Are you seeking outlets for selling agricultural residues this year? Check out the updated Midwest Biomass Exchange website at www.mbioex.com – a free internet marketplace designed to connect buyers and sellers of woody and agricultural biomass. Users can place “For Sale” and “Wanted” ads for biomass that can be used as fuel for heating and power generation, or as feedstock for other manufacturing processes.

Updated from the former Minneapolis Biomass Exchange, the new site focuses more closely on biomass for fuel, and on serving the Midwestern area in the U.S. and Canada. MBIOEX is one of the most user-friendly web-based marketplaces for woody and agricultural biomass buyers and sellers. It includes a map showing approximate locations of buyers and sellers, and an email utility for registered users to contact other users about listings without giving out their work or personal email address.

“We hope that MBIOEX will help buyers and sellers connect via the website, increase the visibility of biomass fuel suppliers, and enhance the availability of information about potential sources of woody- and agricultural biomass,” said David Neumann, forest utilization and marketing specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We hope the site helps individual companies that are seeking fuel sources make connections with sellers, and that the site helps those that are considering biomass-fired heat or energy systems better understand the network of fuel providers in their area.”

While other web-based marketplaces do exist, they typically have few listings within North America and users must sift through all manner of items. All of MBIOEX’s listings, however, are for buyers and sellers located in North America, and it offers a simple, easy-to-use interface for searching listings. Also, the new site focuses solely on woody and agricultural biomass that can be used for fuel.

“Supporting the Midwest Biomass Exchange was a natural fit for us,” said Chuck Gagner, President of Heating the Midwest. “Our core values and beliefs are the same – we strive to increase awareness and usage of renewable biomass and thermal energy. Heating the Midwest is committed to continuing to enhance the functionality of the MBIOEX site to attract a broad user base across the biomass industry, and to ultimately establish it as a premier marketplace for buying and selling biomass.”

HTM plans to continue to enhance MBIOEX to improve the user’s experience and the value users derive from it. “The site helps buyers and sellers of biomass make connections and facilitates sales of woody and agricultural fuel,” says Neumann. “We’ll continue making upgrades that will make it easier, quicker to find listings, and clarify what kind of biomass it is, and what it can be used for.”

Future enhancements will also include behind-the-scenes upgrades, improving HTM’s ability to report website usage, volume and value of biomass sales facilitated, and types
of biomass sold. “We’d like to improve our ability to tell current and prospective users how the site is used, and what the impact or value-proposition to potential new users is,” says Neumann.

Another long-term goal for the project will be to seek financial support from the industry to fund routine annual maintenance and support for website upgrades. “We would like to recruit four or five sponsors to contribute about $500 per year to support the site,” says Neumann. “We plan to explore ways to recognize sponsors without impairing
site usability.”

Website revisions were supported by funds from the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Marketing Unit, and by partners including Heating the Midwest, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, the Michigan DNR, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. For more information about the site, see www.mbioex.com or contact Dave Neumann at neumannd@michigan.gov.