EcoPAS Ethanol PAS-100 Exceeds Expectations

The California wine industry is seeing growing concern of ethanol vapor released into the atmosphere from large fermentation tanks, an issue that can lead to the formation of smog. Fermentation is a necessary step in the production of wine; therefore to address the concern, EcoPAS invented the Passive Alcohol System (PAS-100) that captures the alcohol vapor that escapes from wine tank vents during fermentation.

EcoPAS-100To test the technology, EcoPAS partnered with Greenbelt Resources Corporation who fabricated the first commercial scale PAS-100 and its complementary manifold system. The system was installed in a southern Californian wine services facility and used for the first time during the recently completed 2015 crush. The company has announced the fabricated system has exceeded performance expectations.

“Leveraging the manufacturing expertise of the Greenbelt team enables our own team to focus on continued performance improvements,” said Patrick Thompson, CEO of EcoPAS. “Now that the full-scale PAS system has been achieved in practice, we expect to see an increase in demand for Greenbelt fabrication of additional PAS systems.”

According to EcoPAS, both its own engineers as well as winemakers, of whom are EcoPAS target customers and end users, were pleased with all aspects of the operation. Utilizing the PAS-100 manufactured by Greenbelt Resources for EcoPAS, the winery was able to claim credit for enough captured volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to stay below mandated daily emissions rates. Thus, says EcoPAS, deployment of the PAS is not only good for the environment, it’s good business.

Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources added, “The PAS is an impressive invention requiring no active energy input. “We look forward to growing our two complimentary companies side-by-side. Once the market adoption of the PAS hits a critical mass, the aggregated by-product of local PAS’s will be an excellent feedstock for the typical modular distillation-and-dehydration systems for which Greenbelt Resources is known.”

PHG Energy Kicks of Waste-to-Energy Project

Construction of a new gasification plant at Lebanon, Tennessee’s waste water treatment facility is underway following a groundbreaking ceremony held last week. Tens of thousands of tons of sewer sludge, used tires and industrial wood waste will be processed to produce electricity to help power the plant.  PHG Energy of Nashville is designing and building the new facility, which will include utilization of the world’s largest downdraft gasification unit with a full capacity of 64 tons per day through the system.

Lebanon Groundbreaking 11-12-15 smaller size

From left to Right: Chris Koczaja (vice president of implementation and engineering at PHG Energy); Tom Doherty (environmental specialist with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation); Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead; Lebanon Councilman Fred Burton, Ward 2; Lebanon Councilman Rob Cesternino, Ward 3, and Jeff Baines (public works commissioner for the city of Lebanon)

“This facility is going to be a model for waste-to-energy partnerships,” Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead said of the project, “as well as the first stage in moving our city completely away from dumping waste into landfills.”

Gasification is a clean thermo-chemical process that breaks down biomass-based material in a high-heat and low-oxygen environment. According to a PHG Energy press release, there is no incineration or burning involved in the process. The only residue after production of synthetic fuel gas is a carbon biochar that has multiple agricultural, industrial and direct fuel uses.

Tom Doherty, Environmental Specialist with the Tennessee, Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), said the new facility is an important step forward in efforts Tennessee and his department are fostering across the state. “When we look at the thousands of tons of wood waste and sludge this plant will cleanly process, that is a tremendous step forward. One of the most exciting parts of deploying this technology in Lebanon is that hundreds or tons of scrap tires will be put to beneficial use while saving Wilson County a considerable portion of their previous disposal expense.”

TDEC has awarded the project funding of $250,000 through the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant program, and facilitated a subsidy of 70% of the $3.5 million financing’s interest cost through the Federal Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds program.

Hometown BioEnergy Wins Biogas Project Award

The American Biogas Council has awarded the Hometown BioEnergy facility with its “Biogas Project of the Year” award. The LeSeur, MN plant is owned by the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, with management partner Avant Energy, and utilizes anaerobic digestion to produce renewable electricity from food processing and agricultural waste. Once the methane gas is produced, also known as renewable natural gas, it is used locally and saved for use during high demand times.

MMPA_Hometown_BioEnergyAccording to Steve Schmidt, MMPA chairman, “We’re very proud of this award because it recognizes the innovation built into Hometown BioEnergy, where we produce methane and store it, ready to burn in our generators during on-peak hours when the value of the energy is highest. This biogas facility, because of its ability to store biogas until it’s needed, is an excellent complement to renewable power generated from wind or solar.”

