Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New Bern Solid Waste Management

One of the Boards that i serve on is called CRSWMA. What in the heck is CRSWMA? Good question. CRSWMA is an acronym for Coastal Regional Solid Waste Management Authority. It is the organization responsible for disposing of the solid waste from Craven, Carteret, and Pamlico Counties. CRSWMA is a quasi governmental organization with a board of directors chosen by the County Commissioners. The board hires a manager who is responsible for overseeing the operation. The 35 employees of CRSWMA ensure that the trash generated by the citizens of the 3 counties is disposed of in an enviornmentally responsible manner and in accordance with the general statues of North Carolina.

Managing solid waste in North Carolina has changed dramatically over the years. It used to be relatively simple. Pick up all the various types of trash, dump it in a central location, and cover it with topsoil.

When organic material decomposes without oxygen present, ir produces methane gas. Methane, along with carbon dioxide, sulfer dioxide, and some other gases in trace amounts, make up landfill gas. Landfill gas is usually about 50%-60% methane.

CRSWMA is required to extract the methane gas from the landfill and combust it, because methane is a greenhouse gas. Up until the fall of 2007, we just flared the gas off. Now we sell the gas to INGENCO, LLC. a Richmond, Va. based company that uses the landfill gas as fuel for generators producing electricty. This electricity is sold to Progress Energy. CRSWMA and INGENCO have a contract that could last for 20 years or more.

During the month of January, 2008, INGENCO burned about 1 million cubic feet of landfill gas per day to Ingenco. Based on the methane content of that gas, over 18 billion btu's of energy were provided for electric generation.

INGENCO uses converted diesel engines to turn electric gensets. Currently at the CRSWMA facility, there are 12 engines in place, with room for expansion as the landfill continues to receive waste. Each engine is attached to a 350 kilowatt generator for a total output of about 4 megawatts. INGENCO usually runs the generators at slightly less than full capacity to extend the life of the engines, with an output of about 3.2 megawatts on average. this is enough power to furnish the needs of about 2,000 homes.

Landfill gas is a renewable energy source. As long as we continue to have waste to dispose of in landfills, the source of this power will continue to be sustained.
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