In-House Distillate Provides Waste to Energy Operations

New Jersey based vegetable oil processor Aarhus United USA has awarded a US$1.7 million contract to Northern Power Systems for an on-site power system that will use the oil distillate and waste byproduct of the company’s processing operations as fuel.

Northern’s system will be designed to deliver 65 percent of the facility’s electrical needs and 12 percent of its thermal consumption. The NJ Clean Energy Program will cover 30 percent of the project cost because the waste to energy project is considered to be a renewable energy source that is CO2 emissions-free. “One of the key challenges in this project was to find a cost-effective way to combust this highly corrosive oil,” said Mike Skroski, project engineer for the Aarhus project at Northern. “It would cost upwards of 60 cents per gallon to treat the liquid so that it could be burned in a boiler or standard engine. Using STM’s external combustion engine-driven generators, our solution allows Aarhus to avoid the added treatment cost while still meeting some of the strictest air quality requirements in the country.” The oil byproduct will fire an STM Power Stirling-cycle engine generator set at the heart of the system to produce electricity for the manufacturing facility, while heat recovered from the system will be used to offset natural gas currently purchased for the tank heaters. The byproduct of the company’s oil processing operation is a highly acidic waste distillate. Because the byproduct has high fuel content it can be used as a zero-cost fuel source that generates both cost savings and environmental benefits. Northern estimates that the system design will annually save Aarhus approximately $300,000, and offset 2,942 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Even though the fuel is highly corrosive, the maintenance cost of this system is expected to be 1/3 less than that of a natural gas-fired reciprocating engine. In addition to environmental benefits, the system offers an excellent return on investment, according to Northern. The oil distillate will power seven 55 kW gensets to deliver behind-the-meter electricity at a significantly reduced cost. At the same time, the system will deliver 2.7 MMBTU of hot water per hour, thus offsetting natural gas currently used by the boilers. With the New Jersey Clean Energy Program incentive payment of $1.50/watt up to 30 percent of project costs, the net cost of the system will be just over $1.2 million, offering a 4-year payback. Included in the payback calculation is the value of Renewable Energy Credits, which can be sold under the State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ new Renewable Portfolio Standards. Northern’s system will be fully interconnected with the local utility grid and is designed to provide full compliance with utility grid interconnection requirements. “Our work for Aarhus is another example of how Northern is delivering cutting-edge Distributed Generation technology to high value commercial applications,” said Clint “Jito” Coleman, president of Northern Power Systems. “We are very excited about the opportunity to bring innovative new ideas to a market eager for these kinds of power solutions.”
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