## Co-Production of Ethanol and Electricity from Waste

##### 09 June 2005

A gasification/biocatalytic process developed for BRI Energy by a team led by Dr. James L. Gaddy enables the co-production of electricity and ethanol (and/or hydrogen) from any carbon-based material, such as municipal solid waste; biosolids & animal wastes; biomass waste; used tires & plastics; and hydrocarbons (coal, natural gas, refinery tars &waste oils).

The BRI process utilizes a culture of acetogenic bacteria (Clostridium ljungdahlii, picture upper right) that ingests synthesis gas (gasified wastes) and emits ethanol at a yield of some 75 gallons or more per dry ton of biomass.  From used tires or hydrocarbons it can yield approximately 150 gallons or more per ton.

The process involves three main steps:

• Gasification.  Thermal gasification at temperatures of up to 2,200°F in a reducing, oxygen-starved atmosphere “cracks”organic materials and reforms them into simple CO, CO2 and H2 gases.

Before being introduced to the bacteria in a fermentation tank in the next stage, the synthesis gases must be cooled to approximately 97°F—a process that generates an enormous amount of waste heat that can be used to create high temperature steam to drive electric turbines.

• Fermentation. The acetogenic Clostridium ljungdahlii convert the carbon monoxide into ethanol.

• Distillation. Ethanol is separated from hydrogen and water.

The BRI process will gasify any carbon-based material whose moisture content is less than 30% (by weight). Any mixture of plastics, tires, manure, paper or yard wastes, construction debris, furniture, hazardous wastes, crop residues, timber slash, etc., can be converted into synthesis gas, and then to ethanol. Only the inorganic fraction is not converted. The remainder, which is nonhazardous, is discharged from the gasifier to be landfilled or recycled in products like cement blocks or paving.

BRI’s plants will also operate on natural gas, petroleum and coal—and these hydrocarbons can be blended with biomass to increase by up to 100% the overall gallon-per-ton output of the plant.

The utilities used in operating a BRI plant, with the exception of water, are supplied internally from the plant’s waste heat.

The entire process, from the time the waste material is fed into the gasifier to the creation of ethanol, takes less than seven minutes, according to the company.

Plant design is governed by the maximum size of today’s gasifiers. BRI’s plants will be modular and their capacities can be expanded. The company envisions a single module combining two gasifiers, each with a capacity of approximately 125 tons of waste per day, and two fermenters.

Each module will process some 85,000 tons of biomass annually to produce 7.0 million gallons of ethanol, also generating 5 MW of power. The amount of ethanol and electricity to be produced by any module can be varied according to energy demand.

Theoretically, a mid-sized BRI Renewable Energy Plant could process 1,000,000 tons of municipal solid waste, waste tires and/or biosolids per year, producing 80 million gallons of ethanol and generating 50 MW of power, 35 MW of which is excess to the operation of the plant. Such a plant would require ten modules and approximately 30 acres.

