Lewisporte, Newfoundland

Integrated Waste to Energy and Plastics to Liquid Fuels Facility

The town of Lewisporte, located on Burnt Bay in Newfoundland, is the site of a  Synergy World Power (SWP) project to establish Canada as a world leader in the environmentally sustainable conversion of biomass and plastic solid waste to renewable electrical energy and clean, ultra-low sulfur diesel and naphtha-based liquid fuels.
Feedstock for gasification power plant and pyrolysis plastics to diesel plant will eventually come from the import of more than 2 million tonnes per year of dry pre-sorted selected recovered fuel (SRF) from Europe.
Benefits of the project to Lewisporte and neighboring towns, including Grand Falls Windsor:
The project will be developed on an approximate 280-hectare site along Hwy 340 across Burnt Bay from the Lewisporte ferry dock and main commercial center.

PHASE 1

Phase I will consist of a new deep-water cargo port with berths capable of handling up to three  bulk carrier ships, a separate fuel loading dock, capacity for approximately 800 t/d of plastic to liquid fuels (PTLF) conversion, and a 50 MW gasification steam turbine power plant. Support facilities will include bulk bale feedstock storage areas, fuel ready sheds, a state-of-the-art sorting facility for separation of SRF biomass from plastics, and optical sorter for further separation of various types of plastic.
A water storage and treatment complex, administration building and visitors center, warehouse and maintenance shop, electrical substation, bulk fuel storage tanks, a fire station, and a well controlled repository for solid residue from the plant that cannot be used for construction or road de-icing will round out the new facility.

PHASE 2

Phase II will see the PTLF capacity expanded to more than 3,000 t/d and the gasification power plant generating capacity increased by as much as 150 MW.  With a contribution from the PTLF plant combustion gas turbines, total Phase I and II power output is planned at more than 235 MW.
Total planned plant and infrastructure investments are in excess of two billion USD. In addition to building the TNEC facility, investment will directly fund, or support, upgrades to the existing Lewisporte dock facilities as well as the local trade skills training center.
TNEC plans to greatly reduce the amount of waste going to the local landfill, thus extending its service life,  by converting the dry combustible components of new waste to energy.
The project will eventually create more than 500 competitively compensated positions including; unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and managerial positions.
Renewable electrical power generated at the site will be transmitted to the town of Grand Falls Windsor area to interconnect to the grid or support a potential data center.
Phase 1 TNEC Plant from plan view above.
Block diagram of TNEC Phase I functional components showing inputs and outputs from each.

WASTE BALES STORAGE PLAN

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Please click on the questions below to reveal each answer…

Q1. What are the main differences between incineration and gasification?

A1. In the incineration process, waste is combusted in a single chamber. The large amount of air required for complete combustion (approximately six tons  of air for every ton of waste) leads to high mass transfer rates in the combustion chamber, with entrainment of particulate matter in the exhaust gas and poor control of flame temperature.

In gasification, only about 30% of the air required for complete combustion is fed into the pre-heated gasifier chamber (in this case a rotary kiln). The fuel in this chamber is further heated through partial combustion during which the material is volatilized to form a clean fuel gas (mainly N2, CO, CO2, H2, H2O, and CH4). This fuel gas (known as producer gas) is sent to a LoNOx gas burner for final, complete combustion. Using recycled flue gas mixed with outside air, pollutant pre-cursors are destroyed, and flame temperatures can be maintained below the temperatures at which thermal NOx forms. This method prevents pollutants from forming while increasing efficiency and reducing equipment size and cost.

EPR’s LoNOx gasification solid recovered fuel (SRF), comprised mainly of dry biomass and plastic, is more reliable and cleaner than incineration, especially mass burn incineration, in which little or no sorting of the waste is done prior to the combustion process.

Q2. Why does the SWP gasification power plant use a boiler and steam turbine for electric power generation instead of directly using the fuel gas to fire piston engine generators?

A2. The first steam turbine driven dynamo was demonstrated in the 1880s and these reliable and efficient prime movers now account for more than 80% of the electrical power generated in the US. While steam turbine generators may be less thermally efficient than piston engines as prime movers for electrical generators, at the 50 MW generating capacity scale, steam turbines are safer, cleaner, and less expensive, as well as more rugged and reliable.

The fuel gas produced in the gasifiers leaves the reactor at high temperature and would need to be cooled to near ambient before it can be used in a piston engine. As the fuel gas cools, tars condense out of the gas phase and these can cause operating problems in piston engines. Additionally, CO and NOx formation are very difficult to control in reciprocating engines. In the EPR LoNOx system, the hot fuel gas is cleanly combusted using a combination of outside air and recycled flue gas. This hot combustion product gas >1600 Degrees F is cooled to an optimal temperature for boiler operation (about 1400 Degrees F) by recycle flue gas and directed to heat recovery boilers that produce the steam to drive the turbine generators. This use of proven conventional steam power plant equipment results in a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible power plant.

Q3. How will the plant convert waste plastics to diesel and gasoline?

