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Table of content:


Biomass conversion process to useful energy
Electricity generation from biomass
The Verenium process
Process of Biomass energy production
Poultry Litter Power Plant
Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

What is Biomass?
- Biomass, a renewable energy source, is biological material derived from
living, or recently living organisms, such as wood, waste, and alcohol
- Biomass is commonly plant matter grown to generate electricity or
produce heat

Types of Biomass
Biomass energy is derived from three distinct energy sources:

- Wood

direct use
wood waste streams
(black liquor)

- Waste

manufacturing waste
landfill gas

- alcohol fuels

Corn & Sugarcane

Biomass sources
Simply defined, biomass is all plant material, or vegetation, either raw or
processed, wild or cultivated
Examples of Biomass sources:
- fast growing trees and grasses
- agricultural residues like used
vegetable oils, or corn
- wood waste like paper trash, yard
clippings, sawdust, or wood chips
- methane that is captured from landfills,
livestock, and municipal waste water

Biomass conversion process to useful energy

Conversion technologies may release the energy directly, in the form of heat or
electricity, or may convert it to another form, such as liquid biofuel or combustible
Three main processes:
- Thermal conversion: Combustion, Torrefaction, Pyrolysis, Gasification.

- Chemical conversion
- Biochemical conversion: anaerobic digestion, fermentation and composting

Biomass conversion process to useful energy

This method captures 65-70% of the
energy present in solid fuels by
converting it first to combustible gases
These gases are then burnt as we
currently burn natural gas, and create
The technologies for this synthetic fuel
are still new and therefore not quite
ready for commercial production.

Biomass conversion process to useful energy

Alcohol Fermentation
Starches are converted to sugar and
then to fuel alcohol
This alcohol is then distilled and

With this process, materials such as

wheat, barley and potatoes can be
converted to alcohol
Currently, ethanol is the product from
fermentation which is used in internal
combustion engines as alternative fuel.

Biomass conversion process to useful energy

Electricity generation from biomass

Electricity from sugarcane Bagasse in Brazil
This plant produces the electricity it
needs from bagasse residuals from
sugarcane left over by the milling
process, and it sells the surplus
electricity to the public grid
The production process of sugar and
ethanol takes full advantage of the
energy stored in sugarcane
Current production is 600 MW for selfuse and 100 MW for sale.

Sugar/Ethanol Plant located in Piracicaba, So Paulo State

Electricity generation from biomass

Electricity from sugarcane Bagasse in Brazil
- This energy is especially valuable to utilities because it is produced mainly in the
dry season when hydroelectric dams are running low
- for information:
- the residues of one tonne of sugarcane can deliver about 288 MJ of
electricity, of which about 180 MJ are used in the plant itself.
processing 1 million tonnes of sugarcane per year could sell about
5 MW of surplus electricity
At current prices, it would earn US$ 18 million from sugar and
ethanol sales, and about US$ 1 million from surplus electricity
- Moreover, bagasse is being sold for use as a fuel (replacing heavy fuel oil) in
various. For example, the state of So Paulo alone used 2 million tonnes, saving
about US$ 35 million in fuel oil imports.

Electricity generation from biomass

Production of Bagasse
- For each 10 tonnes of sugarcane crushed, a sugar factory produces nearly
3 tonnes of wet bagasse.
- Since bagasse is a by-product of the cane sugar industry, the quantity of
production in each country is in line with the quantity of sugarcane produced.
- For electricity production, it is stored under moist conditions and the mild
exothermic reaction which results from the degradation of residual sugars dries
the bagasse pile slightly
- A typical chemical analysis of bagasse might be (on a washed and dried basis):











Electricity generation from biomass

- Bagasse is often used as a primary fuel source for sugar mills; when burned
in quantity, it produces sufficient heat energy to supply all the needs of a
typical sugar mill, with energy to spare
- Ethanol produced from the sugar in sugarcane is a popular fuel in Brazil.
The cellulose rich bagasse is now being tested for production of commercial
quantities of cellulosic ethanol.
- VERENIUM Corporation (VRNM) is currently building a cellulosic ethanol
plant based on cellulosic by-products like bagasse in Jennings, Louisiana
- They are using a biotech approach to improve ethanol production above and
beyond the Midwest corn based ethanol production method.
- This will allow regional cellulosic ethanol production getting around the
problem of ethanol transportation.


