Nexterra to provide ORNL with biomass system

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted Sept. 19, 2008 at 9:42 a.m. CST

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Nexterra Energy Corp., a developer and supplier of biomass gasification systems, will supply the U.S. DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee with a multi-million-dollar gasification system.

Nexterra's approximately $15 million system will be the cornerstone of an $89 million energy overhaul being conducted at the lab's Oak Ridge, Tenn., campus.

Johnson Controls Inc., a strategic alliance partner of Nexterra's, is charged with applying the energy re-vamp to ORNL's campus, which will include everything from switching to lower-energy light bulbs to the installation of the gasification system.

"We are very pleased to collaborate with Johnson Controls to support this important project at ORNL," Nexterra President and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Rhone said. "Nexterra's biomass gasification system will not only assist ORNL to meet its cost and greenhouse gas reduction targets, but will also help raise the profile of biomass gasification and what it offers in terms of increased energy security, lower costs and improved air quality."

According to Nexterra's communications director Raymond McAllister, the gasification system that will be built for ORNL will convert approximately 55,000 tons of local woody biomass annually into clean burning syngas. Specific feedstock's will be sourced from local sawmills. The system is set to be completed by late 2009, but probably won't be installed at ORNL until the first quarter of 2010, when the entire project is scheduled for completion. The gasification system will replace a gas steam plant and, when fully operational, will reduce ORNL's fossil fuel consumption by 80 percent.

McAllister said the alliance between Johnson Controls and Nexterra was formed with the intent of focusing on converting fossil fuel systems at university campuses in the United States and Canada. He added, the flexibility of Nexterra's systems make the gasification units ideal for a variety of industrial and institutional campuses. There are more strategic partnerships in Nexterra's future, McAllister said.