Enerkem Inc. has signed an agreement with Qingdao City Construction Investment Group Co. Ltd. to develop a project partnership to jointly build a municipal solid waste-to-biofuels facility in Qingdao. The agreement was signed by Mr. Luzheng Xing, Director General, Qingdao City Construction Investment Group, and Mr. Vincent Chornet, President and CEO of Enerkem.
This additional project partnership for Enerkem in China was announced in the presence of the Governor of Shandong, Mr. Guo Shuqing, and the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Philippe Couillard. It follows two previous project partnerships confirmed by Enerkem during the Quebec government’s trade mission in China.
“We are proud to combine forces with our esteemed partner in Qingdao to address local waste challenges and transform garbage into clean transportation fuels,” said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem. “Our modular waste-to-biofuels facilities can be replicated in any community as a competitive and sustainable alternative to incineration or landfilling. We are thrilled to export this game-changing technology to China.”
In this new project partnership, Enerkem will license its exclusive technology to convert local urban waste from China into biofuels and chemicals. The final business structure and sites are under discussions and will be announced at a later time.
Man’s best friend is going to be getting less table scraps now that they can be used to fuel the new 2015 Bi-fuel Chevrolet Impala. The CNG vehicle can motor around town on food and beer waste. Cleveland-based quasar energy group uses organic waste to produce biogas that is converted into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The methane gas that is produced from biogas is processed, removing all carbon dioxide and impurities to make Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). When compressed, RNG is a direct replacement for CNG.
Quasar sources raw waste materials from a variety of industries. For instance, its Columbus, Ohio Renewable Energy Facility processes up to 25,000 wet tons of biosolids from the City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities for wastewater. Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, contributes food waste for CNG-production after it’s been macerated in an industrial-sized InSinkErator Grind2Energy garbage disposal and Anheuser-Busch’s Columbus brewery provides an organic by-product to quasar for conversion to methane gas.
“If you can buy renewable fuel at $1.95 per gallon while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, everybody wins,” said Mel Kurtz, president of quasar energy group. “quasar’s Columbus facility can produce 1.3 million gasoline gallon equivalents of CNG each year.”
The CNG tank mounted in the trunk has the equivalent capacity of 7.8 gallons of gasoline, which is expected to offer approximately 150 city miles of range on compressed natural gas based on GM testing. With gasoline and compressed natural gas combined, expected range is 500 city miles based on GM testing. EPA estimates are not yet available.
“To avoid feelings of range anxiety common in owners of CNG-only vehicles, we made the Impala bi-fuel, allowing our customers to drive on CNG when available and on gasoline when it’s not,” added Nichole Kraatz, Impala chief engineer.
Impala’s bi-fuel system seamlessly switches to gasoline power when the CNG tank is depleted. Drivers who wish to change fuels while driving can do so by simply pushing a button. A light on the instrument panel indicates when CNG is being used, and there is no interruption in the vehicle’s performance.
Alphabet Energy has introduced what they are calling the world’s most powerful thermoelectric generator that captures exhaust heat and converts it into electricity, called the E1. The generator attaches to an exhaust stack and uses Alphabet’s patented thermoelectric materials to convert waste heat into electricity. Thermoelectrics use a temperature differential to generate electricity in the solid state. According to Alphabet Energy, the E1 generates up to 25 kWe per 1,000 kWe engine, saving 52,500 liters of diesel fuel per year, per engine. This product introduction is the first for the company, which was founded in 2009 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
“Today we’re making history and marking a milestone in industrial energy efficiency with the introduction of the E1,” said Alphabet Energy CEO and Founder Matthew L. Scullin. “People have been trying to make an industrial-scale thermoelectric generator for a long time. Customers want waste-heat recovery solutions that are simple pieces of industrial equipment rather than complex power plants.”
“With the E1, waste heat is now valuable,” Scullin added. “Saving fuel has the potential to be one of the biggest levers a company has in reducing operating expenses. That potential is finally realized with the E1, the world’s first waste-heat recovery product that meets the mining’s and oil & gas industry’s criteria for simple, strong, and reliable solutions.”
While NASA has used thermoelectrics since the 1950s, high materials costs made them prohibitive for wider use. However, Alphabet’s proprietary advancements in silicon and tetrahedrite have enabled the company to create the first highly efficient thermoelectric materials that use abundant resources. Thermoelectrics are unique because they are solid-state; which means the E1 operates with technology that has no moving parts, no working fluids and requires minimal maintenance.
