NEF builds energy crop bioproducts facility
By Dave Harrison
Sept. 21, 2011, Leamington, Ont. – New Energy Farms (NEF) has constructed North America’s first energy crop bioprocessing facility. The 30,000-square-foot facility will convert locally grown energy crop biomass into a range of high-quality, but low-carbon NEF bioproducts.
In addition to producing low-carbon products, the building also generates 265 kW of electricity from its array of roof solar panels.
|The new facility has roof solar panels. PHOTOS COURTESY NEW ENERGY FARMS|
The site is being developed by NEF partners Pyramid and Prism Farms, which operate 30 acres of greenhouse vegetable production locally and use all the current products. As an example, the greenhouses are fully heated from 25,000 tons of biomass, including miscanthus.
The facility is in a region of greenhouse vegetable production and output is aligned to local market needs, producing heating fuel, growing media and fully biodegradable food packaging for more growers.
The facility utilizes the 1,000 acres of miscanthus already established by NEF in an eight-kilometre radius around the facility, the largest single planting in North America. All crops have been established with fully automatic drills demonstrating the current scalability of this crop.
The site uses patented technology to fractionate the biomass from locally grown miscanthus, to produce the right fibre quality for each of the different products. The site is fully vertically integrated utilizing the locally grown energy crop, some of which is registered organic for use in future food packaging products.
|Miscanthus is being grown locally for the new processing plant.|
Products will be about the same prices as other fossil fuel alternatives, but will deliver significant benefits. These include significant carbon reductions, and also the ability to reduce the import of these products from outside of the region and North America, thereby creating local job and financial benefits. The specific products being produced are:
• Green heating fuel – Compacted heating products for use in direct combustion systems to directly replace coal and oil, leading to reductions of over 95 per cent in CO2 emissions compared to coal.
• Biopackaging – Food packaging for delivery and display of greenhouse produce, to directly replace fossil fuel and imported products. It’s produced from 100 per cent miscanthus grass, locally grown, organic and virgin material.
• Growing media – Direct replacement for imported and fossil fuel-based growing media, to be used in local greenhouses for producing vegetable crops.
ANOTHER FACILITY ON DRAWING BOARD
NEF has identified a site in Georgia and an announcement will be made shortly of a rollout of these facilities in the U.S. The sites will be set up in each region to produce a range of products required for local markets. The process for producing food packaging can be applied to virtually any other compression or injection-moulding product.
• 519 326 7293, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Tina Janzen of NEF, with biopackaging examples|