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Guest Maureen Talarico

Renewafuel - Fuel Cubes Emit 90% less Sulfur

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Guest Maureen Talarico

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc (NYSE: CLF) announced that it has made a significant, strategic investment in a “green” energy company that will produce high-quality, low-emission biofuel for its iron mining and processing operations, as well as other industries in Minnesota, Michigan and other Midwest states.

 

Cliffs acquired a 70 percent controlling interest in Rosemount, Minn.-based Renewafuel, LLC, a subsidiary of Endres Processing, LLC. Founded in 2005, Renewafuel produces high-quality, dense fuel cubes made from renewable and consistently available components such as corn stalks, switch grass, grains, soybean and oat hulls, wood, and wood byproducts.

 

“This is a strategic investment that provides an opportunity for Cliffs to utilize a ‘green’ solution for further reduction of emissions consistent with our objective to contain costs and enhance efficiencies in a socially responsible manner,” commented Joseph A. Carrabba, Cleveland-Cliffs chairman, president and chief executive officer.

 

In addition to the potential use of Renewafuel’s biofuel cubes in Cliffs’ production process, the Company indicated the cubes will be marketable to other organizations as a potential substitute for Western coal and natural gas.

 

Cliffs successfully tested multiple varieties of the green fuel at its Empire iron ore mine outside of Marquette, Mich., including the first-ever use of corn stover (stalks) to fuel a pelletizing furnace, which uses high temperatures to harden iron ore pellets for shipment. The Company hopes to begin using the fuel in its other operations, including the Tilden mine near Ishpeming, Mich., United Taconite in Eveleth, Minn., and Northshore Mining’s power plant in Silver Bay, Minn.

 

“Cleveland-Cliffs’ strategic investment in Renewafuel is yet another demonstration of our ongoing commitment to protect the environment,” said Dana Byrne, vice president of public affairs. “Implementing this exciting green technology enables us to be proactive in addressing challenging environmental issues for us and the states in which we operate.”

 

Renewafuel’s other owners are Leon Endres, founder and owner of Endres Processing, and James Mennell, founder and managing partner of The Environmental Law Group in Minneapolis. Endres Processing operates in 18 states, producing high-quality livestock feeds. Mennell has served as environmental counsel for many of the region’s renewable energy projects and has considerable expertise in the renewable energy arena.

 

Renewafuel has developed the technical ability to aggregate the multiple feedstocks and engineer energy cubes to meet exacting specifications of individual customers. The cubes are much more consistent in size, heat value and moisture content than raw biofuels and generate nearly twice as much energy as other biofuels. Because of their size and density, the cubes can be used in most solid fuel systems with little or no modifications required.

 

Renewafuel’s biofuel cubes—about the size of a coal briquette—generate the about the same amount of energy as coal from the Western United States; however, the green fuel emits 90 percent less sulfur dioxide, 35 percent less particulate matter and 30 percent less acid gases than coal, as demonstrated in tests at the University of Iowa’s power plant, which were overseen by the U.S. EPA’s Technology Verification Organization. In addition, the cubes are made from feedstocks that are considered biogenic carbon—meaning they are already part of the natural carbon balance and will not add to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Combustion of the cubes is considered “greenhouse neutral” under most existing carbon dioxide registry and trading programs.

 

The energy cubes can be used as a carbon neutral stand-alone fuel or a “green” supplement blended with existing fuels in industrial furnaces and boilers. The energy cubes generate more than 40 times the energy required to produce and transport them.

 

“Investing in Renewafuel and bringing biofuel cubes into the energy market helps Cliffs achieve several objectives,” Byrne said. “It gives us more options to control our energy costs, and assists us in reducing emissions from our mines.”

 

Renewafuel has a production-scale research and development facility in Battle Creek, Mich.; the company plans to expand capacity at the Battle Creek facility and construct additional production facilities in Michigan, Minnesota and other Midwest states.

 

With many state and federal initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under discussion or implementation, cubes may offer a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels that generate significantly higher levels of emissions.

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