Technology uses wood waste and sewage sludge to produce gas and electricity.
GE Power & Water and PHG Energy, a Nashville-based alternative energy equipment company, have announced they have successfully collaborated on an innovative project to produce electricity from waste material by employing gasification technology to power GE’s Clean Cycle heat-to-power generator.
The Clean Cycle heat-to-power generator, a product manufactured by GE Power & Water, is used worldwide to convert waste heat into electricity. The new system PHG Energy (PHGE) developed starts with gasification of waste wood chips or other biomass to provide a clean-burning producer gas. That fuel is then combusted in a heating unit which supplies the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) with the thermal source it needs to operate efficiently, producing enough electricity to supply approximately 50 homes.
“This system integrates three proven technologies: GE’s heat-to-power generator, PHG Energy’s gasifier and a standard heat exchanger,” said PHG Energy President Tom Stanzione. “The project is simple and elegant in its straightforward design, capable of operating on multiple and varied waste streams, and offers operating costs far below existing waste-to-energy generation systems in the marketplace.”
“Innovation such as this, involving our equipment, is exciting and opens doors to many applications,” says Brad Garner, president of GE’s Heat Recovery Solutions Division. “Our company is constantly seeking new technology to add to our array of distributed power systems. This is an area of waste utilization that offers tremendous potential, and we believe also can help our customers meet today’s pressing environmental challenges and energy demands.”
The combined GE and PHGE project is being conducted in Gleason, Tenn., at a facility owned by Boral Brick Corporation. Six industrial grade PHGE biomass fueled gasifiers, which were used to offset natural gas consumption in kiln firing, are currently being tasked for research and development by PHGE until the plant re-opens with recovery of the housing industry.
Electricity produced with GE’s heat-to-power generator unit is added to the grid through an agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Configuring such a system commercially is currently underway in Covington, Tenn., where the city has engaged PHG Energy to build a waste-to-energy facility using both wood waste and sewage sludge as its fuel sources. The new plant will provide electric power and simultaneously save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in disposal costs and landfill fees. From a sustainability standpoint, the new system will not only divert material from a landfill, it also will eliminate the release of more than 450 tons of carbon into the air each year.
Stanzione also pointed out that PHGE is capable of providing the same technology in larger scale. He projected the next step as commercializing a generation plant between one and five megawatts utilizing a recently completed and tested PHGE gasifier that produces eight times the output of the current models.
“In looking at the needs expressed by our customers,” Stanzione says, “we see significant economic benefit by these systems, and we also see the need for direct heat thermal applications to help municipalities deal with an ever-increasing wastewater sludge disposal problem. The good news is that we can utilize the heat output not necessary for electric production to power proven drying equipment to address that opportunity.”