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May 10, 2007

Comments

John F.
...lower greenhouse emissions by nearly 5.5 million tons annually,...

Where did they come up with that number? I'd love to believe it, but it seems rather high. Rialto's population is about 100,000. That would suggest that if we did this with the wastewater produced by everyone in the U.S. (population 300 million), greenhouse emissions would be reduced by about 5.5 million * 3000 = 16.5 billion tons/year, which is nearly 3 times the total emissions of greenhouse gas in the U.S. Put another way, we could zero out all of our greenhouse gas emissions by doing this with about a third of our wastewater, for a paltry $15.8 billion.

Clearly, that can't be right.

In addition to the statement quoted above, the linked article also states that the project "will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually". Note that the units here are pounds, not tons. That's 1/500th the amount claimed above (CO2 accounts for 99.5% of our greenhouse gas emissions).

My guess is that they got the units wrong, but even if you change tons to pounds, the numbers don't match -- off by a factor of two.

John F.

Excuse me. 1/1000th, not 1/500th.

John F.
without any impact on local taxpayers.

I'm guessing that their calculation of taxpayer impact doesn't consider the $4.05 million grant from the state, which is of course funded by state taxpayers (including every taxpayer in Rialto).

John F.
It also will provide a revenue stream to the city through "tipping fees" paid by grease haulers for each disposal.

I can't make any sense of this. Aren't grease haulers paying tipping fees already when they dump their FOG into landfill? If there really is any net government revenue benefit from tipping fees, then the grease haulers will have to be paying more tipping fees than they are now.

But that would contradict the mayor's assertion that "It’s a 'win' for multiple stakeholders – our city taxpayers, restaurants, grease haulers, and the environment." (emphasis mine).

If I were a grease hauler (or the restauranteurs to whom the fees are passed on), I don't think I'd necessarily consider increased tipping fees a "win".

Perhaps FOG tipping fees will actually be going down (a "win" for grease haulers), and the bit about tipping fees being a source of revenue is a technically true statement phrased to spin the net revenue decline as a plus.

G Eddy

The fuel cells will operate on hydrogen derived from methane acquired from the anaerobic decomposition of the sludge, but what happens to the carbon from the methane? Methane, after all is CH4

John F.
what happens to the carbon from the methane? Methane, after all is CH4
Released into the atmosphere as CO2, of course. Leaving aside the fact that the number they came up with for GHG reduction number is impossible, I wonder how they were trying to calculate it. Presumably, they're counting GHG that would have been emitted by a power plant generating the same power. But what kind of power plant? Gas? Nuke? Coal? The average per-Watt emission from local (state? national?) power plants? And are they subtracting their own GHG (CO2) emissions? Are they adding the methane that would have been created in and emitted from landfill? Are they multiplying that by 10 or so because methane is a more potent GHG than CO2? Because they obviously botched the math, it's hard to trust that they did a thorough analysis.
amazingdrx

Really shoddy project. That grease ought to be converted to biodiesel instead. And the bioreactor heats itself, digestion actually produces heat.

The waste heat from the fuel cells should be used to generate more electricity not to heat the digestor.

Methane from other components of the waste stream and the residue from the biodiesel process should be used in solid oxide fuel cell/turbines instead. 75% efficiency is possible that way with no step to turn methane into hydrogen.

I wonder if Chevron knows or cares what their name is being used for? Probably not, the boardroom fossils expect failure in this case maybe? Is it another case like the EV1?

An oil company backing a so-called green project that they hope will fail?

Brian Wang

John F. You missed part of the sentence:

reduce landfill wastes and lower greenhouse emissions by nearly 5.5 million tons

http://www.epa.gov/msw/pubs/ex-sum05.pdf

In the United States, we generated approximately 245.7 million tons of MSW in 2005—a decrease of 1.6 million tons from 2004. Excluding composting, the amount of MSW recycled increased to 58.4 million tons, an increase of 1.2 million tons from 2004. This is a 2 percent increase in the tons recycled.

http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/tns0405.asp

EPA estimates of the amount of raw sewage dumped into U.S. waters every year range from 1.3 trillion gallons to 860 billion gallons. About 50 trillion gallons of sewage flows through sewage treatment plants in the U.S. every day, according to EPA. EPA estimates the value of our wastewater infrastructure to be more than $1 trillion dollars.
Brian Wang

Sorry John F. After re-reading the article. I believe you are right.

GreyFlcn

Frankly, I look at this as the best way to deal with waste grease.

Lot better than biodiesel which uses Methanol (Which almost always from Liquefied Natural Gas, plus all the processing, and then the unused glycerin which makes up 1/4th the grease)

And then it gets burnt inside an engine, instead of a generator, which wastes a hell of a lot of energy.
http://greyfalcon.net/biodiesel.png

_

Lot better to avoid thermodynamic losses when possible.

And using the grease in the raw form in an effecient generator is the best way to do that.

Also works pretty well since cities can regulate grease hauling pretty well.

GreyFlcn

In a similar report
http://www.insidegreentech.com/node/376

Kit p

Landfills and WWTPs are require to have flares to burn off excess methane and other VOCs as Brian pointed out. This is double counting of ghg reductions.

Therefore, the only reduction in ghg is offsetting fossil energy use. It is hard to determine what the best choice is from the poorly written press release.

From an engineering perspective, micro turbines and fuel cells are poor choices for Landfills and WWTPs. Those politically incorrect but rugged and reliable ICEs are the best choice.

It looks to be like good engineering has been set aside to suck up politically motivated tax dollars to buy equipment that will not be maintained.

I can recall time FOG gummed up the works at the WWTP, so waste haulers had to be paid to take it to the dump. Anyhow, I am very skeptical.

bz

restrauntmanager

Tipping fees for grease? I get PAID by the company that picks up my used fryer oils. On average about $100 per quarter.

W Newey

Just musing before I go to bed Those figures came from somewhere Chevron do not employ idiots And technical analysis on this scale would not be performed by someone who gets figures wrong Reports for press release are the PR dept Who habitually spin the best picture (thats the Job) Large organisations are often in posssesion of information not in the general public domain No wonder the figures make little sense we dont know where they come from Anyone care to expand further ?

Kit P

A 900 kWe AD power plant should cost $1.5 million using an ICE. At minimum Chevron is milking the sytem:

“a $4.05 million rebate on the fuel cell plant cost from California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program.”

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