A Georgia company is seeking more than $47 million in grant funding from Triumph Gulf Coast to create a biomass production facility at the Port of Port St. Joe.
In addition, Twin Rivers Land and Timber of Perry, GA, seeks a multi-layered plan to make use of the millions of trees downed by Hurricane Michael and reforest acres of timberland stripped by the storm.
In a pre-application to the Triumph Gulf Coast, which meets at the Gulf/Franklin campus of Gulf Coast State College Jan.14, Twin Rivers CEO Clay Crosby outlines what he called the “St. Joe Port Project.”
He said he has discussed his plans with officials with the Port of Port St. Joe and Genesee Wyoming rail line.
The project emerged from discussions on short- and long-term action plans for timber industry relief and recovery with the Florida Forestry Association, Florida Forest Services and Florida Forestry Task Force, Crosby detailed.
The overall plan of action noted that 2.8 million acres of timberland was “devastated” by Hurricane Michael, 1.3 million acres sustaining damage considered severe or catastrophic.
Foresters have 3-5 months to utilize timber on the ground before it is no longer marketable.
Current markets can not absorb such a volume within that timeframe, particularly with WestRock of Panama City not operational due to the storm, Crosby wrote.
The major component of its project, for which Twin Rivers is seeking the Triumph grant funding, is revitalizing port infrastructure in Gulf County and creation of initial “Nanomass Towers” at the port facility.
Twin Rivers touts itself as the world’s leading supplier of raw material biomass, serving national and international markets.
Technology patented by the company using ultrasonic sound waves creates an implosion at the center of the biomass, in this case wood or bark, and separates molecules to leave a dehydrated powder, Nanomass, a 40-micron dust particle, about five one-thousandths of an inch.
The processing, inside a tower 16-foot by 24-feet by 24-feet, does not expel harmful emissions and there are no high-decibel sounds nor nasty odors generated by the process, Crosby wrote in his executive summary.
The only emission is water vapor from the dehydration process.
Each tower can process 12 tons per hour in a 24-hour day.
Mixing the Nanomass dust at desired and flexible percentages expands the efficiency in a coal system to generate large quantities of renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions, according to Crosby’s executive summary.
As an example, mixing 20 percent Nanomass into a coal plant will produce 20 percent in newly-created renewable energy while neutralizing 20 percent of carbon emissions.
“This technology and the Nanomass System is the first ever efficient method of co-firing biomass in a coal system to generate large quantities of renewable energy,” Crosby wrote.
The Nanomass would be shipped out of the Port of Port St. Joe for use in coal plants up the Mississippi River or sent via rail once repairs are completed to the Genesee Wyoming line connecting the port with points north.
An important feature to the plan: it would extend by 12-18 months the marketability of timber already on the ground.
“Timber with bark off can still be utilized until it rots,” Crosby wrote.
Once operational, the Nanomass towers would provide additional funding for the company’s multi-phase plan.
The first phase would be to take steps to utilize any and all export markets for pulpwood, clean chips, sawtimber and biomass, including, theoretically, shipping through the Port of Port St. Joe.
Ship loads could be sent to existing markets in Turkey, China and the Caribbean.
The final phase of Twin Rivers’ plan would center on reforestation and sustainability of the biomass facility.
Crosby proposes to use 80,000 acres, 3 percent of the acreage damaged by Michael, to replant in hybrid eucalyptus to be harvested annually and processed into Nanomass dust.
This would also help sustain wood producers in the years as pine pulpwood regrows and matures to market.
In sum, Crosby wrote in his executive summary, establishing the Nanomass system would help extend the marketability of timber on the ground after Michael, create more than 1,000 new jobs in the region’s timber industry and create a renewable energy fuel source.
As with any pre-application, Triumph staff must review the project against the legislatively-established goals of the board charged with disbursing more than $1 billion to eight Northwest Florida counties over the next 15 years.