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Cedar Grove landfill going green

By Sherri Ellington The Cedar Grove Landfill is going green in a big way ‘“ so big it can reduce its impact on the environment by a potential 90%, possibly more. Instead of building new waste cells at a cost of $14 million, it can produce revenue from garbage by turning it into fuels for a net income of an estimated $2.8 million a year. In fact, it can reduce the amount of land now being used to landfill waste from 63 to 43 acres without another cell being built ‘“ and at the same time giving Cedar Grove a 91-year life expectancy. At two meetings last week, Lamar County Regional Solid Waste Authority director Johnny Poore outlined a process called pyrolysis that can pull energy out of garbage ‘“ enough fuel to power the entire plant and sell the rest. A number of fuel gasses are created during the process. These will also be sold to transportation and other industries ‘“ they include pure propane to the tune of 1.5 million gallons a year, natural gas and chemicals Poore refers to as almost-diesels after they are separated in a process already in use in DeKalb County. ’They’re a lot purer than recovered landfill gasses,’ he said. ‘This will produce the most diversifi ed landfill revenue stream I’ve ever seen. There will never be a need for another landfill in Lamar County.’ Even the 10% left over, called nontoxic char from the hightemperature, no-oxygen process, may have a use in the cement industry and can be sold as well. ’We made the landfill a stateof- the-art facility and did a lot of good things reclaiming the old landfill,’ Poore said. ‘We haven’t been able to talk about some things because we needed to know where we were going. Now it’s time for an update. The landfill is going green and it’s still not going to be funded with taxpayer dollars.’ The landfill has been funded entirely by its tipping fees since its inception in 1993 ‘“ and those fees have not risen since. The machinery that converts trash to energy, six years in the design and making and with the patent still pending, can do all this without issuing a single emission. In fact, during a tour of the prototype facility, commissioner Van Baker looked in vain for the exhaust pipe. ’There are no emissions,’ said Poore. ‘We’ve never had a noise or odor problem and we never will. We’re going to be the only landfill in the U.S. to decrease its carbon footprint.’ Test permits were issued by the Environmental Protection Division for air and land protection and the technology passed benchmarks set during six months of testing. In addition, the tests proved the 90% waste reduction number and that the machinery can produce fuels that meet industry standards for British Thermal Units, a measurement of heat production. ’There will not be an active flare like we had in the testing,’ he said. ‘We’re not going to burn off valuable gasses.’ The process is designed to recover recyclable metals, another revenue stream, while garbage is being shredded to the size of cornflakes. It can shred tires and recover the metal from them too. The only thing that cannot be processed is glass, also recyclable, and ceramics. ’It doesn’t have any energy in it,’ he said. ‘You run a nail through there and all you’ll get is a hot nail.’ The solid waste authority is using a corporation called Cedar Grove Waste to Energy to apply for a $2 million to $4 million startup grant using ARRA funding. Next on the agenda are third-party reviews of the engineering data. Commissioners agreed to back a $44 million bond issue to build a full size pyrolysis system with chambers in which the gas created by the hightemperature burning of garbage is separated into its sellable components, generators to run the units and buildings in which to house them. The system will be self-fueled, with some of what would have been greenhouse gasses being used in the electrical generators. The first unit should be up and running by 2014 and the site in full operation by 2024. It will be built in phases. The public is invited to visit the landfill and see the prototype, which can convert 50 tons of garbage a day into energy, in action. For an appointment call 770-358-5215.

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