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Hawaiian biomass moves toward demonstration

Issue 10 and Volume 100.

Hawaiian biomass moves towarddemonstration

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the state of Hawaii have started phase II of the Hawaiian Biomass Gasification Program. Technology verification and demonstration plant development efforts are under way.

A team that includes Westinghouse Electric Corp., the Hawaii-based Pacific International Center for High Technology Research and the Institute of Gas Technology is working to upgrade the existing biomass gasification facility in Paia, Maui, with testing to begin in early 1997. Tests are to verify that the integrated system can operate reliably and meet or exceed current power plant performance standards.

The program builds on a successful phase I gasifier proof-of-principle effort last fall at the site. The new verification will determine the economic feasibility of producing synthetic gas from bagasse, the residual plant fiber remaining after processing sugar cane.

Following verification, the first commercial bagasse-fueled biomass gasification power plant will be developed to produce electricity for a local Hawaii utility. Power plants using the technology are expected to be commercially available around the turn of the century, with specific emphasis on the Asia-