PacificAg, the country’s largest and most experienced biomass harvest company in the country, can help ethanol plants developing or expanding operations into the production of cellulosic ethanol, save time and money on supply chain development. PacificAg enables cellulosic biorefineries the ability to source cost-competitive biomass for biofuel and biochemical production.
As a biomass harvest company, PacificAg is ahead of the game having begun operations nearly 20 years ago. Founder and CEO Bill Levy explains the company got its start in Oregon harvesting forage crops for feed and today has expanded into other markets to meet the needs of the growing biofuels industry.
“We can save an ethanol plant the time and money in developing a supply chain,” says Levy. “It’s a very specific supply chain with very specific challenges and I think we have a lot of experience overcoming these challenges and developing these supply chains quicker than anybody else.”
Today the company is working with biorefineries in Kansas and Iowa and is ready to aid other ethanol plants that are looking at adding bolt-on cellulosic ethanol technologies or those companies looking to build large, commercial-scale advanced biofuel facilities. Levy says that for projects underway in the Midwest, he believes they are providing them a quicker time to market that’s also less expensive.
Biomass products include corn stover, wheat straw and milo stover products because of their abundance and supply. “What we’ve found in the Midwest is that not all growers are accustomed to removing this supply,” notes Levy who stresses that a major component of their suite of services includes a balanced residue management program.
There are two critical elements an ethanol plant must consider when ramping up cellulosic ethanol production: year round biomass supply and sustainability around biomass residue harvest.
Harrison Pettit, a company partner who works with ethanol plants to help them get their biomass programs off the ground, notes that market needs for advanced biofuels industry are long-term and year round. “Ethanol plants are built to operate for more than 30 years.”
How does a grower know if he or she should participate in a biomass residue harvest program? Pettit says the first question to ask is, Are you within 100 miles of a cellulosic ethanol facility? “If you are a corn grower, wheat grower or milo grower, then you really ought to give us a call,” says Pettit. “If you really want to learn about how a residue management program can benefit your ground and benefit your bank account, then we want to talk.”
Sustainability is a founding tenant of PacificAg’s residue management program and Pettit says they consider several elements. They take into account the soil type, topography, moisture profile, yield of crop and crop rotation to determine how much residue is the right amount of residue to remove. Ultimately the company puts together a long-term bioenergy conversion plan that benefits both the grower and the ethanol facility.
Over the next 10 years, Levy sees the biomass market not only growing but also diversifying. “I don’t think it’s too far off that we will see consumer products, such as plastic bottles, made from renewable biomass,” says Levy. “The idea is that crops are not just a grain product anymore. “We’re going to utilize the entire plant and find the highest and best use of all parts of the plant. This is really exciting.”
While PacificAg can get a biomass stream up and running fairly quickly, ethanol plants that are in the planning or construction process should contact the company now. This will enable a sustainable biomass supply chain to be in place and running smoothly before the plant begins to produce bioenergy products.