According to the Waste Business Journal, a New Orleans-based startup company called Sun Energy Group LLC has begun construction of a waste-to-energy plant on formerly industrial land in the eastern part of the city that had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Initially, the plant will produce about 6 megawatts of power by employing plasma gasification to convert regular household garbage into a synthesis gas, which will then be burned to produce electricity.
Sun Energy is building a waste-to-energy facility in an industrial corridor in the Eastern part of New Orleans, which will take thousands of tonnes per day of municipal solid waste, essentially household garbage, and turn it into enough electricity for 60,000 homes. This will be done in an enclosed, controlled facility that will be unrecognizable as a waste facility to the public. The only indication of garbage being brought into the facility is the truck traffic going to and from the site.
The cost of disposing 4,000 tons of municipal solid waste every day is expected to increase. The Sun facility can contract with the city in a long-term agreement, capping that cost below today’s prices, today. The electricity Sun Energy produces can be sold to the retail provider, be it the local utility or another provider, at a fixed price for a long term. This is stable pricing not subject to the volatility of natural gas or any other commodity. The Sun facility’s construction equals millions of dollars of investment delivering almost $100 million annual economic impact to the City of New Orleans, with 40 to 50 full-time plant jobs. The Sun Energy Group corporate headquarters will also be located in the city. The plant could anchor a green industry in New Orleans to foster more renewable enterprises. This plant will also be used on an educational front to teach the importance of renewable energy and recycling to schools.
Westinghouse Plasma developed the Plasma Gasification technology. The technology is an electrically created, extremely high heat source which destroys waste in an oxygen starved environment without any burning. The system is closed so there are no emissions while the waste is being destroyed. What is left are hot gases, which are cleaned into a low but synthetic fuel, and a molten stream of lava like substance, which is molded into number of construction products and road bed material. The garbage is transformed at the molecular level so no harmful materials are allowed to leach into the environment. The synthetic fuel, or syngas, is cleaned and burned like natural gas to create electricity. The plant looks like a light manufacturing facility, with no detectable odors or visible signs of garbage in the vicinity, and is constantly monitored for environmental sensitivity.
Sun Energy Group LLC President, D’Juan Hernandez, says the plant will create 100 jobs and should be operational by 2012.