Compared to other waste heat recovery systems, the Alphabet Energy said its E1 requires only minor up front engineering scope and no operation by the customer. This makes it ideally suited for remote and industrial applications where ongoing system support capacity is limited. The E1 requires no engine modifications and is installed with a simple process that involves only exhaust coupling and electrical hookup.
Texas A&M is part of a nearly $16 million nationwide grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in part to fund projects for turning biomass into power. This article from the Stephenville (TX) Empire-Tribune says A&M’s AgriLife Research received money under the USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to help fund a two-year program to demonstrate developing technologies for water purification, treatment and recycling and power generation using biomass at Tarleton State University’s Southwest Regional Dairy Center.
More than $780,000 has been allocated for the two-year project, which aims to demonstrate a proven water treatment and recycling technology developed by Global Restoration and a biomass conversion system developed by [AgriLife Research scientist Dr. Sergio Capareda, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M] and others at Texas A&M to produce electrical power.
Capareda says the technology demonstrations will convert dry manure produced by the milking herd at Tarleton’s dairy center into heat and electricity for on-site use. The project also plans to develop resource-conservation practices in handling wastewater and solids from animal manure at the facility while developing several spreadsheet-based monitoring systems.
“The Global Restoration group will take on the water coming out of the facility and the dairy’s lagoon, and purify the water so it may be recycled,” Capareda explained. “This generates large amounts of dry manure, which will be used by our system to generate heat and electrical power.”
Officials say the project could eliminate or at least reduce the size of open ponds, as well as offer another power and revenue stream for farmers.
Cambi Group has inked a deal with Beijing Drainage Group (BDG) and Beijing Drainage Construction Company (BDC) to convert Chinese sludge treatment into renewable energy and byproducts. BDG and BDC are exemplifying the direction to meet China’s five goals for sewage sludge treatment: increased biogas production, sludge volume reduction, pathogen kill for safe land application, energy recovery, and recycling of resources.
The Gaobeidian wastewater treatment plant will be fitted with the Cambi THP solution and be operational within 2016. BDG is planning to build another four large-scale sludge projects in the period 2016-2017. When all of the five sludge plants are operating, all the sewage sludge in Beijing could potentially be treated by the Cambi THP solution and Beijing Drainage Group will become the single largest company using advanced anaerobic digestion in the world.
The general manager of Beijing Drainage Construction Company, Mr. Lei Shi, commented, “Cambi has proven itself to have the best THP solution and technology. Our partnership is truly a historic moment for China and will provide the country with an environmentally friendly solution to the treatment of sludge.”
Cambi’s chief executive officer Per Lillebø celebrated this benchmark by applauding BDC and BDG for choosing the 21st century leading technology and doing what is right for Beijing and China, in terms of technological solution, cost efficiency and environmental sustainability: “We are proud to sign this partnership for the future and are committed to making the Gaobeidian project a successful example for the rest of China and the world,” he said.
A company that plans to turn municipal waste into renewable jet fuel has received a government loan guarantee for the project. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the $105 Million loan guarantee provided through the Biorefinery Assistance Program for Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels, LLC to build a biorefinery to produce jet fuel from municipal solid waste.
“This represents a huge step forward in the development of clean, renewable, job-creating American fuels,” Vilsack said during a speech at the National Clean Energy Conference. “The nation is entering a new energy age that will make us more energy independent, cut carbon pollution and strengthen our economy, especially in rural communities where clean fuels will be produced.”
USDA is awarding Fulcrum a $105 million Biorefinery Assistance Program loan guarantee through Bank of America, N.A. to construct a facility in McCarran, Nev., to convert municipal solid waste to biodiesel jet fuel. USDA Rural Development’s loan guarantee represents less than half of the $266 million project cost. The plant is expected to produce 11 million gallons of fuel annually.
This is the first loan guarantee USDA has made for the production of bio jet fuel.
Last month, we told you how Fulcrum got investment backing from China’s Cathay Pacific Airways and negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum for an initial 375 million U.S. gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over 10 years… about 2 percent of the airline’s current fuel consumption.
USDA is working on three more loans for biorefineries in Iowa, North Carolina and Oregon, turning woody biomass, municipal solid waste and energy grasses into renewable fuels.
It takes a lot of energy to run the world’s most powerful military, and the U.S. military is looking at more non-petroleum options for its operations. This article from my favorite scientific blog, Armed with Science, talks about a method by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO) to turn synthetic gas (syngas), which could be collected from waste sites even at the most forward of bases, into synthetic diesel.
