Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day Two: Case Studies - Putting Theory into Practice

The second day of the conference brought a number of presentations that made up the Waste Conversion Technology Showcase. Two case studies in particular excited the audience.

Flex Energy generator. Photo by Martin LaMonica/CNET
Marketing Manager of Landfills Su Ann Huang discussed a novel approach to conversion that Flex Energy is working on. The California-based company has been working on a thermal-oxidizer front ending turbine and the emissions profile is absolutely stunning. Currently, the technology is in the first commercial installation phase at Fort Benning, Ga.

By far the best thing about this technology is that it is a viable solution for low-BTU syngas with an excellent emissions profile. The downside is the cost, coming in at $4,000 per kilowatt for just for the component. This means one needs essentially free fuel to offset the high price in order to make this work in the United States. Despite the price tag, this technology is worth considering for existing digester gasification projects and is one to watch for in thermal gasification.

The second presentation that captured audiences was by Ken Foldare, the director of business development at Chinook Energy. Chinook has the benefit of a proven gasification technology that works on a metals recovery business model. Partial-oxidation gasification is effective at processing waste metals because all of the non-metal components are converted to heat. Chinook has focused on the emissions and also has an excellent profile.

Foldare provided cost data from $3,500-4,000 all-in. This is in the target range Better BTU calculates is required for economic vitality.

The presentation focused mainly on European waste incineration directives. Foldare argued convincingly that the limit is tighter than U.S. standards and that the industry would do well to focus and compare technologies on this standard. We loved this idea and support it for the growth of the industry.

Chinook has several metals recovery projects, including one with Alcoa in the United States, but does not yet have any projects on MSW biomass in production. The company estimates that the first commercial installation will happen later in 2012. Better BTU is excited to watch Chinook’s growth and will continue to bring you updates to this project on our project blog

Unfortunately, Better BTU had to catch a plane and wasn't able to stay for the afternoon session but we'll be back tomorrow to bring you our thoughts on the conference as a whole. Stay tuned!

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