Apple enters landfill gas lease agreement

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A lease agreement between Apple, Cupertino, California, and Catawba County, North Carolina, will harness energy from landfill gas, according to a local report.

Apple operates a 183-acre data center in Maiden, North Carolina, in Catawba County.

The 16-year lease gives Apple about 3.7 acres of land on the Blackburn Resource Recovery Facility in Newton, North Carolina.

The facility will use treated methane to create electricity using fuel cells.

The county also created a landfill gas sales agreement with Quadrogen Power Systems Inc., with U.S. offices in Santa Ana, California, to sell about 40 percent of its landfill methane. The company will treat the methane for use in the Apple facility. The rest of the gas will be used by the county to generate electricity.

The county uses three General Electric (GE) Jenbacher engines to produce electricity from the methane.

County officials say the project will not cost taxpayers money and means they won’t have to purchase any more engines in the near future. Apple has the option to renew the lease for an additional five years.

SWANA and NGVAmerica partner on natural gas vehicle best practices

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The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, and Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVAmerica), Washington, have announced their collaboration to develop a new safety and best practices guide for fueling and maintaining natural gas powered refuse trucks. The document will provide the latest information used by fleets for safely operating collection and transfer vehicles that run on clean-burning and affordable natural gas.

SWANA’s executive director and CEO, David Biderman says, “By working together and taking advantage of each association’s expertise, we expect the guidance document will provide critical information for members of both associations and others in the waste and recycling industry.” Biderman adds that SWANA and NGVA worked together last year on federal advocacy issues relating to the tax treatment of natural gas fueled vehicles.

NGVAmerica’s technology and development committee is leading the collaborative effort with SWANA.

The committee is comprised of over 70 NGV industry stakeholders who work together to improve safety and maintenance issues, further codes and standards development, and the promote the latest innovation to improve the NGV experience for fleets and consumers.

Biderman announced this joint work with NGVAmerica to develop a best practices document to ensure awareness of safety and related issues at WasteExpo, June 7 in Las Vegas.

American Forest & Paper Association progresses toward sustainability goals

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), Washington, released its 2016 Sustainability Report, showcasing the U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry’s commitment to sustainability across the value chain, including progress toward achieving the “Better Practices, Better Planet 2020” sustainability goals, which are available at sustainability.afandpa.org.

“Sustainable manufacturing processes enable our industry to produce essential products that are widely used every day, while ensuring that the renewable resources used to make them will be plentiful for future generations,” says Mark Kowlzan, chairman and CEO of Packaging Corp. of America, Lake Forest, Illinois, and chairman of the AF&PA board of directors.

“We are proud to represent companies that are committed to advancing their sustainability performance,” says AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.

2016 AF&PA Sustainability Report highlights include:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from AF&PA member facilities were reduced by 16 percent, surpassing the 15 percent reduction goal ahead of schedule;
  • The paper and wood products manufacturing industry uses combined heat and power technology to generate 97.6 percent of the electricity it produces on-site;
  • Pulp and paper mills self-generate, on average, about two-thirds of their energy needs from biomass and renewable fuels; and
  • More than 63 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. has been recovered for recycling for each of the past seven years.

Veolia selected to operate Michigan AD facility

Veolia, a Paris-based environmental solutions company with U.S. offices in Boston, recently signed a five-year contract with Lowell Energy AD, managed by Sustainable Partners (SPART) of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the operations and maintenance of its Lowell Energy anaerobic digester.

Commissioned in 2015, the Lowell Energy biogas-to-electricity facility has sought to maximize its 800-kilowatt power output capacity.

Under the contract, Veolia is charged with improving performance of the anaerobic digestion system to increase biogas and power output.

The Lowell Energy facility is a $6.6 million, privately funded plant that uses food waste and cow manure in an anaerobic digester to create methane that powers an 800 kilowatt combined heat and power engine. The electricity generated is sold to the local municipal utility, Lowell Light and Power.

“We have seen consistent improvement in the plant’s performance since Veolia began operating in February this year,” says Greg Northrup, principal at SPART. “Veolia’s experience in waste-to-energy was just what the plant needed.”

Recognizing Veolia’s unique expertise in both wastewater and energy operations, SPART selected the company to operate and maintain the Lowell Energy facility with the primary goal of increasing system performance.

The partnership is currently engaged in feasibility studies for a number of distributive energy projects.

California seeks solution for dead trees

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California ecologists and legislators are trying to find a solution for what they have called the largest die-off of Sierra Nevada forests in modern history, a report from The San Francisco Examiner says.

The epidemic of California’s drought and bark beetles killed about 40 million trees since 2010 in central and southern Sierra, the report says, and it’s moving north.

Officials have been cutting down the dangerous trees and creating piles across six counties sparking debate over how to handle the debris.

The report references an emergency order from Gov. Jerry Brown stating the trees must be sent to biomass plants to be created into energy, but the state is facing a decrease in biomass plants due to the rising popularity of wind and solar.

Brown formed a task force to carry out the order, but some say the best solution for the trees is to cut them and leave them to natural decompose on the forest floor.

The state recently purchased 10 20-foot-long air-curtain burners for about $1 million that are designed to burn so hot that little or no smoke is produced.

Chief Ken Pimott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) tells The San Francisco Examiner that using the burner would create less greenhouse gas.

Until an agreement for a solution has been made, CalFire plans to start running its air burners 24 hours per day in the fall, according to the article.

Enginuity Worldwide is among recipients of Nebraska DEQ grants

Enginuity Worldwide, a Mexico, Missouri-based biotechnology company, announced that Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has awarded the company a $250,525 grant to develop BioCoal Fuel using its patented rotary compression technology.

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Director Jim Macy awarded the grant as part of $3.45 million in grants through the Waste Reduction and Recycling Incentive Grant Fund.

The grant fund is generated by a fee on solid waste disposed of in landfills, an annual retail business sales fee, and a fee assessed on the sale of new tires for motor vehicles.

They are provided to local integrated waste management projects including: recycling systems, household hazardous waste collection programs, transfer stations, and yard waste composting.

“As the DEQ develops its plan to meet waste management targets, we look forward to working with Enginuity to help us reach this goal,” says Jim Macy, DEQ director.

Enginuity’s patented rotary compression technology transforms waste streams such as eastern red cedar, corn stover, sorghum stover, animal manure and woody waste, into what the company describes as “energy-dense, easily transportable biomass” it calls BioCoal fuel.

The company says it can be used as a cost-effective solution for existing coal-fired power plants to meet carbon emission targets by simply co-firing the product alongside current coal supplies without making expensive facility alterations.

“BioCoal fuel can help make a cleaner, more sustainable energy for consumers without raising electricity rates,” says Nancy Heimann, founder and CEO of Enginuity Worldwide. “This grant can ultimately help build on Nebraska’s $22.6 billion agriculture industry, and further provide a solution for the state’s 15 coal-fired power plants to meet emission targets.”

Heimann adds, “We are proud to work with the DEQ, who understands the economic and environmental potential of our technology, and is willing to lead in the country as an early adopter.”