By Cameron Chai
The Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) is working along with Wynntryst, an energy solutions company for developing a gasification power system that utilises the waste produced during coffee processing to generate renewable energy.
The EERC is located at the University of Dakota and is playing the lead role in the project which aims at converting the waste produced in coffee-processing plants into to useful renewable energy.
For the project, the waste from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a client of Wynntryst, will be used. The different kind of wastes obtained from coffee processing is coffee residues, plastic packaging, plastic cups and paper cloth or burlap. Chris Zygarlicke, the Deputy Associate Director for Research, explained that the first step in the project was to prove that the complex mixture can be gasified to produce synthetic gas.
For this step, EERC will use its advanced fixed-bed gasifier (AFBG) system for gasification of the complex waste mixture. This synthetic gas will then be pumped into an internal combustion engine (or a fuel cell), which will produce electricity or be converted into chemicals or bio-fuels. The pilot scale tests will serve to evaluate the standard of the synthetic gas, researchers from EERC will then modify the technology such that the highest possible environmental standards are met. Zygarlicke added that EERC has already developed systems that convert forest residues, railroad tie chips, turkey litter etc into useful synthetic gas with their gasifier systems.