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Damon Frecker, Louis Hallé, Kristen Henn, Ray Miller, Chris Saffron, Bob Ellerhorst, Nate Verhanovitz and Claude Phelps stand in front a pile of torrefied wood at Michigan State University's T.B. Simon Power Plant.

MSU tests torrefied wood as renewable fuel source

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May 9, 2014

Michigan State University Infrastructure Planning and Facilities is actively testing renewable fuels to use at the T.B. Simon Power Plant in accordance with MSU’s Energy Transition Plan. IPF’s Power and Water department recently demonstrated that torrefied wood is one possible fuel for MSU’s future through recent on-site tests. This particular biofuel is condensed wood with an increased energy density that handles similar to coal.

“MSU is looking at a variety of solutions for meeting our renewable energy goals for campus,” said Campus Sustainability Director Jennifer Battle. “As a result, we are exploring several resources such as torrefied wood fuel, wind, solar and geothermal energy to meet MSU’s Energy Transition Plan goals. No one energy source is perfect and they all come with benefits and challenges. It is our practice, as we are able, to test out new technology to see if it can work for the campus.”

For this particular test, the wood was mixed with coal and placed into a power-plant boiler. As a result, the power plant supplied MSU with 5-percent renewable energy during the test and reduced the needed amount of coal. More tests are being run on torrefied wood and a variety of fuel sources to reach MSU’s full capacity for renewable energy. “We want better and continual improvement,” said Performance Engineer Nate Verhanovitz.

Visit the IPF website to learn more about IPF’s green efforts. To learn more about MSU’s Energy Transition Plan, visit the MSU Energy Transition Plan website.

MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities builds and maintains the physical environment for Michigan State University’s education, research and outreach missions, and directs the university’s campus sustainability initiatives and long-term infrastructure planning goals. The unit’s experienced team of professionals keeps MSU running 24/7/365, delivering an immense menu of services and providing expert analysis for university objectives. Call (517) 353-1760 for emergency service.