Otoka Energy to build gasification plant in Alberta

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Jan. 16, 2009, at 10:20 a.m. CST

Otoka Energy Inc., a renewable energy company based in Eden Prairie, Minn., announced Jan. 14 it will build a gasification plant southwest of Edmonton, Alberta, that will produce 25 megawatts of electricity, followed by syngas and liquid fuels from forestry residue. The company will work with Energy Products of Idaho, a waste fuel-fired fluidized bed gasification and thermal oxidation technology provider based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; and B&A Inc., an engineering and architecture firm specializing in boiler and power generation systems based in Kansas City, Mo.

According to Rob Broin, chairman and chief technology officer for Otoka Energy, construction on the plant is expected to begin in 2009 and phase one, which will be to gasify wood to generate electricity, is expected to be operational in early 2012.

The gasification plant announcement was made at the 2009 Otoka Energy Summit in Minneapolis on Jan. 14. The summit included leaders from some of the company's partners, including ADI Systems Inc., a renewable energy generation company based in Fredericton, New Brunswick; and U.S. Energy Services, a Minneapolis-based energy management company. Also present were leaders from B&A, EPI and Zeachem, a cellulosic ethanol technology provider based in Lakewood, Colo.; Weyerhaeuser, an industrial forest products company based in Federal Way, Wash.; and Caris & Co., an investment bank based in Del Mar, Calif.

According to Otoka Energy, the company was formed to design, develop, own, and operate biomass-to-energy plants. The company focuses on the conversion of waste feedstocks, such as sawmill wood waste and ethanol-derived condensed distillers solubles, into electricity, renewable natural gas and specialty chemicals with the longer term vision of producing transportation fuels.

"We're trying not to be developers of new technology," Broin said, "so much as we want to collaborate with technology providers and to find the best available technology to solve the conversion of feedstocks." Broin, who in 1987 co-founded Sioux Falls, S.D.-based ethanol producer Poet LLC (formerly Broin Companies) and served as chief technology officer, led the development, design and construction of 25 ethanol plants until his departure in 2007.