In 1997 Alliant Energy entered into partnership to build a biomass-to-electricity plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Alliant spent $20 million constructing the plant, testing the equipment, and putting it into operation with a biomass management group. Alliant Energy successfully created electricity from biomass from 1998 through 2005. In 2005 Alliant Energy sold the plant to one of their partners. In 2011 Permeate Refining agreed to provide the capital to operate the plant and bring the plant back into full productivity in exchange for ownership and management control.

  From 2010 through 2013, Permeate Refining and its partners committed millions of dollars to bring the plant back into full productivity.

The Permeate team believes that the gasification technology offers significant upside opportunities.  China has built 29 new gasification plants since 2004, with many more planned. The U.S. has built two such plants since 2004 that remain in operation.


The biogas plant is comprised of three buildings sitting on 6.5 acres located at 4120 Booth Street S.W., Cedar Rapids, Iowa,.  It operates under four separate buildings:


A 30,000 square-foot building which houses incoming fuel where it is prepped for gasification;


Gasification of biomass creates its own waste stream which is collected and housed separate from the plant for proper processing and movement


A separate 25,000 square foot facility which houses all the electrical and steam turbine units;



A 100 million Btu per hour gasifier that was engineered and rebuilt by THE BIOGAS PLANT employees.


The electrical generation facility is comprised of a Nebraska boiler


A 10 MWH Westinghouse turbine generator;

The biogas plant utilizes a fluidized bed gasification technology as its primary means of converting suitable waste products to flammable gas. The biogas plant produces electricity from a broad range of agricultural residues and biomass-based products. The plant serves as a strategic platform for future growth as it is permitted, emission tested (stack testing), fully staffed and operating 24/7. As an integrated biorefinery, The biogas plant generates a synthetic gas (syngas) for heat and power with the ability to consume up to 150 tons of biomass on a daily basis.

Presently, electrical power generated by the facility is sold to the North American power grid under contract to Alliant Energy. With additional processing and upgrades this same gas can be used to create certain transportation fuels.

The biogas plant’s experience and permits have allowed it to determine which feedstock are better for electrical and/or steam re-use production.  It has developed proprietary systems which address specifics related to each feedstock and give it an advantage in gas conversion, emission controls, and feedstock and gas chemistry analysis in real-time.

While the majority of the gasification waste-to-energy companies remain in the untested and in the infancy stage, The biogas plant has utilized internal capital and experience to create a leading edge waste-to-energy facility.

The existing facility has strategic advantages with access to top-tier customers that rely on The biogas plant to dispose of their waste products.  The biogas plant also provides a platform for further commercializing new and upcoming renewable energy technologies.


Gasification can be termed both art and science.  The biogas plant has achieved the following:


Due to its gained experience in biomass conversion to electricity in the biomass gasification industry, The biogas plant has become a recognized leader in biomass-to-energy conversion;


Tested over 200 different waste materials eliminating out those biomass materials which are neither profitable nor emissions compliant;


Each time a biomass gasification plant decides to convert another feedstock into electricity, it must receive specific approval from the EPA to utilize that biomass.  The biogas plant has received permitting approval to gasify more than 30 materials;


The biogas plant has discovered which feedstock are more readily available and have proven profitability relative to Btu output per pound of biomass;


The biogas plant’s emissions have been close to zero since Permeate Refining has been in operation of the plant.  The biogas plant has emissions records going back fifteen years which has served as a platform upon which emissions can be monitored and improved;


The biogas plant is not a lab model.  The company daily gasifies tons of biomass converting that biomass into electricity up to 6 MWH.   It has the ability to gasify up to 150 tons per day.

The following waste fuels have been approved for gasification and conversion to electricity:


Energy crops such as switch grass, sweet sorghum, corn cobs, corn stalks, and palm product residues;


Sawmill residual,  source separated demolition wood, and wood trimmings;


Waste plant seeds, corn based “bumble bee wings, and other seed residues.


Source selected Municipal and Industrial Waste 30,000 square-foot building which houses incoming fuel where it is prepped for gasification;


Non-recyclable low-grade paper such as waxed cardboard, feed ingredient bags, and carbon paper.


