Animal waste from meat processing plants could be powering homes and businesses once Stellar, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based design, engineering, construction and mechanical services firm, finishes building renewable energy systems to convert waste to energy.
According to Stellar, the modular systems will serve a range of industries,
including food and beverage processing; petrochemical; biofuel refining;
pharmaceutical and bioscience; dairy, meat, poultry and crop farms; coal
mining; and waste management and wastewater treatment. These industries produce
organic waste such as sludge, animal and food waste that can be put to use.
For example, landfill sites generate biogases (mostly methane) as the waste
buried in them undergoes the natural process of anaerobic digestion, or the
breakdown of organic material in the absence of oxygen. If this gas is not
harvested through a renewable energy system, it escapes into the atmosphere,
where it can be 20 times more potent and harmful to the environment than carbon
Pending U.S. legislation (both federal and state) and international protocols
such as the Kyoto Protocol, are expected to dictate more restrictive emission
rates and expanded renewable energy requirements for manufacturers and other
producers. According to Stellar, without a waste-conversion process in place,
these companies could see a financial impact that includes higher energy rates
and waste disposal costs. In addition, company reputations could suffer as a
result of growing consumer awareness of whether or not a company has "green"
To transform waste into energy, the waste must be pretreated, separated and
stored in enclosed tanks that decompose and break down organic matter by
excluding oxygen, which produces a biogas. The biogas is combusted in an engine
to generate electricity, heating and cooling. The electricity produced through
this process can be used by the producer (as well as the heating and cooling),
sold to a nearby facility or redistributed to a nearby electrical grid.
"In addition to lowering overall energy costs and generating additional
income through the sale of the excess electricity or thermal energy produced,
these systems support sustainability initiatives, offer alternatives to waste
reduction and lower greenhouse gas emissions," said Kurt Liebendorfer,
Stellar senior vice president. "In addition, they offer an efficient and
safe way to destroy pathogens and eliminate odors that can sometimes negatively
affect a community."
The biogas systems from Stellar are modular, constructed at Stellar's 60,000
ft2fabrication facility in Jacksonville and transported to the customer's
site. The modular systems will be pretested before arriving on-site, thus minimizing
site impact during installation and commissioning. A shortened construction
schedule enables opportunities for a lower project cost.