Lebanon is looking to find better uses for the area’s waste than simply filling a landfill.
So the city looked to the west for inspiration – specifically, to Covington, Tenn.
The West Tennessee city recently implemented what’s known as a “gasification” system to convert waste into clean energy.
“Mayor Gordon was intrigued by our gasification process and thought it could help ‘turn dirty into dollars’ for the community,” said PHG Energy’s Chris Koczaja.
He said gasification is a “clean, efficient conversion of biomass into a combustible fuel gas in an oxygen-starved environment.”
He noted that the process is a thermo-chemical process, not incineration.
The process can convert items ranging from wood chips and manufacturing waste to scrap tires and rubber products to wastewater treatment sludge.
“It’s feedstock flexible over the life of the equipment. It’s flexible to what you have available,” said Koczaja.
He said that regardless of the feedstock, the process helps reduce the area’s “emissions picture.”
“[The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation] is definitely behind the process we’re doing here,” said Koczaja.
The process, which is initiated with just two bags of Matchlight charcoal, features rapid start-up and can convert up to 12 tons of material per day.
“About 95 percent of the what comes out is fuel gas, and the other 5 percent is a charcoal biochar with many uses,” said Koczaja.
Last fall, Councilor Fred Burton and Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines visited the Covington facility, and representatives from PHG Energy spoke to Lebanon’s Public Works Committee to offer an overview of the process.