By Kay S. PedrottiBarnesville’s Cedar Grove Landfill won’t be the first to use ‘pyrolysis technology’ to turn garbage into fuel – but it is the only facility working on a plant to bring together all the processes that allow ‘cooking’ garbage into sale-able fuels.’Pyrolysis simply means heating, or cooking,’ said landfill director Johnny Poore. ‘There are many other facilities using a portion of the process but as far as we know, we’re the only ones who have come close to a complete solution to protecting a landfill while turning waste into dollars.’The landfill received a $27.5 million energy loan to develop its new plant, which will be located north of the office building and adjacent to the main landfill area. Three permits – air, water and land – were required from the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Then the EPD completes what is known as a ‘major modification’ to Cedar Grove’s landfill permit.Two permits, land and water, are finished; Poore said the air quality permit is expected ‘within the next week or so.’’We’re doing everything we can do without the permits that will allow us to begin actual construction of the new facility,’ Poore added. ‘We’re moving dirt, preparing a construction trailer, doing tests to determine the most cost-efficient and profitable ways to reclaim gasses and liquids that can be sold as fuel, and getting engineering studies and paperwork ready. We expect to start shortly after that final permit is obtained, to issue RFPs (request for proposals) for site work and construction.’The plant will include a tipping floor, with drains, where garbage trucks bring ‘regular waste’ to be moved into a processing room. There, giant shredders, each equipped with powerful magnets in two locations on the conveyors, chop the garbage into small – leaf size, not branch-size, or smallerpieces while eliminating metals via the magnets, Poore said.Also included in the process is something called ‘eddy current,’ a reverse polarization effect which ‘throws out aluminum,’ he added. After this, the waste product goes into the pyrolysis machines at 1,100 to 1,200 degrees. The cookers will handle 50 to 70 tons of waste at a time, on a continuous feed, which is reduced to various carbons leading to gathering C3, propane; C4, butane; and C5-plus (C6, C7, C8) natural gas liquids.’Many landfills recycle metals, plastics and rubber. With this process, we can use those high-BTU substances like rubber and plastic (water and other drink bottles, typically) to mix with other waste to produce fuels that will power energy for many purposes, and selling the metals to other recyclers. It’s a process that creates an income without having to spend more than we’ll make to produce the fuels,’ Poore stated.The pyrolysis system was designed by landfill civil engineer Seaborn Crosby. Poore said of the day he knew the machine would work at the high temperatures needed, ‘it was a very emotional moment, like witnessing a miracle – realizing yes, we could do this.’The two have worked closely with fabrication specialist Roger Youmans to insure continued high function from all components of the process, Poore said. ‘All kinds’ of tests have been done, including those to establish whether the expansion of metals at high temperatures would impede such parts as gears.A project manager, Rob Stephens, has been hired to oversee construction and write RFPs (requests for proposals) for various materials and services, said Poore. Stephens has worked as manager for such projects as the major Coca-Cola headquarters renovation and has worked with major development companies in similar situations. Poore said the expected construction time for the plant is about 18 months.’Stephens sees this project as an inspiration for larger companies and institutions to go into the future with more options for using fuels efficiently, saving money and not being among major contributors to landfill overcrowding,’ he added.When everything is ready to go, said Poore, there will be a groundbreaking celebration and later a ribboncutting to open the plant officially. The air quality permit, said Eric Cornwell, EPD manager for stationary source air quality permitting, is ‘in final management review’ but he could not be specific about when the permit would be issued.
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