Cummins Turns Landfill Gas Into Power for Delaware Customers
Construction started earlier this summer on a first of its kind project for Cummins that will use landfill gas and the Company’s combined heat and power (CHP) systems to provide industrial customers in Delaware with a clean, sustainable source of energy.
The first recipient will be Croda Inc.’s Atlas Point chemical manufacturing plant in New Castle, Del. Croda, a global company with operations in 33 countries, estimates the project will provide enough energy to cover about 55 percent of its operations at Atlas Point.
Over the next two years, the City of Wilmington’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Port of Wilmington will join the system, also using Cummins’ combined heat and power systems running on landfill gas.
“Croda has a global goal to obtain 25 percent of its energy needs from non-fossil sources by 2015 and we are excited that this venture will help us achieve that goal,” said Croda Inc. President Kevin Gallagher, who estimates Croda’s investment will pay for itself in five or six years.
The project has gotten the attention of Delaware Gov. Jack A. Markell. He applauded Croda at a groundbreaking ceremony for the $6 million project on June 7 (2012).
“This project saves energy costs for a company that has chosen to locate here while putting more people to work,” Markell said. “We applaud Croda’s investment in Delaware, both environmentally and economically.”
Don Gesick, Cummins’ General Manager – Energy Solutions, said Cummins is excited to take a leadership role in providing Croda and its other customers with a “comprehensive, efficient and green solution.”
“Instead of the landfill gas being flared into the atmosphere, this system brings the gas directly to Croda and our other partners, reducing emissions,” he added. “The CHP system then allows for maximum productive use of the renewable energy.”
Construction on the Croda project started in June and is expected to wrap up sometime in the fall of 2012. Croda estimates the initiative will replace 2.2 megawatts of utility-supplied electricity, reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 33,000 passenger cars from the road.
The wastewater treatment plant project, part of an overall city Sustainable Energy Initiative costing $50.5 million, will be even bigger. The city expects to produce 4.4 megawatts of energy – essentially enough power to take the plant off the grid if officials wanted.
The Port of Wilmington is looking for a system to generate about 2 megawatts of power to help meet its overall power needs.
While it’s fairly common for landfills to use the gas they generate to power aspects of their operations or create energy that they then sell to a utility, rarely is the gas pumped off site to meet the energy needs of multiple companies and agencies. The use of CHP systems to get the most of the energy produced makes this initiative even more unusual.
Here’s how the project works: Cummins Power Generation obtained the right to use the landfill gas from the Delaware Solid Waste
Authority, which runs the 500-acre Cherry Island Landfill. The gas is currently being released by means of a flare to keep it from building up in the landfill.
More than 50 percent of landfill materials are organics and suitable for anaerobic digestion that yields biogas, typically about 50 percent methane. Gas-powered generator sets and on-site power plants can be designed to run on gas with low or variable energy content.
When the Delaware project is up and running, the gas will be collected and conditioned at the landfill, then piped to Croda and the other customers. The Croda plant is about four miles from the landfill.
Once it reaches its destination, the gas will fuel a Cummins CHP system that will produce electricity while also capturing the heat from generators that otherwise would be lost. Up to 85 percent of the available energy output with a combined heat and power system can be used productively.
The heat captured at Croda will be used in the facility’s boiler system. At the treatment plant, officials plan to use the heat to dry sludge, significantly reducing the volume that then has to be taken to an out-of-state landfill for disposal. The port plans to convert the heat captured by the combined heat and power system to run chillers to cool warehouses used for items like fruits and vegetables.
The solid waste authority says the landfill will generate enough gas for the system for at least 20 years and perhaps twice that long.
Gesick says every landfill situation is a little bit different so he’s not sure if the Cherry Island project will be a model for other customers looking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Unlike many landfills, for example, Cherry Island is relatively close to potential customers. Often landfills are located in remote areas.
The Delaware project, however, is an example of the kind of innovative arrangement Cummins Power Generation can develop to meet customers’ needs.
In addition to industry leading generators and CHP systems, Cummins Power Generation offers financing, operations and maintenance programs. It even builds turnkey power systems, handling everything from design to installation and commissioning.
The Cherry Island project received high praise from Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara.
“Croda should be commended for deploying one of the cleanest and most efficient energy projects in the nation,” he said at the groundbreaking.
“This project demonstrates innovation and environmental commitment by taking a readily available waste product that previously served no productive purpose – in this case landfill gas – and putting it to work making cleaner and more efficient energy while reducing emissions and fossil fuel dependence.”