Honeywell recently announced a $35-million renewable energy project in Wilmington, Del., which will feature a first-of-its-kind facility that converts two sources of biogas into power and heat for the city's wastewater treatment plant.
The project is part of a citywide initiative to decrease energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, a program that has also included Honeywell-led solar installations and energy-efficient building improvements. Combined, the upgrades will help the city trim its carbon footprint by approximately 35 percent and meet nearly 50 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy.
The centerpiece of the new project is the construction of a renewable energy bio-solids facility to harvest and harness naturally occurring biogas, supplying a renewable resource to not only generate electricity for the Hay Road Wastewater Treatment Plant but also provide thermal drying to reduce the volume of sewage sludge the city pays to remove.
The bio-solids facility will capture methane produced by anaerobic digesters at the Hay Road plant, a potential energy source that is currently flared off. The gas will mix with additional methane from the nearby Cherry Island Landfill, which is operated by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority. The blend will be purified at the facility and used to power reciprocating engines that can generate up to 4 megawatts of electricity, which is enough energy to provide up to 90 percent of the treatment plant's power.
The bio-solids that come out of the digesters will also be dehydrated by heat recovered from the engines. This thermal-drying process is expected to reduce the amount of sludge the city needs to truck away by approximately 75 percent, greatly reducing material-handling costs.
The bio-solids facility is also projected to trim greenhouse gas emissions by 15,700 metric tons annually. According to figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the decrease is equivalent to removing more than 3,000 cars from the road.
"Municipalities face the unique challenge of managing utility costs and emissions while simultaneously keeping taxpayer obligations in check," said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. "Through Honeywell's expertise and the security of a performance contract, Wilmington can make necessary investments to further its environmental stewardship without adversely impacting its bottom line."
Construction of the renewable energy bio-solids facility is expected to begin in the spring of 2013, with the building scheduled to be commissioned in the summer of 2014.
This is the second phase of the city's sustainable energy initiative, building on previous work performed by Honeywell that includes the installation of photovoltaic solar arrays at the Wilmington water-filtration plant and municipal complex, conversion of all traffic lights to high-efficiency light-emitting diodes, and the installation of ultra-efficient lighting, heating and air-conditioning equipment in city-owned properties. To date, the project has generated more than $1 million in energy cost savings, and $590,000 in rebates and renewable energy credit revenue.
For more information, visit www.honeywell.com.