Solid waste pellets to fuel biodiesel plant

By Jerry W. Kram
An innovative plan will give an Iowa biodiesel plant a financial boost while helping the surrounding counties manage solid waste. Soy Energy LLC, a 30 MMgy biodiesel plant that recently started initial construction near Marcus, Iowa, will use processed engineered fuel (PEF) pellets to be manufactured by the Cherokee County Solid Waste Department to power its processes,, said Mark Buschkamp, executive director of Cherokee Area Economic Development Corp. The pellets will be less expensive than natural gas, a more traditional power source.

The PEF pellet manufacturing plant will be built at a landfill that serves three counties using a system developed by Lundell Manufacturing in Cherokee, Iowa. Municipal waste trucked to the landfill will be processed to remove recyclable material, heavy plastics, metals and electronics. "What you have left is basically paper, contaminated cardboard and film plastics like Saran wrap and grocery sacks," Buschkamp said. "That goes through a mill and comes out as an inch-and-a-half-diameter pellet."

Buschkamp said one of the major benefits of the project is that it will greatly extend the life of the landfill. Currently, a landfill cell-one small, rotating area where all garbage is buried to control runoff and vermin issues-isfilled after three years. With the pellet plant, he said a cell will take 12 years to be filled. In addition, ash from the biodiesel plant boilers will be used as landfill cover. Buschkamp said the pellet plant is slated to come on line a month or two before the biodiesel plant is completed in the second quarter of 2008.