TRURO , N.S.
Colchester County is exploring the possibility of using new technology to transform landfill waste into a gas that could be used for electrical power and heat.
The municipality has agreed to participate with Nova Waste Solutions Inc., (NSWI) of Halifax to complete a feasibility study on what is described as “an innovative and clean alternative to active landfilling. “
“This climate change and emission-reducing alternative to landfilling will also increase recycling diversion, avoid legacy landfill environmental issues and is anticipated to significantly reduce municipal service costs,” the county said, in a news release.
The cost of the study is being borne by NSWI and the municipality has not committed to any financial contribution, Mayor Christine Blair said. She added council will “explore options for progressive use of solid waste prior to any investment decisions by council.”
The study is to determine the viability of using a plasma gasification processing facility to turn waste materials destined for landfill into clean “syngas,” which is converted into electrical power and heat.
The process involves shredding and drying non-recyclable materials, which travel through two vessels where plasma arcs create heat that converts it into a syngas.
The materials do not burn because of lack of oxygen and it does not exhaust to the atmosphere.
The syngas – similar to natural gas – is cleaned and used in generators to produce electricity, while steam from the process is used to generate heat.
About half of the electricity is used to power the facility while the remainder would be directed to the Nova Scotia Power grid.
NSWI president and CEO Stephen Mader told the Truro Daily News the steam would be used to heat the plant, which would be constructed specifically for the proposed project, with any additional heat being used in adjacent buildings.
Sulfur, which is also created in the process, would be sold to the agriculture industry, he said, while the remaining product – a glassy, rock-like slag material – could be used as an aggregate in road construction.
Mader said the municipality was not asked to contribute financially to the study but the company will be depending on staff assistance in determining the volume and types of materials currently accepted at the landfill site. If the municipality does agree to proceed with the project, he said, its only financial expense would be through a fee paid to the company for receiving the material, which would be offset by eliminating landfill costs.
“At the end of the day, we will only look to get the county’s waste,” he said. “We will build the plant, we will own the plant.”
But he said the company would require a 25-year commitment to secure the county’s landfill waste.
NWSI is partnered with CHO Power, which has a facility in Morcenx, France that deals with 50,000 tonnes of waste material per year.
The facility has been operating for more than two years and is currently exceeding design targets of more than a 35-per-cent energy efficiency rating.
Mader said the feasibility study has begun and he expects to produce an interim report for the municipality within four to six months. A final report is expected within eight to 10 months.