Imagine turning garbage into a gasoline additive that helps control air pollution.
It’s not a future technology. It’s happening right now.
Construction begins this fall on a plant near Reno that will produce ethanol from
household waste that otherwise goes to a landfill.
Rick Barazza is with Fulcrum Bioenergy. It’s a California-company building
the plant in Nevada…
“We’ll be using anywhere from 150 to 180-thousand every year. And after we process that garbage…after we dry it out…our system will be generating about 10 and a half million gallons a year of ethanol…”
Ethanol is added to gasoline in California and other states to cut down on
pollutants that harm the environment. Producing it from trash is cheaper
than from corn. Barazza says most of the garbage will come from landfills in
the Reno area…and possibly from Lake Tahoe.
Barazza says the process of turning the garbage into ethanol is complicated—it
doesn’t involve burning the trash…
“This process that we are using is referred to as a thermal-chemical process. It is a closed-loop system. So there are very little emissions coming from the facility…”
But, that small amount of exhaust has raised a key question.
Earl Withecomb is with the “Environmental Alliance of Sacramento…”
He says a lot more goes into ethanol than company officials are saying…
“What energy source will be used to produce steam…which in most processes is a necessary element to produce ethanol. The emissions from that steam production should be studied carefully…”
Withecomb says even though it’s an alternative energy source…it still relies on fossil fuels. Officials with the ethanol company say the process doesn’t need outside energy to convert the trash.
The “Sierra BioFuels Plant” will start producing ethanol sometime in 2010.