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Northeast Woody/Warm-season Biomass Consortium


The Business of Biomass - Case Studies of Commercial Success

NEWBio is creating informative and concise write-ups showcasing Northeast U.S. businesses successfully engaging in the "business of biomass" and contributing to the development of the renewable bioenergy and bioproducts supply chain.

Poised on the leading edge of the biofuel industry, Double A Willow is biding its time with involvement in a number of bioenergy, and bioeconomy, projects in the Northeast and Midwest U.S. Owners Dennis and Sue Rak have been breeding willow for over ten years, working closely with researchers at SUNY ESF and Cornell University. Double A's cuttings used for bioenergy are grown on 1,200 acres in Northern NY, operated by Celtic Energy. Other biomass for fuel projects are taking place at schools (East Lycoming (PA) School District, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School (Verona, NY), Colgate University (Hamilton, NY), and with a metals and mining company in northern Michigan. Double A Willow supplys plants for other commercial uses, too: living fences, streambank restoration, and phtyoremediation wastewater treatments. Read more.

With 120 years of design and build experience for agricultural equipment, it is no surprise that Case New Holland is at the forefront in the manufacture of specialized harvesting equipment for biomass. John Posselius, innovation engineering director for New Holland Agriculture, worked with researchers at SUNY ESF and elsewhere to develop a single-pass cut-and-chip harvesting system for woody bioenergy crops like shrub willow and hybrid poplar. (See NEWBio's Research Summary for more on this system.) New Holland's coppice header is a big step forward in the development of a renewable feedstock supply chains. Read more on the coppice header and the economics of its use.

Learn how Ernst Conservation Seeds (headquartered in Meadville, PA) re-purposed switchgrass biomass (left after seed harvest) into pellets for use as industrial absorbents for the oil and gas sector. The 50-year-old company, long a purveyor of native grasses for conservation, is expanding into the renewable energy and environmental protection sectors. "I think native grass biomass and forages hold a lot of potential, particularly when you look at the value of other ecological services that they provide, such as wildlife habitat, nutrient uptake, water purification and carbon sequestration," says Calvin Ernst, company founder. Read more.

Terra Green Energy, LLC
(in McKean County, PA) developed a torrefaction process that converts biomass into an energy-dense carbon carrier that can then be used in existing coal-fired power plants. The coal-fired electrical generation industry is changing, and Terra Green Energy is a part of that. "The synergies of co-firing have great value," says Tom Causer, Terra Green Energy President and COO. Burning torrefied biomass would help coal-fired power plants meet future carbon emission-reduction goals set by the U.S. EPA while still employing their valuable capital assets. Coal industry employees and the communities that host electrical generation facilities maintain their tax base and jobs. Read more.

NEWBio (consortium members below) is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2012-68005-19703 
from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
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