A3. Plastics are polymers made from fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas or coal. Polymers are long chains of tens of thousands of repeating chemical units, mostly carbon and hydrogen. When heated, some of the chemical bonds in the chain break in a process called cracking. From plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene, for example, most of the resulting molecules are the same as those that are found in diesel and gasoline fuels. These molecules exit the main reactor as gasses. The heavier molecules condense to liquids when cooled. Smaller molecules such as methane, ethane, and propane remain in the gas phase and are used to fire generators that supply the plant with electricity. The solid phase by-product of the process is a carbon-rich char that is used as a fuel for the power plant gasifiers.

Q4. What are the major components of the gasses released to the atmosphere from the waste to energy gasification power plant stack?

A4. Stack gas from the WTE power plant will be comprised mainly of inert nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O), and oxygen (O2). The relative percentages of these components in the stack gas from the gasification power plant is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Exhaust Flue Gas Major Constituent Flows

Q5. What are the minor and trace components in the stack gas that are regulated by Newfoundland/Labrador (NL) Provincial environmental law and by the US EPA, and what are their concentrations relative to their respective regulatory limits?

A5. SWP designs, builds and operates its plants to comply with applicable emission standards in the jurisdiction in which the plant is being built as well as those of the US EPA.

Industrial air emission standards for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are set forth at: https://www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/regulations/rc040039.htm

Air emission standards commonly have three components. These include:

  1. Limits on the concentrations of regulated components emitted from the stack. These concentrations are standardized to a specific % of oxygen in the exhaust or flue gas. In NL, concentrations are normalized to 11% oxygen.
  2. Limits on the total amount, by mass, of regulated components emitted annually in units of tons per year. In NL a per ton per annum fee is charged for emission of regulated components over 50 tons p.a., for example.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, limits on the overall concentrations of regulated components in ground level ambient air. These latter limits ensure that the total emissions from all sources (e.g. ships, trucks, home heating fires, and the proposed plant) do not exceed the air quality limits. Were a proposed new plant to cause an exceedance of the ambient air quality limits, that plant may not be approved by the regulatory agencies.

NL regulations specify minimum ambient air quality. NL also regulates the concentrations of mercury and dioxins for the overall plant site including the gasification and plastics conversion plants. SWP has not finalized emission estimates for these trace components, but typically designed plants operate at a small fraction of the emission rates required to meet these standards.

Q6. What will the calculated average and maximum ground level concentrations of particulates be to the closest residential dwelling to the stack?

A6. The nearest residence will be about 2.5 km from the onsite stacks. Based on an initial AIRSCREEN analysis, the estimated average and maximum ground level particulate concentration, due to plant operations, at the nearest residence will be 0.5 and 3.0 μg/m3 respectively. This can be compared to the NL ambient air quality standards of 60 and 120 μg/m3 for average and maximum concentrations respectively.

Q7. What is the composition of the regulated gasses released to the atmosphere from the plastics to liquid fuels process, including heater exhaust, flare stacks and reciprocating engine exhaust?

A7. These data are mostly available from a US EPA air permit for a plant being developed in Las Vegas, where they are provided in terms of 5% excess oxygen. To be relevant to NL Provincial air emission standards, they will need to be converted to 11% excess oxygen which will result in substantially lower designated concentrations. The data from the US plant indicates that the emissions will be well below both US EPA and NL Provincial industrial air emission guidelines.

Q8. What is the composition of the solid ash residue from the waste to energy gasification power plant?

A8. The bottom ash from the gasification system will be granular and consist of primarily silica, alumina and lime. The surface area reduction that occurs in the gasifiers reduces the leaching potential of the ash. There will also be a smaller fraction of fly ash. These fly ash components will contain relatively higher concentrations of salts and will be retained in a lined landfill.

Q9. How much of this ash will be produced annually and how will it be stored or used?

A9. Projected solid residue production is based on the specifications for the fuel to be imported of up to 2 million tons p.a. to which may be added up to an estimated 100,000 tons p.a. of dry plastic and biomass material from the Material Recycling Facility (MRF) at the local landfill or from additional catchment areas. The projected totals are 65,000 tons p.a. for the imported feedstock and approximately 8,000 tons p.a. from local sources, for an estimated total of approximately 73,000 tons p.a. of ash.

Solid material removed from the flue gas by emission control equipment on the plant will be retained onsite. This will add another 6,000 tons p.a. of residue. This material will not be suitable for beneficial use.

Q10. Are there any beneficial uses for the sintered gasifier ash?

A10. Depending on fuel composition, the sintered gasifier ash should be usable as a sandlike material for road traction. This material will be tested for leachability. Batches that meet the US EPA TCLP non-leachability criteria as well as any applicable Canadian Federal and Provincial standards for construction fill can be used for roadbed fill and other construction and architectural uses for sand or fine aggregate. This material could also be used for daily cover at the local landfill and transported as backhaul when waste is delivered from the local landfill to the Lewisporte plant.

