Pilot project to turn garbage into energy

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

A new pilot project at the Peace River landfill plans to turn waste into energy using micro-gasification.

“We have known for some time that the way we manage waste, may not be the best way to manage waste. Landfills bury the problem, but they don’t solve the problem,” says Peace Regional Waste Management Company [PRWMC] manager Art Sawatzky.

PRWMC is a Part 9 Company that provides solid waste management services and solutions to the residents, industry and stakeholders of Northern Sunrise County, the Town of Peace River and the Village of Nampa.

PRWMC currently operates the regional municipal solid waste [MSW] and industrial landfill plus seven transfer stations for solid waste and recycling and 14 recycling drop-off depots, of which seven are at the transfer stations. PRWMC also operates the Peace Regional Eco Centre.

Sawatzky says there are no longer markets to recycle a lot of waste, and shipping five hours to Edmonton is expensive and leaves a large carbon footprint.

“We have been searching for an alternative way to manage waste for several years and we feel that micro-gasification meets most of our needs.”

He says the PRWMC board has made the decision to proceed with a pilot project with BioMass Energy Techniques Inc. to prove that their equipment can convert waste to energy.

To recover energy from waste, PRWMC will heat garbage to over 2000 F, to the point that it gasifies. The energy from the gas will generate power.

The project aims to prove the process will work in the northern environment, will meet all emission standards, will eliminate the need to haul leachate out for disposal, will drastically reduce the use of valuable landfill airspace and will reduce overall operating costs.

The project will be the first time a municipality or regional services body in the province has added a micro-gasification process to a public waste management system.

Sawatzky says the gasification process involves no burning of waste, no visible emissions and no odour, and eliminates the methane that would be produced by waste decomposing in a landfill.

“The pilot project will be able to convert eight tones per day of waste that would normally go into our landfill and heat three of our large equipment shops with the energy,” says Sawatzky.

“Phase 2, will be to purchase and install larger equipment that will convert 60 tonnes per day, our current daily average volume, and convert the waste to heat and electricity. The larger system will have ROC generators installed to produce electricity for our operations and to sell to the local electrical grid.”

BioMass Energy Techniques COO and general manager Dan Duckering and PRWMC presented information on the pilot project to Peace River town council on June 1.

“The step we want to add to our region is recovery,” says Duckering.

“All waste has energy. We want to further reduce between the recycling and disposal stage by recovering the energy in the top level of the waster hierarchy.”

Duckering also wrote to Peace River MLA Dan Williams, and received a reply from Alberta Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon who lists various government programs that may help.

“It is exciting to see these types of technologies and projects developed in Alberta,” Minister Nixon says.

The pilot project is planned for this fall and will run for a year at a cost of $1.2 million.

A separate development permit and public consultation process will happen before PRWMC moves from the pilot to the full facility, and detailed plans will be presented to the public as part of that process.

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