The Energy and Environmental Research Center – EERC at the University of North Dakota announced that it is “leading a project to develop an efficient renewable electricity technology for coffee-processing plants.”
EERC together with an energy solutions company based in South Burlington, Vermont called Wynntyst, are going to develop “a gasification power system to utilize the waste from a coffee-processing plant to produce renewable electricity.”
An important notice, “The project specifically focuses on the waste from the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) plant”, the same factory which in 2009 installed 530 solar panels on the roof at its distribution center probably the largest solar panels in Vermont that time.
The company provides coffee products to multinational corporations around the world (such as Starbucks and McDonald’s), has a decent waste stream that includes coffee residues, plastic packaging, paper, cloth or burlap, and plastic cups.
Current project to develop efficient renewable electricity technologies for coffee processing plants is that it continues the work performed for NASA regarding space stations in lunar bases. As Deputy Associate Director for Research Chris Zygarlice says, the project explores the conversion of waste from space stations into heat and power and “will similarly utilize a mostly renewable and bio based waste and convert it into electricity for the coffee industry.”
The project aim to demonstrate the waste can be transformed into a clean synthetic gas called syngas and to utilize the syngas in an internal combustion engine for efficient production of renewable electricity and heat, or to be converted to high value biofuels or chemicals, explains Project Manager and Research Scientist, Nikhil Patel.
As Zygarlicke said, “The EERC system has already produced power by gasifying forest residues, railroad tie chips, turkey litter, and other biomass feedstocks and burning the produced syngas in an on-site engine generator. The coffee industry residues will be similarly tested.”
The EERC will use the outcome of the pilot scale efforts to propose a full scale commercial demonstration system for installation at various Green Mountain sites at highest environmental standards possible.