Conversion of Alfalfa to Energy:
Minnesota's Granite Falls demonstration project

By the year 2001, farmers in Granite Falls, Minnesota will be growing fields of alfalfa to produce electricity for the state. Alfalfa is a perennial crop which returns each growing season for three to four years. (Warren Gretz, DOE/NREL)

As an agricultural crop, the leaves of the alfalfa plant are used as feed for cattle. The remaining alfalfa stems will be used to produce electricity at the planned Granite Falls power plant. (DOE/NREL)

After harvesting, the alfalfa stems are dried to remove excess moisture. They will then undergo the gasification process at the power plant. (Warren Gretz, DOE/NREL)

In the gasifier, the alfalfa stems will be changed from solid plant matter into a biofuel gas. The stems become a gas when heated at very high temperatures. (Warren Gretz, DOE/NREL)

Electricity is generated by burning the biofuel gas. The heat given off from the burning gases will run both combustion turbines and steam turbine-generators in the power plant. The power plant will produce 75 Megawatts (MW) of electricity. State-of-the-art technology will be used to keep air pollution emissions from the burning gas as low as possible. (Warren Gretz, DOE/NREL)

By harvesting alfalfa as a biomass fuel, Minnesota farmers look forward to an energy future that is environmentally and economically sustainable. (DOE/NREL)

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Introduction page

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