Biomass, Renewables

Biomass Gasification Milestone Heralds Breakthrough in Renewable Energy Production

ATLANTA—Atlanta-based Future Energy Resources Corp. (FERCO) has achieved a major milestone in commercializing the SilvaGas process, its biomass gasification technology, by successfully operating its commercial scale demonstration plant in Burlington, Vermont. FERCO designed and built the gasifier, the largest U.S. biomass gasification facility, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, who provided technical assistance and funding for facility construction and testing, and the Burlington Electric Department.

The facility attained full operation on August 11and converted more than 285 tons of wood chips into SilvaGas, a medium Btu gas that is substitutable for natural gas. The SilvaGas was piped directly to Burlington Electric Department’s McNeil Generating Plant, where it produced more than 140 MWh of electric power, enough energy to power 6,000 homes. “This breakthrough, made possible by an innovative public-private partnership, is a significant step forward in establishing a thriving bio-based products and bio-energy industry,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. “Furthermore, electricity generated from biomass will create additional markets for agricultural and forestry products and waste without harming the environment.”

“In proving the viability of this gasification process, we have taken a big step towards replacing combustion and incineration as the dominant methods for converting biomass into energy. The environmental implications and the role of renewable energy as an efficient and competitive energy source are substantial,” said Inge Fretheim, FERCO president and CEO. FERCO will now transition into a period of continuous operations of the gasifier to optimize performance parameters.

“This success demonstrates that the Vermont gasifier produces the same results as those achieved in more than 22,000 hours of operations at the 10 ton per day pilot plant. We may now proceed to the next level in our current negotiations for commercial applications of the technology,” said Milton Farris, FERCO COO. At the pilot plant, the FERCO SilvaGas process was the first to produce electric power directly from biomass in a conventional gas turbine.

FERCO develops and implements solutions that improve the global environment by producing clean energy from agricultural, municipal and forestry waste and other renewable resources such as energy crops. The SilvaGas process has demonstrated acceptance of a wide range of feedstocks, all of which can be converted into a clean burning medium Btu gas that can be used as a direct substitute for natural gas. The FERCO SilvaGas process coupled with a conventional gas turbine can convert biomass into electric power at twice the efficiency of conventional biomass systems while significantly reducing environmental impact compared to fossil fuel based power plants, including the elimination of net CO2 additions to the environment.