A new biomass trigeneration plant is set to power, heat and cool a state-of-the-art aircraft maintenance facility at a Puerto Rican airport.

Lufthansa Technik’s maintenance, repair and overhaul site at Rafael Hernandez Airport will be switching from diesel power to the biomass plant, which will run on pellets derived from local wood waste.

The move comes after Lufthansa Technik signed an energy co-operation agreement with Germany’s Entrade for the supply of two 55 kWe/100 kW refrigeration E3 units. The units will be installed in six-metre containers and are planned to come online this month.

The units are fuel-flexible and Lufthansa Technik aims to investigate the possibility of using airplane catering waste as fuel. This would represent a win for the airport as catering waste disposal is costly.

Housed in two aircraft hangars and able to fit five medium-range planes, the maintenance facility includes a painting line and employs 350 people.

“Excessive temperatures and the resulting failure of the power supply are extremely critical here,” said Elmar Lutter, CEO of Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico. “To date we have been using diesel generators to minimize the risk of power failures.

“The energy supply in Puerto Rico is comparatively expensive and is not 100 per cent reliable”, he added. “That’s why we were looking for a viable alternative.”

Lutter said his firm was “also impressed by the combined supply of power and refrigeration – it’s well known that we have more than enough heat.”