Genera Energy Inc., Vonore, Tenn., has been working on improving the harvest economics of energy grasses as feedstocks for biofuels, bioenergy and biochemicals. In an upcoming article in Farm Industry News, Sam Jackson, the company’s vice president of business development, says that growers who have been producing energy grasses for Genera Energy were harvesting about 15-20 bales per acre, which then had to be picked up in the field. “They were spending more time handling the bales after harvesting than they did creating them,” Jackson says.
Therefore, Genera Energy has been testing self-propelled field harvesters that could be used to blow materials into tractor trailer trucks parked in the fields. While this has helped handle biomass more quickly, it is less expensive to transport large square bales with a bulk density of 12-14 pounds per cubic foot than chopped biomass at a density of 5-6 pounds per cubic foot. Therefore, Genera Energy has been evaluating ways to compact biomass in trucks similar to what the municipal solid waste industry does. The compactor, however puts additional weight on the truck (as well as roads) so the company is now studying the use of stationary hydraulic ram technology.