We Could Power and Heat all of Western Canada's homes on Straw.

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We Could Power and Heat all of Western Canada's homes on Straw.

Jan 13, 2020 | 11:56 1 The petty arguments about solar panels and wind vs. gas.


We have the technology through syngas, and the resource, through straw, to heat all of western Canada carbon-neutral.


At under 5 cents a Kwh.


The will just isn't there.

And the skill, perhaps.


Food for thought.


PS: IF this turns into another renewables bashing or climate change argument thread, I'm deleting the whole thing. Reply With Quote

  • Jan 13, 2020 | 12:06 2 ;The naysayers will point out that by removing the straw, we are not sequestering the CO2. And as a result, building OM in our soils.

    But studies seem to indicate that after enough years of continuous no-till, OM levels increases level off, and sequestration also slows or stops, as the soils become saturated to their holding capacity. So perhaps this idea isn't as unsustainable as it sounds at first glance. Reply With Quote
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  • makar's Avatar Jan 13, 2020 | 12:12 3 Never could work, straw board and pellet plant both went broke here, with 30 to 40 dollars in nutrients in a bale makes no sense. Reply With Quote

  • Jan 13, 2020 | 12:15 4
    Quote Originally Posted by makar View Post
    Never could work, straw board and pellet plant both went broke here, with 30 to 40 dollars in nutrients in a bale makes no sense.
    But, can they be recovered in the burning process? The nutrients certainly aren't destroyed.

    Or more importantly, can the straw be baled, hauled, processed, the nutrients salvaged, and then hauled back to the land and spread for less energy than what would be recovered by burning it? Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 12:16 5 Are you talking huge units, community, or on farm? I have seen tonnes of flax straw baled, ready to be burnt in our area. Definitely enough waste to do some power generation. Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 12:27 6 How many kWh can a tonne of straw produce? The organic matter of straw is highly valued to me and especially the cows when the windchill is -42 like it has been for a couple days already. What is the byproduct of this process?

    Side note
    The price of wood chips used to be $700 a load here and now is around $2,000 after a pellet plant opened up in the area and ships them overseas. One of the unforeseen aspects to an outsider.

    Interesting idea Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 12:47 7 We are part of this study in Manitoba, I just posted some excerpts...


    This is on flax straw. Assuming 0.62 metric tonne per acre yield.

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    Large scale plants. Well, medium scale so that they don't require trucking straw 100 miles.

    It is very common in Europe.

    And yes, wood chips, sawdust... all that can be turned into energy.

    Modern straw burners aren't just a big uncontrolled fire. They are computer controlled, primary pyrolysis creates the syngas, which is then burn under extreme temperatures creating lots of efficient heat/power.


    The byproduct is biochar, which is a soil amendment for light/sandy/wethered soil... Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 12:56 8 Looks like biochar can preserve less than half of the nutrients.

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    And according to this abstract, increasing pyrolisis temperature increased the yield of P and K, at the expense of N.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publica...C_TEMPERATURES Reply With Quote
    blackpowder's Avatar Jan 13, 2020 | 13:39 9 Sorry, but could we then not make syngas from coal? Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 13:40 10
    Quote Originally Posted by AlbertaFarmer5 View Post
    Looks like biochar can preserve less than half of the nutrients.

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    And according to this abstract, increasing pyrolisis temperature increased the yield of P and K, at the expense of N.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publica...C_TEMPERATURES

    At a cost of $0.0453/kwh, you could pay the producer $80/acre for the straw to recover nutrients...

    One of the companies we deal with builds biogas reactors. They convert wood (we want one that works on straw) to syngas, produce heat as a byproduct, and the biogas runs an internal combustion engine similar to one run on Nat. gas.


    These reactors can easily be used to produce fuel for grain dryers also.

    Negating the carbon tax, and reliance on fossil fuels...

    In our area there's still stubble burning to get rid of trash so you can seed... That's all wasted energy. Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 13:41 11
    Quote Originally Posted by blackpowder View Post
    Sorry, but could we then not make syngas from coal?
    Yes, but you're back to using fossil fuels, and it's very dirty and bad for the environment... Plus you're introducing new CO2 not reusing it, and it's not a renewable fuel source. Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 14:05 12
    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyr View Post
    At a cost of $0.0453/kwh, you could pay the producer $80/acre for the straw to recover nutrients...

    One of the companies we deal with builds biogas reactors. They convert wood (we want one that works on straw) to syngas, produce heat as a byproduct, and the biogas runs an internal combustion engine similar to one run on Nat. gas.


    These reactors can easily be used to produce fuel for grain dryers also.

    Negating the carbon tax, and reliance on fossil fuels...