APTO utilized a company with extensive experience in the Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) synthesis process. In this application, syngas is passed through a sealed reactor vessel over copper condenser tubes that are coated with a cobalt catalyst. Applying proper heat in the reactor causes a chemical reaction that results in synthetic diesel fuel. The fuel can be used in ground vehicles or diesel generators to create electricity for base operations.
The initial demonstration system, contained in a steel-framed skid for portabililty, produced less than one barrel of fuel per day. Further system refinements could increase the output, with the capability to improve to 10 barrels. Test results showed that the created fuel successfully operated a 20kW diesel generator.
The team created its own syngas supply through a methanol dissociation process, but APTO has other ongoing efforts to supply syngas through Waste to Energy systems that use biomass or municipal solid waste to create syngas.
Not only does this help ensure a fuel supply, but it also helps a base reduce its waste, while helping keep us less energy dependent on some parts of the world that might not be that friendly towards us.
Israel-based Bluesphere Corp. has announced a plan to convert the methane gas coming off U.S. landfills into clean energy. Company officials say it can be done with technology that is already available.
Methane can be converted into energy by drilling pipes into the landfill. Through these pipes methane is directed into a gas turbine or internal combustion engine which converts the gas into electricity. The electricity can either be used on-site or sold to the local electric utility and fed into the grid.
Bluesphere CEO Shlomi Palas commented, “A large number of the landfills in the U.S., particularly in the southeastern region, are not productively using methane gas emitted from landfills. These landfills are the oil fields of the future.”
“We believe we can offer a very favorable partnership to current landfill owners by providing the equipment, expertise, and power purchase agreements to convert what is now an unused asset, methane gas, into a revenue stream. We’ve been in talks with state representatives looking to increase green energy production and reduce methane emissions. They have invited and welcomed our efforts to work with landfill owners in their jurisdictions on methane-to-electricity conversions.”
Bluesphere officials believe this is a win-win-win-win situation, as they’ll generate revenues for landfill owners and Bluesphere, while cleaning up the environment AND generating clean, renewable energy.
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have published a new report that outlines new federal initiatives to support growth in the private biogas/waste-to-energy sector. The Biogas Opportunities Roadmap concluded that developing a viable biogas industry in the U.S. can boost the economy as well as provide a reliable, distributed source of renewable energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The report found that today there are 2,000 biogas sites operating and with opportunity for another 11,000 additional biogas systems to covert waste to energy and co-products. However, to make way for these additional biogas systems, there must be support from federal agencies, significantly more investment, increased research and development and expanded markets for biogas, according to the report.
In the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, the federal agencies identify programs that will promote biogas utilization and help the private sector take advantage of the full potential of biogas system without legislation. These programs include:
- Using existing agency programs to leverage over $10 million in research funding.
- Fostering investments in biogas systems including reviewing government procurement programs for products of biogas systems.
- Strengthening markets for biogas systems and system products including by modernizing existing Federal incentives.
- Improving communication and coordination by establishing a Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Working Group that will include participation from DOE and EPA, as well as the dairy and biogas industries.
“The potential for biogas to increase renewable energy production, reduce landfill waste, benefit the environment, and spur economic growth in the U.S. is significant. We are very pleased to see the U.S. government publish a report that outlines these benefits and opportunities,” said Shlomi Palas, CEO of Blue Sphere Corporation, a company specializing in biogas technology. “Bluesphere is actively working in several U.S. states to develop biogas facilities. We have brought our global expertise in building and operating waste-to-energy facilities to the U.S. market and we’re finding very strong interest in the value proposition we have to offer. We are eager to expand our operations in the U.S. in conjunction with some major partners and to capitalize on biogas opportunities.”
Bluesphere has begun design and engineering work, and is scheduled to break ground in 2014 on a 5.2 MW waste-to-energy anaerobic digester in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is also developing in a 3.2 MW waste-to-energy project in Rhode Island and has a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a 5.2 MW waste-to-energy project in Massachusetts.
Researchers at MIT are recycling materials from discarded car batteries into long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions free power while keep lead out of landfills. The system was described in the journal Energy and Environmental Science and was co-authored by Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammon along with graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.
The system is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.
“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” said Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.
Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. However by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades. In addition, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.
As an added advantage, the production of perovskite solar cells is a relatively simple and benign process. “It has the advantage of being a low-temperature process, and the number of steps is reduced” compared with the manufacture of conventional solar cells, Belcher explained.
