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The Advantage in the Waste Industry

Feasibility Analysis for Biomass In Cities, Counties and Facilities

| Doug King |
The commercial wasTe indusTry includes all those who collect waste from the simplest collect waste and transport to a landfill to the more complex collect waste and process into re-usable components and energy. This article will cover how we can collect material and fuel a clean energy system for our immediate future, while saving clean water and air. multiple types of fuels can be used to produce energy, revenue sources from biomass can include tipping fees, electrical generation and recycling.

Two key world problems, WaSTe diSpoSal and economical elecTrical generaTion, can be solved simultaneously through a clean and economical waste-toenergy facility.

Types of Biomass Systems

There are four types of biomass systems: gasification (plasma technology and gasification from combustion process), incineration, solid fuel boilers and rotary cascading bed combustion (RCBC).

Why Use Biomass?

Biomass refers to living and recently dead biological materialsuch as green, wood, biodegradeables and municipal solid waste (MSW)that can be used as fuel to generate energy. Today, many States require 20 percent of generated power to be from renewable sources. Therefore, biomass is beneficial because most times it is the lower cost available fuel and can allow municipalities to provide heat and energy to nearby industrial/commercial users and their own facilities. Many biomass facilities can be tailored to the fuel stocks readily available in your region. Because

Gasification is a multi-step process using hightemperatures to convert biomass into a gas mixture that can be used for energy (see Figure 1). It is great for feedstock and product flexibility, emitting low emissions with high efficiency and it has energy security. However, gasification is a complex multi-stage process with two-stage emissions control and an expensive initial setup because it includes several primary systems which are each complex in their own right: A gasification chamber with combustion cleaning Gas-air mix control and storage under pressure Gas combustion and heat use With its accompanying multiple of components plus a pressurization system and pressurized containers, gasification is more costly, by multiples, than the simpler direct conversion RCBC system. In addition, upfront feedstock processing and pressurization is required as well as purifying the syngas (gas made synthetically rather than the natural variety).

Plasma Gasification
A component of gasification is plasma, which uses high voltage arcs to break down waste into elemental gas and solid waste, resulting in syngas that can be used as fuel (see Figure 2, page 36). It is a very expensive technology using a complex, multi-stage process and requiring high maintenance. Plasma gasification does allow for recycling of large quantities of MSW and with the exceptionally high temperatures achievable.
WasteAdvantage Magazine March 2010

Figure 1: Gasification.
Images courtesy of Quality Recycling, Inc.

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The Advantage in the Waste Industry

Figure 3: Incineration.

The process of simply burning all materials to produce energy, incineration is an inexpensive volume reduction, simpler than gasification and is used quite regularly in the commercial waste industry (see Figure 3). However, incineration does result in the loss of all useful recyclable material, a lack of consistency in material burning, emissions problems and needs extensive permitting.

Building a Biomass Facility Criteria

Keep in mind when selecting the location of the facility that you do not want a place with prevailing winds because smell and related complaints are often connected with waste processing facilities. Availability of electrical components is also an important factor that should be considered when setting up the facility. Electricity may be required: InputTo power electrical motors, appliances, lights, etc. OutputWhere the Waste-to-Energy Plant produces electrical energy, an outlet system to feed the electrical grid is required. About 120 tons of FuelStock is needed per day to make efficient use of the biomass facility and its system. For example, in Harvey County, KS, 35,000 people created 300 tons of garbage per day (about 150 tons after sorting). The County currently collects its waste stream sorting and recycling the components that are marketable. The types of fuel available are: Trees, branches, yard clippings Animal matter Municipal garbage Municipal waste and sewer sludge Tires High sulfur (junk) coal and more Waste from industrial facilities

Solid Fuel Boiler Systems

These types of systems are typically coal fired boilers, including stoker grate, fluidized bed, mass burn and pulverized/combination firing with suspension burn of the biomass (see Figure 4, page 36). With high reliability and good care, existing facilities can be used for these systems. Usually designed for a specific fuel, flexibility may be more difficult to achieve and there are few vendors that offer smaller size units because it is generally expensive to construct new systems.

Rotary Cascading Bed Combustion

Using mechanical principles to combust waste and biomass at lower temperatures through longer burn cycles (resulting in lower emissions), rotary cascading bed combustion is a mechanical process that allows for a more complete burn (see Figure 5, page 37). It has fuel flexibility (the computer will automatically mix various types) and size adaptability as well as simple fuel feed and ash handling systems. Although these types of systems may require a support fuel for very wet materials and operational experience is limited, the cost is significantly lower than other biomass systems used.


