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Burning wood instead of coal to generate electricity

Post in 'The Green Room' started by SlyFerret, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That would also work, though it seems less efficient to generate the gas to run a gas generator. Would this be as clean?

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  2. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    I checked this out a few months ago, and the other threads here on gasification. While running my car on wood gas didn't seem too appealing, running a generator did. But Victory seems only to offer what they call a gasifier platform, and then it's up to you to figure out how to turn the gas into electricity. That makes me think it can't be too easy.

    After reading a bit, it sounds like there are a lot of issues with tar buildup, etc, in the generator if it's not done perfectly. I'm sure it is a good project for a real DIYer, someone who is handier than I am. But it's not like buying a stove, plugging it into a chimney, and getting warm.

    I haven't seen any commercially available microCHP systems that run on wood. The unit from Honda that runs on natural gas looks pretty neat. My back forty has hickory, oak, maple, cherry, birch... but no LNG.
  3. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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  4. Oldmainer

    Oldmainer Member

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    Hello Folks...I think if our forests are managed correctly there will be plenty of material for lumber and power generation. Lets not fly off the handle yet...:) I believe there is enough coal...oil...gas...and wood chips to keep our bulbs burning for many a year. I believe the American public will have to be made to cut back at least twenty percent on power use in the coming years if we want our economy to prosper at all. My guess is the waste of power is off the chain and needs to be addressed in the coming years. Franklin
  5. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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    If you have a natural gas fired generator then a Victory gasifier is really plug and play. Tar is a problem if the temperature in the gasifier is to low and the filters are not working effectively.
    For commercial microCHP you will need to look in Europe at systems such as Sunmachine and KWB using small stirling engines. For larger natural gas generators 50kw to 2000kw there is a lot of options using either gasifiers or thermal oil.
  6. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Berlin has been a city in crisis for about 40 years. I remember driving through when the paper mill was running and even with the windows up you wouldn't believe the stench going into the river. Something tells me this was just a buy-out to shut them up when the paper mill closed. In order to save the town they built a prison, which was supposed to bring in a bunch of good jobs. Problem is the prison wouldn't hire anyone locally! Stiffed big time. So now someone is building an inefficient power plant, probably from subsidized money. Just call it our little bridge to nowhere.
  7. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Community CHP used to be very prevalent at least into the '60's. My dad over the years worked at several state institutions. He was the facility engineer. These originally had coal fired boilers that ran the generators and supplied steam heat to the many buildings. The steam lines, along with electrical and water lines, were in underground tunnels. Of course the steam lines had asbestos insulation. We lived on the grounds, our house had cast iron steam radiators, with a little vent device at the top to let moisture into the air during the winter.

    The demise of these units in part was the availability of "cheap" natural gas. First the coal fired boilers were converted to natural gas with coal backup, as natural gas would be cut on very cold winter days when demand was high. Later no coal at all was used. Finally, as electric power became very cheap, and maintenance of the old generators became difficult, electricity generation was stopped and the now natural gas fired boilers just provided steam heat.

    I think another reason for the demise of the coal fired boilers was the smoke. Huge plumbs of black smoke spewed out of the tall chimney when the boiler was fired and during maintenance operations. I don't remember the smoke being objectionable when the boilers were in full operation, but I suspect air pollution from coal became an issue.

    Today both Minneapolis and St. Paul have district heating but not power. I suspect, although I don't know, that electric generation was not included due to lobby pressure from the big electric power companies. It's also possible that when these were built it was less expensive to buy power from the big electric power companies with their huge coal fired generating plants located in the Dakotas and Montana, next to the strip mines, then build and maintain local generating capacity.

    The waste of energy through unused heat from a generating plant is astronomical. While it's easy to focus on that, that waste is equal or greater from all of our motor vehicle internal combustion engines, which burn fuel both to power the vehicle and to run the generator. Direct electric generation from heat, bypassing the generator, would seem to be a technological no-brainer, with the technology transferable to many other heat producing appliances -- micro grid-tied systems all over the place. Perhaps for another day when the lights are about to go out.
  8. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Assuming you live in PSNH territory, you will be contributing to the Laidlaw plant. PSNH may have to shut down one of their hydros (probably 3 or 4 cents per kw) so they can have the ratepayer subsidize a 15 cents rate for the plant.

