A high-technology gasification plant turns garbage to fuel
Monroe County recently put a proposal together for yard waste processing and two companies — Waste Management and Energy 3 — came back with bids and radically different methods for recycling the organic waste. The county currently pays $85.20/ton to Waste Management to haul the yardwaste to a facility in Broward County, but the contract is set to expire.
Waste Management has proposed using two other yard waste processing facilities, one in Okeechobee and one near Naples. The plants transform yard waste to nutrient rich soil, which is processed for specific needs and sold.
Energy 3 proposed a new high-technology facility to be built in either Homestead or Summerland Key that captures propane-like gas as the yard waste decomposes. The gas would then be available for sale. The remainder — “biochar” — can be used for fertilizer or sand in construction material. On average, 1,000 kWh of electricity will be created for every one ton of waste that is gasified.
Waste Management manager Greg Sullivan said Energy 3’s proposal isn’t really what the county needs.
“Do people want to compost or make electricity? We are already making electricity, and it is still burning fuel as opposed to solar and wind. And, in reality, can the plant be built in 18 months?,” Sullivan said. “Someday down the road it will be perfected.”
Monroe County Public Works and Engineering Director Kevin Wilson said the technology associated with Energy 3’s proposal is pretty common. He said he knows of similar plants in United States and abroad that are functional.
The main concern of the county is how much it will cost per ton to process the waste. Waste Management’s overall bid is $93.29/ton, Energy 3’s overall bid is $67.20/ton after completion of the plant. Energy 3’s interim cost while the plant is being built is $79.50/ton making Energy 3 the all around low bid. County Commissioner David Rice weighed in on the yard waste contracts.
“There is still a lot I need to learn about gasification technology used in the Energy 3 facility. If they can do it, I am all for it. But I doubt they can locate a facility on Summerland Key,” Rice said, adding its more likely the plant will be located in the Redlands. “
There will be more discussion at the Friday, Oct. 17 County Commission meeting at Harvey Government Center in Key West.