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Projects Updates for Topic: Biomass


  1. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (4.13.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Ximing Cai's [in attendance] vision for iSEE and SWATeams
    • Developing a recommendation to expand UIUC solar farm.
    • Developing a recommendation for another clean energy PPA
    • Cost savings for geothermal systems and opportunities for implementation at solar farm and new building sites
  2. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (3.30.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Performing preliminary assessment for clean energy PPA
    • Fact sheet using solar farm as basis to estimate land needs and costs of additional solar farm to meet iCAP goal
    • Update on biomass boiler at energy farm
    • Identifying opportunities to purseu implementation of ground source heat pump (GSHP) technology on campus.
  3. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (3.10.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Associate Director for Campus Sustainability Ximing Cai and his vision for iSEE
    • Biomass boiler at Energy Farm
    • Opportunities for Geothermal on campus
  4. Biomass Boiler at Energy Farm

    Construction is underway in Fall 2016 to install a 200 kW biomass boiler at the Energy Farm. This system will initially satisfy all heating needs for the greenhouse onsite, and will replace the current propane heating system. In the future, more buildings may be added to the boiler system.

  5. Our Budding Biomass Boiler

    Developing and implementing new alternative energy sources is essential to ending the era of fossil fuels and extreme carbon emissions. The more alternative energy sources available, the more potential there is for eradicating fossil fuels as the main energy source. Numerous different innovations have developed within the last few decades because of the massive increase in technology efficiency, and the U of I has taken the initiative to implement many of them. These strides toward alternatives increased after the university committed to cease using coal at Abbott by 2017. The replacement of this power will require as many alternatives available as possible in order to meet the growing need.

    Biomass energy is a great example of how the University of Illinois is converting to more renewable energy sources. Biomass can be used to create energy because it contains stored energy from plants that have absorbed energy from the sun through the process of photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, this stored energy is released as heat.

    In the Spring of 2014 the SSC funded, Field to Fuel: Biomass Heating on Campus. This project involved purchasing and installing a biomass boiler at the Energy Farm, in order to heat a research greenhouse using Miscanthus that is grown on the Energy Farm. The new biomass boiler arrived in early December, and installation is nearing completion!

    This project is exciting because it is the first biomass energy initiative on campus, and it will work to meet the carbon emission caps that are outlined in the Illinois Climate Action Plan. Additionally, with this project, they hope to demonstrate the feasibility of biomass on campus, engage and familiarize faculty and staff personnel with the design, installation, and operation of such systems with a view to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy production on campus, support the education and training of students, and create awareness in the larger community about alternative energy sources. The ultimate hope for the project is that a successful pilot will pave the way toward expanded use of biomass heating on our campus and greatly reduce our campus greenhouse gas emissions.

  6. BTUs and Costs of biomass vs Propane

    Associated Project(s): 
    1. Propane contains 91,333 BTU’s per gallon @ current price of $0.7858 per gallon = $8.60 / MBTU
    2. Miscanthus contains 14MBTU’s per ton @ proposed price of $50/ton = $3.57/MBTU

    Propane is 2.4 times more expensive to burn to achieve the same amount of thermal energy.

    ~Mike Marquissee, F&S Utilites and Energy Services

  7. Update from Ben McCall

    Associated Project(s): 

    Dear Tim,

    Some bad news to report.  The Revolving Loan Fund committee elected to defer consideration of the funding for the biomass boiler, because they were concerned that the operational and maintenance issues were not yet worked out.  This is not as bad of news as I first thought, because the RLF process is going to be revamped in the spring to be more of a "rolling deadline" process, so we should be able to go back to them sometime in the spring and get a quick response.

    Given the delay in RLF funding, it seems to make sense to delay our proposal to ICECF until July.  Another important consideration here is that the North Campus Parking Deck Solar project is evidently going to apply to ICECF in January, and there is at least some concern about submitting two proposals from campus in the same round.  Yet another consideration is that upon reviewing the ICECF form, we noticed that they are looking for a well-developed educational plan...and we have not really spent any time working on that.

    So I'm afraid we are in a bit of limbo here, until we get the O&M issues resolved and the MOU with F&S finalized. Hopefully we can tackle that in January, so that we're ready to go back to RLF as soon as their process re-opens.

    At least we've finally made great headway on the engineering work, and will have some real budgetary numbers to work with soon...!