Waste Management partners for biomass projects

By Anna Austin
Posted May 27, 2009, at 9:01 a.m. CST

Waste collection, transfer and recycling company Waste Management Inc. has recently unveiled plans for two waste-to-energy initiatives, which will be added to its current portfolio of more than 100 landfill gas projects across North America.

Along with gasification system developer InEnTec LLC, Waste Management has formed a new company, S4 Energy Solutions LLC, with intent to develop, operate and market municipal solid waste-to-fuel/electricity plants.

Initially, the joint venture will focus on processing medical and segregated commercial and industrial waste streams. The Plasma Enhanced Melter system, developed by InEnTec, involves the extreme heating of waste materials-between 10,000 and 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit- using plasma gas. The intense heat rearranges the molecular structure of the gas into a synthesis gas, which may be converted to ethanol, diesel, hydrogen, methanol or as a substitute for natural gas to generate electricity.

Waste Management Director of Communications Wes Muir told Biomass Magazine the company hopes to announce a pilot facility within the year, if not sooner. The locale is still to be determined, he said, as well as a testing timeline.

In addition to the partnership with InEnTec, Waste Management announced it had developed a plan with officials of Will County, Ill., to build a landfill gas-to-energy plant at the Prairie View Recycling and Disposal Facility outside of Wilmington in northeast Illinois.

The company estimated the facility, which could be operational by the end of 2010, will produce 2.4 to 3.2 megawatts of power from three or four reciprocating engines, enough electricity to power more than 2,000 homes. The Prairie View landfill already has a gas recovery system constructed by Waste Management, which burns recovered gas in a flare.

Will County anticipates sinking at least $1 million into the project, and said it intends to apply for federal economic stimulus funds for renewable energy projects to help with associated costs.