Feasibility Study Targets Waste into Chemicals
Synthesis Energy Systems Inc. (SES), Houston, has entered into an agreement with an undisclosed U.S.-based firm to study the feasibility and optimal uses of SES’ gasification technology to produce “green” chemicals. SES will lead an engineering study, commissioned and funded by the undisclosed company, that will define an optimal use of potential feedstock combinations that may include used tires, auto shredder residue and refuse-derived fuel. End markets could include chemicals such as methanol and its derivatives.
Assisting SES in the study will be Irving, Texas-based Fluor Enterprises, an engineering, procurement, maintenance and construction company. The study is expected to take four months. Following completion of the study, SES says it hopes to advance to the next steps with its unnamed partner.
“We believe that our technology offers the ability to cleanly use these waste and landfill materials in an environmentally responsible way to produce a variety of high value products,” says Robert Rigdon, president and CEO of SES. “Through our development efforts with potential U.S. partners last year, we believe production of chemicals from these materials can provide a unique and economically attractive ‘green chemical’ solution. Such an approach offers an avenue for reduction in the carbon footprint of many of the chemical derived products we use every day.”
SES provides technology, equipment and engineering services to convert coal and biomass feedstocks into energy and chemical products.
Data Show Increase in Renewable Energy Use
According to an analysis by the nonprofit group Sun Day Campaign, reported in the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Electric Power Monthly, with preliminary data through Dec. 31, 2012, nonhydro renewable energy sources, which includes biomass, geothermal, solar and wind, increased by 12.8 percent last year compared with 2011 and provided 5.4 percent of net U.S. electrical generation.
The report notes that solar power increased by 138.9 percent, while wind power grew 16.6 percent, geothermal increased 9.6 percent and biomass (i.e., wood, wood-derived fuels and other biomass) increased 1.6 percent. Moreover, since 2007, nonhydro renewables have more than doubled their contribution to the nation’s electrical supply.
Total net U.S. electrical generation for 2012 relative to 2011 dropped by 1.1 percent, with petroleum coke and liquids down by 24.1 percent, coal down by 12.5 percent and nuclear down by 2.6 percent. Coal, which a decade ago provided more than half the nation’s electricity, fell to 37.4 percent of net electrical generation, while nuclear, for the first time in many years, dropped below 19 percent. Conventional hydropower also declined by 13.4 percent in light of 2012’s drought and lower water flows.
However, natural gas power generation expanded in 2012 by 21.4 percent to provide 30.3 percent of net electrical generation.
Conventional hydropower and nonhydro renewable sources combined accounted for 12.22 percent of net U.S. electrical generation, with hydropower accounting for 6.82 percent; wind, 3.46 percent; biomass, 1.42 percent; geothermal, 0.41 percent; and solar, 0.11 percent. However, as EIA has noted in the past, these figures do not comprehensively reflect distributed, nongrid connected generation and understate the full contribution of renewables to the nation’s electrical supply.
EIA’s report also reveals the top renewable-electricity-generating states for 2012:
- Washington, Oregon, California, New York and Idaho in hydropower;
- Texas, California, Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma in nonhydro renewables;
- Texas, Iowa, California, Oklahoma and Illinois in wind;
- California, Florida, Maine, Georgia and Alabama in biomass;
- California, Nevada, Utah, Hawaii and Idaho in geothermal; and
- California, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey and New Mexico in solar.
“Technical advances, falling costs and the desire to address climate change have combined to rapidly expand the contribution of renewable energy to the nation’s electrical generation,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the Sun Day Campaign. “With the right policy incentives, one can foresee these cleaner energy sources providing the bulk of the nation’s electrical needs within a generation.”
The Sun Day Campaign is a nonprofit research and educational organization founded in 1993 to promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.
Report Analyzes Landfill Gas as an Energy Source
The Ireland-based research firm Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Analyzing the Landfill Gas Industry” report to its offering.
With the increasing global focus on energy conservation and the emphasis on clean energy generation, landfill gas (LFG) has emerged as a source that is available and has been proven to be economical in cost perspective and is a growing energy resource in the modern world, according to Research and Markets. The growth of mega cities generating significant amounts of waste, coupled with their growing energy consumption needs, has forced a deeper look at energy recovery.
As of January 2005 there were 375 LFG energy (LFGE) projects in the United States generating clean electricity or providing a direct-use energy source for boilers, furnaces and other applications, according to the report. Approximately 100 direct-use LFGE projects in operation in the U.S. burned more than 70 billion cubic feet (bcf) of LFGE in 2004. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), more than 600 landfills are viable candidates for project development, with a potential gas flow capacity in excess of 280 bcf per year.
Looking at LFG in technical terms, it is a byproduct of the decay process carried out on LFG at municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. The gas generated from such landfills is an approximate composition of 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, coupled with some additional trace compounds. The source heat value of LFG ranges from 400 to 600 British thermal units (Btu) per cubic foot and can be adapted to burn in any number of applications by carrying out minor adjustments to fuel/air ratios. The applied usage of LFG provides comprehensive economic and environmental benefits, and the users of LFG have achieved significant cost savings compared with their earlier use of traditional fuels, the report notes. This has mainly been because of the fact that LFG costs are composed of consistently lower costs than the cost of natural gas.
According to Research and Markets, the presence of 50 percent methane in LFG presents a strong environmental case for consuming the gas by burning it as an industrial or residential fuel rather than allowing its release in the environment, contributing to the greenhouse effect. This will help to build a sustainable future with communities and economic progress intact, Research and Markets claims.
“Analyzing the Landfill Gas Industry” pertains to the basics of understanding the composition, natural production and transportation of landfill gas in the normal economic model. The report analyzes the limitations to the production of LFG and the best times to capitalize on the generation of the gas as well as certain hazards posed by this gas, which warrants safe usage practices along with procedures to assess the potential biohazard any landfill site presents before LFG can be harvested.
According to Research and Markets, any energy analysis is not complete without an understanding of the environmental impact of an energy source and the technologies deployed to treat the resource in order to make it safe, clean and usable. Therefore, the report analyzes the control measures used after the recovery and storage of LFG leading to energy generation. The report also analyzes certain case studies implementing LFG processes.
Additional information about the study, “Analyzing the Landfill Gas Industry,” is available online at www.researchandmarkets.com/ reports/471052/analyzing_the_ landfill_gas_industry.