Iowa State University


Adriene Koett-Cronn, Iowa Energy Center, Communications Specialist, (515) 294-4391
John McCarroll, News Service, (515) 294-6136


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- A proposed Iowa Energy Center facility to test and demonstrate the potential of biomass energy received approval Wednesday (Sept. 10) from the Iowa State Board of Regents.

The regents approved the $990,000 project at a meeting in Cedar Falls. The facility will be built on the Iowa State University Agronomy/Agricultural Biosystems Engineering Research Farm seven miles west of Ames.

The facility will be called BECON (Biomass Energy CONversion) and will test and demonstrate new and existing biomass energy technologies. The primary goal of the work at the BECON facility will be to give Iowa businesses and investors an opportunity to see various types of biomass conversion technologies in action and stimulate interest in biomass alternatives. It will also offer education and training opportunities for engineers and technicians.

The facility also will be used to investigate a variety of biomass materials -- from industrial and agricultural waste products to designated biomass energy crops.

The main building at BECON facility will be approximately 20,000 square feet and sit on eight acres of land. The facility will eventually include a greenhouse and an aqua culture facility. The energy produced at the facility may eventually be used to operate the greenhouse and aqua culture facility.

Inside the BECON's main building, there will be room for testing and demonstrating biomass gasifiers, ethanol conversion techniques, biodiesel fuels and other emerging biomass energy technologies.

The Iowa Energy Center is a non-profit organization created by the Iowa Energy Efficiency Act of 1990 to conduct and sponsor research and dissmeniate information on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Several Iowa Energy Center projects related to biomass energy will be transferred to BECON, including research on developing a biomass gasifier for converting waste seed corn and switchgrass to energy, and projects combining agricultural wastes to produce methane gas.

The facility is expected to be completed in 1998.


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