N-Viro develops mobile fuel-producing facility

By Lisa Gibson | February 28, 2011

N-Viro International Corp. is developing its first full-scale facility that will produce its patented N-Viro fuel from wastewater residuals. The mobile unit will begin operation in western Pennsylvania, but the company expects to move it around the country in the future.

The facility will produce the granulated fuel for testing at a Pennsylvania coal-combusting facility, said N-Viro CEO Timothy Kasmoch, adding that the company tested N-Viro Fuel successfully at Michigan State University in 2007. “It’s our intention this year to do another battery of significant tests with a facility in Pennsylvania,” he said.  

N-Viro Fuel can be combusted with coal, but facilities must have the proper regulatory permits, which require testing and emission assessments, Kasmoch explains. So the strategy for the mobile facility is to travel around, producing fuel for such testing. Once the fuel is approved for commercial use, N-Viro hopes to construct a permanent facility for its production.

Traditionally, wastewater residuals in the U.S. are landfilled or used as soil amendments for agriculture. Those biosolids are predominantly water, but the N-Viro process takes the de-watered material and mixes it with an alkaline additive, usually ash from coal combustion, Kasmoch explains. The ash elevates the ignition temperature of the residual solids so it’s comparable with that of coal. From there, the material is put through a direct-fired rotary drum dryer, resulting in a granulated, dried fuel that qualifies as a Class A product under the U.S. EPA’s parameters, according to Kasmoch.

In Pennsylvania, the mobile facility is not under agreements with any particular wastewater treatment facilities for a supply of biosolids. “We have a number of wastewater treatment plants locally that are willing to participate in this process,” Kasmoch said. He declined to release a timeline for operation of the mobile facility, but said it will be soon.

Plans for a similar facility in northeastern Ohio are shelved currently because of logistical issues, Kasmoch added. “We’re not moving forward with that as of now,” he said.