Washington County, Maryland is pursuing a project that will develop a refused derived fuel (RDF) facility to process municipal solid waste, followed by a waste gasification facility that will produce biofuels. Mining previously landfilled waste for additional feedstock is also being considered.
To realise the project the County has partnered with waste gasification specialist, America First Inc (AFI), in a revenue sharing public/private partnership.
According to the County, the project will provide an economic development tool to attract companies looking for a sustainable community with zero waste opportunities.
The initiative will be implemented in two phases. Phase I, which will commence six to eight months after ground breaking, will consist of the construction of a facility to convert MSW (including yard, agriculture and sewer sludge waste) into RDF.
MSW is delivered to the facility and then sorted and separated to remove all non - treatable items. The residual waste will be converted into RDF pellets which will be sold to various customers as fuel.
Phase II Phase II consists of the construction of a full - scale gasification plant.
The County said that approximately 10% of the RDF pellets produced during Phase I will feed a Fischer - Tropsch synthetic fuel production plant to convert the high - energy syngas from the gasification plant into transportation fuels (gasoline or diesel fuel).
Additionally, the existing landfill will be mined to recover buried MSW.
According to the County mining of existing MSW will extend the current landfill capacity far beyond the estimated 100 years it can currently provide.
The waste to energy process is expected to divert up to 95% of the area’s MSW from landfill, and according to the County will also reduce the odour, birds, and noises normally associated with landfill operations.
Under the partnership Washington County will provide the land and the municipal waste feedstock, but will bear no upfront financial risk.
The County explained that since AFI will secure funding required to complete the project based on a long-term feedstock agreement, and will be the sole signatory on the loan, and that it bears no fiscal responsibility for either construction of the project or operational expenses.
Payments are deferred for two years, which the County said will allow a substantial reserve to be created up front.
Under Phase I, full production of RDF is anticipated to take place between six to eight months after ground breaking.
Using today’s market value for RDF pellets, Washington County said that its estimated share of net profits from the sale of RDF would be in excess of $50,000 per month.
Under Phase II, which will commence between 12 and 18 months after ground breaking, fuel production is expected to begin within 90 days of commissioning.
The County said that its estimated share of net profits would be in excess of $200,000 from the sale of renewable diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, home heating fuel, Naphtha (used to make high - octane fuels) and nitrogen fertilisers.
The completion of both project phases is also expected to create approximately 40 - 70 new jobs
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