Construction is expected to begin in the early summer, with startup scheduled by year end. The project is expected to create up to 28 jobs during the construction phase, with up to 16 permanent green jobs when the facility is operational.
"Our goal is to extract as much value as possible from waste and this project will help us recover valuable resources to generate clean fuels, renewable energy and other beneficial products," said Dean Kattler, area vice president for Waste Management Pacific Northwest. "This project strengthens our focus on renewable energy and new technologies that use waste as a resource. We are committed to growing our business in this region in innovative ways, bringing green jobs to communities where we already have operations and community relationships."
With the S4 system, waste materials are prepared and fed into a first phase gasification chamber that operates at temperatures of approximately 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. After the first phase, the waste materials flow into a second closed chamber where they are superheated to temperatures between 10,000 and 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit using an electricity-conducting gas called plasma.
The intense heat of the second stage plasma gasifier rearranges the molecular structure of the waste, transforming organic (carbon-based) materials into an ultra-clean, synthesis gas (syngas). The clean syngas may then be converted into transportation fuels such as ethanol and diesel, or industrial products like hydrogen and methanol. The syngas could also be used as a substitute for natural gas for heating or electricity generation. In a secondary stage of the PEM™ process, inorganic (non-carbon-based) materials are transformed into environmentally inert products.
The new plasma gasification facility will complement the landfill site’s other renewable energy production. Waste Management began generating renewable electricity at the site in January 2010 with the startup of a new landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) facility. The LFGTE process captures methane gas generated as waste decomposes in the landfill and then uses the gas to generate 6 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The electricity is powering 5,000 homes in Seattle through an agreement with Seattle City Light.
Wind energy is also generated at the landfill, with 67 windmills producing more than 100 MW of renewable energy for PacifiCorp.
"Plasma gasification has garnered a lot of attention recently, as we look for new ways to sustainably manage waste while recovering valuable resources," said Jeff Surma, president and chief executive officer of S4 Energy Solutions. "We believe the project will demonstrate commercial viability of the new S4 integrated system, so that we can implement this technology at many other locations for a wide variety of applications."
S4 Energy Solutions was formed in May 2009 as a joint venture between Waste Management and InEnTec. The partnership combines Waste Management’s industry leadership and expertise in the collection and management of a wide range of waste streams with InEnTec’s PEM™ technology.
Together with Waste Management’s other renewable energy initiatives, the joint venture has moved Waste Management toward meeting two of its sustainability goals, doubling its renewable energy production to a energy equivalent of powering two million homes by 2020, and investing in emerging technologies for managing waste. It is also complementary to Waste Management’s comprehensive waste services in the areas of recycling, landfill, and waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy capabilities.
Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Our subsidiaries provide collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. We are also a leading developer, operator and owner of waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. Our customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America.
About InEnTec LLC
Based in Bend, Oregon, InEnTec LLC was formed by engineers from MIT, Battelle, and GE. Through its proprietary gasification system, the Plasma Enhanced Melter™, InEnTec can transform medical, commercial and industrial and hazardous wastes into clean renewable products such as ethanol, methanol, diesel and hydrogen as well as generate electricity.