Biomass feedstock company sets new standard with harvest completion

VONORE, Tenn. Mar. 5, 2015 — Genera Energy Inc., a leading biomass supply company specializing in biomass feedstocks for advanced biobased industries, set new standards for efficiency with its recently completed harvests of miscanthus, switchgrass, and biomass sorghum. With this harvest, Genera continues to optimize its efficient year-round, just-in-time biomass harvesting and delivery systems.

Incorporating multiple feedstocks into the year-round supply chain offers obvious benefits but also introduces unique challenges in equipment scheduling, logistics, inventory management and other critical elements of the supply chain. Building on six years of focused development and testing of efficient harvest systems, Genera’s team has further tested and refined new harvesting equipment and procedures at commercial scale during this harvest season.

“This continual improvement and validation adds value to the industrial-scale systems we implement for our customers, not only reducing cost, but more importantly reducing feedstock supply risk,” said Keith Brazzell, COO of Genera.

This year’s harvest signals a major milestone in biomass harvest practices. Genera’s single pass forage harvest system, also known as a field chopping system, set new records this year for switchgrass harvesting efficiency. Not only are time, equipment needs, and costs reduced in the field, forage harvesting allows for reduced preprocessing and handling costs for the end user as the field chop exits the field at relatively small particle sizes in a dry, bulk flowable form.

“We are very pleased with the success of this harvest and how our innovations continue to improve the process,” said Lance Stewart, certified supply chain manager of Genera. “As an example, in one 12 hour harvesting period, we processed 67 truckloads of feedstock biomass utilizing one harvester. In supply systems like biomass where weather is always a factor, speed and efficiency are critical for success.”

In addition to field chopping, Genera also demonstrated improvements in bale harvest systems for both biomass sorghum and switchgrass, utilizing a self-propelled swather and a large square baler.

“Biomass sorghum offers high yield advantages, but the high moisture content at harvest can be challenging,” said Lucas Graham, feedstock production and supply manager of Genera. “In most cases, biomass sorghum is forage harvested and direct delivered for just-in-time use, and only during the primary harvest window, as moisture levels are typically 50-70 percent at harvest.”

Genera successfully demonstrated a method for in-field drying to reduce the moisture content of biomass sorghum to below 25 percent, allowing more conventional baling and longer-term storage.

“The flexibility of handling very high yielding biomass sorghum as a dry, storable bale opens up lots of new opportunities in an integrated feedstock supply system,” said Graham.

Key Energy Crop Harvesting Milestones & Performance Indicators in each of these feedstocks are shown in the following table.

Switchgrass Biomass Sorghum
Bale Harvest Systems Units
Bale  Size   3’X4’X8′ Square 3’X4’X8′ Square
Equipment Operations & Innovations Self-Propelled Swather Self-Propelled Swather
Increased Bale Density Dry Bale Product
Avg. Dry Basis Bale Weight pounds/bale 1,041 lbs 1,129 lbs
Average Moisture at Harvest % moisture < 18% < 20.4%
Bulk Chop Systems  
Equipment Operations & Innovations   Single Pass Self Propelled Forage Harvester Single Pass Self Propelled Forage Harvester
In-Field Forage Collection Rate truckloads/ harvester/ 12 hour day 67 truckloads 65 truckloads
In-Field Truck Loading Cycle Time minutes/ truckload < 5.5 minutes < 5.0 minutes
Storage Depot Truck Unload Cycle Time minutes/ truckload < 8.5 minutes < 8.5 minutes
Average Harvest Moisture Level % moisture < 14% > 60%

 

“Having another successful biomass harvest season under our belts is further evidence that our in-field harvesting and supply chain systems are making the process easier and increasing productivity,” said Sam Jackson, vice president of business development. “We are committed to offering the best biomass solutions and systems for our customers.”

For more information on Genera, visit www.generaenergy.com.