Cole Gustafson, NDSU biofuels economist, and Igathi Cannayen, Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory assistant professor, have received $450,000 from the North Dakota Renewable Energy Council and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Mandan to establish the first dedicated biomass-testing laboratory in North Dakota.
The lab will be designed to test dimensional, thermal and physical properties of biomass.
Creation of the lab aligns with the NDSU Bio Energy and Product Innovation Center’s (BioEPIC) goal of fostering development of a biomass industry in North Dakota. BioEPIC already has created a searchable biomass inventory so prospective investors can evaluate potential biomass supplies in different geographic locations across the state. In addition, a decision aide, Biomass Compare, has been developed to help farmers and ranchers compare the profitability of biomass production with traditional farm enterprises.
Additional funding is being sought from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop biomass market standards, assist agricultural producers in forming a biomass supply network and developing a hands-on mobile biomass processing display to educate potential biomass suppliers on differing harvest and processing methods.
The Biomass Testing Lab will contain four primary machines. A universal testing machine will measure the force needed to compress, shear or cut biomass. A second machine will monitor the mass and temperature of biomass as it is heated in a controlled inert environment. A bomb calorimeter measures the energy content of various biomass samples. Finally, an environmental control chamber will enable storage studies of biomass in a controlled environment of constant temperature and humidity.
The Biomass Testing Lab will be located at the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service site in Mandan.