Wastewater treatment Sludge and other biosolids;



Rebuilt the turbine, generator and transformer to manufacturer’s standards;


They conducted a complete engineering review of the plant in order to upgrade automation and emissions control for improvement in electrical output;

2011 –2013:

A. Performed a complete CIP (clean-in-place);
B.Increased output capacity by upgrading multiple vales, parts and augers and other intake and processing equipment;
C.Installed two cubers which operate at a combined rate of ten (1) tons an hour along with associated loading and discharge equipment;
D.Improved the plant’s reliability through upgrading all the computer monitoring equipment and automation instrumentation;
E. Improved emissions output by upgrading the ESP (electrostatic precipitator);
F.Improved air-flow through replacement of and improvement in the baghouse;


A.Combining the plant under a single power grid (it currently operates under a dual grid system);
B. Improving the grinding of feedstock;
C.Drying operations to take in and process wet wood waste;
D.Capturing more power through significantly improved steam re-use.



Permeate's biogas plant has its own railspur connected to Crandic Railway, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Nearly all the wood based feedstock for the biogas plant passes through this rail site.


The energy specifications for the plant include a capacity of a single Nebraska boiler processing up to 15 million Btus of natural gas per hour, at 60,000 pounds per hour.   The plant utilizes electrical use from Alliant Energy, and natural gas from MidAmerican Energy.


The plant site is located two miles north of U.S. Highway 380 adjacent to multiple production plants including DuPont, International Paper, ADM, and Cargill.


Permeate’s biogas plant has multiple storage sites and bins for biomass within and outside the plant.  The plant can store up to 30 days of biomass within the 30,000 sq ft processing facility.  It can store up to four times that amount of biomass waste outside the facility.


Permeate’s biogas plant has the expertise to further develop:

Stand-Alone Facilities: Develop additional stand-alone facilities and repowering opportunities such as the modification of current coal fired power plants to operate under a dual coal-biomass format through;

A. Leveraging the core operations into new combination market opportunities;

B. Manage, build, or operate such facilities or own their own;

C. Develop a rapid validation program for quick profit assessment;

D. Formulate biomass and derived syngas clean-up analysis and opportunities.

Exotic Feedstock: Permeate’s biogas plant’s team has pursued the development and processing of more exotic feedstock such as wastewater sludge and algae, having invested $3 million in an algae operation in South Carolina in concert with Renewed World Energies, Inc. These opportunities allowed Permeate’s team to achieve:

A. Successful acquisition of testing biomass related technologies;

B. Improve their opportunities for federal biomass based demonstration grants;

C. Developed new fuel technologies;

D. Techniques for improved wastewater treatment sludge/drying

Liquid, Syngas Derived Fuels: Permeate’s biogas plant is researching the development of liquid fuel alternatives through additional syngas processing techniques.


Gasification is not Combustion.  Gasification is a flexible, reliable, and clean energy technology.  It is a manufacturing process that converts any material containing carbon—such as coal, petroleum coke (petcoke), or in Permeate’s biogas plant’s case, biomass—into synthesis gas (syngas). The syngas can be burned to produce electricity or further processed to manufacture chemicals, fertilizers, liquid fuels, substitute natural gas (SNG), or hydrogen.

Gasification is a partial oxidation (reaction) process which produces syngas comprised primarily of hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO). It is not a complete oxidation (combustion) process, which produces primarily thermal energy (heat) and solid waste, criteria air pollutants (NOx and SO2), and carbon dioxide (CO2).


Gasification is the cleanest, most flexible and reliable way of using fossil-fuels. It can convert low-value residuals into high-value products, such as chemicals and fertilizers, substitute natural gas, transportation fuels, electric power, steam, and hydrogen. Gasification provides the least-cost alternative for capturing CO2 when generating power, permitting the United States to use its abundant coal reserves to generate needed electricity in a carbon-constrained world.

Gasification offers opportunities to use domestic resources to displace high-cost imported petroleum and natural gas from politically unstable regions of the world.  Gasification provides increased domestic investment and jobs in industries that have been in decline because of high energy costs.  And, finally, Gasification offers a path to new energy development and use consistent with robust environmental stewardship.


