Georgia Tech Alumni, Researchers Author Comprehensive Book on Biomass Energy Systems

Installing biomass energy systems can greatly reduce a company’s operating costs, create a cost-effective and cleaner way to produce energy, and reduce its carbon footprint – if managers, engineers and environmental health and safety professionals understand renewable fuels and the equipment required to convert these fuels into energy. A group of Georgia Tech alumni and researchers now have in print a comprehensive book on this subject, Biomass and Alternate Fuel Systems: An Engineering and Economic Guide.

The book is a joint publication of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and John Wiley & Sons. It is an update and significant expansion of the Industrial Wood Energy Handbook written by the same Georgia Tech team in 1984.

“Knowledge about biomass energy is essential as the domestic economy moves toward an emphasis on sustainability, which requires the conversion to renewable energy sources like wood and biomass,” noted Mike Brown, one of the book’s editors and an energy specialist with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Biomass energy, which is the greatest renewable energy resource, is of prime importance in the Southeast because other renewable resources like wind, geothermal and solar are available in only marginal quantities. In the United States, the potential sustainable amount of biomass rivals that of current nationwide use of coal.”

The book explains characteristics of renewable fuels, especially biomass and wood, and the cost-effective and environmentally friendly methods for handling, storing, burning and converting these fuels into heat, steam, power and chemicals. Wood refers to renewable fuel generated from trees and comes in forms that include bark, sawdust, shavings and whole tree chips. Biomass — a more general term referring to fuel generated from any type of plant life — includes trees, agricultural residue, biogas, and small, fast-growing plants like switch grass and algae.

The book also includes economic evaluation methods; information on furnaces, boilers and gasifiers; pollution control equipment to limit emissions from biomass combustion; production of liquid fuels from biomass; a case study and feasibility study; costing; and calculation methods for greenhouse gas and carbon emission comparisons between conventional and alternate fuels.

“People who would be interested in this book include upper managers who would make the decision to install the biomass system; operating personnel who must evaluate the technical feasibility of a system; environmental, health and safety staff that permit and support operations; and equipment manufacturers who want to educate potential customers on the details of the system,” said Thomas F. McGowan, the book’s co-editor and president of TMTS Associates, Inc., an engineering consulting firm specializing in combustion, air pollution control, solids handling and biomass energy. “This comprehensive book introduces new technologies and contains current cost and equipment vendor data. For those involved in the alternate fuels industry, this book contains a wealth of information.”

The editors of the book are all Georgia Tech alumni: McGowan (Industrial Management, 1985), Brown (Mechanical Engineering, 1973 and Management, 1987), William Bulpitt (Mechanical Engineering, 1970 and 1972) and Jim Walsh (Aerospace Engineering, 1969 and 1970) have more than 140 years of experience among them. McGowan was a senior research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) from 1978 to 1985, and Bulpitt recently retired as a senior research engineer with Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute. Brown and Walsh are both senior research engineers with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.

For more information on the book, please contact Thomas McGowan (404-627-4722); E-mail: (moc.gnirpsdnimnull@nawogcmft). For more information on Georgia Tech’s services in energy management, please contact Bill Meffert (404-894-3844); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@treffem.llib). The book can be purchased from John Wiley & Sons at

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
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Georgia Institute of Technology
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Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

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