Dave Smoot started in the alternative energy arena 11 years ago with the development of wind and solar projects in southern California.  At this time, Dave’s focus was on alternative energy to generate electricity.  Dave received an exclusive to represent a unique and revolutionary Vertical Axis Wind Turbine from the Korean conglomerate, Daewoo. This was an opportunity to improve the environment through renewable technologies and appeared to be a good business opportunity at the time. This project did not advance, ironically, due to limited access to electricity transmission lines being protected by the Utility Companies that owned them, to prevent competition from independent producers like Smoot. 

Dave switched to developing gasification of coal plants in Maryland. The key driver here was to start the first private coal to electricity plant on the East Coast. The project, although it lined up all of the coal it needed and off-take agreements were in process from Consolidated Power, the Project, which had just received a $1 million grant from the Governor of MD, ended up getting blacklisted because in 2010 and 2011, using coal to generate electricity was blacklisted in the future. That battle still goes on today.

And coincidentally, coal to electric Power Plants are still being shut down today. Coal is still the largest fuel for electrical power plants in the nation to my knowledge.

Smoot then turned to alternative forms of feedstock as an energy source and returned to Arizona. He started a project working on the gasification of municipal solid waste and wood waste from landfills to make electricity. This was (and still is) an excellent opportunity to extend the life of landfills.  However; the first project got stalled due to limitations with the technology that would feed the feedstock into the gasifier. This vital part of the process was not tested with the technology Smoot was going to use and the Project was rejected for funding. 

Shortly after this, the US Government was starting to pass Renewable Fuel Standards which provided access to additional credits and money for developers that used alternative products; compared to those that were using technologies that were harmful releasing gases into the environment. Dave Smoot saw an opportunity and put his sights on using wood as feedstock and moved to cellulosic biomass technologies. Wood and biomass can create harmful gases when buried in landfills. This is a huge dilemma for timber companies, landfills, companies that thin forests, etc.

After securing all of the Elements required to develop his first wood to fuel Project; land, proven second-generation technologies, a buyer for the fuel, enough feedstock to create the fuel needed, and funding; Smoot found that the technology company was misrepresenting the technology. So, yet another Project was shelved.

After taking over a year off to reassess the industry and his goals, Smoot focused on proven biomass technology that created clean synthetic gas and more of it than any other system in the industry.   It looks like natural gas and is fed into a proven conversion system to take the gas, cools it and turns it into many different kinds of liquid fuel or even paraffin for plastics. While this is being done every day, it had not yet been done with woody biomass in an economical way that created enough fuel to make the entire cost of the Project profitable. The costs were just too high.

Smoot then set out to find world-class partners in each segment of the industry, starting with a company that does just what they were looking for in the gasification space with over 100 installations around the world using their own 2nd generation, proven technology. Not only that, they guarantee their Project and offer a “Wrap” on the technology performance.

The next step was to secure feedstock. The Northwest was passing laws for companies to develop renewable fuel projects like this in the area and they have abundant supplies of woody biomass feedstock.

Smoot targeted the airlines for the fuel sales. They would not buy fuel from anybody that cannot prove that they are 100 percent “sustainability compliant”, which means they have to have pathways that proves the source of the woody biomass and that it gets replaced, creating a “cradle to grave” concept for trees. Resources for this woody biomass cannot be using Government-owned land, for example, or Federal Forests. 

Smoot found land in the Northwest on the water off the Puget Sound that has deep port access with long dock space and enough land space to store timber until it is turned into an acceptable form of feedstock for the technology to receive it. Additionally, the wood will be coming from many nearby sites, some of which are owned by some of the largest timber companies in the country.

The wood from all of the suppliers has to be traceable from the time the tree was planted, all the way to the point where it goes into the gasification system.  It’s all verifiable and documented. This meets all the conditions for funding and for sustainability and the team meets all the technical conditions to make a better fuel than what’s currently being used.

The last step is getting the fuel to the airport. The barges have direct access to the California harbor where the purchasing airline will take delivery of a specific quantity of the fuel.

Smoot’s team has just begun the first Advanced Planning Study, which kicks off a three to four-month engineering study period that verifies and validates the process. The technical and operational partnerships are in place.

The NWABF Project will be using compliant technology from a world-class company.  The Technology and Process are fully guaranteed to perform and meet all the “quality of fuel” requirements of the Federal Government’s fuel standards and the airlines’ fuel standards worldwide and the only company of its kind in the industry to date.  

To learn more about this project, please contact Dave Smoot at info@nwabf.com.