Nexterra Systems Corp. said Monday that it has raised $7.7 million to commercialize its technology to convert biomass into syngas to feed a General Electric turbine.
It's the latest round of funding for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company from Canadian funding sources, including the BC Bioenergy Network, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program, and Ethanol BC.
Nexterra will use the money to continue work on a combined heat and power system that will inject syngas from its biomass gasification system into an engine made by GE's Jenbacher gas engine division. Testing on the project, first launched in February, is to begin by the end of the year, and a commercial demonstration project is set to begin in 2010.
Nexterra makes fixed-bed updraft gasifiers that heat wood chips and other waste to up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to create syngas, or a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. That gas can be burned for heat or electricity generation. It previously raised about $3.8 million Canadian ($3.6 million) from ARC Financial Corp. in August 2008 (see Funding Roundup: Mega Solar Deals, Algal Biofuels and Clean Water).
There are a number of different methods to capture gas from waste, and a number of different wastes to work with. Companies including Ze-gen, which immerses mixed wastes into molten iron, and Environmental Power's Microgy subsidiary, which captures gas from cow manure and other biological sources, are working in the area (see Biofuels and Electricity Take Out the Trash and The Iron Man of Greentech Gets $20M).
Some startups are seeking to take syngas and turn it into fuel, including Enerkem, Fulcrum BioEnergy, Range Fuels and Coskata (see Green Light post). But Nexterra is aiming for "inside-the-fence" applications to capture industrial waste streams to fuel on-site processes.
The goal of its project with GE is to commercialize modular biomass combined heat and power, or CHP, plants in the 2-megawatt to 10-megawatt scale. CHP, also known as cogeneration, is seen as a field where industrial facilities can yield big efficiency improvements, and it's the focus of government incentives including $176 million in Department of Energy stimulus funding announced in June (see Green Light post and DOE calls CHP a Big Fat Target for Energy Savings).
Another example is Nexterra's deal with Andritz, which makes dryers and other equipment for wastewater treatment plants. The idea there is to combine Nexterra's gasification technology with Andritz' systems for drying the solids extracted from wastewater streams to replace natural gas as a source of heat.
Other customers using Nexterra's equipment include the University of South Carolina, Dockside Green, the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Lab, Kruger Products and Tolko Industries.