EERC: Project to generate heat and power from biomass

The Energy & Environmental Research Center and Cummins Power Generation develop a demo project for heat and power from biomass.


The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) of the University of North Dakota, together with Cummins Power Generation, Inc., has started developing a demonstration project for the production of heat and power from high-moisture biomass.

Cummins Power Generation is a Minnesota-based world-leading designer and manufacturer of power generation equipment. The company has supplied the electrical generator for the project, which is a major component in producing 35 to 40 kilowatts of power each day, enough for a single home.

"We are extremely pleased by the level of commitment Cummins Power Generation has made to this project and want to express our thanks to Cummins for providing the technology necessary to make this demonstration possible," stated EERC Director Gerald Groenewold. "A system such as this will provide a first step toward providing commercial entities the motivation to utilize opportunity fuels for energy generation."

"The Cummins generator, which normally runs on natural gas, has been modified to run on synthetic natural gas (syngas) produced by an EERC-developed advanced gasification unit," commented EERC Research Scientist and Project Manager Nikhil Patel.

EERC developed a gasification unit, which can convert various fuels, such as forestry, agricultural and industrial biomass waste, such as animal waste, waste plastics and railroad ties or cable poles, in addition to a range of coals, into clean syngas. Cummins and EERC technologies can collaboratively work together as a gasification-based combined heat and power technology with several applications.

"Depending on the circumstances, this combined technology could help industries, farms, and many waste-producing facilities in meeting their own energy needs while utilizing fuels that have disposal costs and liabilities. Users of the technology would also be able to sell green energy back to the power grid, which would provide a financial benefit," stated Patel.

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