Wood Used to Make Waste Fuel
Turning Wood Wastes to Fuel
When you say renewable energy source, the military is not the first consumer group that comes to mind. However, the military is setting the trend for using wastes as raw materials for fuel production. In fact, the US Military wants to use renewable energy sources to solve two problems.
First of all, a renewable oil resource would decrease the costs for fueling jets, trucks, and other vehicles.
Second, waste fuels will eliminate the need to travel certain distances in order to deliver the garbage from the bases to proper waste management facilities.
Aside from these two main reasons, the military also wants a portable renewable fuel production system so that their bases can be more self-sustaining.
So what is this waste fuel made of? This waste fuel is not made of anything fancy or hard to come by. Its main components are wood and paper scraps. It also includes branches and stumps that are cut from trees, wood debris, saw dust, and other unused sawn lumber from construction sites. These forms of waste represent almost 28% of the garbage found in American landfills.
The military has just hired two companies that will create facilities to turn wood wastes into fuel. The first company, Diversified Energy, will create an efficient gasifier. This machine will convert these carbon-based wood scraps into a synthetic gas. This synthetic gas is composed of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
Another company, Velocys, will perfect the system that will create hyrdorcarbon fuel out of the synthetic gas. Together, these two facilities will turn military waste to usable fuel.
The military is not the first to consider turning wood waste into waste fuels. An organization called Biomass Canada is looking into using a similar technology to eliminate the problems related to managing wood wastes at saw mills and construction sites. Biomass Canada discovered that altogether, sawmills generated up to six million tons of wood wastes. By turning these wood discards into fuel, the need to pay for a garbage management service will be greatly reduced.
Although the project is still at the initial stages, Biomass Canada estimates that once their plants are operational, they would be able to convert 25 tons of wood pieces into 17,000 liters of Ethanol. This ethanol is deemed as a very clean-burning fuel. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United States confirmed this fact. According to the group, a mix of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol can already reduce harmful emissions by a whopping 54%.
According to Biomass Canada, a ton of saw dust will yield a product that is 2/3 ethanol. The remaining 1/3 can be treated by bacteria. These bacteria will produce methane as part of the digestion. The methane can then be processed and converted into synthesized gas which can later be refined into fuel.
In order to further the project, Biomass Canada is looking for companies that can afford to attach an ethanol plant worth $ 35 million dollars to their existing saw mills. While the initial construction may be costly, Biomass Canada projects that such an ethanol plant can earn up to $10 million dollars per year.