FAQ

How does the Ecoremedy® solution work?

Ecoremedy® uses a proprietary advanced gasification process, developed by decades of fine-tuning, to process waste into:

  • Renewable thermal energy for drying and other applications
  • Clean, carbon-neutral emissions
  • Residual solids, vastly reduced in volume, including:
    • Nutrient-rich ash
    • Dried biosolids, Class A and Class EQ
    • Biochar, customized carbon content for market specific applications

For an animation of Ecoremedy®’s technology, visit our Process page.

What types of wastes can Ecoremedy® process?

Ecoremedy® focuses on wastes that have proven to be problematic for other gasification technologies, especially wet and sticky material commingled with dry and dusty material.

These waste materials often have the following characteristics:

  • Low energy content
  • High ash content
  • High moisture content
  • High moisture variability

Ecoremedy® processes these materials without the need for supplemental fuels like propane, natural gas, oil, or conventional biomass like woodchips. In terms of moisture content, the minimum is 17% solids (83% moisture content), with 65-70% solids (30-35% MC) being ideal.

Between our R&D facility, pilot projects, and commercial projects, Ecoremedy® has successfully processed the following waste streams:

  • Wastewater sludge or biosolids, anaerobic digestion solids (digestate)
  • Wastewater grit screenings
  • Food and yard waste
  • Fats, oils, and greases (FOG)
  • Dissolved air flotation (DAF) sludge
  • Poultry litter (chicken, turkey, duck) and laying hen manure
  • Livestock manure
  • Spent mushroom substrate
  • Horse muck
  • Bird mortality
  • Feed mill waste (spoiled silage, grain)
  • Wood and paper waste

If you are interested in an Ecoremedy® solution that processes a waste stream that you don’t see here, please contact us for feedstock testing.

For more information, visit our Feedstock page.

What are biosolids?

When sewage sludge is dewatered and undergoes rigorous treatment, the nutrient-rich product is called biosolids.

Biosolids can be treated to various standards, including Class B, Class A, or Class EQ (exceptional quality).

Biosolids are often used for land application as fertilizer, but they can also be used as a renewable solid fuel, or further processed by Ecoremedy® equipment into various forms of biochar for specific applications.

What is gasification?

For more than half a century, gasification has been used in hundreds of installations around the world to recover energy from various hydrocarbons and waste streams.

Gasification Capacity by Geographic Region

Gasification is the process of heating the incoming material (feedstock) to a high temperature in an oxygen deficient environment. This causes the waste to break down into energy-rich syngas. The Ecoremedy® process uses the constituents of the feedstock to serve as the initial stage of emission control, which self-scrubs pollutants as part of the gasification process. Ecoremedy® precisely balances the combustion equation by introducing air in the secondary and tertiary chambers (the oxidizer) to combust the syngas resulting in high temperature, clean, renewable thermal energy. This energy can be in the form of steam, hot water, hot air, or even refrigeration.

The process described above is close-coupled gasification. Ecoremedy® uses close-coupled gasification instead of two-stage gasification to generate pipeline-grade gas or directly fuel a generator. For information, visit Can Ecoremedy generate electricity?  How does Ecoremedy utilize the energy from waste?.

Ecoremedy® focuses on wastes that have proven to be problematic for other gasification technologies, especially wet and sticky material commingled with dry and dusty material.

For an animation of Ecoremedy®’s technology, visit our Process page.

How many projects has Ecoremedy® installed and where are they located?
For a list of all Ecoremedy® projects, visit our Projects page.
Can you tell me more about Ecoremedy®’s experience with biosolids?

In the fall of 2010, Ecoremedy® performed testing at our R&D facility at Harrisburg Area Community College.

Ecoremedy® ran a 7-day, 24-hour per day demonstration of poultry litter and composted biosolids for visitors from Australia. During that time, we ran the composted biosolids (approximately 45% moisture content) for 3 days straight. We transitioned from 100% litter to 100% biosolids over the course of 3 hours without stopping or retooling the equipment. We simply adjusted the feed rate and air control to the gasifier. We ran a feed rate of about 800 lbs/hr in the gasifier.

In addition, Ecoremedy® has run hundreds of hours on laying hen manure which is 100% feces with lower energy content, higher moisture content, and much higher ash content (averaging 35% - 50% ash on dry basis) than human biosolids.

For more information about initial testing Ecoremedy® performed under a partnership with Harrisburg Area Community College, visit our HACC Project page.

What types of fuel are used to power Ecoremedy®?

The system runs 24-7 using the incoming waste as the sole source of energy, without any supplemental fuels such as wood chips or fossil fuels. Ecoremedy® only uses wood chips during the initial start-up to bring the gasifier up to temperature (several hundred degrees F) before transitioning to 100% biomass.

Ecoremedy® provides a clean, renewable, base-load source of thermal energy that can replace coal, natural gas, heating oil, etc. The thermal energy can be used for process steam such as building heating and cooling, or to run a steam-cycle generator.

Is the Ecoremedy® solution safe?