Q11. Are there any solid waste residues from the plastics to liquid fuels (PTLF) process, and if so, how will they be managed?

A11. The two solid waste streams from the PTLF plant will be plastic rejects such as PVC, the sediment from the plastics washing system, and the carbon rich char from the PTLF plant. The sediment and the rejected plastic will be landfilled. The char material is primarily carbon and contains the spent catalyst. While valuable carbon black may be extracted from this material, the char will likely be added to the fuel for the waste to energy power plant.

Q12. Aside from the gasifier ash, what other solid materials from the process will be sent to the onsite inert landfill?

A12. Certain non-recyclable materials brought onsite will not be suitable for either waste to energy or plastics to liquid fuel processing, including ceramics, glass and certain plastics such as PVC and Teflon. These materials will be sent to the onsite landfill. SWP will strive to minimize the quantity of these materials imported with the fuel.

Q13. How will the project ensure that the onsite landfill will not negatively impact the environment in the future?

A13. The inert landfill for the plant will be engineered and constructed on the plant site and managed by SWP for the service life of the plant and thereafter. The engineered landfill will be lined and have a leachate treatment system that is in compliance with international best practices. When landfill cells are closed, they will receive final cover and be planted over with appropriate vegetation. The landfill will contain no putrescible materials and will not support anaerobic production of methane (CH4) carbon dioxide (CO2) or other gases.

Q14. How will the supply of fresh water and management of wastewater and storm water runoff from the site be handled?

A14. The main water source for the project will be surface water from a large pond on the project property. The water management system will include an water treatment plant with associated storage tanks and distribution system. Influent water will be filtered and stored in a tank before treatment, serving as both a reservoir for all process and sanitation functions as well as the fire water reserve.

The primary process uses of water are for make-up to the steam cycle, washing of plastics and cooling water for both the power plant and the liquids production facility. Water is also used for personnel and facility sanitation. Water for make-up to the steam cycle is treated in a conventional reverse osmosis purification followed by demineralization.

Storm run-off drainage and plastics washdown drains will be collected in a separate lined settling pond that will be monitored for contaminants and treated as necessary to comply with provincial environmental control policies prior to any effluents being discharged to local waterways.

The landfill leachate/wastewater treatment system is designed to process and reuse wastewater for multiple purposes including facility sanitation, leachate pipe flushing, site irrigation, and sandy ash conditioning.

Q15. What is the composition of the Selected Recovered Fuel (SRF) that will be imported to be processed at the Lewsiporte Plastics to Liquid Fuels (PTLF) and biomass Waste to Energy (WTE) plants?

A15. SRF is sorted, non-recyclable plastic, paper, cardboard and wood. The materials will be baled and wrapped in plastic to prevent fugitive material from leaving the ship while underway or the site while in storage. This system has been successfully used in Europe for storing and shipping SRF for more than a decade.

Suppliers in Europe bale and wrap dry plastic and biomass (SRF) and load it onto bulk carrier ships. At the new dock on the south shore of Burnt Bay, bales will be unloaded and stacked outdoors. As needed, bales will be moved indoors to be further sorted prior to final processing to make liquid fuel or electrical energy.

Q16. How much energy will the plant use?

A16. The SWP plant will be a net generator of electrical energy to the grid. Fuel for the conventional steam power plant will come from mainly from the biomass portion of the SRF. There will also be some power generation from the Plastics to Liquid Fuels Plant. Renewable power from the plant will be available to the grid at a cost below that of current provincial power rates.

Q17. What are the assurances that the SWP plant will be built and operated in a safe and environmentally responsible manner over the long term?

A17. The Lewisporte plant will be designed, permitted and operated in strict accordance Newfoundland Provincial Air Emission and Ambient Air Quality Standards, as well as all other Canadian Federal and Provincial environmental regulations. Prior to construction, the project will go through a thorough permitting process, which will include an environmental impact statement and baseline environmental study performed by a highly qualified independent engineering company with offices in St. John’s.

Environmental monitoring of air emissions and ambient air quality, as well as monitoring of ground and surface water quality will be carried out as required by law. Material to be placed in the onsite landfill will be tested prior to placement and fuel products will also be analyzed to ensure quality before shipment.

Q18. Will there be any sources of thermal energy at the plant that could be economically used to heat nearby greenhouses for growing food crops?

A18. There are several potential sources of thermal energy that could be provided to nearby facilities without interfering with the operation of the main power steam turbines at the Lewisporte plant. These include exhaust heat from the combustion gas turbine engines used to generate house power for the plant, and exhaust heat from the PTLF unit burners, both of which could provide steam at 250 degrees F. A hot water / glycol mix from the ash cooling system could also be available at approximately 160 degrees F. At full build out of the plant, these sources could provide a total of up to approximately one hundred and fifty million Btu/h.

Q19. What about electrical power to the greenhouses?

A19. The Lewisporte plant will also be able to provide renewable electrical power directly to local greenhouses in the area at a very competitive rate. The fact that the power will be from a CHP system may also allow the granting of carbon credits.