Going Green: SUNY ESF producing its own heat, electricity
SUNY ESF is producing its own heat and electricity. Our Terry Ettinger tells us how they are able to do that in this edition of Going Green.
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This building contains its own power plant producing enough heat and electricity for this building and four others, yet maintains a very low carbon footprint. That’s because part of the system is fueled by a renewable energy resource: Wood pellets.
“Now the wood system, we have a gasification boiler, a gasifier. We have a gasifier that will take the wood pellets, heat them without much oxygen around and that produces a gas. Then we add air to that gas and burn that to produce high-pressure steam. That’s how we do that. That’s more efficient than just burning the wood pellets directly and we have lower emissions from that,” said Michael Kelleher, Director of Renewable Energy Systems of SUNY ESF.
And that system is within the required code, but this building sits in a high- traffic and pedestrian area so to alleviate any concerns, a bit more was done.
Kelleher said, “We’ve added to it an electrostatic precipitator. You can think of that as a series of metal plates that have an electrical charge and these small particles of emissions that would come out are attracted and attach to those plates. So we reduce the emissions further and go beyond what’s required by code in our emissions. And then occasionally you just shake those plates, eliminate the charge and shake those plates and we collect some ash off them.”
Producing about a 55 gallon drum of ash every other day, but that’s not a problem since it goes back into the process to grow more wood.
Kelleher said, “We have a bunch of forestland and we grow willow as part of our research projects. We have a need for that ash which is like a liming agent, increases the ph. So we can use that ash on our land to help recycle the nutrients from the wood that we burn to grow more biomass.”