As part of its normal operations, Genera Energy, like any other industrial installation, is required to operate under the Tennessee Storm Water Multi-Sector General Permit for Industrial Activities. This permit requires companies to create a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan that identifies potential sources for pollutants and best management practices to help mitigate these risks. Additionally, routine sampling of runoff is performed to ensure contaminants are not being carried offsite into surrounding water bodies. This regular sampling program ensures compliance and can account for accidental fuel and other fluid leakages from process equipment onsite.

Because Genera is committed to an environmentally sustainable operation, we have decided to take our testing regime further than required and sample runoff from our stored switchgrass bales to identify, understand, and effectively manage any issues associated with runoff from stored biomass. The parameters tested for include total suspended solids, chemical oxygen demand, biochemical oxygen demand, nitrogen, phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, chlorine and magnesium. A model relating switchgrass mass and pollutant load will also be established in order to predict impacts on a commercial scale. The discoveries resulting from this research could play a key role in future storage logistics, one of the main concerns of biomass production on a commercial scale.

By identifying and alleviating any issues in advance, we can actively prevent pollution before it ever happens, contributing to a more sustainable future. In a sense, the sampling procedures we are establishing will serve as one of many forms of preventative maintenance we perform.

This forward way of thinking is one of the key contributors to Genera’s continued success as a biomass supply chain service provider. Contact Genera Energy today to learn more about how we can assist you with your own storage and sampling needs.

By Mary Catherine Rubisch, Student Intern