By Mitchell Kirk
---- — Logansport officials toured a waste processing facility in Canada Thursday to observe technology similar to the kind required for a proposed electricity plant in the city that will be powered by refuse-derived fuel.
It was the second out-of-country trip made by officials in as many weeks to research the processes related to the power plant being negotiated between the city and Pyrolyzer LLC. Officials were in Germany Aug. 18 through Aug. 20 touring a pellet plant similar to the one in Canada and Pyrolyzer’s pilot gasification facility.
The Dongara Pellet Plant in Vaughan, Ontario, outside of Toronto, began operation in 2008 on its 2-acre lot and currently process about 150,000 tons of municipal solid waste a year from the greater Toronto area, Franklin said. The plant processes the waste into pellets that it then sells to businesses as an alternative fuel source, like greenhouses in Leamington, Ontario, according to the company’s website.
Franklin said the plant is a pilot facility intended mainly to promote its technology.
He recalled watching the trash being dumped onto the tipping floor before heavy equipment began moving onto an intake line where holes of various sizes in the bottom of a tumbler allowed a variety of materials to fall through. Magnets separated metals while devices that recognize plastics emitted puffs of air to blow them onto a different belt to be recycled with all of the other materials not fit for the pellets.
A shredder then reduced what was left into a “fluff,” Franklin continued, that gets compacted before being strained into the pellets.
“The end product is what I saw that reassures me this is doable,” he said. “That’s the design our partners indicated all along that’s what they want to do.”
Logansport Municipal Utilities Superintendent Paul Hartman said he met with the plant manager at the facility. He declined to go into detail, but said he was seeking information he needed to finish the build-operate-transfer agreement between LMU and Pyrolyzer, which outlines how long Pyrolyzer will own the facility before transferring it to LMU.
“It has to do with LMU potentially operating the pyrolysis and power plant processes,” he said.
One concern regarding the Pyrolyzer project has been if the refuse-derived fuel process at the Pyrolyzer facility were to malfunction and be forced to go on its natural gas backup. Many have wondered what would happen with all of the trash the plant was contracted to receive if it couldn’t process it.
Hartman said there will be language in the contracts that will prevent trash from continuing to come in, should the plant malfunction. He said it’s similar to the way LMU has done business with coal suppliers.
“It’s been in any contract we’ve ever had,” he said.
Also attending the tour were Pyrolyzer President and General Manager Frank Canterbury, Logansport Councilmen Bob Bishop and Gary Fox, Cass-Logansport Economic Development Organization interim director John Hipskind and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 339 President Brian Zimmerman.
The trip was funded by appropriations approved earlier this year by Logansport City Council to William-Lynn-James, a consulting firm out of Indianapolis assisting with the project.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.