Biomass Company Prepares Waste Rice Straw Harvest for Ethanol

Colusa Biomass Energy Corporation (CBEC) announced the completion of its first-ever rice straw harvesting operation in Colusa County, California.

“Yields of rice straw were very significantly higher than expected, showing that our specialized equipment and field practices result in highly efficient collection of biomass,” said Field Operations Manager Rick Nannen of CBEC. Plus, he added, “Our process gathers rice straw without baling it. Avoiding the baling step significantly reduces the cost of gathering biomass.” CBEC had collected 6,800 tons of rice straw in a truncated harvest period of five weeks, with an average yield per acre harvested of more than 4 tons/acre, compared to previous assumptions of 2.5 tons/acre. These higher yields significantly reduced the amount of acres necessary to be harvested in order to reach CBEC’s target volume of rice straw. “Our average cash cost for collection of rice straw in this harvest was $9.44 per ton. In the full-scale harvest we will undertake in 2007 we are confident that total cost (including capital cost) will not exceed $24.00 per ton,” said CEO Tom Bowers. “This places us very significantly below the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s benchmark for biomass gathering costs of $30.00 per ton.”

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