Getting to Ethanol


Delivery and Storage


First-stage Hydrolysis of C5 Sugar Stream


Liquid / Solid Separation


Fermentation of Mixed Sugars


Fermentation of Mixed Sugars

Process of Biomass energy production

Plants produce biomass by a process called photosynthesis in which the energy

from the sun converts carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates and oxygen
Various types of biomass can be burned to produce energy

- When plant biomass is burned, carbon

dioxide is released into the atmosphere.
- However, the amount of carbon dioxide
released is not more than the amount
absorbed by the plant when it is growing.

- This is known as the carbon cycle and a

simple illustration of how it works is
shown in the figure..

Process of Biomass energy production

Energy from Wood
- In order not to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere it is
important that the total number of trees being grown never decreases.
- Coppicing involves cutting the tree back down to near ground level.
The wood, which is harvested, can then be used as a fuel and the tree grows
back until it is ready for harvesting again
The Cycle of Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) - Willow and Poplar

Process of Biomass energy production

Energy Crops
- Some agricultural crops are grown specifically with energy use in mind. Crops
such as wheat and oil seed rape are being processed to produce liquid
transport fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.
- Studies have shown how easy it is to substitute biodiesel for conventional
diesel in existing vehicles

Harvest of one year old Switchgrass at The National Energy Centre

Process of Biomass energy production

Energy from Waste
Agricultural Waste
- Other forms of biomass produced by farmers are by-products of conventional
agricultural activity.
- They include 'dry' agricultural wastes such as straw that can be combusted
(burned) to produce energy.
- 'Wet' wastes such as green matter or slurry can be 'digested' to produce methane
in a process known as anaerobic digestion.
- Some forms of municipal and industrial waste can be described as biomass such as waste food and waste wood.
There can be environmental benefits if these wastes are used to generate
electricity and/or heat such as the reduction of the demand for landfill space.


Vegetable Oil
E: Fatty Acids

G: Glycerin

A: Alcohol

refers to a vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of

long-chain alkyl (methyl, propyl or ethyl) esters.
typically made by chemically reacting lipids (vegetable oil, animal fat) with an
meant to be used in standard diesel engines and is thus distinct from the
vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines.
can be used alone, or blended with petro diesel.

- Blends of biodiesel and conventional hydrocarbon-based diesel are products
most commonly distributed for use in the retail diesel fuel marketplace.
- Much of the world uses a system known as the "B" factor to state the amount of
biodiesel in any fuel mix.
for example: B20
fuel containing 20% biodiesel
pure biodiesel
Blending B100 with petroleum diesel may be accomplished by:

Mixing in tanks at manufacturing point prior to delivery to tanker truck

Splash mixing in the tanker truck (adding specific percentages of Biodiesel

and petroleum diesel)

In-line mixing, two components arrive at tanker truck simultaneously.

Metered pump mixing, petroleum diesel and Biodiesel meters are set to X
total volume, transfer pump pulls from two points and mix is complete on
leaving pump.

- Biodiesel is commonly produced by the transesterification of the vegetable oil
or animal fat feedstock.
- Chemically, transesterified biodiesel comprises a mix of mono-alkyl esters of
long chain fatty acids.
- The most common form uses methanol to produce methyl esters as it is the
cheapest alcohol available.
- A lipid transesterification production process is used to convert the base oil to
the desired esters. Any free fatty acids (FFAs) in the base oil are either
converted to soap and removed from the process, or they are esterified using
an acidic catalyst.
- After this processing, unlike straight vegetable oil, biodiesel has combustion
properties very similar to those of petroleum diesel, and can replace it in most
current uses.

Since 2004 the usage of biodiesel started to take place worldwide in many
industrial countries.
As application we can find:
- Vehicular use: for example, Starting in 2004, the city of Halifax decided
to update its bus system to allow the fleet of city buses
to run entirely on a fish-oil based biodiesel
- Railway usage: The Royal Train on 15 September 2007 completed its
first ever journey run on 100% biodiesel fuel supplied
by Green Fuels Ltd.
- Aircraft use: A test flight has been performed by a Czech jet aircraft
completely powered on biodiesel.

