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GTI Quantifies Opportunity to Produce Low-Carbon Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from Wood Wastes

February 14, 2019
Des Plaines, IL

Today, GTI announces the release of a site-specific engineering design titled Low-Carbon Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from Wood Wastes. GTI led a team of engineers and scientists to produce a “blueprint” for converting an existing biomass facility into an RNG production site, using the wood waste feedstock and some of the existing infrastructure. A biomass power plant in Stockton, California, was the host site for the engineering design effort. In addition to providing data about the process technologies, the integrated plant, and production costs, the study highlights the many environmental benefits and the low-carbon fuel produced.

GTI has a long history of research, analysis, and expertise in the technological issues involved in the expanded production and use of RNG. Recent projects include reports for policymakers and the public about the potential of RNG, the development of analytical equipment for determining levels of specific contaminants from various sources of RNG, and technology for the use of RNG as a transportation fuel.

The engineering design study, funded by West Coast utilities and a state government agency, was conducted to better understand the value, benefits, and cost of utilizing wood wastes to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

New RNG production facilities using the commercial technologies outlined in the analysis could eliminate 99% of conventional air pollutants compared to existing operational biomass power plants. The RNG product with very low carbon intensity could be used for carbon emission reductions in the transportation, industrial, commercial, and residential energy sectors. According to the analysis, California has the potential to produce tens of billions of cubic feet of RNG per year from the wastes that are now being used for biomass-based electricity.

The gasification technology provides an additional option for addressing the woody biomass waste in California while providing a clean renewable energy source that can further help the state meet its greenhouse gas objectives. “Open burning of agricultural wastes and devastating forest fires in California severely degrade air quality in the state,” says Vann Bush, GTI Vice President, Technology Development and Commercialization. “Reducing black carbon—a potent climate change pollutant—and other conventional air pollutants that can lead to breathing disorders is high on our priority list.”

“We can produce RNG with a carbon footprint that is near zero or even negative, depending on the equipment configuration of the wood waste-to-RNG production facility,” says Bush. “In the base configuration in our study, one plant could displace approximately 170,000 tons of CO2 vehicle emissions each year, which is roughly equal to offsetting the emissions from 400 million vehicle miles,” says Bush.

The GTI study quantifies the significant GHG benefits and confirms the ability to produce large quantities of RNG for use in all energy sectors. “We are confident that the learnings from the design study will help all stakeholders identify the most advantageous locations, in California and elsewhere, for converting from other biomass uses to RNG production,” says Bush.

For more information about the study, contact Dan LeFevers, GTI Director, State and Consumer Programs at dlefevers@gti.energy or 847-544-3458.

About GTI

GTI is a leading research, development and training organization that has been addressing global energy and environmental challenges by developing technology-based solutions for consumers, industry, and government for more than 75 years.

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