Corn has long been used as a form of bioenergy, such as E-85 fuel, but there are three companies joining forces to create another corn-based energy product.
Ameren Missouri, Enginuity Worldwide and ECAP LLC announced a partnership Thursday at the Missouri Electric Cooperative Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds that will provide a new revenue opportunity for rural business and help diversify power generation fuel sources in Missouri. The partnership will create a new solid-engineered biomass fuel mix, made primarily from corn stover, or corn waste. The substance, which alone burns almost as hot as coal, will be mixed with regular coal to be burned at Ameren’s power plants in Missouri.
ECAP LLC, a farm cooperative representing more than 500 farmers statewide, with technology licenses from Enginuity, could build multiple fuel production facilities to manufacture Enginuity’s biomass fuel for Ameren to use in its systems. Ameren provides energy to more than 3 million Missourians.
“This is an exciting day,” said Warren Wood, Vice President of External Affairs and communication for Ameren Missouri. “We have researched several technologies and believe this technology could be a means to take advantage of Missouri’s enormous, but largely untapped agricultural biomass as an energy resource. We have conducted tests and the biomass fuel produced with Enginuity’s technology has the potential to meet our requirements.”
The biomass itself is formed by taking the waste from the corn, provided by ECAP LLC and given to Enginuity. Enginuity then takes the waste and puts it in a rotary compression unit where it is heated to create the biomass. That biomass is then co-fired with the coal by Ameren in its power plants. It take about three minutes and 20 seconds to process the biomass. Coal deposits take about 90 million years to form, said Enginuity CEO Nancy Heimann.
“It is exciting to be a part of evaluating something that has never been done on this scale with agricultural biomass,” ECAP LLC Chairman David Vogt said. “We are excited about what this new commodity stream could mean for Missouri farmers and their families.”
Wood said the new fuel mixture of coal and biomass will probably be used starting in 2017. He said it will help the coal burn longer and it is a renewable source of energy since corn is grown every year.
Tim Epperson can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1485.