- As a heating oil: Heating biodiesel is available in various blends; up to

20% biofuel is considered acceptable for use in
existing furnaces without modification.

better lubricating properties and much higher cetane ratings than today's lower sulfur
diesel fuels.
Biodiesel addition reduces fuel system wear, and in low levels in high pressure systems
increases the life of the fuel injection equipment that relies on the fuel for its lubrication.
The calorific value of biodiesel is about 37.27 MJ/L. This is 9% lower than regular Number
2 petro diesel
Biodiesel is a liquid which varies in color - between golden and dark brown - depending
on the production feedstock.
It is immiscible with water, has a high boiling point and low vapor pressure.
The flash point of biodiesel (>130 C, >266 F) is significantly higher than that of petroleum
diesel (64 C, 147 F) or gasoline (45 C, -52 F)
Biodiesel has a density of ~ 0.88 g/cm, less than that of water.
Biodiesel has virtually no sulfur content, and it is often used as an additive to Ultra-Low
Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel.

Material compatibility
- Plastics: High density polyethylene is compatible but PVC is slowly degraded.
Polystyrenes are dissolved on contact with biodiesel.
- Metals: Biodiesel has an effect on copper-based materials (e.g. brass), and it
also affects zinc, tin, lead, and cast iron. Stainless steels (316 and 304)
and aluminum are unaffected.

- Rubber: Biodiesel also affects types of natural rubbers found in some older
engine components.
Studies have also found that fluorinated elastomers (FKM) cured with
peroxide and base-metal oxides can be degraded when biodiesel loses
its stability caused by oxidation. However testing with FKM- GBL-S and
FKM- GF-S were found to be the toughest elastomer to handle
biodiesel in all conditions.

Influence on pollution
- This table show the average biodiesel emissions compared to conventional
diesel, where it is very clear that biodiesel is greatly friendly to nature & life.

Poultry Litter Power Plant

Poultry litter? What in the world is that?
- Poultry litter comes from chicken cages, which are kept dry with wood chips or
straw. The chickens poop on this material, which makes clean up easier. Farmers
used to throw away this poultry litter, but now they can sell it to generate

Poultry Litter Power Plant

The Fibrowatt Group
Poultry farmers sell their litter to a company in the United Kingdom (UK), Fibrowatt
Group. Fibrowatt operates three power plants, all which use poultry litter to
generate electricity. So far these are the only power stations in the world using this
biomass fuel! The company does have plans to expand worldwide. They are now
working on projects in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Germany, Spain,
Japan, and the United States.

Poultry Litter Power Plant

How it Works: Poultry Litter to Electricity
1. Poultry litter is collected from poultry farmers. The UK poultry farming industry
produces 1.5 million tons per year. It is driven to the plant in covered trucks.

Here the fuel is stored at negative pressure in order to prevent the escape of

3. The poultry litter is burned in a furnace at 850 degrees C or 1,500 degrees F

and heats up water.
4. Steam is produced at 450 degrees C.
5. The steam drives a turbine, which generates electricity. The power plant in
Thetford, Norfolk, UK produces enough energy to supply 70,000 homes.

Poultry Litter Power Plant


Poultry litter in the past would either end up in a landfill or be used as very stinky manure.


As stored poultry litter begins to decompose it can give off a dangerous gas called
methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas. Using the litter to produce electricity avoids
additional global warming.


No waste products are produced except for a nitrogen-free ash that is sold as a fertilizer.


Recycling carbon rather than producing new CO2 reduces CO2 emissions. This helps to
reduce the greenhouse effect.


In comparison to coal-fired power stations, only a fraction of carbon dioxide and nitrogen
oxides are emitted.


Dry litter is worth more than wet litter so farmers are motivated to improve the conditions
under which they care for their birds. Conditions that usually improve are: ventilation, drink
equipment, and feed quality. In addition, fewer birds are usually put in one cage.


The power plants provide work for many. During construction 200-400 people are hired
and 20-40 people are hired as permanent employees.