This is not the first award for the facility. Hometown BioEnergy was also recognized by POWER Magzine as a 2014 Top Renewable Plant and was featured on their December cover.

Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council said in a news release announcing the award, “The quality of innovation in the biogas industry is at a fever pitch today.”

DC Water Turns Poop to Electricity

DC Water has unveiled it’s $470 million Blue Plains waste-to-energy project that converts biosolids waste to electricity. The facilities include a dewatering building, 32 thermal hydrolysis vessels, four concrete 80 foot high anaerobic digesters that each hold 3.8 million gallons of solids, and three jet engine-sized turbines.

CAMBI thermal hydrolysis vessels in foreground, anaerobic digesters in the background. Photo Credit: DC Water

CAMBI thermal hydrolysis vessels in foreground, anaerobic digesters in the background. Photo Credit: DC Water

The company said the project was viable through CAMBI thermal hydrolysis process, the first time the technology has been used in the U.S. DC Water also says with the process now in operation, the Blue Plains facility is the largest of its kind in the world.

DC Water CEO and General Manager George S. Hawkins, said of the facility, “This project embodies a shift from treating used water as waste to leveraging it as a resource. We are proud to be the first to bring this innovation to North America for the benefit of our ratepayers, the industry and the environment.”

Thermal hydrolysis uses high heat and pressure to “pressure cook” the solids left over at the end of the wastewater treatment process. This weakens the solids cell walls and the structure between cells to make the energy easily accessible to the organisms in the next stage of the process–anaerobic digestion. The methane these organisms produce is captured and fed to three large turbines to produce electricity. Steam is also captured and directed back into the process. Next, the solids at the end of the process are a cleaner Class A biosolids product that DC Water uses as a compost-like material. Biosolids products are currently being used around the District for urban gardens and green infrastructure projects. DC Water also plans bring a compost-like product to market.

“This is yet another example of the District leading the nation in the adoption and implementation of sustainable practices,” added District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser. “DC Waters Blue Plains facility is converting waste to clean water and a nutrient-rich soil byproduct, producing energy and helping to put the District on the path towards a zero waste future.”

The company did more than a decade of research prior to bringing the new facilities into operation. The project received the 2012 Grand Prize in Planning Award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists, the 2012 Global Honour Award in Planning from the International Water Association, as well as one of two WERF Excellence in Innovation Awards, first presented at WEFTEC 2011.

ConEdison Assists “Renewable” Waste Treatment

The Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant located on Staten Island has been updated to include “renewable” energy to help power the waste treatment facility. Three new boilers – a combination of biogas and natural gas – along with a new exhaust system and a rootfop solar array. Biogas is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process and is now being captured and used to replace equipment from the 1970s that ran on heating oil. The solar array, installed by ConEdison Solutions, is expected to produce 1.6 million kilowatt hours, approximately 10 percent of the plant’s power needs. The project is part of OneNYC’s initiative to achieve net-zero energy use at the City’s wastewater treatment plants by 2050.

21218149303_ee1802d0ae_z“This $30 million investment in new technology at the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant will significantly reduce pollution and result in cleaner air for New York City,” said New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “Our wastewater treatment plants require a tremendous amount of electricity in order to protect public health and the environment, and we’re focused on not only reducing their demand for electricity, but also capturing and maximizing their potential for energy production.”

In September 2014, New York City committed to the goal of achieving an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2050 (80×50). With buildings comprising nearly three-quarters of New York City’s overall emissions, the City has implemented an initiative to retrofit all public buildings with any significant energy use by 2025, and supporting many private buildings to do the same. In addition, in order to reduce emissions from City government operations, an program was put in place to achieve net-zero energy use at the City’s wastewater treatment plants by 2050.

“ConEdison Solutions is proud to help the New York City Department of Environmental Protection promote sustainability through this ambitious solar installation,” added Michael N. Perna of ConEdison Solutions. “Throughout New York City, both public-sector and private-sector entities are learning how to utilize renewable power as a money-saving and energy-saving asset. With these significant improvements at the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant, DEP is setting an outstanding example for other facilities throughout the region.”

