Ze-gen LLC was formed in mid-2004 in order to develop and deploy efficient gasification systems that convert municipal solid waste into clean energy.
The process uses molten iron to cause a chemical reaction in the waste, producing synthetic gas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) and a small amount of methane from the construction debris. The only other by-products are some metal, which can be recycled, and silica, which can be reused in road construction.
The system is designed to process mundane waste streams and generate significant amounts of energy with a single stage gasifier, which results in extremely low thermal losses. The company's facilities can be expanded into modules, which process 450 tons of waste per day and yield 30 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power almost 25,000 homes.
The reasons for developing such a system are compelling:
Solid wastes, once in the ground, conspire to form methane and carbon dioxide. For every ton of waste that gets landfilled, there is 1.8 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas generated over the life of the landfill. Despite increasing recycling levels, the amount of waste which goes into the ground each year is also increasing.
Massachusetts alone generates enough waste to fuel 70 full-scale facilities. Nationally the market represents over $4.5 billion in annual revenue. The global market for waste gasification technology is virtually unlimited.
Ze-gen, in conjunction with New Bedford Waste Services, LLC (NBWS), is intending to conduct a demonstration of Ze-gen’s solid waste handling/gasification approach at NBWS’s facility located at 1245 Shawmut Avenue in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Specifically, the demonstration project will gasify up to ten tons per day of construction and demolition (C&D) residual material that is produced at the NBWS facility and to use it as the primary feed stock in a gasification process that utilizes molten bath technology. The products of the gasification process will be a syngas which in a production plant will be used to generate electricity. A by-product of the process is a slag which typically can be used as an aggregate, since experience in the furnace industry has shown that any impurities in the slag are bound into the material in a non-leachable state.
“We’re hoping to start building in late 2006 or early 2007,” said Davis, the company’s president and CEO. “A lot of our equipment is already sitting [in Boston] and waiting to be installed, so it will only be a three-month construction process.”
The facility would be using construction demolition and debris that is already being trucked to the Shawmut Avenue site, material that would have usually headed either to a landfill or a recycling facility. Mr. Davis said that while other types of waste, including household waste, could be used, the test facility will only use construction debris.
Mr. Davis said the six-month test will allow the company to determine the quality of the gas being produced, to determine if the gas is concentrated enough for use as energy.
NBWS’s facility has been site assigned by the City of New Bedford and permitted by DEP to handle, process and transfer up to 1,500 tons per day of C&D material, MSW and scrap tires.
Ze-gen is planning for this facility to be operational in early 2007.
When the New Bedford facility is successfully completed, Ze-gen intends to build a full-scale gasification plant capable of generating significant revenue by 2009.
The Pitch: Ze-gen Inc., Mass High Tech: The Journal of New England Technology - November 3, 2006
Experimental energy facility to open in city (New Bedford), By Aaron Nicodemus, Standard-Times staff writer, October 17, 2006