Poultry Litter Power Plant

Poultry Litter

Poultry Litter Power Plant

Poultry Litter

Poultry Litter Power Plant

Poultry Litter

Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

Aim of the project
The aim of the project is to demonstrate that bagasse can safely and reliably be
burned in high pressure boilers in order to produce large quantities of electricity
and supply them into a relatively small island grid. The plant is located at the
island of La Runion, in the location of Saint-Louis.

Photo 1: The power plant

Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

The objective of this project is the construction of a power plant that:
- will burn all of the bagasse (about 300 000 tons p.a.) supplied by an adjacent sugar
- will in return provide process steam to the mill (on average 124 tons per hour) as
well as 56 MWe of electricity to the grid of the island during the cane cutting
56 MWe
10 MWe to be used by the mill
46 MWe by the rest of the island
During the rest of the year the plant will operate as a normal power plant burning coal
and will supply 55 MWe of electricity to the island network.
This project is innovative in the sense that it recuperates energy from an agricultural
residue by applying an efficient combustion techniques to a bio-mass fuel which so
far has had only limited applications and has not been used to its potential.

Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

Technical Description
The basic idea behind this facility is to design a plant that can burn as efficiently as
possible all the bagasse supplied by the adjacent sugar mill as it flows in, with no
preliminary treatment. On the other hand the plant must also burn efficiently coal
under environmentally acceptable conditions.

Photo 2: The storage silo for bagasse

Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

Technical Description
The plant is fully automated and consists of:
two identical grate boilers (140 tons of steam per hour each) burning bagasse,
coal or a combination of the two fuels and producing steam at 82 bars and 525 C.
two identical steam turbines with their alternators, condensers, cooling towers of
power 31 MWe,

all the associated equipment like fuel handling, water treatment ash/slag ash
removal systems,
separate storage facilities for both bagasse and coal
The plant burns 290,000 tons of bagasse and 130,000 tons of coal per year while it
supplies 325 GWh of electricity to the public grid, and, 370,000 tons of steam and
27 GWh of electricity to the sugar mill.

Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

Plant Performance
- Normal operation with bagasse as a
fuel started on 25th October 95.
- In the last quarter of 1995 plant has
produced 30.9 million kWh on
bagasse for the grid and burned
93,000 tons of bagasse.
- During the first semester of 1996, the
plant produced 95 Million kWh and
burnt 55,000 tons of coal.
- Due to the demand for electricity on
the island the plant produced 230
GWh in 1996, 250 GWh in 1997 and
300 GWh in 1998.
Photo 3 : The storage facilities for the coal

Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

Plant Performance
The performance of the plant, based on the production capacity of the sugar mill is
given in table 1.
Sugar cane processed by the mill

300 t/h




Bagasse produced as residue

96 t/h




Bagasse consumed by the boilers

120 t/h




Steam produced by the boilers

280 t/h




Electrical consumption of the mill

9 MW




Steam supply to the turbines

275 t/h




Gross electrical production

63 MW




Auto-consumption of the plant

6 MW

Net production of electricity

57 MW




Ratio Bagasse/kWh





Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

Plant Performance
Table 2 gives the environmental performance of the plant for both boilers and at
different steam capacities





Steam flowrate(t/h)




















- From Tables 1 and 2, it can be concluded that the plant operates efficiently as
- The project has therefore solved two major problems for the island, elimination
of a residue which was previously burned in open fields creating environmental
pollution and supply of electricity to cover the needs of the sugar mill and the
island community

Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

Economic Performance
- The investment amounts to 980,6 Million ECU, of which 76,4 shall be supplied by
the BNPI.
- The operating costs of the plant are as follows (in million of French Francs):
Personnel costs

Management & various
Local taxes




Bagasse/Coal Power Plant

Economic Performance
The income of the plant is 170 million French Francs and it is based on the
following parameters:
300 GWh for the grid at a price of 40.6 centimes FF per kW,
30 GWh for the sugar mill at a price of 50.0 centimes FF per kW
400,000 tonnes of steam for the sugar mill at a price of 50 FF per tonne
and a fixed prim of 13.2 million FF.

The simple payback calculation of the plant results to a payback time of 7.5 years.