Joule Receives EPA Cert for CO2 Ethanol

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 8.39.11 AMJoule’s fuel grade Sunflow-E ethanol has been registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for commercial use in E10 and E15 gasoline blends. The fuel is derived from recycled CO2.

“We are approaching commercialization with a technology that is first of its kind, able to convert CO2 directly into multiple drop-in fuels. It is critical to prove its readiness by meeting government and industry requirements. Having secured EPA registration, our fuel grade Sunflow-E ethanol is now cleared for use,” said Serge Tchuruk, president and CEO of Joule.

Earlier this year Joule announced the results of its third-party testing of Sunflow-E ethanol. Key results included:

  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D4806 – Denatured fuel ethanol for blending with gasolines for use as automotive spark-ignition engine fuel
    German Institute for Standardization (DIN) EN 15376 – Ethanol as a blending component for petrol
  • Joule Sunflow-E ethanol is chemically identical to its traditional counterparts, but differs in the way it is produced. Joule converts CO2 to ethanol directly in a continuous process, using engineered bacteria as living catalysts rather than biomass feedstocks. At full-scale commercialization, Joule ultimately targets productivity of up to 25,000 gallons of Sunflow-E ethanol per acre annually.

Tchuruk added, “Following a full year of production at our demonstration plant, we have achieved a several-fold advance in outdoor productivity. Additionally, we have reached unprecedented levels in our lab reactors, and we know the steps required to replicate these results outdoors. This will further strengthen our position to initiate global deployment.”

Biofuels Capacity to Grow to 61B Gallons by 2018

According to new research, global biofuels capacity will grow to 61 billion gallons per year (BGY0 by 2018. Ethanol and biodiesel will continue to dominate with 96 percent of the capacity in 2018, but novel fuels and novel feedstocks will be major drivers of capacity growth, according to Lux Research.

The study finds that novel fuels and novel feedstocks will grow at a rate of 27 percent and 16 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), respectively, through 2018. Ethanol and biodiesel will grow at a slower 2 percent rate but will reach capacities of 40 BGY and 19 BGY, respectively.

Biofuels growth from Lux research“While ethanol and biodiesel dominate global biofuel capacity today, limits on their growth mean that novel fuels like renewable diesel, biojet fuel and biocrude are crucial to the future of the industry,” said Victor Oh, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report titled, “Biofuels Outlook 2018: Highlighting Emerging Producers and Next-generation Biofuels.”

“Producers also need to tap into novel feedstocks like waste oils, non-edible biomass, and municipal solid waste to push the industry beyond food-vs.-fuels competition,” he added.

Lux Research analysts studied growth of biofuels utilizing an alternative fuels database of over 1,800 production facilities globally. Among their findings:

  • Waste oils will dominate next-generation biofuels. With a 52% share, biodiesel made from novel feedstock, specifically waste oils, will lead novel fuels capacity in 2018. Cellulosic ethanol and renewable diesel follow with 19% and 18%, respectively.
  • Americas continue dominance. With a 64% share of global biofuels capacity, the Americas are a dominant force. The region, led by the U.S. and Brazil, also leads in utilization of global production capacity with 86%, much higher than the global average of 68% in 2014.
  • Eight countries are biggest emerging producers. China, Indonesia and Thailand in Asia; Colombia and Argentina in the Americas; and Portugal, Poland and France in Europe are the biggest emerging production centers for biofuels after the U.S. and Brazil.

New Forest Waste-to-Energy Tech Debuts

G4 Insights has debuted a new technology to convert forest waste into renewable natural gas in Auburn, California. The process converts scraps and small trees from forest thinning projects into biomethane.  In it first demonstration, G4 used gas produced onsite to fuel an unmodified Placer County truck.

G4 ForesttoFuel Technology“G4 is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Placer County, California Energy Commission, Southern California Gas Company, and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to make this project a great success,” said G4 Principal Matt Babicki. “This project demonstrates the potential for G4 PyroCatalytic Hydrogenation technology to transform forestry waste into high value, low carbon fuel, and support forestry communities with long term jobs to collect biomass and operate G4 renewable natural gas plants.”

