‘Biomass reaction' combusts fuel from within

By Lisa Gibson
Posted January 7, 2010, at 4:07 p.m. CST

Biomass reaction, a patented technology by Iowa-based Kimberlin, Inc., combusts biowaste for heating or cooling in commercial spaces, and is being further developed to produce electricity.

The process combusts biomass, typically animal and poultry wastes, wood fuels and agricultural materials, from within the fuel mass, with what the company calls a tornado of fire. Instead of external energy collection, the process uses the energy created from the inside of the burn. "Nobody's ever done this before," says owner John Kimberlin. "It burns within itself."

Heat output varies with the size of the furnace, but can range from 175,000 Btu per hour to 750,000. "Our piece of equipment will be your basic heat source for your building," Kimberlin said. The technology is used in two Kimberlin products currently: Nature's Furnace, which is a hot air combustor that can produce up to 500,000 Btu; and the Bio-Power boiler, which is a fluid unit that can produce up to 750,000 Btu, according to Kimberlin. Four Nature's Furnaces have been sold in Europe, with 20 to 30 pending, according to the company. Prices range from $150,000 to $500,000, depending on energy output and selected options.

Texas A&M is also working on a prototype that will use biomass reaction to produce up to 15 kilowatts of electricity. The system bypasses steam production by using super-heated oil to change Freon to gas, instead of changing steam to gas, Kimberlin said. "We stay away from all the problems that come with steam," he said, adding that using steam would require the company and its clients to adhere to stricter standards. Kimberlin expects the system to be finished and available around the middle or end of this year.

Nature's Furnace units are built to run 24/7 and are made up of 11 moving parts. They are computer controlled and an optional monitoring system is available, Kimberlin said. "We can see what a machine is doing in Europe," he said.
Kimberlin Inc.'s target market includes horse race tracks and casinos, stud farms, breeding facilities, boarding stables, dairies, poultry producers, farms, ranches, tree services, landfills, recycling plants and seed stock facilities. "We're just starting to market," Kimberlin said. "We've been working on the technology for decades."

Prospective clients include a race track looking into purchasing six units. "Each one will keep up with about 100 stalled horses," he said. More target markets will be identified, as many waste streams exist and the system can use most biomass feedstocks. "Just about anything you can see out your window for fuel," Kimberlin said.