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Saturday, September 24, 2011

W2E Announces Columbia, SC Anaerobic Digestion Facility

Columbia, SC is home to one of the first, if not the first, U.S. anaerobic digestion facilities permitted for food residual intake.  Thanks to Daniel Rickenmann's ingenuity and tenacity, the W2E Organic Power $23 million facility is set for ground breaking in early fall, 2011 with waste processing beginning in 2012.

Hunter's orange is the new green
Daniel Rickenmann
As W2E's Founder & CEO, Daniel pulled together a dynamic team including Eisenmann and CIYCOR.  W2E serves as the facility developer and operator using Eisenmann's technology and engineering expertise.  CIYCOR is the co-developer and financial partner, who committed to a series of W2E facilities.  Announcements are planned in the near future for Gastonia, NC, and Baton Rouge, LA. systems.

In lay person terms, anaerobic digestion systems create a vacuum for food and other organic matter to quickly decompose without air (anaerobic).  Methane gas is generated in the controlled environment and used to produce natural gas, condensed natural gas (CNG) or electricity. Food breaking down in landfills also produces methane gas yet in an uncontrolled environment.  Even when gas is collected at a landfill, the majority of the methane escapes as a greenhouse gas, 20 -25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

Traditional commercial composting operations include the use of windrows (piles of food residuals & yard trimmings|wood chips) where the organics decompose in an aerobic (with air) environment due to "turning the windrows" at regular intervals and the passive movement of air through the piles.  Well-managed composting operations do not produce methane gas.

EISENMANN plant rendering
Anaerobic digestion systems are common in Europe, especially Germany.   The significant capital costs required to build anaerobic digestion plants combined with abundant landfills and traditionally low tipping fees has prevented the U.S. from embracing the technology.  It takes committed pioneers like Daniel to create a strong business model where high capital costs and low landfill tipping fees and energy costs are the foundational parameters.

Commercial food waste - a powerful
energy source
Prior to ground breaking, W2E has a variety of commercial waste stream commitments including  Blue Cross Blue ShieldDorado Farmers’ Market, Harvest Hope Food Bank, McEntire Produce, Palmetto Health, Pascon Solid Waste Hauler,Quest Recycling, Pontiac Foods, Walmart and WP Rawls.  With the City of Columbia and the South Carolina Hospitality Association exploring a Zero Waste Zones - Columbia (or was that ZWZ-SC?!), W2E may serve as the destination for food residuals generated by Columbia's foodservice & hospitality operators.  See the ZWZ Blog post, ATL ZWZ Team Hosts SC Hospitality Tour, for a recap of the August, 2011 SCHA ZWZ tour.

In addition to securing the facility feedstock, W2E has a long-term Power Purchase Agreement with Santee Cooper, SC's state-owned electric and water utility, to purchase the electricity produced from the methane gas generated at the facility.

Read the September 01, 2011 Eisenmann press release for additional details on the W2E Columbia, SC project announcement.

Daniel @ POWER
A close friend of Elemental Impact, Daniel presented at the Spring POWER - Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling - meeting on the Columbia W2E project.  See the ZWZ Blog, Spring POWER Meeting is Stellar, for a meeting recap.

With strong synergies, Ei|ZWZ plans to work closely with Daniel and his team as he uses the Columbia flagship facility to develop a template for a series of systems throughout the Southeast.  Follow the ZWZ Blog to keep current on the milestones achieved in diverting organics from landfills and to energy use.

1 comment:

  1. Well, there are of course significant capital costs required to build anaerobic digestion plants and there are (I presume) abundant landfills and low tipping fees in the U.S. But that would be the case in much of Europe as well, in my view the difference is that but for MPs in Europe has been more politically damaging to politicians. In Europe being seen by voters as allowing landfills has been a big vote loser. It is the difference in public demands for zero waste between the US, and Europe that I think has prevented the US from embracing the technology.