2002 - Volume #26, Issue #3, Page #37[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
New Way To Burn CornCorn stoves have gotten a lot of attention in the past two years, but here's a new way to burn corn that goes beyond augering it into a stove.
Working with Iowa State University and a company called Carbon Energy Technology, Inc., Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. is researching and testing a process to convert old seed corn into gas, which is then burned to produce heat.
"We hope to reduce our dependence on natural gas by burning seed that would otherwise be discarded," said Greg Tingley, Pioneer's production plant manager.
The idea is that any seed that can't be sold for whatever reason would be processed through the gasifier.
It contains an aerated sand bed on which corn is heated to temperatures above 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. In the oxygen-starved environment of the gasifier, the corn (or any other organic matter put through the process) gives off combustible gases. This gas can be used in place of natural gas or propane.
Tingley says the company plans to use the heat to dry seed corn. He notes that Pioneer alone uses about 750 billion BTU of natural gas each fall to dry seed, which is enough to heat 8,000 homes annually.
"Environmentally, the gasifier is one of the cleanest burning systems you can find," Tingley says, adding that Pioneer hopes to produce 100 percent of its own energy needs by 2010.
Pioneer experimented with gasification of corncobs a couple of decades ago. While it was successful in showing the process worked, the resulting gas was high in contaminants that tended to clog the jets in burners. Tingley says the same thing happens with the corn gas if it's allowed to cool before being burned.
"As part of this project, we're also looking at direct combustion of corn in a fluidized sand bed. We hope to find whether gasification or direct combustion is the most efficient and economical method," Tingley continues.
He says the small amount of ash that remains after corn is burned is high in nutrients and can be used as fertilizer.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Greg Tingley, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., 404 South County Road, Toledo, Iowa 52342 (ph 641 484-2141; E-mail: email@example.com).
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