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Talkin' trash? More power to you



Published: Thu, November 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A new electricity plant is expected to begin operating in a few weeks.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

POLAND -- Giving garbage back to the community in the form of electricity is the idea behind a new effort at BFI's Carbon Limestone Landfill in the township.

Representatives of Energy Development Inc., a Texas-based subsidiary of an Australian power company, said a power plant should be up and running in a matter of weeks. Electricity generated at the plant will be sold to AMP-Ohio, an association of more than 80 municipal utilities.

In keeping with Environmental Protection Agency requirements, the landfill has for six years used a process to catch and burn off methane gas, a byproduct of decomposing trash. Every so many feet, two 36-inch-wide holes are dug into the ground where the trash will be buried throughout the landfill. Pipes, surrounded by a bed of rock, are placed in the holes to catch the methane gas coming from the buried trash.

Burning off: Gas coming through the pipes is channeled to one central pipe, which is connected to a vacuum that sucks in the gas. The methane is directed to a flare that burns it off before it can escape into the atmosphere.

Plant project manager Ted Dunchak said that though the system is environmentally sound, it's "really just a waste to burn off all that gas." This is where EDI comes in, he said.

The company is leasing a 100-foot-by-300-foot space between the landfill's two biggest trash mounds, where 11 large methane-powered engines have been placed. Instead of burning off, the gas will fuel the engines. The engines will in turn power generators.

According to Dunchak, one of the generators can produce enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes. EDI representative John Bean said the company has secured a contract to sell electricity to AMP-Ohio and is looking to sell electricity to as many areas as possible.

Expansion: Dunchak said the site at the landfill is prime for expansion. An area has already been set aside for engine and generator No. 12, and there will be room for four more engines should the need arise. EDI will pay First Energy to use its power lines for distribution.

There are three other such EDI-operated power plants in Ohio. Bean said Ohio is the first state in the country to have the plants, but plans are to expand throughout the country.

"This is the ultimate in recycling," said Bean. "Trash going into the ground is basically being recycled into fuel, and that is being used to generate electricity, and that electricity is going to the power system of the same people who put the trash in."

Bean said the plant will create about five full-time jobs with the possibility of more positions as the site expands.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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