Siemens Tests PetroAlgae’s Biomass Fuel

Siemens Energy this week said that it has successfully completed the first firing of PetroAlgae Inc.’s biocrude fuel, a plant-based, micro-crop biomass material that is processed into a solid residue. The biocrude fuel was combined with pulverized coal in a pilot-scale burner with a thermal capacity of approximately 4 MBtu/hour.

The testing was performed at a test bed installed at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, and results show that the biocrude/coal fuel mixture burned well, and produced 20 percent lower nitric oxide (NOx) emissions than coal alone.

In the pilot-scale test, which was conducted in a scaled-down version of Siemens’ current pulverized coal burner design, the biocrude was blown into the fuel injector separately from the pulverized coal. Some mixing of the pulverized coal and biocrude took place within the fuel injector prior to combustion of the mixture. Up to 10 percent of the total heating value was provided by the biomass in these tests. The testing showed that the biocrude was easy to handle and inject into the burner, unlike some other biomass fuels.

“This testing has demonstrated that our burners are exceptionally well suited to burn biomass fuel in combination with pulverized coal, providing utility and industrial customers a more sustainable and cleaner alternative to traditional fossil fuels,” said Tony DoVale, president of Siemens Environmental Systems & Services.

PetroAlgae’s technology is designed to increase the growth and productivity of micro-crops in large-scale, open-pond bioreactors, creating a biofuel of significant commercial value. The micro-crops absorb approximately twice their weight in CO2, and are harvested every few hours producing two products— a high-quality protein and a carbohydrate-rich biomass material that can be used for both co-firing in coal-fired power plants and as a drop-in replacement for petroleum-based fossil fuels.

Prior to the pilot plant-scale testing with Siemens, PetroAlgae conducted combustion testing at the University of Utah in a bench-scale burner with the biocrude providing up to 100 percent of the heating value. These tests were performed with and without external air staging, and they showed similar positive results in terms of handling, injection and burning.

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