Indiana Town Takes Major Step to Becoming "BioTown, USA"
March 28, 2007
Can an agricultural town use farm and animal wastes to meet all of its energy needs? The Indiana State Department of Agriculture believes it's possible, and has taken the first major step towards converting Reynolds, Indiana, into "BioTown, USA." Launched by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels in 2005, the BioTown USA project aims to run the tiny town of just over 500 residents entirely on biomass energy and biofuels. Phase I of the project, completed last year, involved installing biofuel pumps to provide the town with E85 (a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) and B20 (a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel fuel). The town also replaced its fleet with vehicles able to run on alternative fuels, and 20 lucky town residents were given free two-year leases for new flex-fuel vehicles, which are able to run on E85 or gasoline.
On March 21st, the state broke ground on Phase II of its effort to convert Reynolds to biomass energy. Phase II will involve the construction of a facility with a suite of technologies for converting biomass into electricity, including an anaerobic digester, which uses microorganisms to convert manure into methane; a gasifier, which employs a high-temperature process to convert biomass into a synthetic gas, or "syngas"; and a fast pyrolysis system, which uses high temperatures and an oxygen-free environment to convert biomass into a crude-oil substitute called pyrolysis oil. The methane, syngas, and pyrolysis oil can all be burned as fuel to produce both heat and electricity. The facility is expected to start producing power later this year and will be completed in late 2008. Governor Daniels and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns attended the groundbreaking. See the news on the groundbreaking from the Indiana Office of Energy and Defense Development and see the BioTown USA Web site for the BioTown press releases and a description of Phase II.
A study performed last year found that Reynolds' residents and businesses consumed 384,000 gallons of gasoline in 2005, as well as more than 8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and nearly 150 million cubic feet of natural gas. The sum total of the town's energy use is estimated at nearly 228 billion Btu (British Thermal Units) of energy. The town and its surrounding county are estimated to produce nearly 17 trillion Btu of potential biomass energy sources in the form of corn grain, soybeans, corn stover (the stalks, leaves, and cobs), sewage waste, grease, and solid waste. Called The BioTown, USA Sourcebook of Biomass Energy, the publication also includes a detailed description of the various biomass energy technologies. See the 88-page Sourcebook (PDF 1.6 MB). Download Adobe Reader.