    In our area there's still stubble burning to get rid of trash so you can seed... That's all wasted energy.
    Yes, but the nutrients we buy with the $80 per acre are not sustainable or renewable. They either come from a hole in the ground, or come from natural gas. And are not as stable in the soil. Not arguing the economics, but selling it as a sustainable alternative is going to be tough. Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 14:36 13
    Quote Originally Posted by AlbertaFarmer5 View Post
    Yes, but the nutrients we buy with the $80 per acre are not sustainable or renewable. They either come from a hole in the ground, or come from natural gas. And are not as stable in the soil. Not arguing the economics, but selling it as a sustainable alternative is going to be tough.


    Nitrogen is fully renwwable.

    If we look at nutrient recovery from cities we would be a lot closer also on P.

    The point is 99% of flax straw gets burnt. Lots of cereal straw gets burnt.

    We get nothing out of that its a completely wasted resource.


    Also theres a few studies now showing that straw removal isnt taking very much for nutrients or OM, at least not compared to what we thought...

    Roots chaff and stubble is all there still. Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 17:39 14 Syngas is not a new idea. Seen articles about trucks and tractors running on wood years ago. FWIW the equipment needed to do this isn’t super complex but to do a super efficient job probably is. A stationary unit running an engine producing electricity would be interesting to say the least. Reply With Quote
    Jan 13, 2020 | 18:23 15 You might as well burn it if your not going to get a credit to sequester it. Reply With Quote

  • Jan 14, 2020 | 00:30 16 Done a bit more reading on this and wondered how feasible it would be to completely power a grain drying system on straw gas? Power a generator to run electric motors and run the burner. Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 07:19 17
    Quote Originally Posted by blackpowder View Post
    Sorry, but could we then not make syngas from coal?
    Or refinery coke.....????
    I thought there was talk of using it? Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 09:46 18 Great ideas boys but like anything that gets started it’s the initial setup that’s the killer. Need deep pockets or government backing to keeping it rolling through the first rough spot. That’s usually about the time the money runs out or government abandons u. Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 11:38 19 You need to understand the electrical grid in context of these ideas. To be a consistant power source it has to be created from a few central locations where straw would have to be hauled to. Once you factor the transport cost in, it becomes uneconomical.

    So the alternative is a bunch of producers with their own systems feeding the grid. Can you imagine trying to balance the grid with hundreds of guys burning bales whenever they feel like it?

    You are taking a reliable grid backed with reliable fuel in a few locations, coal, nat gas, hydro and risking it with intermittent loads. Maybe that works in California but not here.

    The best use for a waste fuel like that is to use it locally to create a higher value product. Some guy by NB was using flax straw to heat his greenhouse. Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 11:46 20
    Quote Originally Posted by jazz View Post
    You need to understand the electrical grid in context of these ideas. To be a consistant power source it has to be created from a few central locations where straw would have to be hauled to. Once you factor the transport cost in, it becomes uneconomical.

    So the alternative is a bunch of producers with their own systems feeding the grid. Can you imagine trying to balance the grid with hundreds of guys burning bales whenever they feel like it?

    You are taking a reliable grid backed with reliable fuel in a few locations, coal, nat gas, hydro and risking it with intermittent loads. Maybe that works in California but not here.

    The best use for a waste fuel like that is to use it locally to create a higher value product. Some guy by NB was using flax straw to heat his greenhouse.
    Biomass is reliable, 24/7/365 generation.


    You do need to understand power grids... The way they are being designed today, and the way changes are designed into them is to allow for distributed loads and distributed access.

    Just like CoGen stations, the utility regulates how much energy is fed into the grid, and these fully automated systems burn / produce only as much energy as demand requires. Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 12:02 21
    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyr View Post
    Biomass is reliable, 24/7/365 generation.
    We already have our RM just about ready to ban flax straw burning. The public tolerate it because its just for a few weeks of the year.

    I don't know what they would think about some major central locations with hundreds of bales being burned every day or every farm with its own biogas facility. When the temp dropped to -30 the other day, a low level inversion was created here in S Sask and anything creating steam or smoke was stuck close to the ground. Imagine the backlash of every farm burning biomass during those periods.

    A handful of flax straw facilities is possible because its being burned already and its not a large acreage crop like wheat. Flax straw takes years to break down naturally and has little nutrient value. Used to be one in Weyburn taking straw to make cigarette papers but they were so fussy about the flax straw and you had to haul it to them. Guys just said f it and burned it or switched to canola.

    You would have to sell the public on the carbon neutral aspects of it.
    Last edited by jazz; Jan 14, 2020 at 12:05.
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    Jan 14, 2020 | 12:35 22
    Quote Originally Posted by jazz View Post
    We already have our RM just about ready to ban flax straw burning. The public tolerate it because its just for a few weeks of the year.

    I don't know what they would think about some major central locations with hundreds of bales being burned every day or every farm with its own biogas facility. When the temp dropped to -30 the other day, a low level inversion was created here in S Sask and anything creating steam or smoke was stuck close to the ground. Imagine the backlash of every farm burning biomass during those periods.