    By the way, the papermill didnt cause the smell, the pulp mill did. It has been closed for about 5 years and it doesnt smell anymore. The prison will hire locals as long as they meet the Federal requirements for prison jobs anywhere in the US.
  9. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    How can you have paper with no pulp? I talked to a buddy who was in the paper biz and his main concern was the rollers. There are no forges big enough to make them anymore, so once the rollers get sold off that's it, too expensive to bring it back again.

    I read about 10 cent electric rates and it drives me nutz.
  10. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Apparently, there is a great abundance of recycled paper stock. I have a hard time believing that we have lost the capacity to make rollerrs...I beleive that some vendors may no longer be viable, but there are large custom fabricators who can make most anything. Of course, such work would not be inexpensive.
  11. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    If you want to talk papermills and pulpmills, I worked at both for about 20 years. As far as I know, everypiece of equipment required to make paper is still available. Most of it comes from offshore as there are very few new papermachines being built in the US. A lot of manufacturers have gone out of business or have been bought up. Generally the problem is that the original prints are not availlable so making a replacement requires reverse engineering of the old equipment. The technology has also changed radically so that the equipment currently used to make paper looks a lot different that some of the antiques that still are running.
  12. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    I was under the impression that the Wood Chip Power plant in Berlin is having difficulty because of a lack of transmission capacity. I was also under the impression that the waste steam was going to be fed into a pellet mill being built by Woodstone, but I've not heard much about it lately.

    Peakbagger- Did you ever work at the mill in Berlin? My wifes family lives in Berlin and of course, many of them worked in the mill. We went recently to the Moffet House Historical Center in Berlin an saw many old pics of my wifes grandfather working in the mill. The gentleman giving the tour through the museum knew him well and the curator of the place used to babysit my wife's uncles. They have some excellent pics of the old Nansen Ski Jump when it was functional. Scary as all heck too.
  13. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    I was the last engineer at the Pulp Mill and was there for the last "cook" of pulp. I also worked at the papermill.

    There are two biomass electric plants proposed for Berlin. Both are conventional type plants which extract as much power as possible out of the steam to generate electricity. The resulting waste heat is low grade stuff, probably good for growing tomatoes in greenhouses but not much else. The Laidlaw plant on the old pulpmill site has greenhouses shown on the adjecent property but no formal agreements have been anounced. They have announced that they will preheat the incoming cold water to the papermill in Gorham as the water for the papermill is drawn from the river north of the old pulp mill and sent via a pipe to the papermill in Gorham. There are some limits to what they can do as the pipe is uninsulated and buried shallow, plus it is fiberglass.

    The other biomass project is on the Berlin/Gorham townline across from the papermil. They plan to supply low pressure steam to the papermill via an extraction stage on the steam turbine, the remainder of the waste heat will go to a cooling tower. They also plan to reuse the discharge water from the Berlin municipal treatment plant for cooling tower water. They have also announced a partnership with a firm that gorws algae with the CO2 rich exhaust of a power plant plus supply them warm water. It is a much smaller project (29 MW vs 70 MW).

    Both projects have their supporters and detractors and there is active debate in the area as to which one should go.

    The smaller project has a spot on the ISO "queue" and most likely has transmission capacity reserved. The larger project doesnt have space reserved on the transmission line but they insist that there is minimal modifications required to obtain enough capacity. This is contrary to other studies of the transmission grid. There currently is a 100 MW windfarm going in this fall and next year that eats up 100 MW of transmission and second larger windfarm that is on hold pending a transmission upgrade.

    Even though I work on biomass power plants, I have no stake in either one of these projects.
  14. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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  15. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Very nice product John. Any info on the preparation requirements of the fuel, chips, chunks, pellets, logs? I am interested in a system that can utilize chips, as they are a common, and free commodity around here.
  16. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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    Dune

    If you look at the same companies video for the 10k instead of 100k machine it shows them stoking it with woodchips but I dont know what the moisture content would need to be.

    I am debating whether to get the 100k gasifier and connect to a secondhand Capstone C30 gas fired turboprop generator which I have found at a reasonable price.
  17. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    What would you do with all that power?
  18. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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    Dune

    In the UK you get paid for exporting it into the National Grid as green energy. Roughly works out at £1000 per year for each 1kw of generating capacity so 30kw machine should bring in £30,000 per annum. Main barrier is whether the National Grid can cope with the amount of export power and the cost of getting connected which is at least £20k just for connecting 3 wires and could be more if you need a transformer upgrade.

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