Xcel Energy RDF project to develop scalable biomass to electricity technology

Researchers at the Center for Biorefining received $1 million grant from Xcel Energy RDF program. The three years project, led by Drs. Roger Ruan and Paul Chen, is aimed to develop and demonstrate innovative technology to convert Minnesota biomass to renewable electricity. The core of the proposed technology is fast microwave assisted gasification (fMAG). In the past, the researchers focused on microwave assisted pyrolysis of biomass, whose primary product is liquid fuel. Unlike biomass incineration, biomass gasification is cleaner and more efficient, and the produced syngas offers greater flexibility and applications in a wider varieties of power generation methods. In addition, gasification technology can be operated in scales suitable for distributed/decentralized power generation, and hence compatible with the distributed nature of biomass feedstock production. The key deliverable of the project is the construction and demonstration of a biomass to electricity equipment upon completion of the project.