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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ON-FARM EVALUATION OF THERMOCHEMICAL CONVERSION OF KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS STRAW TO ENERGY

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this cooperative research project is to develop an integrated system for on-farm energy production from straw residues generated during grass seed production including the test of a farm-scale gasification reactor suitable for burning grass seed straw to produce high quality syngas that can be used to generate electricity and other value-added bio-based products to increase on-farm income. Using the seed production cropping system and a test gasification reactor platform, we will determine the most economic technical paths to overcome agronomic, microbiological, and physical chemical limitations to on-farm production of energy and other bio-based products.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
An integrated system for harvest, collection, storage and transport of the straw to a farm-scale gasification reactor will be evaluated for concept and related technologies of on-farm energy production from Kentucky bluegrass straw. The goal will be to develop an economical and integrated system that will result in the conversion of straw into a high quality syngas with a quality ratio around 12 (H2 + CO)/(CO2 + H2O) and net thermal-to-chemical energy efficiency in the 65-70% range. Documents NFCA with Farm Power.


3.Progress Report

The goal of this cooperative agreement is to evaluate the feasibility of bioenergy production utilizing a farm-scale gasification unit to process biomass from Kentucky bluegrass seed production. This research directly contributes to Objective 2, Sub-objective 2.2 of the in-house project. Straw from grass seed and cereal production in the Pacific Northwest has great potential as bioenergy feedstock but its distribution across the landscape at low density makes the cost of transportation to a large centralized facility prohibitive. We gasified Kentucky bluegrass seed mill screenings in a small-scale gasification reactor at a farmsite in Spokane County, Washington and found that the unit produced low to medium heat value syngas that had sufficient energy to replace approximately 75% of the diesel fuel required to power a 100 kW generator. The unit produced syngas with CO content up to 17%. This accomplishment led to final efforts to condition the syngas so that the system is appropriate for long-term continuous use.

The project was monitored through site visits, direct participation in research trials, meetings, conference calls, email correspondence and review of data.


Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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