ICM has started selling a system it developed that turns a wide variety of organic waste — from garbage to wheat straw — into fuel.

It unveiled the system Monday at the International Biomass Conference in St. Louis.

This is a new area of business for Colwich-based ICM, whose sole business since its founding in 1995 has been designing, building and operating ethanol plants.

The new product, called a gasifier, is aimed at municipal landfills, at first.

Tom Ranallo, vice president of operations for ICM, said the company is getting good interest in the system.

"We are working with several developers on several projects," he said. "We're getting inquiries from all over the world."

ICM installed a pilot system at the Harvey County landfill in 2009. The plant has the capacity to convert 150 tons of landfill waste into fuel each day.

It was able to turn most landfill material, with the exception of metals, into steam to drive turbines. The electricity can be fed directly into the grid.

"The system has been very robust with a range of feedstocks," Ranallo said. "I think we've demonstrated the technology and are happy with the results."

A gasifier differs from an incinerator in that it doesn't burn the material. It works at low oxygen and low temperature to convert the material in a combustible gas composed largely of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

A second product is biochar, an ash rich in carbon, that Ranallo said can be used to improve soil and as a method of carbon sequestration.

There also is a system for dealing with any remaining toxic remnant, he said.

The new product is a completely new direction for the company, Ranallo said.

The company rode ethanol's rapid growth in the last decade. But that growth has slowed considerably since 2008 and the company had laid off many of its employees.

source: kansas

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