North Dakota funds biomass projects

By Hope Deutscher
Three biomass-related projects in North Dakota received a total of $980,000 from the North Dakota Industrial Commission in April. The money originated from the Renewable Energy Grant program, which was created by the 2007 state legislature to promote the growth of the state's renewable energy industries through research, development, marketing and education.

"We have seen real progress in our efforts to grow the renewable energy industry in North Dakota, but there's more work to be done," said North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, chairman of the industrial commission, when the Renewable Energy Grant program was announced last fall.

The North Dakota State University Agriculture Experiment Station, which received more than $800,000 from the program, aims to establish a biomaterials industry in North Dakota with the help of professor Larry Leistritz. The funding will complete an engineering and design study for a $1.7 million pilot-scale facility that will demonstrate the potential for commercial technology to produce fuels from biomass feedstocks.

A $534,000 joint project by Great River Energy, Great Plains Institute, North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, North Dakota Farmers Union and the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives received $109,000 to support a detailed technical evaluation of cofiring up to 10 percent biomass at Spiritwood Station, part of the Spiritwood Industrial Park east of Jamestown, N.D. As part of the evaluation, researchers will look at the potential interest from farmers in growing perennial energy crops.

ComPAKco LLC was awarded $72,275 to develop the ComPAKer, a densification technology for biomass. The company's two-year, $145,000 project aims to use less power than existing biomass compacters.

Two more rounds of funding, provided by two state funds totaling $6 million, will be conducted. Interested applicants can find more information on the North Dakota Industrial Commission's Renewable Energy Council Web site at