Many have joked that Fort Collins, Colorado, is a beer town with a college problem. But with plans to generate four megawatts of energy using brewery waste, claims of powering the town with beer could be about to come true.
In late August, Denver-based Enerjetik LLC announced that it would begin assembling equipment for a biomass demonstration project that will process 20 tons of dried brewery waste and generate one megawatt of power.
Gasification of biomass has long been eyed as a way to kill two birds with one stone: a waste product like construction debris, tires, municipal solid waste, sewage sludge, or agricultural waste goes into a gasifier, and syngas, which can be used to generate power, comes out.
Efficiency shortcomings, high costs, and their output of tars, ash and other harmful environmental byproducts have often prevented gasification projects from being utilized on a commercial scale. But Enerjetik claims their latest design addresses most of these issues.
Enerjetik CEO Ken Klepper explains:
"While other gasification projects process feedstocks on a large scale yet slow pace, Enerjetik has developed a continuous, small-scale reaction that happens relatively quickly. The advance is responsible for an impressive 80 percent to 90 percent efficiency rate for converting heat into energy. Conventional gasification only achieves between 40 percent to 60 percent efficiency."
Enerjetik also claims that its unique technology will enable the company to execute waste-to-energy processing without releasing major amounts of tars. Its demonstration project at the Engines Lab will emit no exhaust gas or emissions and separate out ash, which can also be recycled. Water removed from the feedstock can be reused in wastewater treatment.
If all goes well, the same partners hope to build a four-megawatt gasification power plant in Fort Collins, using local spent grains and other brewery waste. The beer-fueled electricity would be enough to offset the energy needs of several local microbreweries, and another two megawatts of waste heat would be recaptured and could be sent to a brewery or other business to replace the use of natural gas.
The project would also function as a key part of Fort ZED, an ongoing initiative of Fort Collins to create a net-zero-energy district encompassing Old Town and CSU campus.
Image Credit: Flickr - betsyweber
Source: Josh Zaffos at NCBR