The DOE, which has awarded BRI some $2.4 million in grants to develop and demonstrate the technology, notes: The problems with the application of gasification have been economic, not technical. In the past, the product from gasification has been electricity or heat source, and the low value of these products in today’s market is insufficient to justify the capital and operating costs. However, if gasification is coupled with the production of a higher value liquid fuel, the combination could be a viable alternative energy technology. The process of combined gasification/fermentation has been under development by BRI for several years. The feasibility of the technology has been demonstrated, and plans are under way to pilot the technology as a first step toward commercialization. The conversion of a waste stream, the disposal of which is costly, into a valuable fuel adds both environmental and economic incentives. BRI has patented its process, the bacterial culture, and the critical methods of maintaining the environment in which the bacteria operate. (Microbes can have issues: nutrients, vitamins, minerals, toxins, contaminants, perturbations like pH. The reliability of such a process as BRI’s is absolutely dependent on the ability to maintain the vitality of the culture.) Dr. Gaddy has a pilot plant in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which has been producing ethanol using his BRI process virtually 24/7 for the past four years. The technology is now at the point of commercialization and BRI is in discussions for plants across the United States and in several foreign territories. The company expects the first commercial plants to commence construction within six months or so. Resources: • BRI Energy Backgrounder (from a presentation to the Millinocket Area Growth and Investment Council) • Biological Utilization of CO, H2, and CO2 • Klasson, K.T.; Elmore, B.B.; Vega, J.L.; Ackerson, M.D.; Clausen, E.C.; Gaddy, J.L., “Biological Production of Liquid and Gaseous Fuels from Synthesis Gas.” Applied Biochemistry and Bioengineering, Vol. 24/25, 1990, pp. 857-873. • Tanner, R.S.; Miller, L.M.; Yang, D., “Clostridium ljungdahlii sp. nov., an acetogenic species in clostridial rRNA homology group I.” International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, Vol 43, 1993, pp. 221-231 ### Comments Anyone know how this compares with respect to cost and yield to making diesel fuel from syn gas (ie BTL)? I don't know about BTL, but the conversion of waste to fuel is not as good as Changing World Technology's thermal depolymerization process. TDP converts about 70% of an input of plastic to alkanes, or about 1400 pounds per ton; 150 gallons of ethanol is only 988 pounds, and ethanol has less energy per pound. need papers regardig how to take electricity from waste to do as a project we have better system that makes gasoline from garbage hi its thrilling to see your technology.please send me more information about gasification,fermentiation and distillation so that i can deliver a seminar about in my college esp. about production of ethanol and electricity from waste. Dear Sir, I found your name in internet by chance. I am looking for companies which can build plants to handle 1) municipal solid waste (garbage) and 2) coal to produce cheap energy, methanol, ethanol, diesel, benzin, fertilizer, hydrogen, electricity, cement, etc. For example: A German scientist produces top quality diesel for about 20 Cent per litre without any support of municipality or government.. Capacity 50 - 1,000 metric ton (mt) per day and up to 5,000 mt/d. I am also looking for financing 100% and investors BOO (build, own, operate) and BOT (build, operate, transfer) and JV. I would appreciate all your help. I send you also samples for the plants which I have heart about. Of course, I am interested in any type of producing cheap energy, fuel. Fuel especially for cars diesel and benzin etc. I would also like to know the specification and profitability of your plants. I am interested in any profitable project, plant. I am an electrical engineer master degree and I am interested in 1) any type of producing any type of cheap energy and also 2) yielding municipal solid waste in any profitable way. Please, do not hesitate to contact me when you have any question, 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. Best regards, Nevzat Yildirim Obersteiner Weg 3 65203 Wiesbaden, Germany Tel. +49-611-60 999 45 Mobile +49-163-60 909 45 E-mail: nevzat.yildirim@freenet.de Sample 1: 1,000 t per day of solid municipal waste with 55% organic fraction Yield – 10 Mwe power, 16 Mwe of heat energy, 50,000 tonnes soil conditioner and 18 tonnes of ammonia fertilizer. Sample 2: WASTE TO ENERGY The system combine : - 1. One 15 MW boiler, turbine, generator, cooling system, water treatment and water supply systems 2. Cement plant and waste combustion systems 3. Separator System Waste handled : 1000 t/d (t = metric ton, d = day) Clinker production : 2000 t/d Electricity generation : 15 MW Sample 3: DIESEL from coal, old tires, plastic, used oil, dead animals 1 metric ton (mt) lignite - about 250 litres diesel or 300-350 kg diesel. 1 mt old tires - about 300-400 litres diesel and about 200 kg carbon paste. 1 mt plastic - up to 800 litres diesel. 1 m3 used oil - about 900 litres diesel. 1 mt animal flour - about 400 litres diesel. A company needs only almost EURO 4 million (3,854,640) for a plant in Germany to produce 12,000 litres per day. 1 litre top quality diesel costs about 20 Cents without any support of the municipality or any other type of support! Of course, it would be cheaper in an other country. Probably about only 4 million USD. Unfortunately this company has not any time this year! Sample 4: 1 mt ton / day municipal garbage 210,150 MW elecity per year which means 24.3 MW avarage energy production. Sample 5: ETHANOL FROM MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE (MSW) PROJECT Key Statistics: Output – 346,500 MT/ year Total Annual Sales – USD 37,214,592 Plant Cost – USD 86,021,847 Total Employment – 50 – 100 ROI Average – 25% Operating Cost – USD 12,442,956 The Products, Applications & Standards – The products from this plant are: Ethanol Electricity Hydrogen The Ethanol will be used mainly for car fuel in a 15% - 20% mixture. The electricity can be sold in the national power grid. The hydrogen can be used for hydrogen fuel cell in automobiles. All these products will be produced per the industry standards. Raw Materials – The Ethanol (100% of output) will be produced from locally available Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). The Plant – This will be a medium-scale compact plant using a well-proven technology. It will incorporate the latest-state-of-the-art equipment. Sample 6: ETHANOL FROM MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE (MSW) PROJECT 600 tpd of MSW to 20M gallons per year of mixed alcohols (75% ethanol and 25% methanol) for$53 M USD.
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any testimonials or studies to back up your statistics If so plz send me by email

