CEC hires Gas Tech Institute for biogas, natural gas-fired CHP

By Anna Simet | August 23, 2012

The Gas Technology Institute has been awarded two new contracts totaling $3.5 million from the California Energy Commission, in order to develop new combined-heat-and-power (CHP) and waste heat-recovery technologies at industrial facilities in California.

A $1.8 million grant will go toward developing and demonstrating a fuel-flexible, hybrid-generation CHP system that can run on biogas produced by anaerobic digesters at wastewater treatment plants and landfills, as well as natural gas. The system will be designed to produce thermal and electric energy for on-site use, while also enabling cost-effective compliance with California Air Resources Board 2007 emission standards for distributed generation.

GTI and its partners aim to develop an advanced, fuel-flexible hybrid CHP system that integrates a partial oxidation gas turbine with a reciprocating internal combustion engine for improved overall system performance, reduced cost per kilowatt of electricity, and emissions that meet the CARB 2007 emission standards. The system will be demonstrated at the San Bernardino Water Reclamation Plant for assessment of its technical and economic viability.

“What we hope to accomplish with our project is to enable technically viable and cost-competitive integration of renewable resources for hybrid cycle applications,” said John Pratapas, senior engineer at GTI and leader of the project. “Performance targets of the technology we develop include improving efficiency and reducing the cost of a fuel-flexible, near-term commercial CHP system powered by a novel gas turbine staged with a reciprocating engine in a hybrid generation system.”

The city of San Bernardino and other GTI partners including Southern California Gas will provide $887,000 in matching funds to support the project. The targeted completion date for the demonstration is March 2015.

GTI also received a $1.73 million grant to demonstrate a technology that converts waste heat in high-temperature (above 900 degrees Fahrenheit) exhaust gases into electricity on an average-sized industrial furnace. Demonstration of the new system will take place at Shultz Steel Company in South Gate, Calif., which uses natural gas as fuel. SoCalGas and N2 Energy Solutions will partner with GTI in this effort.

In order to support these and other initiatives, GTI has established a satellite office in Davis, Calif. The new office will focus on expanding efforts with local utilities, the CEC and other regional players, according to GTI.