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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
2012 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. Seed screenings developed during the process of cleaning seed has relatively little value as livestock feed, but has potential as biomass feedstock for bioenergy production. We gasified Kentucky bluegrass seed mill screenings in a small-scale gasification reactor at a farmsite in Spokane County, Washington. The unit produced medium heat value syngas which accounted for approximately 35 kW of electricity at a feed rate of 180 pounds of screenings per hour. The syngas produced by the process contained up to 17% Carbon Monoxide (CO) content and the char produced as a coproduct had marked water holding capacity and extremely minute quantities of heavy metal or organic contaminants. This accomplishment led to field and greenhouse trials to evaluate the utility and value of char as a soil amendment and contributed to an economic analysis of on-farm conversion of seed screenings into electricity and char.


Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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