Xcel Energy Awards EERC $3 Million for Research and Development of Biofuel Technologies

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota was awarded $2.9 million for three renewable energy projects from the Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund.

A total of 22 projects featuring wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, and biofuel technologies were selected to receive a total of nearly $23 million from the Xcel fund. Nearly 100 renewable energy proposals were reviewed during this funding cycle.

“We are very proud and honored to receive these awards from Xcel Energy, which has been a key corporate partner for many, many years,” said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold. “Through the EERC’s Centers for Renewable Energy and Biomass Utilization, we are committed to the commercialization of new, innovative renewable energy technologies. This funding will certainly play a key roll helping us advance that.”

The EERC is leading three major research and development projects with the funding awards:

  • To test a novel biotechnology to convert dairy manure into a biogas for heat or energy production. The technology will utilize a specialized process to significantly reduce hydrogen sulfide, which typically produces foul odors in currently available technologies. Total project value is $970,558.
  • To demonstrate the performance of a mobile biomass gasification system to convert sawdust waste from Valley Forest Wood Products, Marcell, Minnesota, into methanol that can be sold as a fuel for remote-site power production. The methanol will be tested in a small-scale power system operated by IdaTech, Inc., a fuel-cell based power systems company located in Bend, Oregon. This project is valued at $999,065.
  • To develop and demonstrate a biomass gasification system that combines a smaller-scale gasification technology with a near-commercial-sized gas turbine to produce a low-cost, low-maintenance distributed power system for converting biomass to electricity. Each unit will produce about 30 kWe of on-grid power, which is enough to supply electricity to an average of about three homes. This provides an economical solution for smaller-scale remote power generation. Project value is $999,728.

“These projects exemplify the types of renewable energy technologies the EERC is focused on right now,” said Chris Zygarlicke, Deputy Associate Director for Research and manager of the EERC’s Centers for Renewable Energy and Biomass Utilization. “Tremendous effort is being put forth to develop new technologies that will utilize locally available renewable fuels for the production of heat and power where other traditional fuels are unavailable.”

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