cogen & biomass: Round-up of recent projects

Restaurant renewables: grease is the word

1 June 2007

The City of Rialto’s wastewater treatment facility is to be the site of a new fuel cell-based system that will utilise wastewater sludge and kitchen grease from local restaurants to generate heat and power. Chevron Energy Solutions has begun engineering and construction of a 900 kW fuel cell power plant, manufactured by FuelCell Energy, that will use methane derived from organic materials contained in wastewater.

The new system will provide a use for the thousands of gallons of fats, oils and grease that are washed daily from restaurant grills and pans and are normally sent to landfill. The development includes: installation of the grease-receiving station; repairs to the current digester equipment; a new automation system and controls; a high-efficiency boiler; and three 300 kW fuel cell units that will generate power electrochemically, while the waste heat from the fuel cells will warm the digesters.

As well as cutting energy costs for Rialto, a Los Angeles suburb of about 100 000 residents, and cutting emissions, the system will also provide a revenue stream to the city through “tipping fees” paid by grease haulers for each disposal.

The project, which cost $15.1 million, is eligible for a $4.05 million rebate on the fuel cell plant cost from California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program, administered by Southern California Gas. FuelCell Energy will maintain the plant after it is installed.

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