The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D., was awarded $2.9 million for three renewable energy projects from the Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund.

A total of 22 projects using biofuel, biomass, wind, hydroelectric and solar technologies was selected to receive nearly $23 million from the Xcel fund. The Xcel Energy fund is financed by ratepayers of the Minneapolis-based energy provider to promote renewable energy projects and companies in the company’s service area.

The EERC will conduct three research projects using the Xcel funding. The first will test a biotechnology to convert dairy manure into a biogas for heat or energy production. The second will demonstrate the performance of a mobile biomass gasification system to convert sawdust waste from Valley Forest Wood Products, Marcell, Minn., into methanol that can be sold as a fuel for remote-site power production. The methanol will be tested in a small-scale power system operated by IdaTech Inc., a fuel-cell-based power-systems company in Bend, Ore.

The third project will develop and demonstrate a biomass gasification system that combines a smaller-scale gasification technology with a near-commercial-sized gas turbine to produce a low cost, low-maintenance distributed power system for converting biomass to electricity. Each unit will produce about 30 kWe of on-grid power, which is enough to supply electricity to an average of three homes. This provides an economical solution for smaller-scale remote power generation.