City to unveil facility that converts waste into energy

Some Naperville yard waste will soon be the city's treasure.

The city will unveil a new "green fuels depot" next week. The facility will be used to convert yard waste into electricity, ethanol and hydrogen.

The city can put the electricity back into the power grid or charge electric vehicles. The ethanol will be used to fill the tanks of the city's FlexFuel vehicles.

"It's the first unit of its type that will take waste material, organic material, and convert it into one of three fuels," said Councilman Bob Fieseler, who, along with Councilman Grant Wehrli, worked with Naperville-based Packer Engineering to bring the technology to the city.

Fieseler compared the technology to a self-cleaning oven, where matter is heated in an oxygen-deprived environment. The same will be true with the facility's "gasifier," which will burn wood chips collected from yards in the city. The actual machine is no larger than a refrigerator unit at a supermarket, and the only evidence that it's running is visible steam on a cold day.

The equipment is owned by Packer Engineering, but the city provided space for it to be tested, Fieseler said. He said the company wants to test the commercial viability of the system in Naperville, in hopes of marketing the idea to other municipalities and small farms.

"It's a pilot program," he said. "This is putting a demonstration unit that Packer already has to real-world use."

source: chicagotribune

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