Quite interesting project. I shall appreciate if you will send more details byAIR MAIL POST as a hard copy to below addess for discussion with one of the potential corporation here.
P.Ramjee
President
SPA Tec.
428/6,Gulmohar
Gultekdi,
Pune 411037
India.
Thanks aa bunch
Look fwd to hearmore fromyou,
sincerely,
Ramjee

i am looking forward for industrial production of ethnol from natural gas briefly

I am calculating the operating cost of an Bio-fermenter using Clostridium ljungdahlii - How much would I estimate the initial cost of the bacteria per kg?

Thanks Nicole

Considering waste from energy plants are restricted to large landfill sites in often remote locations, and suffer from large energy transportation costs, is there scope for creating smaller municipal waste centres with ethanol producing plants in urbanizations adjacent to petrol stations?

Sir,
I am a Nigerian,a registered pharmacist by profession and I have gone through your article and I am very much interested.My country stands to benefit greatly from this project.We have an overwhelming problem of waste disposal in Nigeria.I am the CEO of Hidden Treasures Golden Profile Ltd.,a company registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission,Abuja,Nigeria with number RC653503 with the great vision of turning the array of garbage in Nigeria to wealth.
I am looking for your help for information on companies that can bulid this plant for at least 2 state governments in Nigeria on a build,operate and transfer(BOT) basis.
I have facilities on ground to broker a mutually beneficial deal.
Regards,
CEO,
Hidden Treasures Golden Profile Ltd.(RC653503)
Suite # 5,Ayoola Plaza,Asero,
GPO Box 1632,Sapon,
Abeokuta.
+2348036924310

I am a researcher and currently working on Ethanol production using wastes.

IGWEBUIKE

Gentlemen'

We are a registered Company in Nigeria: Dicksam Prosperity Services Limited and are Scientists & Engineers in Effurun, Warri, in the heart of the Nigerian Niger-Delta.

We have the tall ambitions of: (A)Turning waste, menacingly and abundant and terrible Nuisance in our third world Nigeria, into Electricity where we (Nigeria) may be about the worst, poorest known.
Altering Mosquito, and like pests, culture from continuing as vectors into harmless plant dependents.
We hope to, thereby, be able to turn waste into wealth hopefully, and thereby improve health, beauty, etc and
(B) Contribute to development of Health/Life improvement knowledge, research, health Technology for mankind in general, wellbeing of immediate Environment and also generate profits which, I hope will be mutual benefit. We have at our disposal, generous land sites acquired for these and need assistance to conduct research, build and transfer of skills to us at pace acceptable to you. Please respond to these humble request for help which, if realised, will contribute to siginificant reduction of crime, tremendous improvement to health and human wellbeing in the troublesome Niger Delta, Nigeria, and beyond. Thanks indeed for expected assistance.
Faithfully Yours,
D Arharhire
Chairman/CEO
Dicksam Prosperity Services Limited
Effurun, Delta State, Nigeria.
Mobile phone: 2348024673526 2348072476185

i'm interested in ethanol production.I'm a graduate of industrial chemistry in a university in nigheria.

We need more and more information in this field .We expect all of these from your side .High clearity and Expained pictures are need for us .I faith that you full fill all of our needs

Thanks
S.Dhinakaran