BFC Gas &
Cedar Rapids, IA
A Cedar Rapids biomass energy plant generates enough electricity to power about 4000 homes
while diverting 150 tons of solid waste per day from area landfills.
In operation since June 1998, BFC Gas and Electric relies primarily on “clean, industrial
byproducts” for its fuel source, according to company vice-president Jeff Carter who founded
BFC with partner Warren Dunham. These materials include sawmill waste, outdated seed corn,
non-recyclable paper, and many similar waste products.
Construction debris was once a significant fuel component but was deemed too difficult to work
with by 2007. As a replacement, BFC began experimenting with railroad ties: a waste problem
on par with used tires, says Carter.
The company charges a tipping fee to compensate for the high cost of processing the solid fuel
products. They also earn revenue through their ability to burn sensitive materials confidentially
and completely, such as biotech plant material with proprietary genetics.
The fuel stocks are shredded, blended, and then combined with superheated sand (1200-1400° F)
in a low-oxygen environment to produce a low-Btu, methane-based gas. The fuel is then piped
to a 60,000 PPH Nebraska boiler that produces steam to drive a 7.5 MW Westinghouse turbine.
The plant generates an average of nearly 23,000 MWh of electricity annually, but boiler failures
and process challenges have plagued the project since it began. The plant brings in more than
$1 million each year, according to Carter’s estimates, but revenue falls well short of the $1.74
million BFC has spent annually to operate and upgrade the plant.
“Anytime you’re on the cutting edge, it’s an expensive learning curve,” says Carter.
100 MMBtu Energy Products
of Idaho Fluidized-bed Gasifier
60,000 PPH Nebraska
7.5 MW Westinghouse
Project Cost: $12,500,000
Loan Term: 10 yrs.
Lender: Guaranty Bank & Trust,
Cedar Rapids, IA