PHG Energy to build biomass gasification plant in Tennessee

By PHG Energy | August 28, 2015

Sevier Solid Waste in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has engaged PHG Energy to build a new biomass gasification plant capable of cleanly converting more than 30 tons of composted material daily 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,” said Tom Leonard, director of Sevier Solid Waste Inc. “The energy from the gasification system will be used in a thermal oxidizer promoting odor control in the buildings and will allow us to defer other upgrades. This represents a significant savings from our current disposal and operating costs.”

SSWI operates an industry-recognized and innovative garbage composting plant that processes more than 100,000 tons annually 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 percent of it being made into compost.

The carbon footprint of the facility will be reduced by over 450 tons 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 percent 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 SSWI’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. The project has been awarded a $250,000 Clean Energy Tennessee grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. PHGE will provide the gasifier, thermal oxidizer, material handling equipment and build the facility as general contractor.

The project will showcase PHGE’s second installation of its large-frame gasifier, believed to be the world’s largest downdraft unit and capable of more than 60 tons per day throughput. Along with the facility being built in Lebanon, Tennessee, and the operating plant in Covington, Tennessee, PHGE’s gasification systems are proving to be a reliable and productive way to eliminate waste going to landfills while producing clean energy.

“This project is important to us for several reasons,” said Tom Stanzione, PHGE president. “This is our second municipal project to receive approval this year and demonstrates the growing confidence in our technology. We have a strong research and development commitment to converting MSW to energy and reducing landfill usage, and this is another significant step in that process. It is also very important to us that we have been able to prove the commercial value of our biochar as a commodity, and that it has become a positive factor in the economic equation of our systems.”

PHGE partnered with ARiES Energy, a provider of energy consulting services, to develop the project. ARiES has already successfully installed power monitoring and power conditioning systems successfully at SSWI, 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 (WTE) plant is now nearing groundbreaking stage in Lebanon, Tennessee. Prior deployments of the gasification process were for industrial brick manufacturing clients to offset natural gas usage.

PHGE was founded in 2010. To date, the company has:

-Installed 13 commercial gasifiers in both industrial and municipal settings, and logged tens of thousands of hours in production time.

-Acquired multiple intellectual property assets and a municipal gasification plant from Florida-based MaxWest Environmental Systems Inc. in January of 2015.

-Demonstrated its ability to produce renewable electricity, 1 MW from a Caterpillar generator, from scrap wood chips at its test facility in Gleason, Tennessee, and sold electricity back to the grid as a part of the TVA Generation Partners Program.

-Collaborated with GE Power and Water to develop a combination of technologies to create power with the use of GE’s Clean Cycle heat-to-power generator.

-Consolidated the company's operations by purchasing the intellectual property of Associated Physics of America and bringing its scientific and production personnel on board with PHGE.

-Commissioned new integrated technology at a WTE plant in Covington, Tennessee.

-Obtained five new patents on the company’s downdraft gasification technology.