HM3 Energy lands Oregon BEST grant
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
HM3 Energy's plan to produce coal-replacing biomass briquettes got a boost this month in the form of a commercialization grant from Oregon BEST.
The Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center announced its second commercialization grant in as many months, awarding $86,000 to HM3 Energy for emissions testing of its biomass energy technology.
Gresham-based HM3 Energy is developing technology to turn biomass into a coal replacement by baking briquettes at high heat — a process called torefaction — which results in an energy dense fuel source.
Through the Oregon BEST grant, Michael Milota, a professor at Oregon State University's Department of Wood Science and Engineering, will lead testing of common Oregon biomass fuels including ponderosa pine, western juniper, Douglas fir and red alder for emissions data. HM3 will use that data in developing a commercial torrefaction facility that will meet environmental air quality requirements.
HM3 Energy received funding from the USDA last year to support its research and the company announced long-term plans to build a biomass plant in Prineville.
Torrefied biomass is under consideration as an option by utilities looking for alternatives for coal and has been mentioned as a possible fuel replacement for Portland General Electric's Boardman coal plant.
HM3 Energy's value proposition — a cleaner burning fuel made from forest waste in rural areas that need jobs — fits neatly within the recently released strategy document for Oregon's biomass sector.
If successful, HM3 Energy plans to follow the small commercial plant in Prineville with several others throughout Oregon — together the plants could produce enough fuel to replace the coal burned at Boardman.
"If HM3 Energy is successful in its goals, it will have created a truly transformational technology addressing a major global energy challenge. The opportunity to create scale in terms of both job creation and environmental impact is very significant with this technology," said David Kenney, president and executive director of Oregon BEST in a press release.
The grant is part of $1 million in commercialization grants that Oregon BEST will award this year to promising clean technology companies. Last month the state-funded nonprofit announced the award of $150,000 to Stevens Water Monitoring Systems Inc.
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