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New facility turns trash into power

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The Ellis County Press
FERRIS - Waste Management opened a new renewable energy plant at their Ferris facility Thursday, May 17.

This plant was named the Skyline Landfill Gas to Energy Facility and will be used to convert the gases caused by decomposition of solid wastes into useable energy.

Currently, the gases put off by the decomposition process are burned off by a torch.

Now, these gases will be converted by the new plant into energy and sold to TXU.

According to an informational packet handed out by Waste Management, the process of turning trash into energy 'begins with the disposal of organic-rich solid waste into a landfill.

'As the waste decomposes, gas is produced and recovered by a series of extraction wells placed into the landfill.

'The wells are interconnected by a common collection system that transports the gas to a compression facility.

'There, the gas is processed to remove moisture before being delivered as fuel to an internal combustion engine, which drives a generator to produce electricity.

'The generator is connected to a transformer, which increases the voltage of the electricity to match that of the local utility's distribution system.'

This is one of 104 plants to be built for this purpose and the use of this process is expected to increase over the next three years, with 10 to 12 being built per year.

The energy produced by this plant alone will be enough to power 5,000 homes.

Allen Hunt, director of renewable energy projects, said the recent tax credits for using alternative energy sources have helped increase their popularity.

Out of the more than 3,000 landfills in the country only 104 use the gas-to-energy process, which Brian Conditt, market area safety manager, attributes to the small size of most of the country's landfills.

'You have to have so much gas to run the engines (to produce power),' said Conditt.

According to their release, Texas currently has two landfill-gas-to-energy facilities in Texas and a third facility will be finished in Austin in late July to provide a similar service.

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