Virent Energy Systems, Inc. (Virent) delivered the first-ever demonstration system capable of converting of sugar-based and other biomass derived feedstocks into power. Virent refers to the System as GEM, short for Green Energy Machine.
The GEM system integrates a Virent APR System with a hydrogen/natural gas fueled internal combustion engine (ICE) generator set. The generator set was provided by City Engines, Inc. (Reno, NV).
The system (see schematic below) has demonstrated the ability to deliver a minimum of 10kW of clean power to the MGE grid since its startup at the beginning of 2006 at Virent's location in Madison, Wisconsin. The GEM system is utilizing the waste heat from the ICE to provide the limited amount of process heat required for the reactor. As a result, the system thermal efficiency for this initial GEM unit are excellent.
Virent was able to customize the gas production from its GEM system to deliver desired compositions of APR-generated hydrogen, methane, propane and other fuel gases to the generator set. The system currently operates on pure glycerin. In the future, the Company will use a lower grade of glycerin that is generated as a byproduct of the biodiesel production process. Virent also intends to use sugar in the form of sorbitol and glucose as a feedstock for this initial unit.
Over the next 18 months, this system will generate needed reliability and performance data for an APR system in a live environment. Virent plans to deploy several next generation units over the next six to nine months based on the initial GEM system.