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Category Archive: Biomass

  1. Mapleton Companies Developing Bio-Coal Technologies

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    Businessmen Norm Miller and Dan Skolness have invested more than $1 million in three Mapleton-based start-up companies – BIONRG Inc., InvenTus, and Macro Fab – for producing and selling clean coal and biomass-related products. According to Miller, the bio-coal he produces, while more expensive, contains 20 percent more BTUs than traditional coal. The company plans to expand from seven employees to twenty-five employees by the end of the year. Read more in Prairie Business Magazine.

  2. Bright Future for Bio-Industry

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    North Dakota State University hosted the Future of the Bio-Industry Action Summit last week, and presenters showcased growing potential for bio-based products and industries.  Fargo consultant Neil Doty told the audience that 40 percent of North Dakota’s corn crop is currently used in ethanol production.  Doty noted that the global market for fermented products from corn is more than $22 billion.  Retired USDA Economist Marv Duncan said that for the bio-products industry to be successful, it must meet the test of “price, performance and measurable environmental benefits.”  Read more in the Grand Forks Herald.


  3. Niobrara Formation to be explored

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    Strata-X Energy has acquired several permits to explore the potential for shallow natural gas in Emmons and McIntosh counties. Lynn Helms, of the Department of Natural Resources Oil and Gas Division, said that “it’s rare to see permits issued so far east of Highway 83.” He was not able to share additional information because the permits have confidential status until six months before drilling will begin. This will be the second time that the area has been explored for natural gas. The first time was in 2006. See the full article in the Bismarck Tribune.

  4. Natural gas a growing opportunity for Fargo

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    The City of Fargo is exploring the advantages of using natural gas in their city vehicles, which would include busses and garbage trucks. City Commissioner Mike Williams said that “It burns cleaner, it has more power and it’s cheaper.” They are currently working through several obstacles with the plan, including a lack of fueling stations in the city, which cost roughly $1 million per station. Read more from Minnesota Public Radio.

  5. Ethanol plant to break ground near Jamestown

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    On Friday, August 9, 2013, Great River Energy will break ground on a new ethanol plant near Jamestown. The company has been planning for a new ethanol station for two years, and are finally ready to move forward with the plant. It will start producing ethanol from corn, and the company plans to have the plant online by January of 2015. Read more in the Jamestown Sun.

  6. Clean Energy report released

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    The Pew Environment Group released its latest publication on the progress of the clean energy sector around the world. Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race: 2012 Edition takes a look at how the United States stacks up against the rest of the world, falling by 37 percent in investments during the reporting period from the previous year. The clean energy sector worldwide declined 11 percent in investments to $269 billion, though total investment in 2012 was five times greater than 2004. Read the downloadable report and press release at Pew Environment Group’s website.

  7. Beet juice researched for ethanol potential

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    Researchers involved with the energy beet study at North Dakota State University have been investigating long-term storage techniques in order to use energy beets for ethanol production throughout the year. The researchers from the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering have been studying energy beets since 2010, and results indicate that creating a concentrated beet juice through evaporation could be an effective technique in preserving fermented sugar for ethanol production. See the article in the Farm and Ranch Guide.

  8. Bioenergy training launched with help from local professor

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    Dr. Igathi Cannayen

    Dr. Igathi Cannayen

    Every Wednesday, Bismarck State College (BSC) gets to claim Dr. Igathinathane Cannayen, North Dakota State University (NDSU) professor, as its resident biomass feedstock engineering expert. Through an agreement with the two educational institutions and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan, N.D., Dr. Cannayen works one day a week at the BSC National Energy Center of Excellence and the remaining days of the workweek conducting research on North Dakota switchgrass in his Mandan lab. The goal of the partnership is to research whether the hardy native grass can be used as an energy crop, as well as develop educational materials.

    Because of his expertise, Dr. Cannayen, assistant professor with NDSU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, was tapped to help develop course materials with a consortium of educational institutions located throughout the Midwest, including NDSU. The project was funded through a grant from the USDA for creating an educational initiative on alternative energy and sustainability.

    What the consortium created was the Bioenergy Training Center, a comprehensive online learning tool that’s free to public. It’s divided into three courses, the first of which is now available and focused on bioenergy and sustainability. Each course is broken down into modules that contain a few chapters with a quiz at the end with answer key and explanations. Cannayen said that the goal was to make the content easy to understand by the general public.

    “It’s very nice information in a very simple language,” Cannayen said. “And this information is authentic, because it was all developed by university professors who are experts in that field.”

    Earlier this month, Dr. Cannayen attended a “train the trainer” workshop for the curriculum partners. It was held for the extension specialists that helped develop and review the materials.  Now they need to spread the word that it’s available. The partners encourage its use by anyone and everyone for presentations, college coursework, or general curiosity.

    “One great thing that I found [about this program] is in the whole bioenergy spectrum, I am working on one specific field – biomass preprocess engineering,” Cannayen said. “There are so many other things, like life-cycle analysis, water, land replacement, for example, that I don’t study. But when we go through this material, it is quite easy to grab the whole thing.”

    Cannayen said that the University of Wisconsin Extension wrote the grant and won the funding. They then collaborated with professors and extension specialist from the partners, listed below (see the specific contributors here):

    University of Illinois
    Iowa State University
    Kansas State University
    Michigan State Extension
    University of Minnesota
    University of Missouri
    University of Nebraska
    North Dakota State University
    South Dakota State University
    University of Wisconsin
    eXtension Sustainable Agriculture Energy Community of Practice

    Discover the Bioenergy Training – Modular Course Series here and see if you can pass the test.

    You may be interested in:
    North Dakota State University Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
    USDA Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory