Project Summaries

 

BIODIESEL

Turbine power Identify oils that meet the performance, storage and economic requirements for turbine fuel.

Opportunity and idea:

  • Large supplies of low-value, unrefined vegetable oils are available.
  • Industry wants low-cost petroleum and natural-gas substitutes to fuel turbines.
    Partners:
  • Minnesota Soybean Growers and Soybean Research & Promotion Council.
  • Center for Diesel Research.
    Outcome:
  • Biodiesel meets the performance and storage requirements for turbine fuel.
  • Partly-refined soybean oil shows promise.
    Towboats on biodiesel Test biodiesel blends of 20 to 50 percent in slow-rpm towboat diesel enginesOpportunity and idea:
  • Environmentally-friendly fuels needed for river boats.
  • Fuel Mississippi River towboats with biodegradable biodiesel.
    Partners:
  • Minnesota Soybean Growers and Soybean Research & Promotion Council
  • Center for Diesel Research
  • Biotransportation
    Outcome:
  • Biodiesel blends can be used successfully with minor modifications in engines and fuel systems.
  • Fuel efficiency and emissions tests will be done in 2007.
    Burning glycerin Evaluate glycerin combustion emissions to see if the fuel meets Minnesota environmental regulations. Glycerin is a coproduct of biodiesel processing.Opportunity and idea:
  • Large supplies of low-value glycerin available.
  • New markets needed for expanding glycerin supplies.
  • Burn cheap glycerin in industrial boilers.
    Partners:
  • Minnesota Soybean Growers and Soybean Research & Promotion Council
  • Farmers Union Marketing and Processing Association
    Outcome:
  • Tests will be completed in 2007.
    Biodiesel off-roadTest the performance of B20 in ATV diesel engines.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Minnesota-based Arctic Cat is manufacturing a diesel all-terrain vehicle (ATV) that could run on B20.
    Partners:
  • Minnesota Soybean Growers and Soybean Research & Promotion Council
  • Arctic Cat
    Outcome:
  • B20 approved for use in Arctic Cat’s diesel ATV.
    ETHANOL
    Speedy ethanol Evaluate adding small amounts of beet sugar during ethanol fermentation to speed up corn-based ethanol manufacturing. Conduct three commercial-scale demonstrations with a 2 percent sugar addition.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Minnesota’s sugar beet industry produces excess sugar, which has a low value on world markets.
  • Use excess sugar to speed up corn starch fermentation in ethanol processing.
    Partners:
  • Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in Renville, Minn.
  • CornPlus Ethanol in Winnebago, Minn.
    Outcome:
  • Average fermentation time cut by three hours.
  • Average ethanol yield increase of 1,500 gallons per batch.
    Expanding ethanol’s reach Develop a 65-million-gallon corn dry mill, the first ethanol plant in northwest Minnesota. Project helped assess plant feasibility, prepare a business plan and organize an equity drive.Opportunity and idea:
  • Corn production is expanding in northwest Minnesota.
  • Ethanol demand is strong.
  • Federal and state biofuel incentives are available.
  • Help Otter Tail County-area growers plan a 65-million-gallon corn ethanol plant.
    Partners:
  • Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council
  • Otter Tail Ag Enterprises, LLC
    Outcome:
  • $100 million+ ethanol plant broke ground in late 2006 and will begin production in early 2008.
  • The project attracted 877 rural Minnesota investors.
    Ethanol up north Determine the feasibility of a 70-million-gallon corn or barley ethanol plant in Polk County, prepare a business plan and select a siteOpportunity and idea:
  • Corn production is expanding in northwest Minnesota.
  • Ethanol demand is strong.
  • Federal and state biofuel incentives are available.
    Partner:
  • Agassiz Energy, LLC
    Outcome:
  • Initial planning and permitting finished on a corn dry mill.
    WIND POWER
    Wind plus biodiesel

    Evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of supplementing wind power with electricity from a biodiesel generator.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Minnesota wind-power capacity is expanding.
  • Continuous, reliable wind power is needed.
  • Federal and state wind power incentives are available.
  • Electric companies are offering premiums for firm, renewable power.
  • Supplement intermittent wind power with on-site electrical generator sets powered by biodiesel.
    Partner:
  • Minnesota Soybean Growers and Soybean Research & Promotion Council
    Outcome:
  • Feasibility study identified conditions for profitable cogeneration.
  • Demonstration of cogeneration planned for 2007, in cooperation with Excel Energy.
    Wind power primer Prepare a handbook to guide development of community wind projects, outlining organizational structures, business planning, permitting, financing and other issues.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Demand for Minnesota wind power is expanding.
  • New state wind-power incentives are available for community-owned wind projects.
  • Minnesota farmers are interested in building wind farms.
    Partners:
  • Rural Minnesota Energy Board
  • Windustry
  • Southwest Minnesota Foundation
  • Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council
    Outcome:
  • Lower wind-power development costs.

