Fiberight to build MSW demonstration plant

By Holly Jessen | June 10, 2010
Posted July 6, 2010

By the end of August, Fiberight LLC hopes to have its second municipal solid waste (MSW) to cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant up and running. The company, which completed its first plant in Blairstown, Iowa, in May, will install a second demonstration plant in Lawrenceville, Va., the current location of the company's pilot plant.

Fiberight is working with CleanTech Biofuels Inc. at the Lawrenceville plant. CleanTech will install its patented biomass recovery process, which uses steam and pressure to clean and separate MSW into biomass and recyclables. The biomass will then be processed into cellulosic ethanol using Fiberight's targeted fuel extraction process. "The Clean-Tech unit serves to help optimize the MSW-to-biofuels process," Craig Stuart-Paul, CEO of Fiberight, told EPM.

The CleanTech proprietary process involves three steps, starting with removing large items such as appliances or furniture from MSW, according to the company website. The remaining material is then placed in a sealed and pressurized vessel for processing. The final step is to separate the sterile and crushed materials. Aluminum, steel, plastics and glass can be recycled and the biomass used to produce biofuels, to co-fire boilers or in power or electricity generation. The process recovers 80 to 90 percent of the material in garbage for commercial use, leaving less than 20 percent to be sent to a landfill.

"The installation of our vessel at the Lawrenceville plant will demonstrate that valuable renewable energy products can be produced from municipal solid waste," said Ed Hennessey, CEO of CleanTech. "This project will hasten commercialization of our technology and move us closer to realizing our goal of bringing combined waste-to-energy systems to municipalities, solid waste haulers and operators of solid waste landfills and transfer stations."

The two companies have a July 2009 joint research agreement. Fiberight will finance the transfer of the biomass recovery process vessel, as well as equipment upgrades and all operating costs for running it at the Lawrenceville location. CleanTech will have the ability to offer biomass produced there to other companies interested in testing it as a feedstock for their technologies.

The demonstration plant in Blairstown is in a converted first-generation corn ethanol plant. It's currently producing about 30,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol monthly, Stuart-Paul said. The feedstock for the demonstration plant is paper pulp wastes, industrial wastes and MSW. At full production the plant will process more than 350 tons of waste into ethanol daily. "Our focus is on optimization rather than on volume given that a loophole in RFS2 delays value for renewable cellulosic RINs until 2011," Stuart-Paul said.