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First-of-its-Kind Facility Converts Two Sources of Biogas into Power and Heat

First-of-its-Kind Facility Converts Two Sources of Biogas into Power and Heat

Wilmington, Delaware skyline
The Wilmington, Delaware skyline. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A new $35 million waste-to-energy facility will process wastewater and landfill gases to produce energy. It will be the first facility in the U.S. that captures two sources of biogas and converts it to both electricity and heat. It could be the model of other similar plants across the country.

The new renewable energy plant will be located in Wilmington, Delaware. New Jersey-based Honeywell is spearheading the project, which it states will reduce the city’s carbon footprint by about 35 percent and boost Wilmington’s renewable energy usage to 50 percent of its total energy need.

Mayor of Wilmington James M. Baker stated in a press release, “The City of Wilmington continues to position itself as a leader in municipal sustainability. By working with Honeywell to build the renewable energy facility and make a variety of other unique, innovative improvements across the city, we can significantly reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases without extra funding from taxpayers.”

The new facility will capture methane produced at the nearby Hay Road plant and mix it with methane extracted from the Cherry Island Landfill. The new facility will purify the gas and use it to power huge reciprocating engines. The plant is capable of producing about four-megawatts of electricity, which is enough to fulfill 90 percent of the plant’s energy requirements.

cherry island landfillThe Cherry Island Landfill in Wilmington, Delaware. Courtesy of Delaware Solid Waste Authority

The facility will also capture heat generated by the engines. The heat will help dehydrate sewage sludge, and this drying process will eliminate approximately 75 percent of total sludge trucked off to the landfill.

The new plant will not only produce a considerable amount of energy and reduce landfilling, but it will also trim greenhouse gas emissions by 15,700 metric tons per year. This is equivalent to removing 3,000 cars from the roadways.

The plant is expected to begin operations in the summer of 2014. Although the facility will be expensive to build and operate, the city doesn’t expect to increase taxes to fund the project. The energy and landfill savings the plant generates will offset the operational costs.

Wilmington has made strides in recent years to become a more sustainable city. Honeywell has worked on several other “green” projects for the city, including solar power installations and ultra-efficient lighting throughout the city. These projects helped save the city more than $1 million to date in addition to more than a $590,000 in renewable energy tax credits.