SynTech Bioenergy is partnering with Waste Resource Technologies to help the company cut tip fees and create renewable energy.
SynTech Bioenergy is partnering with Waste Resource Technologies (WRT) to help the hauler cut tip fees in Hawaii—now soaring at about $96 a ton—while enabling the company to make electricity and other renewable products.
WRT has purchased and will operate SynTech’s BioMax system and receive revenues from the electricity it produces from the island’s yard and fruit waste and agricultural processes.
BioMax leverages extremely high heat (900 degrees Celsius) in very low oxygen levels to make a clean syngas. The process also generates two useful byproducts: heat with industrial applications and biochar; the latter is primarily for agriculture applications, though biochar may have other uses down the road.
“This is a behind-the-meter project, meaning we provide power and heat to customers who pay us opposed to us exporting that power for sale to the local utility,” says Wayne McFarland, founder and CEO of SynTech Bioenergy. It’s cheaper than utility rates, he and some of his customers say.
“This project is a kickoff with one of our customers [in Oahu] that we hope is the first of many,” says Robert Webber, chief financial officer and executive vice president of business development at WRT.
“We have residential and commercial customers who produce a lot of organic waste, which is common in Hawaii,” he says, adding if BioMax performs as it has in other places, the technology will offset WRT’s costs, while enabling diversion of 1,300 tons of waste per year and cutting up to 8,000 tons of carbon.
Webber and colleague Clint Knox, WRT’s executive vice president of development and technology, believe they are in the right place to capitalize on this investment.
“We have worked on waste conversion in Hawaii for over 10 years, and they are pushing for this type of technology. [The state] has limited landfill space, high tip fees, high energy costs and renewable energy and diversion policies”
–Clint Knox, WRT Executive Vice President
“We have worked on waste conversion in Hawaii for over 10 years, and they are pushing for this type of technology. [The state] has limited landfill space, high tip fees, high energy costs and renewable energy and diversion policies,” says Knox.
Waste is collected and processed either at a customer’s site or delivered to a central processing point. It’s ground, dried and densified into pellets of refuse-derived fuel or a higher-energy, more processed solid recovered fuel. The pellet is then converted in a reactor into clean syngas and biochar.
SynTech currently owns and operates two projects in California and one in Japan. Five more projects are under contract in California for export to Pacific Gas and Electric Company and eight more are in early development in California, either behind the meter or for export. SynTech also has five projects in permitting stages in Japan and will commission a project in China this summer.
Existing and pipeline customers range from producers of agriculture and wood waste to utility companies, military bases and large institutions like universities and medical centers.
Among key sells, says McFarland, is that BioMax is a scalable platform requiring a small footprint. It doesn’t use water and has virtually zero emissions because the system is completely contained.
The first system was delivered to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in 1999. Since then, BioMax has incrementally gone from 1.5 kilowatts (kW) to 5 kW, and SynTech most recently proposed an 8-megawatt system to a European utility.
The first commercial project was launched in 2007 at Dixon Ridge Farms, a large operation in Winters, Calif., that grows and harvests organic walnuts.
“Our motivation was to become energy self-sufficient by 2012 using renewable energy, and we achieved that,” says Russ Lester, co-owner of Dixon Ridge Farms.
The first 50-kW capacity system has since been replaced and produces five times the electricity to satisfy all of Dixon Ridge’s processing power needs. Byproduct hot water and heat are used to dry the walnuts. The biochar that comes from the process serves as a soil amendment.
“We were hearing from naysayers in various industries that renewable was not very reliable and was expensive. We found that to not be true. We produce less expensive energy than what we pay the utility,” says Lester, adding the technology has enabled Dixon Ridge to become carbon negative, pulling more carbon from the atmosphere than it produces.
McFarland is excited about potential for the biochar. While it’s been validated as soil amendment, predictive modeling has since indicated it can be used as activated carbon as a filtration medium. It also appears useful as carbon black (largely as a reinforcer in tires and as a conducting agent in varied applications) and to produce graphite (used in pencils, lubricants and electronics).
“We’ve also done predictive modeling on converting biochar to graphene, a natural occurring element. Graphene has highly conductive properties, is light weight and high strength, so it has multiple applications from aircraft frames to lighter-weight, longer-storage batteries,” he says.
Regarding overall application and future plans, McFarland says, “We are continually striving to improve feedstock handling, storage and flow as well as reactor performance across a wide range of feedstocks.”
As far as WRT’s forward focus goes, first the company intends to demonstrate in central Oahu that BioMax is a true sustainable way to manage waste. “Then,” says Webber, “we plan to incorporate it into a number of locations and applications throughout the island.”
By Max Dible West Hawaii Today | View Article
KAILUA-KONA — There’s a meaningful difference between a project getting ahead of itself and one that looks to the future.
BioEnergy Hawaii won’t begin construction on its privately funded resource recovery facility at the West Hawaii Concrete Quarry in Waikoloa until at least April 2018. The company won’t start taking a sizable bite out of Hawaii Island’s solid waste accumulation, which currently registers at more than 500 tons per day, until late 2019.
The waste separation and anaerobic digestion plant will separate recyclable materials from other types of solid waste, organic or otherwise. It will then process organic waste and non-recyclable materials to create renewable biofuels and electricity to power its own facility and trucks, as well as to sell back to entities like Hawaii Gas and HELCO.
Compost will also be a byproduct of facility operations.
But Guy Kaniho, general manager of BioEnergy Hawaii, said the facility will be built with the capability to handle more than that, addressing county issues with discarded tires and the Hawaii Water Service Co.’s concerns about sewage sludge.
