pack it down and spray water on it to create a hard surface. 

Burning waste wood from the city of Spencer at Poet Biorefining means that it won’t have to be burned on site, said Craig Poulsen, of the Spencer Public Works department. “We typically burn every month or so, when the weather is right, “Poulsen said. Denali Energy Systems, based in Minnesota, is grinding the Spencer wood waste which has accumulated since April. The waste will weigh from 1,500 to 2,000 tons, enough to fill about 100 trucks.

Denali Energy Systems loads the wood onto trucks and the Minnesota company hauls it roughly 100 miles to Chancellor, Poulsen said. He’s pleased that the wood will be used to make renewable fuel, instead of being burned on site. “It’s the right thing to do with the product,” he said.

Frederickson, meanwhile, said it is energizing for Poet to have the opportunity to use the wood waste to power the refining plant in Chancellor. “We’re really excited about making renewable fuel out of renewable fuel,” he said.