The Odoriferous Tragedy of Naples

di Dennis Miller, Vice President
Solena Group, Inc.

Letter from Washington

One of the great and most beautiful cities in Italy, Naples has had continuing difficulties in dealing with its municipal solid wastes (MSW). In the latest episode of over 10 day duration, which just ended within the last week, the Army was called in to help clean the streets and a formerly closed landfill was opened to receive the reported 100,000 plus tons of wastes. Of course, some tons of these wastes were burned in the streets giving off harmful gases and some were even shipped to Sardinia, whose residents did not like the wastes being brought to that beautiful island. What is the long term solution?
The construction of more landfills is always an alternative, but many residents of Naples and the surrounding area do not want a landfill solution. While incineration is an option, many residents don’t like the idea of having a large incinerator burning wastes and releasing contaminated ash and air pollution containing dioxins and furans, as well as contaminated water. A new solution does exist and projects are being developed in other parts of the EU, the U.S., and Latin America. This is plasma gasification of the wastes, which is a way to use the wastes as a feedstock for the production of a synthesis gas that can be used to produce renewable power or bio-liquid diesel and bio-Jet A fuels. Using this process there is no need for a landfill.
The plasma gasification process has been developed by the Solena Group, Inc. When this process is employed all the recyclables are removed and the organic material remaining is dissociated into a synthesis gas that is easily cleaned removing sulfur and chloride compounds, as well mercury. When very clean the syngas is sent to a gas turbine in combined cycle producing renewable power or liquid fuels. The exhaust from the gas turbine is low in Green House Gases and contains no particulates and no air pollution. If there are any inorganics remaining in the feedstock, they are melted into a vitrified slag that is five times less leachable than bottle glass. This slag is classified by the USEPA and the EU Ministry of Environment as an inert and perfectly safe to use as construction material. For example, the standard renewable power plant will process 500 tons per day of refuse derived fuel (RDF), which is the waste stream without the recyclables. This plant will produce 40 megawatts per hour gross. The liquid fuels plant will process approximately 1400 tons per day of RDF and produce, for example, 1800 barrels per day of Bio-Jet A fuel, as well as electricity and Naphtha.
Over the last several years Solena has had meetings with various people in the city government and utility companies serving the city and surrounding areas. Such meetings were held both in Naples and in the U.S. While it was generally recognized that this gasification option would be beneficial to the city’s residents and those in the surrounding areas, a decision was never made to move ahead with a project.
The plasma gasification plant could be sited at one or more landfills, which already have existing infrastructure of roads and power lines. Thus, it would not be disruptive to the community. Since the landfills hold existing permits, the problem of permitting would be able to move ahead without many problems. The key parameters for success are: 1.) a site that is easily permitted for the plant to be built; 2.) a guaranteed volume of feedstock, which would be the MSW; and 3.) a power purchase agreement with the utility companies serving the city and surrounding areas. If it is decided to build a bio-diesel or bio-Jet A plant, then a larger site is necessary for an increased volume of feedstock per day and contracts to sell the liquid fuel will be required.
In order to determine the size and configuration of plant or plants required, the city would contract with Solena for conceptual engineering design study and financial analysis. The report of this study is the first stage in the design process. Once the recommendations in this study are agreed to, then front-end engineering design work can commence, which will provide the final design required for construction. Solena and its banking partners will review the lease for the site, permitting requirements, power purchase agreement, and the initial design study report in order to determine how the facility can be financed by the private sector.

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