“We can take the sludge,” Kaniho said at an Environmental Management Commission meeting Wednesday in Kailua-Kona. “And in short, yes, we can take the tires as well. The downside of that is the more feedstock we take in, the more energy we create, and what do we do with that energy? So it has to be workable for us.”
Clint Knox, vice president of project development on the facility, said if the tires were shredded and ground down, the gasification technology employed at the facility could handle the input.
Aries Clean Energy, a technological consultant on the project, developed a plant in Lebanon, Tennessee, that combines tire shreds, sludge and wood waste to create energy.
Baraka Poulin, of Aries Clean Energy, said gasification produces minimal emissions. He added that emissions were so low in Tennessee that following the completion of the Lebanon project they weren’t required to do any after-process emission controls.
There will, however, be emission controls implemented at the Hawaii Island facility.
“We look at this project as more of an infrastructure than just a project. We believe that once we establish it there’s a lot of waste materials that could come in like tires, like sludge — these other things that are right now going into the landfill or need to be sent to H-Power (on Oahu).”
“We look at this project as more of an infrastructure than just a project,” Knox said. “We believe that once we establish it there’s a lot of waste materials that could come in like tires, like sludge — these other things that are right now going into the landfill or need to be sent to H-Power (on Oahu).”
He added BioEnergy Hawaii is also already considering the addition of a third digester in the future that could take energy crops like sorghum or energy canes, although that would be contingent on local agricultural partnerships.
“We don’t want to get in the business of doing everything,” Knox said. “We’d like to encourage other individuals, farmers to look into that.”
Partnerships have been integral to the project’s progress, namely one with the Ulupono Initiative, created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Ulupono is a 50 percent equity partner in the facility, which presenters Wednesday said may cost upward of $60 million and will function as an 80/20 debt-to-equity venture.
Andy Naden, a project adviser, said it was Ulupono’s idea to transition to a paradigm that has allowed the project to move forward relatively expeditiously after decades of delays and setbacks.
“We have tried very hard to work within the structure that exists — originally state land at NELHA, county trash and federal funding,” Naden said. “Our partners at Ulupono suggested a plan B, that we do a completely independent business model using our own trash, private land and equity funding.”
BioEnergy Hawaii’s parent company is Pacific Waste Inc., which guarantees the facility enough feedstock to ensure viability over its first 10 years of operation — the length of the current contract with Pacific Waste.
The facility has been set up for a 40-year initial run with a 10-year option on the back end on roughly 15 acres of land at the Waikoloa quarry.
Other commercial haulers have expressed interest in utilizing the facility and up to 70 percent of its solid waste could be diverted from the West Hawaii Sanitary Landfill in Puuanahulu.
“The project is smaller, but it’s going to happen,” Naden said. “It’s faster.”
He added the project is part of a program that BioEnergy Hawaii and its partners hope eventually to spread to other islands.
Developers also envision the facility developing into an educational outreach center and expressed interest in employing a curriculum-based model so graduate and post-graduate students can study there.
As Naden put it, they hope to create “a commerce clearing house of information,” along with a facility that will drastically decrease the amount of solid waste building up on Hawaii Island and repurpose it into renewable energy.
Plans for a $50 million BioEnergy Hawaii LLC waste-to-energy facility are moving forward after the The Hawaii County Planning Department completed a favorable review of the project's draft environmental assessment. The planned Waikoloa facility will be located away from public areas and is not expected to emit any gas or smoke, as reported by West Hawaii Today.
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By Nancy Cook Lauer, West Hawaii Today
HILO -- The Hawaii County Planning Department has given its stamp of approval on a waste-to-energy plant in Waikoloa that could reduce the garbage headed to the landfills while providing natural gas for Kohala coastal resorts.
The Planning Department found no significant environmental impact from the proposed facility that will be built with private equity. The Jan. 27 finding is scheduled to be published Wednesday in the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s Environmental Notice.
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May 21, 2015: Ulupono Initiative, an investment firm, and BioEnergy Hawaii, a subsidiary of Pacific Waste, Inc., are partnering to fund a recycling plant on Hawaii Island's west side, previously announced by BioEnergy in March. BioEnergy Hawaii is an operator and developer of alternative energy systems and waste treatment systems. The partnership is considering a spot near Puuanahulu Landfill, where it will take municipal solid waste from waste haulers.
READ FULL ARTICLE at Waste DIVE >
May 20, 2015: On Tuesday, BioEnergy Hawaii and the Ulupono Initiative announced a new partnership that will finance a resource recovery facility planned for the west side of Hawaii Island.
READ FULL ARTICLE at Big Island Video News >
March 24, 2015: A tiny island with major waste challenges, Hawaii is about to invest US$50 million in a new resource recovery facility. Will it set a new global benchmark?
READ FULL ARTICLE at ResourceRecovery.biz >
March 13, 2015: BioEnergy Hawaii LLC, a developer of waste treatment and alternative energy systems based in Kailua-Kona, HI, announced plans to construct a resource recovery facility on the island of Hawaii.
READ FULL ARTICLE at Waste Dive >
March 13, 2015: A company owned by garbage hauler Pacific Waste Inc. is moving forward on long-held plans to build a waste conversion system in West Hawaii.
BioEnergy Hawaii LLC announced Thursday that it is negotiating for land near the West Hawaii Sanitary Landfill at Puuanahulu for a resource recovery site. The facility, planned for construction in 2016, would convert rubbish to recyclable commodities, organics and solid fuel.
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March 12, 2015:As the future of Hawaii County approach to solid waste remains up in the air, especially with the cancellation of a possible waste-to-energy facility in Hilo, one company is stepping up with a project that they say will “substantially reduce the amount of waste currently going directly into the landfill.”
READ FULL ARTICLE at Big Island Video News >