advertisement

Green Fuels Depot Gives Peek Into Future Energy Independence

It has a long name – the Green Fuels Depot demonstration project. And it could go a long way toward a new phase of green technology that may one day become as common as a community’s water treatment plant.

The first Green Fuels Depot in Illinois was introduced recently in Naperville as part of a federally funded project that has the backing of Argonne National Laboratory. Scientists, community leaders and politicians who support the concept showcased a full-scale prototype gasifier/reactor designed to convert lawn and farm waste into electricity, ethanol and hydrogen.

Packer Engineering, which intends to equip farms and sawmills across the country with this technology, showed off the first depot. But the City of Naperville was able to get in on this green energy prototype through federal funds and the support of local Congresswoman Judy Biggert, who has pushed for solutions to the country’s dependency on foreign energy sources.

The gasifier/reactor in Naperville is located at a city water reclamation site. Any expenses the city incurs are reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Energy. Communities that are able to utilize this technology in the future would most likely locate it in similar surroundings already associated with energy or water treatment.

When the gasifier is integrated with other technologies being developed at Argonne, it will give the reactor the potential to produce automobile-grade ethanol. Those on hand at the unveiling of the reactor saw the full operation of the 12-foot device and heard presentations on local developments in hydrogen storage and space-based solar energy. The gasifier produces electricity and heat from agricultural residue like corn husks or switch grass, while leaving behind minimal waste such as sand and ash. Once integrated with related technologies under development in Argonne’s labs, it also will power hydrogen fuel cells and produce automobile-grade ethanol.

Because it is only a pilot program, the depot will not be converting all of the city’s waste materials. In fact, it will use only 3 percent of the annual landscape waste collected by Naperville. In looking ahead to the future, officials speculated that if all 48,000 cubic yards of the city’s landscape waste were used in a full-scale green fuels depot, the amount would be enough to fuel all 300 vehicles in the city fleet.

Those types of numbers are fueling the hope that green-energy research will continue to emerge in some form from laboratory think-tanks and area colleges, while communities across the country slowly become more involved in the technologies that will pave the way for extensive conservation and money-saving practices.


advertisement


advertisement
Recent Comments
    Archives

    advertisement

    advertisement