New emission control system developed for biomass plants

By Lisa Gibson | May 11, 2011

Agricultural-waste-to-energy company Homeland Renewable Energy Inc. has developed a new emission control and water recycling system for implementation at its poultry litter-fueled biomass plants.

HRE developed the system with U.K.-based partner Emvertec Ltd., which pioneered the Ceecon Condensing Economizer, a key portion of the process that improves energy efficiency. The two companies will license their technology to third parties.

Emvertec and HRE subsidiary Fibrowatt have submitted patent applications for the system, which works by condensing the plume of gaseous emissions and recycling both the water in the plume and the heat that would otherwise be wasted, according to HRE. Many of the trace emissions are either dissolved in the condensed water solution or captured in the condenser. The process involves a number of steps proven in other plants, but never operating in the cooperation and order employed in HRE’s system, according to the company.

“With the launch of the new emissions control system, we can claim that our Fibrowatt plants will be the world’s cleanest biomass power plants,” said Rupert Fraser, CEO of HRE. “The system will enable new Fibrowatt plants to meet both current and projected air emissions requirements, reducing emissions of particulates and certain acid gases to virtually zero. We are equally delighted that we can offer this clean biomass technology to local communities without placing any burden at all on their water resources.”

Predicted results of the new process include zero water consumption, zero water effluent discharge, zero sulfur dioxide emissions, zero particulate emissions, lower levels of nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions, and improved thermal efficiency through the recycling of waste heat.

“While its original implementation is intended for our poultry litter projects, the attributes of this technology can be easily and beneficially applied to other forms of biomass such as woody biomass where tighter and tighter limits are being implemented in current permitting,” said Terry Walmsley, vice president of environmental and public affairs for Fibrowatt. “We plan to actively pursue opportunities throughout the biomass power industry for this novel system.”

The system was developed in anticipation of regulatory changes such as the U.S. EPA’s Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, Walmsley said, adding that it also reflects the company’s continuous improvements to its systems.

“Because poultry litter has both physical and compositional differences with other forms of biomass fuels, we have always had to look down the road for the best way to address this challenging fuel,” he said. “Likewise, based on the sensitivity of agricultural communities to water usage, the ability to integrate a low emissions system with technology that could remove the need for water supply or water discharge is very attractive.”