    BIOMASS GASIFICATIONChaff gas Test grass seed chaff gasification and evaluate the economic feasibility.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Seed cleaning plant is paying to dispose of grass seed chaff.
  • Gasify chaff on-site to produce syngas to run the seed plant.
    Partner:
  • Northern Excellence Co-op in Williams, Minn.
    Outcome:
  • Grower co-op is seeking financing for 100-kilowatt gasification unit.
  • Estimated three-year payback on $150,000 investment.
    Corn stover to ethanolEvaluate the economic and technical feasibility of making ethanol through gasification of corn stover and catalytic conversion.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Large supplies of corn stover and other agricultural biomass are available.
  • New ethanol feedstocks are needed to meet future ethanol goals.
  • Convert corn stover to liquid biofuels through gasification and Fischer-Tropsch catalysis.
    Partner:
  • Rural Energy Marketing, LLC in Luverne, Minn.
    Outcome:
  • Luverne grower group is planning a biomass gasification plant to make methanol, a biofuel.
    More than ethanolFind profitable uses for any excess syngas produced by Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op’s wood gasification unit.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Northern Minnesota ethanol plant is gasifying waste wood to run dryers and produce electricity.
  • Plant could produce excess syngas in the future.
  • Pipe excess syngas and steam to the city industrial park.
    Partner:
  • Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op in Little Falls, Minn.
    Outcome:
  • Currently ethanol plant is using all its syngas.
  • Little Falls is exploring use of other renewable energy resources.
    Gasifying beet pulpEvaluate gasifying sugar beet pulp for syngas to run American Crystal Sugar’s dryers.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Large supply of low-value sugar beet pulp is available.
  • Sugar industry needs cheaper natural-gas substitutes.
  • Gasify coproduct beet pulp on-site to make syngas for running dryers.
    Partner:
  • American Crystal Sugar
    Outcome:
  • Gasification is not economical for American Crystal Sugar.
  • Dryer technology improvements identified during the study will save the grower co-op more than $1 million per year.
    ANAEROBIC DIGESTION
    Moving methane Study the feasibility of making methane on small dairy farms through anaerobic manure digestion and transporting the methane in containers to off-farm users.

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Industry needs cheaper substitutes for natural gas.
  • Small dairy farms want to add value to manure.
  • Collect methane from anaerobic manure digesters on small dairy farms and sell it to off-farm users.
    Partner:
  • Minnesota Corn Growers Research & Promotion Council
    Outcome:
  • Over-the-road methane shipment not currently economical.
  • On-farm use for methane needed for profitable manure digestion.
    Methane in the pipelineEvaluate the economics of transporting methane from a 5,500-cow dairy farm by pipeline to Morris, Minn. industrial park

    Opportunity and idea:

  • Industry needs cheaper substitutes for natural gas.
  • Large dairy farms want to add value to manure.
  • Use manure anaerobic digestion to produce large quantities of pipeline-quality methane for city industrial park
    Partners:
  • West River Dairy of Morris, Minn.
  • City of Morris
    Outcome:
  • Pipeline methane transport is not currently economical.
  • On-farm use for methane needed for profitable manure digestion.

    RENEWABLE ENERGY COPRODUCTSBetter turkey dinner

    Test ways to separate oligosaccharides from soybean meal, test fermentation traits of extracted soybean sugars, and do poultry-feeding trials on soybean-meal fraction.

    Opportunity:

  • Large supplies of soybean meal are available.
  • Ethanol industry needs new feedstocks to meet future ethanol goals.
  • Minnesota turkey industry needs high-protein, low carbohydrate soybean meal feed.
  • Extract certain sugars from soybean meal to make a more desirable turkey feed.
  • Use the extracted sugars to make ethanol.
    Partner:
  • Minnesota Soybean Growers and Soybean Research & Promotion Council Desired outcome:
  • More demand for Minnesota soybean meal.
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