While Europe and parts of Asia were busy building and operating WTE facilities over the past 20 years, Canada and the U.S. were perfecting the art of landfilling. However, change is upon North America and thermal treatment is now considered a viable alternative to burying BTU-containing material in the ground.
One global player includes Renewable Energy Solutions (Entech), headquartered in Australia. The privately-owned company has been around for 20 years developing and building waste gasification systems. The company has grown to specialize in the design, engineering, manufacturing, and commissioning of its WTE solution.
Although Entech markets itself as a total waste solution provider its core technology, called WtGas, is based upon a low-temperature gasification process that converts waste from a solid to a synthetic gas (syngas) that can be used as fuel. The emissions from burning syngas are cleaner — arguably as clean as natural gas and definitely cleaner than directly incinerating the waste.
With the low-temperature gasification technology utilized by Entech, the maximum process temperature is 875C and the process air input one-twentieth that found in an incinerator. It takes between over 16 hours to gasify solid waste at that temperature.
The resulting syngas is used in gas burners to produce either steam for heating or electricity generation. Independent test results on a WtGas system showed that it meets the standards of the US EPA, the European Union, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
Besides its WtGas low-temperature gasification process, Entech has developed other waste conversion technologies such that the company can treat a broad range of waste streams and avoid the need for landfilling. The accompanying technologies to it thermal process include recycling (WtRecycle), transformation of plastics to fuel oil (WtOil), and moisture recovery of organic waste (wtWater).
The biggest endorsement for Entech came in 2007 when the Los Angeles County Solid Waste Management Committee/Task Forces deemed Entech’s low temperature gasification system as the lowest cost-per-ton thermal treatment process out of 400 technologies that were reviewed. Currently, Entech is negotiating a letter of intent for a waste contract with the County of Los Angeles for a thermal processing facility to be built in Huntington Beach.
Renewable Energy Management Inc. (REM), based in Pickering Ontario, is a project development company that owns the Intellectual Property License of Entech for Canada, the United States as well as the Caribbean Territories.
REM is building a plant in Wesleyville, Ontario, approximately 100 kms east of Toronto. In order to build the plant, REM is required to go through an environmental screening review (ESR) and also obtain a Certificate of Approval from Ontario’s environment ministry.
Doug Starr, Executive Vice President for REM, estimates that the company is approximately 60 per cent of the way through the ESR process. According to Starr, public response has been positive. He attributes the favourable views to a long-term commitment to educating the public about the company, the technology, and the plans for the site.
The first-stage plan for the Wesleyville site is to build a waste processing facility that can handle 180,000 tonnes per year (tpy). The company plans to have the facility up and running by the later part of 2012. Three quarters of the waste accepted at the facility will be from the private sector, with the remainder coming from municipalities.
Of the 180,000 tpy accepted at the site in the phase one development, the company plans on recycling 25,000 tpy (metal, plastic, paper, and glass), recover 43,000 tpy of water for internal use, and convert the remaining 110,000 tpy into 15 MW of electricity to send offsite.
Long term, the company goal for the project would be to expand the facility through two more phases to the point that it would accept 540,000 tpy of waste.
The WTgas process produces two per cent ash that’s considered inert. The company believes that it will generate revenue selling the ash as aggregate or for other uses.
When all three phases of the facility are complete, the facility will employ over 70 workers and operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
John Nicholson, M.Sc., P.Eng., is a consultant based in Toronto, Ontario. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org