Tours of Lancaster County (PA) Waste-to-Energy Plant on May 12th

by Duane Nichols on April 22, 2018

Tipping level in waste to energy facility

Public tours of waste-to-energy plant in Conoy Township offered

From an Article by Staff, Lancaster Online, April 21, 2018

Public tours of Lancaster County’s waste-to-energy trash-burning facility in Conoy Township will be held on Saturday, May 12. The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority will host the free tours.

Visitors will discover how their waste creates enough renewable energy in the form of electricity to power the equivalent of 30,000 Lancaster County homes, along with providing steam to the adjacent Perdue AgriBusiness soybean processing plant.

Free one-hour tours will depart from Conoy Township Park-West at 2115 River Road, Bainbridge, at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Seating is limited and preregistration is required for this rain or shine event. Guests must be 8 years or older, capable of walking short distances and able to climb two flights of stairs. All guests must wear closed-toe shoes and safety gear that will be provided.

To register for a tour, click here or call 717-397-9968.

Lancaster County Waste to Energy Plant, etc.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Brown April 23, 2018 at 1:59 pm

I’ll bet they burn carbon and put CO2 into the air or ground, instead of making biochar and using or burying it.

A bio char process combusts the hydrogen in waste and produces energy and water vapor as well. If I recall, Lancaster County has sunshine, and solar panels of the same cost would provide CO2-free power. What a misguided project.


Biochar Initiative April 23, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Biochar And Renewable Energy From Biomass

From the United States Biochar Initiative, Internet Web-Site

What’s Biomass?— Biomass is any material from a biological source. Sustainable biochar production uses crop residues, non-commercial wood and wood waste, manure, solid waste, non-food energy crops, construction scraps, yard trimmings, methane digester residues or grasses. Biomass for bio-fuels or biochar needs to be excess—beyond what should be left on-site for maintaining forest and slash pileagricultural cropland health. Biomass that can be converted to a higher purpose, such as for food or animal feed, shouldn’t be used for biochar production. In the U.S., sustainable production of biomass for energy use is strongly emphasized.

Thermal Conversion of Biomass— Biochar is produced during pyrolysis or gasification – the super heating and thermal conversion of biomass in limited oxygen at high temperatures (350-700°C) in a specially designed furnace that captures all of the emissions produced. Conversely, conventional combined heat and power (co-gen) ovens burn biomass emitting smoke, greenhouse gases, and only make ash.

bulldozer scooping up biomassValuable Waste—Biomass, typically worthless but costly to get rid of, is now a valuable resource for biochar production. Tipping fees, overloading landfills, open burning and pollution are avoided because biomass becomes an efficient, indigenous, sustainable and value-added product for urban, rural agriculture and forest communities. Depending on size and capacity of the pyrolysis furnace, heat and power are generated and available as an alternative clean energy source for family-sized residential, commercial, industrial and community applications.

Biomass Converted to Renewable Energy— During pyrolysis, biochar is only one of the many valuable bioenergy and bioproducts produced. Volatile gases (methane, carbon monoxide and other combustible gases), hydrocarbons and most of the oxygen in the biomass are burned or driven off, leaving carbon-enriched biochar. All of the emissions (better known as air pollution and greenhouse gases) typically associated with burning biomass are captured and condensed into liquid fuels like bio-oil, industrial chemicals, or syngas (synthetic gas). These products can be containerized for sale, for future use at the production facility or used on-site as part of the process for energy production.

Carbon Credits for Clean Energy and Sequestration— Carbon credits are valuable assets for sale or trade in the offset and cap-and-trade markets. Companies that emit more CO2 than they are allowed can purchase (or trade) credits from entities that produce clean energy or sequester carbon dioxide. Biochar is not currently a listed category in the offset or cap-and-trade market (but Europeans are using it in voluntary markets). In November 2008 the concept was presented at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Negotiations are underway for a more complete presentation and potential acceptance at the next international climate change convention in Copenhagen in December 2009.


Chelsea Green April 24, 2018 at 7:36 am

How to Make Biochar

From Chelsea Green Publishing Co., March 16, 2017

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started.

To make biochar right in your garden, start by digging a trench in a bed. (Use a fork to loosen the soil in the bottom of the trench and you’ll get the added benefits of this “double-digging” technique.) Then pile brush into the trench and light it. You want to have a fire that starts out hot but is quickly slowed down by reducing the oxygen supply. The best way to tell what’s going on in a biochar fire is to watch the smoke. The white smoke, produced early on, is mostly water vapor. As the smoke turns yellow, resins and sugars in the material are being burned. When the smoke thins and turns grayish blue, dampen down the fire by covering it with about an inch of soil to reduce the air supply, and leave it to smolder. Then, after the organic matter has smoldered into charcoal chunks, use water to put out the fire. Another option would be to make charcoal from wood scraps in metal barrels.

Unrestrained open burning releases 95 percent or more of the carbon in the wood, weeds, or whatever else that goes up in smoke. However, low-temperature controlled burning to create biochar, called pyrolysis, retains much more carbon—about 50 percent—in the initial burning phase. Carbon release is cut even more when the biochar becomes part of the soil, where it may reduce the production of greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. This charcoal releases its carbon ten to one hundred times more slowly than rotting organic matter. As long as it is done correctly, controlled charring of weeds, pruned limbs, and other hard-to-compost forms of organic matter, and then using the biochar as a soil or compost amendment, can result in a zero-emission carbon cycling system.

If each of one million farmers around the globe incorporated biochar into 160 acres of land, the amount of carbon locked away in the earth’s soil would increase fivefold.

Burning responsibly requires simple common sense. Check with your local fire department to make sure you have any necessary permits, wait as long as you must to get damp windless weather, and monitor the fire until it’s dead.

Image courtesy of the Oregon Department of Forestry on Flickr.


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