Groundbreaking at "The Plant"

By Anna Simet | November 09, 2012

Earlier in the week, I got a heads up from Eisenmann Corp. that today they would be breaking ground at a really cool project in Chicago, dubbed “The Plant.”

What it is, in a nut shell, is a vertical farm and food business incubator, including a brewery, that will host an in-house anaerobic digester to generate enough heat and power for all 20 expected tenants of the building. It's huge, as it used to be a meat packing plant, and it has been vacant for several years.

Biomass Magazine reported on plans for the Plant earlier in the year, and Operations Manager Melanie Hoekstra told us the combined-heat-and-power process will produce about 2.1 million Btu per hour when fully operational, processing about 10,000 tons of brewery waste per year. Initially, the process will digest about 5,000 tons annually, she said, until the building is at full capacity and can utilize all the energy that can be produced with 10,000 tons of feedstock. Any extra will be sent to the grid…for free (Though it is a non-profit organization, she explained that in Illinois, only a very small amount of energy can be sold to the grid before the generator is considered a utility.)

The last thing I’ll say about The Plant—and I haven’t touched on all of its components— the CHP generator itself, from Alcor Energy, is made of old, repurposed Air Force jets.

You can check out the full article here.

Congratulations to Eisenmann and the rest of the partners involved in the project. What a great way to use an empty building. The shining aspect, of course, is  that it will produce its own clean and renewable energy.