Ecoremedy®’s gasification process achieves extremely clean carbon conversion. The emissions are primarily water vapor and carbon dioxide. After final scrubbing, our emissions are as clean, or cleaner, than those from combusting natural gas, and far below the most stringent state and federal standards. For more information about emissions, go to our Emissions page.

Ecoremedy® operations never require the storage of large volumes of waste in lagoons or stockpiles. Depending on the project, waste is either processed on-site as it is generated, or hauled in by truck and delivered to a metering bin that holds a maximum of 24 hours of waste/fuel. However, Ecoremedy® projects may be co-located at an existing farm, composting facility, landfill, or other sites where waste is stored by another company under a separate permit.

What does Ecoremedy® do with the byproducts from the gasification process?

Ecoremedy® converts a waste liability to a multifaceted revenue stream in the form of energy and nutrient products. Renewable energy is generated and used onsite. The utilization of byproduct solids will be project specific and dependent upon regional market drivers. Dried solids will only be land applied as fertilizer after qualifying as Class A or Class EQ biosolids and if alternative markets for renewable energy fuels are not available at competitive prices. The distribution of nutrient-rich ash and designer biochar are dependent upon the nutrient and mineral composition of the products with potential outlets being agriculture, soil amendments, renewable fuels, activated carbon, water and air purification and adsorbent filter materials.

The Ecoremedy® solution has been widely endorsed by users and industry professionals: View Endorsements.

How does Ecoremedy® manage odors at waste processing facilities?

Ecoremedy® provides a major reduction in odors compared to most other approaches to waste management (composting, landfill, anaerobic digestion, land application) and entirely eliminates the hauling of smelly wastes.

From 2010 to 2014, Ecoremedy® operated a full-scale R&D facility at Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania. We processed wastes such as composted biosolids and livestock manure on a campus with ten thousand students with no odor complaints during the four years of operations.

How did we achieve this?

  • When conveyor belts or trucks deliver waste to our equipment, this happens inside a negative-pressure building. When a door is opened, air flows into the building from outside, which contains any odors created during operations.
  • Our oxidizer operates at high temperatures with precise control, which breaks down odorous gases before emission to the environment.
  • State-of-the-art emissions scrubbers remove the rest of the odors before they reach the atmosphere.

On subsequent commercial projects, we have continued to uphold high standards for odor management.

After all, we go to work every day in these facilities and want a nice working environment for ourselves.

What is biochar?

Biochar

Nutrient-rich ash with varying amounts of carbon. Carbon content from left to right: 1%, 20%, and 40%.

Biochar is charcoal created from organic forms of carbon such as wood, biosolids, or agricultural residue. It is one of three solid outputs that Ecoremedy® can generate from biomass and is increasingly recognized around the world as a valuable product across many industries. For more information, visit http://ecoremedyllc.com/product-information/nutrients/.

Ecoremedy® can produce biochar at different temperatures and dwell times creating different filtration, adsorption, and agronomic properties. Ecoremedy® is working with world-class researchers and industry-leading companies to create designer biochar products for specific industrial and agricultural applications.

I don’t have any nearby outlets for land application and want to avoid sending waste to landfill or hauling it out of state. Can Ecoremedy® help?

Absolutely!

Ecoremedy® can tailor each project to the goals of the client, including design/build options (with and without operating contracts) for those clients wanting to own their solution. Ecoremedy® will also consider building, owning, operating the facility with a long-term, fixed-fee, waste disposal contract with the waste producer. Under either scenario, Ecoremedy® can provide a cradle-to-grave solution for your waste disposal needs for decades to come.

Current biosolids management is reliant upon unsustainable practices such as landfilling, incineration, and out-of-state hauling of high-moisture solids to distant land application sites. Existing incinerators are steadily being phased out and are not being replaced due to insurmountable costs associated with emission controls to meet current environmental standards. The number of landfills accepting sludge has reduced significantly over the last few decades, and permitting landfill expansions or construction of new landfills is very challenging. Most US landfills are nearing capacity and most experts agree that the future of waste is not in landfills.

Many municipalities are facing diminishing outlets for land application due to lack of public support, lack of agricultural land near dense urban populations, climates not conducive to agriculture, and low fertilizer prices that do not justify long-distance hauling. States like Florida and California are increasingly banning the practice across entire regions. In 2016, 63% of New Jersey’s biosolids were disposed of in either incinerators or landfills instead of beneficial use. Or, consider recent data from New York State (dt = dry tons):

 

Anaerobic digestion achieves a low reduction in solids volume and produces a wet, odiferous material that requires further treatment. Alkaline stabilization of digestate or dewatered sludge produces a net INCREASE in biosolids volume and results in a wet, low-nutrient product requiring nearby proximity to land application, a solution that is not sustainable.

Drying typically uses large amounts of unsustainable fossil fuels to produce dried biosolids for which there is low demand, especially when large volumes are created.

Composting faces challenges due to costs, problematic odors, a large facility footprint, a large carbon polluter footprint, the low price of the final product, and limited demand.

Animal manure management faces many of the same challenges.

