July 2005

SWACO to build Green Energy Center

Trash from SWACO’s Franklin County landfill will soon be transformed into American made energy. Ground has been broken by SWACO and FirmGreen of Newport Beach, California for the $18-million Green Energy Center. The process will convert landfill gas into methane and CO2. Eventually the project is designed to produce seven million gallons of methanol annually and could lead to Fuel Cell development. When operational, The Center will annually reduce greenhouse gases in an amount equal to the removal of nearly 2,000 cars from the road, reduce oil consumption by 20,800 barrels, or the planting of 2,600 acres of trees.

The first phase of the project, which will be operational by year’s end, is designed to provide electricity to power SWACO’s Administration, Educational, and Fleet Maintenance buildings. This should make SWACO 95% energy self-sufficient, and save an estimated 10% on the Authority’s electric bill and approximately 15% on its costs for propane.

The second phase of the project will involve the cleaning and conversion of the landfill gas into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). That CNG will fuel SWACO vehicles and save around $100,000 a year in fleet fuel costs.

Phase three of the project will begin converting the landfill gas into Methanol and CO2 for use on the open market. FirmGreen plans to build a methanol processing facility next to the landfill. SWACO will sell landfill gas to FirmGreen to produce the methanol. Potential uses for the methanol have already been identified as FirmGreen has signed a 10-year agreement with Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company to provide up to 6-million gallons of methanol annually.

Methanol has many industrial uses including the mixture with soybean oil to produce “Biodiesel.” This product can be used in most conventionally powered diesel vehicles. Studies have shown that “Biodiesel” pollutes less, and produces less wear and tear on vehicle engines. Phase three is slated to be operational 14 months from the notice to proceed. The potential of biodiesel production could boost the demand for Ohio grown soybeans by up to 600,000 bushels annually. (15,000 acres annually with an average yield of 40 bushels per acre). FirmGreen also hopes to develop a 10-million gallon Biodiesel plant. It would be the first worldwide to use green methanol produced from landfill gas.

The methanol and hydrogen produced by the facilities could also advance fuel cell technology with Federal and State of Ohio assistance. FirmGreen hopes to produce fuel cell demonstration projects in conjunction with local colleges and universities.

The Green Energy Center represents an $18-million investment on the part of FirmGreen. It will create 125 construction jobs. When the facility is operating it will employ 25 permanent workers.

The Green Energy Center is the prelude to SWACO’s Pyramid Resource Center. The 225 acres site across State Route 665 from the landfill is designed to be a “green” business park. Part of the attraction of the complex will be such innovations as electricity generated from landfill gas. The Pyramid also promises “green construction standards, a park-like campus, and a hub center for research and development.

SWACO is the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. Our mission is to reduce the reliance on SWACO’s Franklin County landfill. To that end we promote and encourage recycling as well as look for new ways to reuse our society’s throwaways. SWACO owns, operates, and/or maintains the Franklin County landfill, The Pyramid Resource Center, three transfer stations, two yard waste composting facilities, over 60 drop-off recycling locations, litter control programs, household hazardous waste collections, computer and cell phone recycling and more.

Find out more at www.swaco.org. Information on FirmGreen can be found at www.FirmGreen.com.

 


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