Those factors will help to make it “easy to get to large scale cheaply,” added. Continue reading
Albion Community Power (ACP) has funded the development of a small scale landfill gas engine in Docking, Norfolk (UK). The project will be developed in conjunction with ACP’s biogas partner AlphaGen Renewables who will oversee the installation and operation of a 50kW microgeneration landfill gas engine. The project will generate power from the landfill gas resource at the site under a 20 year agreement with Norfolk County Council. The Docking projects represents the first project with AlphaGen Renewables and the first Biogas project in the ACP portfolio.
Richard Tipping, Chairman of AlphaGen Renewables said, “We are delighted to be partnering with ACP on this project, which is set to deliver strong returns. Renewables such as biogas are playing a growing role in the UK’s energy production.”
ACP undertakes projects in biogas as well as projects incorporating wind, hydro and solar energy. The company is looking to build a portfolio of similar, high yielding, landfill projects going forward.
David Gudgin, Head of at Renewables at Albion Ventures added, “Biogas is an increasingly popular area of renewable energy and we are looking forward to working with AlphaGen both on this project and others in the future.”
The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) has begun the final phase of the Hartford Landfill closure with the addition a 40-acre cap utilizing ClosureTurf, a three component erosion control closure system, topped by six acres of solar panels. ClosureTurf consists of an impermeable geomembrane layer, engineered turf and sand infill. This system ensures durability, longevity and the elimination of drainage and odor. According to Watershed Geosynthetics, the developer of the ClosureTurf, the state-owned landfill is now an example of innovation in renewable energy for future landfill closures in Connecticut and across the nation.
“When we began working with the City of Hartford on the future of the landfill, we wanted to find innovative ways to use the land,” said Thomas D. Kirk, CRRA President. “Solar energy was an idea we all agreed on right away.”
ClosureTurf is a durable system that allows for a multitude of post-closure uses with easy accessibility and clean surface having little maintenance. “Solar panels on top of a landfill, is an extremely beneficial re-use of typical dead space when a landfill is closed,” explained Mike Ayers, president of Watershed Geosynthetics. “The ClosureTurf system makes solar a very viable option since the panels are located in a remote place over large areas which allows the opportunity for installation of a large number of solar panels (making it easier to reach critical scale in megawatts installed) with very minimal maintenance.”
With the completion of the installation, the Hartford Landfill is now the first in the state of Connecticut — and one of few in the nation — to be transformed into a renewable energy source through the generation of solar power. Collected energy will be sold to the regional power grid in Connecticut. The CRRA plans to generate enough megawatts to power more than 1,000 Hartford homes. When the closure project is completed, the entire 96-acre landfill will be encapsulated with ClosureTurf.
Municipal solid waste is a big concern for cities around the world and many are discovering that they can make money from their waste. How? But converting the waste stream into biofuels and bioproducts. Yet a question that remains to be answered is where and when will this development play out and how are developers strategizing their business model to reach commercialization?
People can learn the answers to these questions by signing up for Renewable Waste Intelligence’s free webinar, “The challenges of achieving a commercial scale MSW to biofuels and bio-products project“. The webinar will take place Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 10:30 am ET.
Speakers include experts from several of the country’s leading biofuels and bioproducts companies who will share their views on the unfolding project plans, how commercialization has been reached and how MSW can be used to produce a viable and green “drop in” solution for the biochemicals industry.
- Tim Cesarek, VP, Enerkem
- Steve Csonka, Executive Director, CAAFI
- Sadesh Sookraj, EVP, Novomer
For more information and to register click here.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a loan guarantee solicitation making as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.
“As the President emphasized in his Climate Action Plan, it is critical that we take an all-of-the above approach to energy in order to cut carbon pollution, help address the effects of climate change and protect our children’s future,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Investments in clean, low-carbon energy also provide an economic opportunity. Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the Department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy. Today’s announcement will help build on and accelerate that success.”
The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market-ready. Within the solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the appropriate requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities including micro-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams; and efficiency improvements.
Wastewater streams could provide the feedstocks for biodiesel production. This article from Water Technology says a new study from Lux Research shows the potential to capture industrial fats, oils and greases (FOG) from the streams to make the green fuel.
Growing demand for biodiesel amid a restricted supply of feedstocks drives recovery of industrial FOG. However, current economics don’t favor lithium and phosphate recovery, noted the release.
“Many current wastewater streams contain resources worth billions of dollars of lost product and lost opportunity,” said Tess Murray, research associate and author of the report titled, “Recovering Valuable Resources from Wastewater.”
“As the value of resources rises, recovery technologies are beginning to make sense for even parts-per-million traces of materials such as precious metals and oil,” she added.
You can read the full report here.