Biogas conversion systems reduce emissions and generate additional electric and thermal power
Stellar, a Jacksonville-based design, engineering, construction and mechanical services firm, is now developing modular renewable energy systems that will convert waste to energy. Stellar, which is consistently ranked by Engineering News-Record magazine as one of the nation’s leading green designers and contractors, will construct the systems at its prefabrication facility in Jacksonville.
The new systems will serve clients in a range of industries, including waste management and wastewater treatment; food and beverage processing; agricultural (dairy, meat, poultry and crop farms); petrochemical, bio-fuel refining, coal mining; and pharmaceutical and bioscience. These industries produce organic waste such as sludge from wastewater treatment plants, animal waste from meat processing facilities, manure and silage from agricultural sites, and food waste from food processing plants. Instead of traditional waste management and disposal methods, the new systems enable this waste to be converted into energy.
For example, landfill sites generate biogases (mostly consisting of methane) as the waste buried in them undergoes the natural process of anaerobic digestion, or the breakdown of organic material in the absence of oxygen. If this gas is not harvested (through a renewable energy system such as Stellar’s), it escapes into the atmosphere and can be 20 times more potent and harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. Pending U.S. legislation (both federal and state) and international protocols, such as the Kyoto Protocol, will soon dictate more restrictive emission rates and expanded renewable energy requirements for manufacturers and other producers, who will see the financial impact of these climate change policies if they do not implement renewable solutions. These financial impacts include higher energy rates and waste disposal costs as well as growing consumer awareness of whether or not a company has “green” energy programs.
To transform waste into energy, the waste must be pre-treated, separated and stored in enclosed tanks (called anaerobic digesters) that decompose and break down organic matter by excluding oxygen (this process is called anaerobic digestion), thus producing a biogas. The biogas is then combusted (burned) in an engine to generate electricity, heating and cooling. The electricity produced through this process can be used by the producer (as well as the heating and cooling), sold to a nearby facility or redistributed to a nearby electrical grid. Stellar will work closely with customers to design, supply and install these biogas renewable energy systems.
“In addition to lowering overall energy costs and generating additional income through the sale of the excess electricity or thermal energy produced, these systems support sustainability initiatives, offer alternatives to waste reduction and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kurt Liebendorfer, Stellar senior vice president. “In addition, they offer an efficient and safe way to destroy pathogens and eliminate odors that can sometimes negatively affect a community.”
The new biogas systems are modular – instead of building the systems on-site, they are constructed and engineered at Stellar’s 60,000-square-foot fabrication facility in Jacksonville, Fla., and then transported to the site. Modular products enable greater flexibility, consistent high-quality standards, compressed project schedules and long-term reliability. The modular systems will be pre-tested before arriving onsite, thus minimizing site impact during installation and commissioning. A shortened construction schedule enables opportunities for lower project cost. Stellar offers a range of modular products, including modular chiller plants, which are energy plants that provide cold water for air conditioning.
Stellar has assembled a comprehensive team to offer the biogas systems. Stellar will provide design, construction and project management services, self-performing all work in its fabrication shop for modules that contain control systems, cogeneration equipment, compressors, flares and electrical equipment. Stellar will rely on partners for specialized services: Ring Power Corporation, the authorized Caterpillar dealer for North and Central Florida, will serve as the key equipment supplier for the electric power generation, providing the gas engine generator set products, generator control and paralleling switchgear, 24-hour emergency repair and comprehensive preventative maintenance programs. And, Energenic (www.energenic-us.com) will provide third-party ownership and operations management, specialty metering and engineering services for feasibility analysis.
“By partnering with Stellar and Energenic to offer biogas systems, we’re able to provide a comprehensive service to customers,” said Keith Moore, Ring Power’s Assistant Vice President and Electric Power Sales Manager. “We worked closely with Stellar and Energenic to develop the biogas offering and ensure that we’re addressing all of a potential customer’s needs in one complete package.”