Koda Energy repairs include safety, efficiency upgrades

By Anna Simet | October 22, 2013

Koda Energy LLC will soon be back in operation after an April accident brought the 23.4-megawatt biomass generation plant in Shakopee, Minn., offline. 

Believed to be caused by ignited airborne dust, on April 25 the facility endured a fuel silo explosion and resulting fire that damaged the silos, conveyor system and truck unloading area. After salvaging existing equipment not damaged in the event, Koda redesigned its fuel receiving, storage and blending system, went the extra mile to hire engineers (Barr Engineering) to determine ways improve its safety factor, and also added some new features to increase the plant’s efficiency.

Stacy Cook, general manager of Koda Energy, shared progress the facility has made to date and mapped out its road to resuming operations, which includes $6.8 million in repairs and upgrades being managed by Greystone Construction of Shakopee.

“Most of the equipment for the new fuel system is being fabricated and will be delivered throughout November,” Cook said. The boiler will also come on line in November, at minimum output on natural gas, “to have the thermal exchange system hot and ready to provide thermal load as needed for malting operations at Rahr Malting.”

The turbine will be brought on line in December as Koda Energy begins testing of the fuel delivery system equipment, according to Cook, with full output on biomass fuel being reached by the end of January. 

The new fuel handling system will have point and area dust collection, dustless loading spouts in the transition areas, infrared camera systems to detect hot spots, fire sprinkler and suppression systems, chemical and mechanical deflagration isolation systems, and deflagration venting in parts of the system where dust is under containment, Cook said. “At the same time, we will have created a redundant fuel delivery system that will dependably deliver full load quantities of fuel, even with a partial fuel delivery upset condition.”

Cook said that while Koda Energy has been down over the summer, the team has added new monitoring capabilities to the energy conversion side of the plant, and new automated features to increase the efficiency of the energy conversion processes. “The remainder of the plant has been restored to like- new or better-than-new condition, with even a fresh coat of paint on all exposed piping inside the plant using our internal color coding for quick identification of the contents of each piping system.”

Koda Energy should be in great shape once its fuel side rebuild is complete, Cook added. “We are looking forward to getting back to what we do best, providing stable and efficient base-load biomass-produced energy to our customers.”

Since 2009, the 23.4 MW biomass heat and power plant has been producing power for the grid via Xcel Energy, and heat and power for neighbor Rahr Malting, from which it sources 15-30 percent of its fuel from.