Alain Castro

The merits of a potentially ground-breaking technology were detailed at a discussion on innovative renewables at POWER-GEN Europe in Amsterdam on Thursday.

CEO of California-based Ener-Core, Alain Castro delivered a presentation on Power Oxidizer technology that is capable of converting industrial low quality air emissions directly into clean power, an emissions solution that effectively monetises that pollution profitably.
Alain Castro
“This represents a massive, completely untapped opportunity for utilising low quality gases to generate power,” Castro told an enthusiastic audience at what is Europe’s largest power generation event.

While the focus of his brief on the day was to show how the Power Oxidizer can extend renewable electricity generation for decades at closed landfill sites with gas below 30 per cent, the technology is much more versatile than that.

“It can be utilised in distilleries, ethanol plats food processing plants, oil and gas, coal mines, waste water treatment plants and power plants. We are enabling all these industries to generate power from these waste gases instead of flaring them off.”

“All these industries spend $800bn a year on energy. This technology sees them converting what would be liabilities into generation assets, reducing the energy bill, along with providing significant environmental benefits.”

While acknowledging data wasn’t as precise as he would like Castro told the audience of power professionals that in the 1970s, 30,000 landfills were registered in Europe and in the 1990s there were 13,500 registered active landfills.

Landfill continues to emit greenhouse gases for many decades after closure. On average ten years after closure the gas quality falls below 30 per cent and is beyond the means of the most advanced combuster to cope.

With environmental costs growing all the time landfill owners landfill owners can turn their fortunes around by switching out combustion for the oxidisation-based device allowing the facility to continue generating power long after a usual expiry, as well as taking on board the obvious environmental benefit.

The company recently showcased its product at Schinnen Landfill in the Netherlands. The facility closed in 2000 and is run by the Attero Group who manage 30 per cent of Dutch household waste.

10 million tonnes of waste had been generating power through conventional engines, before being decommissioned.  

“By 2012 the LFG calorific value had dropped to the point that only a single engine would run at 50 per cent capacity for 3 – 4 day intervals. The rest of the time was used up on flaring and but for Ener- Core flaring would still be the only option. It now continues to generate electricity with low quality gas.”

He added that the technology is not limited by the physics of combustion and produces the lowest possible NOx emissions and has a high tolerance to varying gas compositions.

“Literally we are feeding a heated compressed gas injected into the vessel at high temperatures
waste gases go into this environment which is target rich with oxygen modules and there is a less than 2 seconds reaction time. We effectively converted a liability into an asset converting costs into revenues.”

Castro said for the company it is essential to find good installation partners and operations and maintenance partners. One such partnership is with Dresser Rand. He said the group are looking to make ground in China next year.