    A handful of flax straw facilities is possible because its being burned already and its not a large acreage crop like wheat. Flax straw takes years to break down naturally and has little nutrient value. Used to be one in Weyburn taking straw to make cigarette papers but they were so fussy about the flax straw and you had to haul it to them. Guys just said f it and burned it or switched to canola.

    You would have to sell the public on the carbon neutral aspects of it.

    You really dont get it.


    Gassifiers don't smoke. They exceed EPA standards and EU emission standards.

    The exhaust from biomass syngas units is the same as from a natural gas generation plant.


    Look at Frohling pellet burners. They are condensing... Vent the same way as a high efficiency gas furnace.
    Last edited by Zephyr; Jan 14, 2020 at 12:39.
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    blackpowder's Avatar Jan 14, 2020 | 15:59 23 Heating all of Western Canada with straw eh?? Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 18:30 24 Still doesnt address the real issues;

    1. Lack of evidence of the problem
    2. Miniscule contribution by Canada of said problem.
    3. Zero efforts by 90% of the worlds countries toward said problem.
    4. Question of whether Canada is a problem at all (already carbon neutral)
    5. Subtitution of efficient cost effective technology with questionable replacements that have offloaded their economics onto other industries and failing to account for the necessary back up for the technology. Discounting the CO2 produced from transition to the technology like windmills using more CO2 to make than they will offset in their life time.
    6. Using fuzzy economics to justify such a technology while ignoring others already having an effect, ie carbon sequestration.
    7. Putting resources into questionable temporary tech instead of a moonshot for the real game changer, fusion.
    8. Totally ignoring solutions right in front of your face, ie nuclear
    9. And offloading the disruptive change onto one and only one industry; energy production, while other industries get a pass like transportation, globalization, aviation, jet setting PMs.
    10. Diverting resources from real problems.
    Last edited by jazz; Jan 14, 2020 at 18:33.
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    Jan 14, 2020 | 18:53 25 No disagreement with you on yours points here Jazz. Though this is an interesting discussion about a potential energy source we have at hand. I don’t give 2 shits whether it comes to be but this has more potential and reliability than wind or solar, and ffs you can build a working system yourself. I don’t think logistics lend itself to be a huge thing but if it could scale to an individual farm or small community economically then why not. I know it looks silly when we’re sitting here with abundant lng but probably a lot more reliable than digging trenches and holes like a gopher for geothermal. I guess my thoughts are and it’s like burning wood you’re not dependent on “the man” but “the man” is okay when you get old and don’t want the bother. Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 21:59 26
    Quote Originally Posted by jazz View Post
    Still doesnt address the real issues;

    1. Lack of evidence of the problem
    2. Miniscule contribution by Canada of said problem.
    3. Zero efforts by 90% of the worlds countries toward said problem.
    4. Question of whether Canada is a problem at all (already carbon neutral)
    5. Subtitution of efficient cost effective technology with questionable replacements that have offloaded their economics onto other industries and failing to account for the necessary back up for the technology. Discounting the CO2 produced from transition to the technology like windmills using more CO2 to make than they will offset in their life time.
    6. Using fuzzy economics to justify such a technology while ignoring others already having an effect, ie carbon sequestration.
    7. Putting resources into questionable temporary tech instead of a moonshot for the real game changer, fusion.
    8. Totally ignoring solutions right in front of your face, ie nuclear
    9. And offloading the disruptive change onto one and only one industry; energy production, while other industries get a pass like transportation, globalization, aviation, jet setting PMs.
    10. Diverting resources from real problems.

    "I hate anything but gas and coal. I will forever live in the world of fossil fuels. I will never change. I don't care. I'll stick my head in the sand."

    That's you, Jazz.


    Yet you bitch about a carbon tax.

    I just gave you a completely viable, cost effective solution.


    Do not bitch about the carbon tax again. Don't like it, adapt.

    The strong survive. The weak die. Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 22:26 27 Zephyr where could I find out info on using straw for gasification. Lots of information using wood. I’d just like to see what the setup entails for interest sake. Things like that intrigue me. Reply With Quote
    Jan 14, 2020 | 22:50 28 http://www.volund.dk/Biomass_energy/Technologies/Combustion/Straw_and_stalks

    For instance. I should tske photos of ours. Reply With Quote

  • Jan 14, 2020 | 23:21 29 The bio char that’s produced ........ what form does it come out and how to you handle it. I know folks closer to whitecourt that get wood ash from the cogen plant at pulp mill for free and it comes out in a thick slurry that they stockpile in fields and then spread with manure spreaders later.

    Pictures are worth a thousand words ......... especially with a small caption if required. 😉 Reply With Quote
    LEP
    Jan 15, 2020 | 08:00 30 Yes it is possible, but last I checked there is alot of cost and effort to bale and transport straw. After last fall can you imagine throwing in the operation of baling all the straw?

    How well does wet snow covered straw burn? Reply With Quote