Big option on the way for waste disposal in Southeast Arkansas

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Drew County, along with nine other counties in Southeast Arkansas, will have an alternative choice for waste disposal in approximately two years, when MD Power opens a fully functional waste to energy plant in Lake Village. The Drew County Quorum Court approved an ordinance earlier this month during their June 13, regularly scheduled monthly meeting to begin hauling trash to the energy from waste center near Lake Village. Once the facility is completed it will be able to process 500 tons of household trash a day. The trash will be turned into gas that will then be used to heat water, produce steam and create energy.

MD Power, according to their website mdgsus.com, is part of Marc David Green Solutions, Inc., an energy consultant company that sells answers to the global waste problem facing the world today. The waste to energy plant uses gasification of waste, along with reselling ash, glass and metal to industry, resulting in no need for a landfill. According to the website, the plant will solve the issues of open dumping of waste, the overuse of landfills and leaching of their contaminants into ground water, the failure of existing technologies to meet strict EPA regulation, recyclable products ending up in the landfills or burned into metals rendering them unusable and the common view point that all waste to energy is dirty and kills the planet. While looking at alternatives, the company noticed that common technologies to turn waste to energy were shown to have some major setbacks such as expensive extra fuel to run because of extra fuel needed to run plants, large pre-processing facilities to sort and separate, needed 100 acres or more, had a large parasitic load and the electrical output was very small. It was while searching for a comparable technology that MD Power discovered INEZ Power.

INEZ power is an energy from waste system that utilizes a gasification platform. The technology was developed at a facility in Inez, Ky. The company was founded on the idea to develop technology for the energy from waste market  “aimed at accomplishing three primary objectives.”

These objectives were to have a compelling economic profile with three revenue sources: power/steam generation, recycling and tipping fees; 100 percent beneficial conversion of municipal solid waste tailored to achieve zero landfill targets and compliance with strict environmental standards.

In 2000 Recycling Solutions Technologies was founded and a site was located at Inez, Ky. The founders of RST had a long history of operating coal mines Kentucky, as coal production began a steady decline in 2000’s, so did the number of landfills. The founders saw an opportunity to create a Kentucky technology that could create a new economic engine in the region through the manufacturing and sale of projects. In 2005, the patent was granted and construction of a commercial scale power plant, followed by successful air quality and ash results in 2008. During 2009 to 2010 the company received solid waste and air quality permits and in 2011 the first and only fully permitted successful gasification waste to energy plant in America was located in Inez, Ky. The plant now stands as the research and development facility for Inez power, LLC, an operating arm of RST established between 2012 and 2016.

One of the benefits touted by Inez power is the ability to use all material at the facility to convert to energy and reselling recyclables such as ash, glass and steel to domestic industry,  meaning regardless of other countries tariffs or trade restrictions, the company and all materials are unaffected by trade restrictions or tariffs such as those imposed by China on recyclables.

Unlike incinerators, the gasification process, which uses low heat to render waste to a gas that can then be used to heat water and produce steam to make energy, has an energy ration greater than 45 percent improvement over the energy ration of 500 kwh/ton. The syngas produced uses less air for oxidation, improving the overall efficiency of the thermal system. Incineration renders waste to ash that then goes to the landfills, the gasification process converts waste to a synthesis gas which enables the plant to run in a more efficient manner. The low temperature used in the process allows the facility to extract all non-ferrous metals and create zero waste throughout the process meaning all of the process’ by-products can be reused, with 45% greater efficiency. In the typical incineration facility an average of 25 percent  of the incoming waste is sent back to a landfill for disposal, while the gasification process uses 100 percent, sending no by-products to a landfill.

When the facility is completed in Lake Village it will be the first fully operational gasification waste-to-energy plant in the United States since the Inez Plant is for research and development. The agreement with the counties will allow Drew County to pay a $45 tipping fee per ton, according to SEADD Deputy Director Shane Knight, the rates will be locked in for 30 years with a review every 5 years. I the rates still “work” the tipping fee will remain the same. The County will also have a new unencumbered funds revenue stream with the County being paid $3.75 per ton of trash brought to the facility.

Trash has been a concern for the County recently with issues ranging from unexpected tipping fee hikes to issues keeping the landfill open, during the June QC meeting County Judge Robert Akin who was defeated by Jessie Griffin in the latest election stated this may be his legacy with a hope the plant and technology will lead to zero needs for landfills.

“I want folks to know as the deputy director how grateful I am because Judge Akin was a key player in this,” said Knight. “He advocated the ordinances, he advocated the contracts, he sees the future in this, and he sees the benefit to Drew County. I can’t give him enough accolades for how his leadership helped make this come to fruition.”

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