Biomass Energy Conversion (BECON) Facility

Bridging the gaps between laboratory research and real world applications is a hallmark of the Iowa Energy Center. In this tradition, the Energy Center created the Biomass Energy Conversion facility (BECON), located in Nevada, Iowa. BECON is a focal point for developing value-added products from Iowa’s abundant biomass resources. It provides credible, firsthand information on biomass technologies to create fuels and chemicals, as well as demonstrations of pilot-scale biomass conversion systems.

Key Benefits of BECON include:

  • Developing new ways to produce fuels and chemicals from biomass and enhancing existing processes will provide significant opportunities for rural economic development.
  • Adding value to agricultural products through research and development enhances profitability for many Iowa industries.
  • Successfully demonstrating full-scale biomass technologies promotes increased acceptance and implementation of these technologies.
  • Developing new products with export potential strengthens Iowa’s economy.
  • Using agricultural byproducts, previously classified as waste, reduces environmental degradation and increases profitability for Iowa agribusinesses.
  • Producing and using biochemicals is more environmentally friendly than producing and using petrochemicals.
  • Consolidating numerous biomass research projects at one facility helps focus this work and enhances its exposure.

BECON’s Role in Iowa’s Future

The heart of BECON is made up of large-scale conversion systems that process agricultural-related biomass into fuels and chemicals. Additional equipment at the site also demonstrates how biomass fuels can be used to generate electricity, heat and valuable byproducts.

BECON is open to researchers from all of Iowa’s universities, colleges and community colleges, private nonprofit organizations and their research partners from the private sector. An important objective of BECON is to provide a place where researchers can collaborate and exchange ideas and information. Businesses and the general public also come to the facility to learn about biomass technologies and how they can be put to use. Demonstrations, field days and training sessions will be held periodically at the BECON facility.

Objectives

Reflecting on the valuable interwoven processes fueled by biomass, it is easy to see why Iowa and BECON are uniquely equipped to lead the way in this emerging field. The major objectives at the BECON facility are as follows:

  • Provide credible, firsthand information on renewable, biomass-based fuels, and chemicals.
  • Create research, testing, demonstration, and training opportunities on cost-effective biomass conversion systems.
  • Focus on biomass-based fuels and chemicals as value-added agricultural products.
  • Bridge the gap between laboratory research and real-world applications by working at the pilot-plant scale.
  • Create opportunities for rural economic development.