New waste-to-energy facility to benefit East Tennessee

Sevier Solid Waste (SSW) in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee has engaged PHG Energy (PHGE) to build a new biomass gasification plant capable of cleanly converting more than 30 tonnes a day of composted material into thermal energy while producing a valuable high-carbon biochar.

'This new installation will help us reduce the amount of compost we need to transport by converting it into a biochar material, creating a new revenue stream for us,' says Tom Leonard, director of SSW. 'The energy from the gasification system will be used in a thermal oxidizer promoting odour control in the buildings and will allow us to defer other upgrades. This represents significant savings from our current disposal and operating costs.'

SSW operates a garbage composting plant that processes more than 100,000 tonnes a year from the Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. All the municipal solid waste (MSW) is processed through the plant, with 60% of it being made into compost.

The carbon footprint of the facility will be reduced by over 450 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, according to EPA calculators.

PHGE's gasification plants employ a thermo-chemical process that cleanly converts biomass to a combustible fuel gas. Around 90% of the biomass that is gasified in the PHGE system becomes fuel gas, and the only remaining residue is the charcoal-like biochar, that in SSW's case will be sold to a local industrial user as a renewable source of fuel to displace coal consumption.

The cost of the Pigeon Forge facility is $2.25 million (€1.9 million). The project has been awarded a $250,000 Clean Energy Tennessee Grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. PHG Energy will provide the gasifier, thermal oxidizer, material handling equipment and build the facility as general contractor.

PHGE partnered with ARiES Energy, a provider of energy consulting services, to develop the project. ARiES has already installed power monitoring and power conditioning systems at SSW, and this project further demonstrates the value of integrated energy and waste systems.

The environmental permitting process is underway now for the project in Pigeon Forge, its mid-2016 completion will mark the 15th gasifier installation for PHGE. A new waste-to-energy plant is now nearing groundbreaking stage in Lebanon, Tennessee.

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