A biomass energy equipment company has the ability to produce renewable electricity from scrap wood chips using a clean thermo-chemical process.

PHG Energy, LaVergne, Tenn., developed the process called gasification to produce a fuel much like natural gas, and then processed and purified that gas so it can be used to run a 1 MW Caterpillar generator. The successful demonstration took place at a Boral Bricks Inc. plant in Gleason, Tenn.

“We have trialed our gasification equipment producing fuel gas to fire large brick kilns here in Gleason as well as at two other manufacturing facilities in Georgia and Alabama,” says Tom Stanzione, PHG president. “We have more than 40,000 hours of successful gas production from waste biomass products on these gasifiers."

Boral is using six PH-8 downdraft gasifiers that convert wood chips to producer gas, which is piped directly into brick kiln burners for firing with 2 percent biochar residue. According to PHG's website, the gasification equipment uses wood chips with 25 percent moisture content. Feedstock input capacity is 48 tons/day and the producer gas output capacity is 24 million BTU/hr.

"This ongoing application of our gas generation system has been focused on accomplishing just what we did today, cleaning and cooling the fuel gas in order to generate power directly in a reciprocating engine generating set and putting that renewable power on the grid,” Stanzione says.

PHG’s gasification equipment can utilize many biomass feedstocks such as wood chips or foresting wastes, and it can take advantage of recycled waste materials from industrial and manufacturing operations.

“Our new generation of gasification equipment is truly industrial-grade,” Stanzione says. “It brings our customers the ability to reduce their use of fossil fuels, thereby their carbon footprint, and perhaps more importantly cut their fuel costs by 50 percent or better.”

The project to produce electricity has been supported over the past year through collaborative contributions and funding from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the ARES Program, which includes Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., and Boral Bricks, headquartered in Roswell, Ga.

PHG notes that Boral's Gleason site has realized the following benefits:
  • Fuel cost savings. The project uses $2mm BTU producer gas from dry $30/t woodchips vs. $8mm BTU natural gas cost.

  • Reduced reliance on fossil fuels. There is a projected 65 percent reduction in natural gas use.
  • Good capitalization. With quality feedstock, projected payback is less than four years through fuel cost savings.
For more information, go to www.phgenergy.com.