Ecoremedy®’s gasification process disrupts conventional treatment/disposal solutions by siting a treatment solution at the source of the waste production, thereby: reducing truck traffic by approximately 90%, using the energy contained within the waste to fuel the evaporation process, and producing valuable products that are in high demand.

I’ve heard that gasification technology is costly. Is that true for Ecoremedy®?

Typically, 40-50% of the budget for municipal wastewater treatment facilities is spent on biosolids management. In many areas of the country, those costs have been rising steadily with no end in sight for future increases.

While every project is different, Ecoremedy® can often provide a long-term solution at no additional cost to taxpayers compared to current spending:

  1. With a long-term waste supply contract, Ecoremedy® can design, build, own, operate and manage (DBOOM) a facility for a municipality that is funded by monthly waste management fees. This allows the municipality to avoid major capital expenditures and focus on other needs.
  2. In some cases, municipalities can opt for procurement of a turnkey Ecoremedy® solution with an ROI that is well within the range of typical wastewater equipment expenditures.

Ecoremedy®’s modular design, small footprint, low construction complexity, and rapid installation time improve cost effectiveness through reduced staff time needed for project development, and reduced costs from construction and engineering services.

Operating costs are low compared to all conventional means for biosolids treatment. The equipment is mostly automated and does not require operators to have advanced skills.

At what scales can Ecoremedy® operate? What is the size of the equipment footprint?

Using our standard equipment configuration, Ecoremedy® can process 14-68 wet tons per day of waste on a footprint of about 100’x65’ (every project is different).

Due to the modular nature of the Ecoremedy® solution, scaling up throughput does not require a larger system. Instead, Ecoremedy® simply increases the number of units in parallel to achieve the necessary throughput. If space is limited, the units can be arranged in a vertical configuration to reduce the footprint.

Ecoremedy®’s modular approach avoids problems that can arise with scaling and dramatically reduces construction complexity on larger projects. Furthermore, operational redundancy ensures extremely high plant availability.

Does Ecoremedy® have a mobile demonstration unit? Can Ecoremedy® produce containerized units?

Ecoremedy® can definitely produce mobile and/or containerized turnkey systems to meet client needs.

What feedstock additives are necessary?

Unique to the waste gasification industry, the Ecoremedy® solution runs 24-7 using the incoming waste as-is, without any additives like wood chips or fossil fuels, as the sole source of thermal energy.

Since gasification is relatively new to the US, is it difficult to get replacement parts?

The Ecoremedy® solution uses parts and components that are readily available “off-the-shelf” from established US suppliers, so there is no need to worry about the availability of parts.

How long does fabrication, installation, and commissioning take?

With a purchase order or DBOOM contract in hand, Ecoremedy® can deliver a project that is operational in as little as six (6) months, depending on the size and complexity of the project. Rarely will an Ecoremedy® project require more than twelve (12) months to achieve commissioning from the date of a signed contract.

Can Ecoremedy® generate electricity? How does Ecoremedy® utilize the energy from waste?

Generators can be directly fired by gaseous fuels like natural gas, propane, biogas, or syngas. However, based on decades of experience with gasification, Ecoremedy® does not take the approach of generating syngas for direct use in generators or for distribution of commercial-grade natural gas. This introduces too many potential pitfalls, unnecessary complexity, and exorbitant costs.

Ecoremedy® produces thermal energy from biomass feedstock that can be utilized in many ways, including generating steam that powers a steam-cycle turbine generator in a combined heat and power system.

First, Ecoremedy® uses the thermal energy for the energy-intensive process of drying. Drying is necessary to prepare the feedstock for further use as fertilizer, biochar, or a solid fuel. In most cases, there are far more potential BTUs in the feedstock beyond what is needed for drying. The greater the moisture content, the more BTUs needed for drying.

From there, the best approach to utilizing the dry solids depends on the goals of the project. Ecoremedy® can add a steam boiler to the project and use the dried solids as a renewable solid fuel with the same energy density as low-grade coal.

The steam can be used in many ways, including:

  • Building heating or driveway deicing
  • Improving wastewater facility operations and increasing clarifier performance in climates with harsh winters
  • Cooling, water chilling, or refrigeration
  • Steam-cycle electricity generation as part of a combined heat and power system
How much energy is required for drying the feedstock?
Ecoremedy® provides a carbon-neutral, sustainable fuel source for drying waste feedstocks. Drying is necessary to prepare the feedstock for further use as fertilizer, biochar, or a solid fuel. A wastewater facility serving a fairly small city might produce 15 tons per day of sludge that is dewatered to 25% solids. If the sludge is hauled off-site by truck, that’s 7,500 pounds of dry solids mixed with 22,500 pounds of water. About 3 million BTUs are required for drying 1 ton of water. Therefore, completely drying the solids requires about 34 million BTUs per day. In many areas of the US, hundreds of thousands of tons of sludge are hauled up to a thousand miles away. Those trucks and trains are mostly hauling water. The precise amount of potential thermal energy (BTUs) of any waste feedstock is situation-specific and requires testing to ascertain. For general figures for BTU/lb for various feedstocks, visit our Feedstock page.