Energy Generation through Gasification of Optimized Rice Hull Biomass

EPA Grant Number: SU836790
Title: Energy Generation through Gasification of Optimized Rice Hull Biomass
Investigators: Dahlgren, John
Institution: Butte College
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Air Quality


Research and develop the use of rice hulls as the primary feedstock in a carbon negative, renewable energy generation process (pyrolysis plus biochar) that also benefits agriculture.


ENERGY GENERATION THROUGH THE GASIFICATION OF OPTIMIZED RICE HULL BIOMASS (REGen) addresses a growing challenge of utilizing large quantities of agricultural biomass residues (waste) as a renewable carbon-neutral energy source in California. A potential solution to this challenge is a new approach in the use of agricultural biomass for energy generation by gasification (pyrolysis) of the biomass combined with biochar production directly on-the-farm. This approach offers a carbon negative source of energy through carbon sequestration in the soil with added benefits of increased agricultural production. The objective of the REGen project will be to research and develop methods to solve the rice hulls slagging problem during gasification and will be done by mixing the rice hulls with other biomass, such as walnut shells and or wood chips (orchard tree cuttings).


The REGen project will research and develop methods to utilize rice hulls, an abundant agricultural biomass residue (waste) in Northern California and worldwide, as the primary feedstock in a carbon negative, renewable energy generation process: gasification (pyrolysis) and biochar production used for carbon sequestration and improvement of agricultural production. Project REGen will research the challenge of disposing the vast amounts of agricultural residue (waste) generated by the agricultural industry in Northern California in an environmentally acceptable (under strict air pollution controls) and sustainable manner (minimizing greenhouse gases); while finding beneficial use for biomass residues (rice hulls, nut shells and wood chips) in a potentially carbon-negative renewable energy generation application.

Expected Results:

The intended outcome of the REGen Phase I project is to develop and test mixtures of rice hulls and other biomass in on-the-farm gasification units, such as the BioMax 100 and All Power Lab PP20 Power Pallet. These type of gasification power generating units are gaining wider use in on-the-farm applications in Northern California. Successful results of the proposed project will result in proving the concept in creating an environmentally acceptable and sustainable use of large amounts of biomass residues (waste) in carbon-negative power generation and a secondary result potential in the use of the biochar by-product of gasification as a potential soil amendment to benefit local rice production.

Supplemental Keywords:

Waste reuse, agricultural waste gasification, renewable energy, thermal energy recovery, water conservation, soils improvement, sustainable agriculture, food security;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Conversion of Agricultural and Forestry Biomass Residues to Biochar for Carbon Sequestration and Soils Improvement Applications  | 2018 Progress Report  | 2019 Progress Report