June 6, 2007 4:00 AM PDT
Powering cities on landfill waste
- Related Stories
Tech vets making leap to green techMay 29, 2007
Green-tech pros eye cash in carbonMay 9, 2007
Portable, trash-powered generator ready for deploymentFebruary 2, 2007
What you don't eat will heat your homeOctober 20, 2006
Silicon Valley's Mr. GreenSeptember 25, 2006
Getting gas from trashApril 17, 2006
(continued from previous page)
Other processes for converting waste to fuels include ethanol, methane from trash and manure, as well as biodiesel from animal fats. Many of these techniques are being tested to operate at a commercial scale, as part of the clean, or green tech, investment run-up.
Using municipal solid waste as a feedstock hasn't yet taken off because in the past there wasn't much interest in alternative fuels and people underestimated the material handling requirements, Ze-gen's Davis said.
A treatment center in New Bedford will pay Ze-gen a "tipping fee" to take its construction debris, which would otherwise have to be hauled somewhere else. But Davis said the process would be cost-effective even if a waste-to-energy facility operator wasn't paid. It's also conceivable that facilities would have to pay for waste in the future.
The process, if successful, could also qualify for renewable-energy credits or be used to sell carbon offsets, said Flagship Ventures' Matheson.
"Since we're reducing the carbon footprint of incineration and landfill quite dramatically, we think the (facility) should qualify for carbon offsets," he said.
By the end of the year, Ze-gen should have an idea of how its plant is performing, including the quality of the syngas, which varies depending on the process. The modular design of the plant means it can increase production quickly, assuming sufficient capital, and can be used with different types of garbage.
"Given that gasification is proven at a chemical level...it is going to be the next big thing (in waste to energy)," Davis said. "It's just a question of seeing who does it most efficiently."
19 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment