Akron’s Hardy Road Landfill is producing electricity for the municipal sewage treatment plant as part of a new waste-to-energy project.
The city and Hull & Associates Inc. on Wednesday hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $2.75 million project at the city sewage plant off Akron-Peninsula Road next to the Cuyahoga River.
The green project will boost Akron’s environmental efforts, Mayor Don Plusquellic said.
But there’s more: “It’s just good business,” he said.
The project is expected to produce environmentally friendly power for at least 15 years, said Steve Giles of Hull & Associates, based in the Columbus suburb of Dublin.
The project relies on methane-rich landfill gas produced by decaying garbage at the city-owned landfill that closed in 2002.
Landfill gas is about 50 percent methane, the primary component of natural gas.
The 210-acre landfill contains about 6 million tons of trash and produces about 330 cubic feet of methane per minute.
That gas has been collected and flared, or burned off, to prevent it from migrating off site. Methane gas from the landfill leaked out in 1984 and blew up a nearby house. The city purchased and razed 10 other nearby homes.
The gas is now collected at the landfill, then dried, filtered and compressed. It then is piped 3,000 feet to the sewage plant, where it powers a massive American-built engine capable of producing 8,600 megawatt hours of electricity annually — enough to supply 700 to 800 houses.
The new facility will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 9,111 passenger cars from the roads.
The engine — a Waukesha 100 APG Enginator — has 16 cylinders, 3,000 cubic inch/42-liter displacement and 1,560 horsepower. That is bigger than 20 typical car engines together.
It is loud. Everyone entering the building where the engine is housed must wear ear protection.
It includes the latest “lean burn” technology and produces the lowest emissions of any engine burning landfill gases, officials said.
Construction began late last year, and testing of the new system began in August.
Akron also is expanding an anaerobic digester at the city’s nearby composting plant off Riverview Road. The digester will use sewage sludge to produce electricity. That $32 million expansion is due to be completed next year.
Both projects will produce up to 95 percent of the electricity the city needs to operate the two plants, Plusquellic said.
That could save the city about $50,000 a year, spokesman Brian Gresser said.
The city also is looking at using the heat the engine generates to heat city buildings, he said.
“By capturing the gas from this closed landfill and converting it to energy to help power the city’s wastewater treatment plant, this project truly is the definition of recycling,” Giles said. “We’ve taken a previously unused resource and converted it into an energy-producing and environmentally beneficial project for the community.”
Investors, including IGS Energy, paid for 45 percent of the project. A loan from FirstMerit Bank covered the remaining 55 percent, Giles said. Akron invested no money in the project.
The plant is expected to produce full power for eight years, with natural gas from the landfill starting to dwindle in year nine, based on computer modeling, Gresser said. The engine then be scaled back through year 15.
Akron had been looking at options for the landfill gases for eight years, but two earlier proposals failed to come together.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.