EERC uses coffee to brew up energy

By Editor


EERC uses coffee to brew up energy

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota announced it is working with Wynntryst, an energy solutions company, to develop a renewable electricity technology for coffee-processing plants.

The project aims to develop a gasification power system to utilize the waste from a coffee-processing plant to produce energy.

This project is an extension of work performed by the EERC for NASA, which explored the conversion of waste from a space station and future Martian and lunar bases into heat and power.

“The EERC is developing smaller-scale distributed gasification technologies as a means for converting biomass to renewable energy. This project is a perfect example of the EERC’s ability to adapt to changing market needs, as more and more industries, manufacturers, and municipalities look for ways to utilize modest quantities of available biomass residues for energy,” said Gerald Groenewold, director, EERC.

The project focuses on the waste from the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) plant. GMCR is a Wynntryst client based in Waterbury, Vermont, and is known for its Keurig brand of individual coffee cups. The waste stream includes coffee residues, plastic packaging, paper, cloth or burlap, and plastic cups.

The project is utilizing EERC’s fixed-bed gasifier (AFBG) system on the biomass residue mixture to gasify the complex mixture of waste and produce clean synthetic gas, or syngas. The syngas will then either be utilized in an internal combustion engine (or a fuel cell) for efficient production of electricity and heat or be converted to high-value biofuels or chemicals.

The pilot-scale tests will evaluate the quality of syngas that can be produced from the Green Mountain waste. EERC researchers will fine-tune the technology to meet the highest environmental standards possible.

“Over the years, the EERC has developed and tested numerous small gasifier systems like this on a variety of biomass feedstocks. The EERC system has already produced power by gasifying forest residues, railroad tie chips, turkey litter, and other biomass feedstocks and burning the produced syngas in an on-site engine generator. The coffee industry residues will be similarly tested,” said Chris Zygarlicke, deputy associate director for Research.

In early 2011, EERC announced  that a major corporate partner, Midwest Energy Emissions Corporation (ME2C), is launching a new mercury control system. The sorbent enhancement additive injection technology originally developed by the EERC is being installed at a major power utility on the West Coast and will be commissioned this fall.

By Team

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