Genera’s headquarters are in the Biomass Innovation Park research campus, located in Vonore, Tennessee. Genera designed and built the Biomass Innovation Park (BIP) to be the country’s leading research and development facility for demonstrating and optimizing the feedstock supply chain. In operation since 2011 and operated exclusively by Genera, the Biomass Innovation Park is the only commercial facility operating today that can perform all the processes and steps necessary to bridge the farm gate and the biorefinery gate, ranging from biomass receiving and inventory management to size reduction and characterization. BIP is designed to receive and process a variety of bale types and sizes in addition to field chopped material. BIP is also designed to handle a wide range of biomass feedstocks, currently processing switchgrass, corn stover, biomass sorghum, sugar cane bagasse, and wood.
“Innovation” is part of the name of the facility for a good reason. BIP facilities are designed with a lot of flexibility and equipped with sophisticated sensors and instrumentation to help us develop an integrated, energy efficient, cost effective process for converting crops to feedstocks. Primary areas of focus currently include: increasing handling and material flow rates and efficiencies; reducing the amount of energy required for size reduction; reducing labor requirements and ensuring safe handling; increasing the bulk density of the feedstock for more efficient transportation; determining optimal conditions for storage; sizing equipment and motors for process optimization; and establishing operating baselines and parameters.
Genera has a number of collaborative research partners working in various feedstock receiving, handling, storage, milling, packaging, and transportation research programs. The BIP facilities are designed to accommodate and host a variety of pilot, demonstration, and semi-works scale processes and offer a variety of potential partnership opportunities.
The 22-acre site is also unique in that it combines a variety of agronomic research and demonstration programs with commercial scale handling and processing operations. The facility’s Energy Gardens host demonstration plots with various leading plant genetics and biotech companies, including multiple varieties and research test plots of switchgrass, miscanthus, biomass sorghum, sorghum sudan, sweet sorghum, short rotation hybrid poplar, and arundo donax.