Waste-to-energy is the process of creating energy in the form of electricity or heat from a waste source. WtE is a form of energy recovery. Most WtE processes produce energy through combustion, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, whereby, the BioStar anaerobic digestion waste to energy process does not. WtE projects produce a combustible fuel commodity, such as methane, methanol, ethanol or synthetic fuels.
Fuel Cell Technology
BioStar facilities generate biogas as part of the anaerobic digestion process. Fuel cell power plants can directly harness the methane in the biogas to fuel the power system in lieu of using natural gas, thus making the biogas a renewable energy source. Fuel cell systems can be 47% efficient in the generation of electrical power and up to 80% efficient overall in Combined Heat and Power ( CHP ) applications when the available waste heat is recovered and used. Typical fossil fuel-powered plants operate at about 35% mechanical to electrical conversion efficiency. Fuel cells represent a higher cost of electrical production; however, they include many additional environmental benefits.
The primary commodity produced by the anaerobic digestion process is biogas. Biogas refers to the gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas originates from biogenic material and is a type of biofuel.
One type of biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion of biodegradable materials such as biomass,manure or sewage, municipal waste, green waste and energy crops. This type of biogas comprises primarily methane and carbon dioxide. BioStar cleans and processes this biogas and it can used in any manner as natural gas, including heating, electricity and/or steam production. BioStar will design / build / own / operate facilities based on a mutually agreeable GPA (Gas Purchase Agreement)
Gas to Electric Turbines
Natural gas, because of its clean burning nature, has become a very popular fuel for the generation of electricity. In the 1970's and 80's, the choices for most electric utility generators were large coal or nuclear powered plants; but, due to economic, environmental, and technological changes, natural gas has become the fuel of choice for new power plants. In fact, in 2009, 23,475 MW (megawatts) of new generation capacity are planned in the U.S. Of this, over 50%, or 12,334 MW, will be natural gas fired additions. The graph below shows how, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas fired electricity generation is expected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years, as all of the new capacity that is currently being constructed comes online.
There are many reasons for this increased reliance on natural gas to generate our electricity. While coal is the cheapest fossil fuel for generating electricity, it is also the dirtiest, releasing the highest levels of pollutants into the air. The electric generation industry, in fact, has traditionally been one of the most polluting industries in the United States . Regulations surrounding the emissions of power plants have forced these electric generators to come up with new methods of generating power, while lessening environmental damage. New technology has allowed natural gas to play an increasingly important role in the clean generation of electricity. Click on the link for more information on the environmental benefits of natural gas, including its role as a clean energy source for the generation of electricity.