SYRACUSE, N.Y., Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Summerhill Biomass Systems is planting the seeds of innovation into the Syracuse Tech Garden.
Summerhill, named after the Cayuga County community where the technology was developed, has pending patents across the globe on its system for grinding up timber, brush, corn stalks and other plant waste and converting the fine powder into heat.
Dr. James T. McKnight, Summerhill president and co-founder, said he's eager to prove that this solid form of renewable energy is more efficient than ethanol and other types of biomass produced around the world. Central New Yorkers will be among the first to witness a locally-produced energy system that has global potential. "Photosynthesis as biomass is the most efficient way to store solar energy, and excess quantities are being stored this way all the time. Summerhill just provides the most efficient way to use this stored solar energy" said McKnight, who helped develop products for DuPont and Johnson & Johnson as an organic chemist before founding Summerhill with sons Kim and Steven in 2006. "By contrast, when you grow corn, 95 percent of what you grow (stalk) is wasted. Then you take the corn off, and it's expensive to convert to ethanol."
"The consistency of the powder is midway between baking flour and confectionary sugar," added Summerhill Co-Founder Kim McKnight. "The way it burns, we're pretending it's a gas, without it actually being a gas."
Lee McKnight, also James' son, serves on the Summerhill board of directors and was on hand at the expo to present the company's technology. In his earlier work with Wireless Grids Corp., Lee McKnight created software that allows users to grid together computers, MP3 players, printers and cell phones so that those devices could share files and hardware across multiple networks. That software will be considered for control of biomass energy in Urban Farm/ Greenhouses, by the SEED project which includes both WGC and Summerhill alongside other innovative businesses in the Syracuse region, to benefit communities, businesses, and students through experiential learning. "Innovative technology is for me a real or virtual family affair," iSchool Associate Professor Lee McKnight said. "I'm extremely proud of the work my father and brothers have done in the field of renewable energy. I hope people agree with me that Summerhill has tremendous potential."
"Through SEED, Lee McKnight and his team are exploring the frontier where green and information technologies meet," says Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. "Both their innovations and their entrepreneurial spirit resonate deeply with longstanding strengths of Syracuse University and Central New York. In a real sense, then, SEED connects our past, present, and future."
Syracuse University iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy added, "The SEED project showcases the new possibilities created through interdisciplinary work," said Syracuse University iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy. "Only through such an innovative project would researchers think to use wireless grids technologies and the agricultural waste of cornstalks to enhance the lives of Syracuse city residents through an urban greenhouse."
Dr. James McKnight said his powder would cost less than heating oil, including delivery. It could also be used to heat commercial or institutional greenhouses, or in agricultural bins for drying out grain. Summerhill will be equipped to retrofit its system at homes or businesses that used heating oil or propane.
This concept was showcased Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Syracuse Tech Garden's Fall Tech Expo. Several other companies had display booths on their new innovations as well.
Dr. McKnight presented his technology last year at the World Bank Alternative Fuels Symposium. The powder burns between 5/100ths and 1/10th of a second, and emits no smoke or odor even at 1 million BTUs. Summerhill previously obtained a $75,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Agreement #10826 for feasibility studies and is currently seeking additional accredited investors. The company is also contending for state and federal grants. Funding would be used to further develop the McKnight family's technology to the point where it could be sold to residential and commercial customers throughout the northeast and beyond. SUNY ESF and Cornell University are partners in exploring the concept.
"We feel there will be support for this because, with this system, you're not using cultivated land. You're not using any fertilizer. Instead, you're using leftover wood and brush, which potentially cause fires. We intercept the decay process," Dr. James T. McKnight said.
SOURCE Summerhill Biomass Systems
|SOURCE Summerhill Biomass Systems|
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