Friday, March 05, 2010

BTL at Landfills, and Algae to Butanol Aquaculture

A new plasma gasification plant for turning municipal solid waste into fuels will begin construction in Oregon in a few months.
With the S4 Plasma Enhanced Melter (PEM) system, waste materials are prepared and fed into a first phase gasification chamber that operates at temperatures of approximately 1,500 °F (816 °C). After the first phase, the waste materials flow into a second closed chamber where they are superheated to temperatures between 10,000 and 20,000 °F (5,538 to 11,093 °C) using plasma. The intense heat of the second stage plasma gasifier rearranges the molecular structure of the waste, transforming organic (carbon-based) materials into synthesis gas (syngas).

The clean syngas may then be converted into transportation fuels such as ethanol and diesel, or industrial products such as hydrogen and methanol. The syngas could also be used as a substitute for natural gas for heating or electricity generation. In a secondary stage of the PEM (Plasma Enhanced Melter) process, inorganic (non-carbon-based) materials are transformed into environmentally inert products.

The new plasma gasification facility will complement the landfill site's other renewable energy production. Waste Management began generating renewable electricity at the site in January 2010 with the startup of a new landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) facility. The LFGTE process captures methane gas generated as waste decomposes in the landfill and then uses the gas to generate 6 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The electricity is powering 5,000 homes in Seattle through an agreement with Seattle City Light. _GCC
The landfill even has 100 MW of wind power capacity -- but capacity is not the same as production. With the wind generators sitting idle (or worse than idle) most of the time, no wonder they are turning to more reliable sources of renewable energy.

Here is an unusual algal energy project:
Butamax Advanced Biofuels, a joint venture between DuPont and BP, will be responsible for commercialization of the resulting technology package. The macroalgae-to-isobutanol project will establish technology and intellectual property leadership in the use of macroalgae as a low cost, scalable and environmentally sustainable biomass for biofuel production.

Efforts will focus on: improving domestic macroalgae aquaculture; converting macroalgae to bio-available sugars; converting those sugars to isobutanol; and economic and environmental optimization of the production process. More than 60 scientists in Wilmington, Del., and Berkeley, Calif., will work on this research and development program. The macroalgae aquafarming project will be conducted in Southern California. _BiofuelsDigest
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