WasteAdvantage Magazine

March 2010

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Feasibility analysis for Biomass in cities, counties and Facilities

Case study: Biomass system Cost and Roi

The following cost analysis is based on the actual figures obtained from a practical model for a waste-to-energy facility using locally generated wasteRDF, tires, wood to generate power through an RCBC system showed through the following projected performance data. Initial Investment Boiler equipment Permits Shredder/processing equipment Turbine generator Land Building Electric utility connection Water/sewer connection Scales Total = $22,187,300 Yearly Operations/Tax Operating expenses Payroll Permits and licenses Property Taxes Total = $1,814,695 Cost and ROI Power Revenue $1,791,445 Tipping Fees $1,296,795 Renewable Energy Credits $1,261,440 Waste Heat Revenue $2,400 Capacity $720,801 Yearly Gross Revenues $5,072,882 Operating Expenses Loan Payments Yearly Expenditures Net Operating Revenue Annual ROI $1,814,695 $1,907,480 $3,722,175 $1,350,706 14.68%
Figure 2: Plasma.

The Advantage in the Waste Industry

Figure 4: Solid fuel.

Using RCBC as an example, five modules will be needed: waste collection, material recovery and waste processing, RCBC fuel storage, RCBC combustion/boiler system and an electrical generation system. 1. Waste CollectionFirst, determine types and amounts of waste to be collected, then calculate heat values of various types of waste to be collected. Using these calculations, design a waste collection system to allow efficient use of entire biomass system. 2. Material Recovery FacilityDetermine what types and amounts of wastes will be recycled. Based on this calculation, input tonnage per day and system time of operation, will waste storage be needed. 3. Combustible Fuel StorageBased on previous calculations, will additional combustible fuels and necessary storage facility be needed? Additional combustible fuel may be needed for gaps in waste, non-cycled run time, long weekends, holidays, etc. 4. RCBC Combustion/Boiler SystemUsing fuel heat values and amounts, calculations can be made to gain maximum burn efficiency of single waste fuels, waste fuel combinations and/or waste fuel/auxiliary fuel combinations. Low, average and high BTU values are calculated for various burn ratios to achieve maximum energy output from waste fuel input based on system capacities. 5. Electrical Generation SystemUsing previous calculations of operating efficiency and the output capacities of a condensing turbine generator, electricity output levels can be determined. Working with the local utility provider, ability to sell excess electricity to the local power grid is calculated.


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March 2010

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Cost Benefit Analysis, ROI and Financing

Using all the calculations of operating expense and income calculations including waste fees, recycling fees and electricity generation fees, the overall The Advantage in the Waste Industry profitability of the biomass facility can be determined. This, combined with the non-dollar value profits (land reclamation, CO2 decrease, increased recyclable content, etc.), will quickly prove the worth of the system. Using the RCBC as an example, initial investment in a small system can range from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000 for a 150/ton/day system producing 6 megawatts that could power 1,500 average sized homes or 60 lbs of steam per hour for an industrial facility. For a large biomass system, the initial Investment can range from $35,000,000 to $45,000,000 for a 300-600/ton/day system that produces 20 megawatts powering 5,000 average-sized homes. Financing for biomass projects can be obtained through public and private sources or a combination of both. Types of financing options include: Repayment terms range between 10 to 15 years based upon project structure Finance payments can be made on either quarterly or semi-annual basis Fixed and floating rate loans are available As we learn more and more about the long-term requirements for conventional fuels throughout the world, and their finite supplies, it becomes of greater and greater importance to look for and find other practical sources of power. Certainly a great deal of development has been devoted to wind and solar power with great expectations for future success. Nuclear power is again at the forefront of discussion.


Figure 5: Rotary cascading bed combustor.

However, a significant, and substantial, source of power is readily available in every city and hamlet of the world: conversion of Waste-to-Energytaking burdensome people, animal and production waste and cleanly converting it to electrical power through small unit power generation stations. Two key world problems, waste disposal and economical electrical generation, can be solved simultaneously through a clean and economical Waste-to-Energy facility. | WA Doug King is President of Quality Recycling Equipment, Inc. (Hendersonville, NC). For more than 14 years, the firm has been involved in waste management and its use. They both have been at the forefront in the development and use of evolving technology for waste management, recycling and waste-to-energy conversion. Doug is a recognized expert in the design, installation and operation of Materials Recovery Facilities and is often called upon to consult, lecture and teach the most contemporary concepts on waste management systems and equipment use. He was a regular lecturer in Clemson Universitys continuing education program on solid waste management and recycling systems. For more information about an analysis of constructing and financing a biomass facility, contact Doug at (828) 696-2111 or e-mail recycle@a-o.com.

2010 Waste Advantage Magazine, All Rights Reserved. Reprinted from Waste Advantage Magazine. Contents cannot be reprinted without permission from the publisher.

WasteAdvantage Magazine

March 2010