Year-old biomass gas process may be more efficient than expected

ATLANTA, Ga., Aug. 1, 2001 à‚– A year-old biomass gasification process developed by Atlanta-based Future Energy Resources Corp. (FERCO) to help utilities meet their renewable energy requirements has been found to be even more efficient than first anticipated.

For competitive energy companies, the findings reported from the McNeil Generating Plant test site in Burlington, VT, could be an important breakthrough, reports the current issue of Energy Competition Strategy Report, published by Atlanta-based NHI Publications.

FERCO’s proprietary gasification process uses solid fuels, such as wood chips, municipal solid waste, and switch grass. The company converts the resulting biomass into a natural gas-like substance, called SilvaGas, which can be used as a direct substitute for natural gas. The FERCO process can convert biomass into electric power at twice the efficiency of conventional biomass systems.

SilvaGas also is said to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, compared to fossil fuel-based power plants.

According to industry experts, the process is likely to win acceptance among energy providers seeking to achieve renewable energy goals and for those coping with fluctuating natural gas prices. The cost of the SilvaGas now ranges from $3 to $3.50 per million BTU, and natural gas is trading between $3.50 and $5 per million BTU, according to FERCO’s CEO Inge Freitheim. “That puts us in an interesting competitive position,” Freitheim says.

The FERCO executive says along with its competitive pricing the biomass gasification process is versatile and responsive, qualities important for its future integration into distributed generation systems, such as microturbines or fuel cells.

Other highlights of this month’s Energy Competition Strategy Report include:

* Enterprise energy management, or demand response systems, combined with distributed generation systems can ease the nation’s energy supply and reliability, according to one Canadian energy company.

* Analyses of Northeast wholesale markets and U.S. regional transmission organizations reveal market flaws, barriers, and difficulties. ECSR explores what these problems portend for restructuring.

* The Texas pilot program, Texas Electric Choice, opened June 1, and many utilities and energy service providers had to accomplish considerable systems integration work to get ready for it. Middleware, tagged a “digital nervous system,” helped one of those companies, TXU, prepare for the launch.

* As companies streamline operations and cut costs to remain competitive, experts warn not to cut their Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.

Free three-month trial subscriptions to Energy Competition Strategy Report are available by sending an e-mail with your full mailing address to or calling 800-597-6300.

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