Typically, forestry waste is burned where trees are felled to reduce wildfire hazards, increasing local air pollution. Converting the forestry residues it into natural gas instead would reduce air pollution and increase the supply renewable energy.  In the Foresthill area of Placer County alone, there are an estimated 20,640 tons of forestry waste produced each year – enough to fuel 4,926 cars for a year. A single ton of forestry waste could produce enough natural gas to drive from Lake Tahoe to Anchorage, Alaska. In the United States, there is enough current available and sustainable tree thinning and forestry industry waste to fuel more than 40,000 natural gas fleets the size of Placer County’s.

“Forest waste is one of the largest sources of potential waste resources for biofuels and bioenergy in California,” said California Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott. “Bringing more technologies like the G-4 Insight technology, which can sustainably convert waste materials from forest restoration activities into low carbon transportation fuels online, would be a significant achievement.”

The G4 technology uses raw, untreated forestry waste that otherwise has no commercial use. Competing technologies require clean wood chips, stripped of bark, from harvested trees that could be used for other purposes. The gas it produces is of the same quality as conventional gas, and can be used for any of its purposes. G4 says the natural gas gthey produce using this technology reduces fossil emissions by 86 percent compared to standard gasoline.

Enerkem Raises C$152M in Funding

Waste-to-biofuels and biochemical company Enerkem has raised C$152.6 million and initiated the production of biomethanol from non-recyclable household garbage at the Enerkem Alberta Biofuels full-scale facility in Edmonton, Canada.

Enerkem is the first company in the world to have successfully produced biomethanol from municipal solid waste at the commercial scale. (PRNewsFoto/Enerkem Inc.)

Enerkem is the first company in the world to have successfully produced biomethanol from municipal solid waste at the commercial scale. (PRNewsFoto/Enerkem Inc.)

The financings are comprised of a recently accessed C$29 million debt facility from Integrated Asset Management Corp.’s (IAM) Private Debt Group as well as C$50 million in private placements from current investors and C$73.6 million of debt from two other lenders, closed over the past year. This funding will be used for the product expansion of the Edmonton facility and the company’s global growth.

“I must say a huge thank you to our financial partners, employees, as well as the City of Edmonton and Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions who believed in us and have accompanied us while we were reaching this pivotal operational milestone,” said Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer of Enerkem. “We are about to fundamentally transform the waste industry over the coming years and allow energy and chemical groups access to a new and competitive source of renewable carbon.”

PHG Energy to Build Waste-to-Energy Plant in TN

PHG Energy (PHGE) will be constructing a new biomass gasification plant that will convert more than 30 tons of composted material per day into thermal energy and biochar. Sevier Sold Waste (SSWI), located in Pigeon Forge, TN, contracted the PHG Energy. SSWI operates a garbage composting plant that processes more than 10,0000 tons per year from the Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. All the municipal solid waste (MSW) is processed through the plant, with 60% of it being made into compost. The carbon footprint of the facility will be reduced by over 450 tons of CO2 emissions each year, according to EPA calculators.

PHG Energy's Large Frame Gasification Unit (PRNewsFoto/PHG Energy)

PHG Energy’s Large Frame Gasification Unit (PRNewsFoto/PHG Energy)

“This new installation will help us reduce the amount of compost we need to transport by converting it into a biochar material, creating a new revenue stream for us,” said Tom Leonard, director of SSWI. “The energy from the gasification system will be used in a thermal oxidizer promoting odor control in the buildings and will allow us to defer other upgrades. This represents a significant savings from our current disposal and operating costs.”

PHGE’s gasification plants employ a thermo-chemical process that cleanly converts biomass to a combustible fuel gas. Around 90% of the biomass that is gasified in the PHGE system becomes fuel gas, and the only remaining residue is the charcoal-like biochar, that in SSWI’s case will be sold to a local industrial user as a renewable source of fuel to displace coal consumption.

The cost of the Pigeon Forge facility is $2.25 million. The project has been awarded a $250,000 Clean Energy Tennessee Grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The project will showcase PHGE’s second installation of its Large Frame gasifier, believed to be the world’s largest downdraft unit and capable of more than 60 tons per day throughput.

“This project is important to us for several reasons,” noted PHGE President Tom Stanzione. “This is our second municipal project to receive approval this year and demonstrates the growing confidence in our technology. We have a strong research and development commitment to converting MSW to energy and reducing landfill usage, and this is another significant step in that process. It is also very important to us that we have been able to prove the commercial value of our biochar as a commodity, and that it has become a positive factor in the economic equation of our systems.”