Biomass generators set to run in Alaskan city
December 15, 2011
By JEFF RICHARDSON,The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: It’s been more than a year since used paper and cardboard began piling up at K&K Recycling, gradually filling a warehouse at the Richardson Highway business in the form of half-ton bales.
Later this month, that unusual bounty will finally be put to use. K&K owner Bernie Karl plans to burn it, taking advantage of a new technology that will convert its heat to electricity.
Karl and a business partner, Connecticut-based United Technologies, have spent the past year developing the biomass generators. Company officials will arrive in Fairbanks Tuesday to complete the process, which Karl said should result in a new electricity source for Golden Valley Electric Association by Dec. 20.
“Everything is coming together,” he said. “It’s like a funnel, and we’re getting to the bottom of the funnel.”
The process takes recycled cardboard, paper and wood, then shreds it and forms the product into candy bar-sized pellets. Karl said those pellets will be fed through a hopper into five generator units at K&K, where they’ll be burned to create heat that will ultimately fuel an electric-generating turbine.
At least 5,000 tons of biomass pellets are required to fuel the generators each year. Karl said emissions from the generators, which will burn the pellets at 2,300 degrees, will meet state and federal pollution standards.
Karl said the project will initially produce 300 kilowatt hours of electricity before boosting its output to 500 kilowatt hours after the early bugs are worked out. That represents just a tiny portion of the electricity used by Golden Valley Electric Association customers, who consume roughly 200 megawatts of power per hour during winter.
Despite its modest size, the project is also appealing to GVEA, which has a self-imposed goal of generating 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2014. Projects like Karl’s allow the utility to incrementally build up the amount of renewable sources in its system, said Mike Wright, GVEA’s vice president of transmission and distribution. Read more