Biomass gasifier developer testifies before Md. Senate

By Luke Geiver | March 29, 2012

If a Maryland State Senate committee agrees with the testimony of Dion Banks, director of governmental affairs for Cambridge International, the state could soon make biomass-based thermal systems eligible for its renewable energy credit (REC) program.

Banks recently testified on the benefit of biomass-based thermal systems, explaining the role of Cambridge Environmental Technologies, a division of the parent company that formed in 2007 to focus on biomass gasification systems that can utilize a range of feedstocks including woody biomass, dairy manure and poultry litter. His testimony was part of a hearing to address the possibility of passing Senate Bill 1004, which will allow biomass thermal applications to qualify for in-state RECs.

“My goal in addressing the Senate was to let them know that there is a Maryland-based company who has been playing a major role in the development of biomass gasification technology,” Banks said. He added that RECs given to biomass thermal systems would lead to early adoption of the technology, which in turn would stimulate the manufacturing industry in the state. “It can also help with the return on investment and expedite the adoption process of biomass technology in Maryland.”

The bill’s creation is directly related to Maryland’s push to address the environmental impact of agricultural runoff into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. According to Banks, the use of gasification allows farmers more options in addressing their nutrient management programs. Through gasification, poultry litter generates an organic heat source that helps improve chicken house conditions, reduce disease, and produce a nutrient-rich ash waste that can be used as a fertilizer outside of the area.

Banks believes that if SB 1004 were to pass, customers would be looking for a company with experience in the sector. Cambridge Environmental Technologies already employs roughly 400 on the eastern shores of Maryland. The company has already developed several gasifiers that can be used at schools, universities, municipalities or large-scale agricultural operations. The company has also designed a pollution control system for their gasifiers, the Kinetic Electrostatic Precipitator, which replaces the static collection plates on a pollution control system with a series of automated rotating stainless steel mesh belts. “We are the world’s largest and oldest metal conveyor belts and woven material cloth company,” Banks added.

SB 1004 is currently in the Maryland senate.