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Biomass Power :

What is It?

  • Biomass generation is the creation of bioenergy (heat and/or power) from wood or wood residues, agricultural food and feed crop residues, aquatic plants, animal wastes, and dedicated agricultural energy crops and tree farms.
  • The technologies utilized to create bioenergy include direct-firing, cofiring, gasification, pyrolysis, and anaerobic digestion.
  • Most biopower plants use direct-fired systems. They burn bioenergy feedstocks directly to produce steam. This steam drives a turbine, which turns a generator that converts the power into electricity. In some biomass industries, the spent steam from the power plant is also used for manufacturing processes or to heat buildings. Such combined heat and power systems greatly increase overall energy efficiency. Paper mills, the largest current producers of biomass power, generate electricity or process heat as part of the process for recovering pulping chemicals.
  • Co-firing refers to mixing biomass with fossil fuels in conventional power plants. Coal-fired power plants can use co-firing systems to significantly reduce emissions, especially sulfur dioxide emissions. Gasification systems use high temperatures and an oxygen-starved environment to convert biomass into synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The synthesis gas, or "syngas," can then be chemically converted into other fuels or products, burned in a conventional boiler, or used instead of natural gas in a gas turbine. Gas turbines are very much like jet engines, only they turn electric generators instead of propelling a jet. High-efficiency to begin with, they can be made to operate in a "combined cycle," in which their exhaust gases are used to boil water for steam, a second round of power generation, and even higher efficiency.
  • Using a similar thermochemical process but different conditions (totally excluding rather than limiting oxygen, in a simplified sense) will pyrolyze biomass to a liquid rather than gasify it. As with syngas, pyrolysis oil can be burned to generate electricity or used as a chemical source for making plastics, adhesives, or other bioproducts.
  • The natural decay of biomass produces methane, which can be captured and used for power production. In landfills, wells can be drilled to release the methane from decaying organic matter. Then pipes from each well carry the methane to a central point, where it is filtered and cleaned before burning. This produces electricity and reduces the release of methane (a very potent greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere.
  • Methane can also be produced from biomass through a process called anaerobic digestion. Natural consortia of bacteria are used to decompose organic matter in the absence of oxygen in closed reactors. Gas suitable for power production is produced, and possibly troublesome wastes (such as those at sewage treatment plants or feedlots) are turned to usable compost.
  • Gasification, anaerobic digestion, and other biomass power technologies can be used in small, modular systems with internal combustion or other generators. These could be helpful for providing electrical power to villages remote from the electrical grid—particularly if they can use the waste heat for crop drying or other local industries. Small, modular systems can also fit well with distributed energy generation systems.
Why Biomass?   
  • The various governments must

1. encourage sawmill operators to discontinue the use of beehive burners to dispose of mill waste, in an effort to improve local air quality. Biomass generation will replace beehive burners and greatly reduce the amount of particulate emissions discharges into the atmosphere.

2. Establish comprehensive biomass inventories to create waste to energy opportunities. 

Cardinal Energy Services aims to serve the public interest by providing cost-effective electricity through the efficient and environmentally responsible development of our energy needs using domestic wastes.

The Technology

  • Bioenergy technology in the province as it currently exists includes conventional boilers, Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB), and gasification.
  • The most common technology used today is conventional boilers in combination with steam turbines to generate electricity. This is generally referred to as the Rankine cycle. The conventional boiler vaporizes water to make steam, which is then used to produce electricity through a back-pressure, condensing or extraction turbine.
  • Emerging technology is focused on gasification. Woody material is gasified in an oxygen-starved vessel to make synthetic gas, or syngas. The syngas is oxidized in an adjacent vessel, which is then converted into steam in a heat exchanger. The steam is then used to generate electricity via a steam turbine, similar to the above technology.
  • The advantages to gasification include simple design, very low emissions (natural gas levels), high fuel flexibility, and low operating and maintenance cost. 

Public vs. Private Ownership

  • Biomass facilities tend to be small in nature (10 to 30 MW) but require significant capital commitment. The availability and quality of fuel over a long-term contract (typically 20 years) carries significant risk, which is best assumed by the private sector. Transferring the risk associated with construction and operation of these facilities is the best approach to protect ratepayers from cost escalations.
    Socio-Economic Benefits
  • Revenue stream for mill and roadside residues to mill operators, thus enhancing mill economics.
  • Economic spin-offs including local job opportunities.
  • Remote community electrification, eliminating the use of diesel generators in non-integrated areas.
  • Tangible carbon dioxide reductions.
  • Vast improvement in local air quality with the elimination of beehive burners and roadside waste incineration.
  • Provides clean, reliable power for areas with transmission or distribution reliability issues today.
  • Provides community recycling depot for wood-based materials.
  • Cardinal Energy Solutions currently limits its bioenergy production in Africa to wood and wood residues, as well as landfill gas collection. Future woody biomass sources include mill wood residues and roadside debris.







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