Permeate’s biogas plant is an Advanced Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) system:. In an IGCC system power generation is the focus.  The resultant syngas is combusted (burned) in high efficiency gas turbines to generate electricity with very low emissions. The turbines used in these plants are derivatives of proven, natural gas combined-cycle turbines that have been specially adapted for use with syngas. For IGCC plants that include carbon capture, the gas turbines must be able to operate on syngas with higher levels of hydrogen. Although modern state-of-the- art gas turbines are commercially ready for this “higher hydrogen” syngas, work is on-going in the United States to develop the next generation of even more efficient gas turbines ready for carbon capture-based IGCC.

Permeate’s biogas plant utilizes a Heat Recovery Steam Generator.  Hot gas from each gas turbine in an IGCC plant will “exhaust” into a Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG). The HRSG captures heat in the hot exhaust from the gas turbines and uses it to generate additional steam that is used to make more power in the steam turbine portion of the combined-cycle unit.

Permeate’s biogas plant utilizes a 10 MWH Steam Turbine.  In most IGCC plant designs, steam recovered from the gasification process is superheated in the HRSG to increase overall efficiency output of the steam turbines, hence the name Integrated  gasification Combined Cycle. This IGCC combination, which includes a gasification plant, two types of turbine generators (gas and steam), and the HRSG is clean and efficient — producing NOx levels less than 0.06lb per MMBtu (coal input basis) and combined cycle efficiencies  exceeding 65% when process steam integrated from the gasification plant is included.  Another example of the “integrated” design in the fully integrated IGCC is the IGCC gas turbine, which can provide a portion of the compressed air to the oxygen plant. This reduces the capital cost of the compressors while also decreasing the amount of power required to operate the oxygen plant. Additionally, gas turbines use nitrogen from the oxygen plant to reduce combustion NOx as well as increase power output.

Permeate’s biogas plant has adapted its IGCC system to handle biomass as its processing gas production agent.  In addition to using the traditional feedstock of coal and petroleum coke, gasifiers can utilize biomass, such as yard and crop waste, “energy crops”, such as switch grass, and waste and residual pulp/paper plant materials as feed.

If greenhouse gas production is a problem following emissions chart compares the negative emissions of coal plants versus an IGCC system:

Gasification plants produce significantly lower quantities of criteria air pollutants. Gasification offers the cleanest, most efficient means of producing electricity from coal and the lowest cost option for capturing CO2 from power generation, according to the U.S. Department of Energy


Permeate’s biogas plant’s strategy is to leverage its unique competitive advantages, which include:

Waste Feedstock Available at a Profit

Permeate’s biogas plant leverages its revenue by acquiring waste streams localized within the Cedar Rapids market which require limited transportation requirements;

Strategic Partnerships and Customer Base

Permeate’s biogas plant maintains long term contracts with top-tier customers including ADM, Cargill, Syngenta, Kimberly Clark, Fort James, International Paper, and many others. Permeate’s biogas plant continues to develop partnerships to allow near term revenue entry opportunities;

Strategic Partnerships and Customer Base

Permeate’s biogas plant maintains long term contracts with top-tier customers including ADM, Cargill, Syngenta, Kimberly Clark, Fort James, International Paper, and many others. Permeate’s biogas plant continues to develop partnerships to allow near term revenue entry opportunities;

Certifications and Permits

A new gasification plant requiring feedstock permitting would require up to two years to be approved under the same feedstock permits for which Permeate’s biogas plant is currently approved.  Permeate’s biogas plant has gone through the difficult and time consuming permitting processes to obtain these necessary permits for processing various profitable feedstock.  Additionally, Permeate’s biogas plant is a Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) designee.  The BCAP program  was established under Title IX (Energy) of the 2008 Farm Bill. The program is composed of two components, the Project Area Program component which supports the establishment and production of biomass crops for conversion to bio-energy in approved project areas, and the Collection, Harvest, Storage, And Transportation (CHST) component which provides monetary assistance with CHST of eligible materials for use in a biomass conversion facility (BCF).  The program provides financial assistance to producers or entities that deliver eligible biomass material to designed biomass conversion facilities for use as heat, power, bio-based products or biofuels;

Experienced and proven management team

Permeate's biogas plant's current management team has extensive experience in waste sourcing, gasification plant design and waste-to-energy conversions, business development and marketing with Fortune 500 corporations and successful start-up firms.