A number of project partners demonstrated a new technology for converting forest waste into renewable natural gas (RNG) in Placer County, Calif.
The process, developed by Canadian firm G4 Insights, converts scraps and small trees from forest thinning projects into biomethane. In the public demonstration, G4 used gas produced on site to fuel an unmodified Placer County truck.
“G4 is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Placer County, California Energy Commission, Southern California Gas Company, and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to make this project a great success,” said G4 principal Matt Babicki. “This project demonstrates the potential for G4 PyroCatalytic Hydrogenation technology to transform forestry waste into high value, low carbon fuel, and support forestry communities with long term jobs to collect biomass and operate G4 renewable natural gas plants.”
While forestry waste in heavily forested areas is typically burned to reduce wildfire hazards, increasing air pollution locally, converting the waste into natural gas instead would reduce air pollution and increase the supply of sustainably produced clean energy, according to a release from Placer County.
In the U.S., there is enough current available and sustainable tree thinning and forestry industry waste to fuel more than 40,000 natural gas fleets the size of Placer County’s.
The RNG conversion technology uses raw, untreated forestry waste that otherwise has no commercial use. The gas it produces reduces fossil emissions by 86 percent compared to standard gasoline, the release added.
G4 received a $1.2 million grant from the California Energy Commission in 2011 to develop the demonstration plant.