Hawaii Plant Turns Trash into Energy Using Gasification

Hawaii will test run a new plant that will be capable of converting 10 tons of waste into energy, with an ultimate goal of producing hydrogen and liquid aircraft fuel.

by Leila Fujimori, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser / February 22, 2016

(TNS) -- The state demonstrated a $6.8 million waste-to-energy system Friday that uses gasification to create electricity and could soon generate hydrogen for vehicles and jet fuel.

The pilot project will run at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam over the next few months to demonstrate the technology for the Air Force, next to the campus of the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Air Fighter Wing. The fighter wing might be the eventual beneficiary should the Air Force give the system to the state.

The system processes 10 tons of waste a day, including municipal and agricultural waste, clippings, tires and nonrecyclable plastic, to generate heat and electricity, said Stan Osserman, director of the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies and a former Hawaii Air National Guard commander.

Osserman said everything is processed inside a closed system that converts waste into basic elements that can be used as fuel to produce synthetic gas. The system was built by Biomass Energy Systems Inc.

“The system is clean, reliable and rugged,” said Renee Comly, president and chief executive officer of Biomass Energy Systems, in a news release. “We are pleased to demonstrate how a system like this can be a real asset as we move towards a world run on clean energy.”

Future goals are to produce hydrogen, used to fuel vehicles, and liquid aircraft fuel. Testing for those products will be performed in early 2017, said Osserman, a retired Hawaii Air National Guard brigadier general.

Hydrogen can be extracted from the synthetic gas that is produced by the system, or it can be refined into aircraft fuel, he said.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz was instrumental in persuading the Air Force to select Hawaii as a test site, the state said in a news release. The system will help ensure the Air Force can continue critical work regardless of problems with the public utility grid or a cyberattack.

The entire project is federally funded, including salaries for four personnel. The site was selected based on the state’s variety of renewable energy sources, the high cost of electricity and the Hawaii Air Guard’s 154th Wing, which operates F-22 fighter jets.

As for possible pollutants, “We will verify data from the manufacturer,” Osserman said. “It is designed to scrub all gases from the system to get rid of heavy metals and contaminants. The end product is combustible fuel. Very little will come out other than pure ash, synthetic gas and a little carbon dioxide.”

©2016 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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