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Modular Biomass Plants for Sustainable-Clean Energy and Jobs

Ulrich Bonne, PhD, CTO

MinneFuel, LLC, and partnersHopkins, MN



Executive Summary of Business Plan

With fuel outputs of 5-20 gallons/hour, this technology could potentially create >6,000 new jobs, over $3B in plant- plus clean-energy-sales, without competing with food production, and an over 5-fold ROI within 5 years after the main investment of $10M for set-up and subsidy for the first 10 plants. 


Modular, self-sufficient and trailer-mounted biomass plants can profitably form a network of local, distributed, small plants to convert “small” sources of residual biomass, from farm, forestry and bioprocessing operations, into renewable fuel or fertilizers. 


MinneFuel's small plants can compete with large biomass plants because of low-cost factory mass-production, debugging and testing, in addition to eliminating costly field-assembly and long-distance feedstock transportation. 


References  (Bottom of this page) 


Tables and Figures




Description of Product or Service

MinnePlantsä are designed to convert biomass inputs of 100 to 500 dry lbs/hour, into 5 to 25 gal/h of fuel, respectively. They will be offered for sale or lease, so that its users can derive additional income from their residual biomass, be it from farm, forestry (lumber, paper) or bio-processing operations.


MinnePlantsä, as illustrated in Fig.1[1], offer and combine some unique features.  They:

·   Provide sustainable sources of renewable energy w/o consuming fossil-energy at the plant

·   Complement rather than compete with food production

·   Are skid- or trailer-mounted, ready to operate at the location of available biomass residues.

·   Do not need hook-ups to local water, electrical power or natural-gas

·   Are capital cost-competitive due to factory mass-production (steeper “learning curve”), assembly and testing

·   Are product-cost competitive with products of large plants because of their lower feedstock cost, low infrastructure expenses before plant operations, low environmental remediation expenses, and low average labor costs

·   Feature small environmental impact because of: a. distributed, small and very local biomass feedstock transportation noise and traffic, and b. the gaseous and waste water emissions are so small that natural processes can neutralize and dissipate them.

·   Achieve high energy efficiency and competitive cost of plant and product, as protected by a pending patent:

-  Biomass is indirectly gasified with recycled steam at high temperature and pressure, to maximize syngas, and to minimize CO2, tar formation, and associated clean-up costs

-  Residual combustible gases from clean-up fuel both the electric generator and the burner for the gasifier

-  The gasifier burner operates safely with air at ambient pressure

-  Use of electricity-driven gas pumps and compressor is minimized by virtue of generating the first-stage bio-gas under pressure

-  Enough plant-generated combustible gases are stored to enable unassisted and automatic plant startup

-  Water from the combustion and gasification processes is condensed and recycled

-  Advanced state-of-the art design of individual plant unit operations, see Fig.1, comprising the

-  Gasifier, using materials of proven stability, strength at high-temperature and unique control scheme

-  Syngas cleaning based on high-pressure, gas-separation nano-technology

-  Gas-to-liquid conversion based on proven, World-class catalytic conversion, and

-  Liquid fuel refining based on new membrane technology

Unique too is the approach planned for manufacture of MinnePlantsä. Its parts will be procured via open bid from existing (tier-2) organizations, and delivered to the MinneFuel-contracted organization(s) (tier-1) to assemble, test, market and service the MinnePlantsä. 


Feedstock to MinnePlantsä may consist of any biomass chopped to ~2 to 3-inch size. A lock (see Fig.1[2]) or screw-press feeds the biomass into and against the 100-200 psia gas pressure in the gasifier reactor. The steam and gasification maintain the gas pressure while the generated raw syngas flows out and to the clean-up separator and water condensers. From there it is compressed and fed to the gas-to-liquid reactor (Fischer-Tropsch for gasoline and Diesel fuels, or Haber-Bosch for ammonia and related fertilizers). Ash from the gasifier is spread or sold as fertilizer additive and excess water condensation is minimized to maximize overall plant efficiency.



  [1] Tables and Figures at http://MinneFuels.PBwiki.com/Tables

  [2]  U.Bonne et al, “Niche for Small Residual Biomass Plants,” Minneapolis, 23Feb.’08, http://minnesotafuturists.pbwiki.com/f/PB-08-Futurists-14-April.pdf

  [3] George W.Huber  et al (U.Mass-Amherst), “Green Gasoline by Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis of Solid Biomass-Derived Compounds,” ChemSusChem  1,1–4(2008)

  [4]  Jerry Warner (founder of Defense Life Sciences, LLC), “Army to Turn Trash Into Power in Iraq,” AssociatedPress, 12 March 2008 http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,163802,00.html

  [5] A.Marsden, “Serpa Solar Photovoltaic Plant, Portugal,” Europ.SustainableEnergy Rev., 1  p.34 (2007)http://www.geenergyfinancialservices.com/press_room/press_releases/eser107_34-38.pdf

  [6]  Wim C.Turkenburg (Utrecht University), “Key trends in solar PV and wind energy development,”  Turkenburg2PP.PDF; referencing data by IIASA, Austria, May’00

  [7]  S.Phillips etal, “Thermochemical Ethanol….,” NREL/TP-510-41168, April’07

  [8]  U.Bonne, Resume at http://MinneFuels.PBwiki.com/Resume

  [9]  Glossary at http://MinneFuels.PBwiki.com/Glossary

[10]  ARI, Raman Laser Gas Analyzer, athttp://www.atmrcv.com

[11]  Raymond H. P. Miller (Forest Products Lab. Engineer, U.Wisc., Madison, WI),"Gasogens”

        Report No. 1463 for USDA, Nov. 1944 https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/dspace/bitstream/1957/1569/1/FPL_1463ocr.pdf

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