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Posted on  

October 24, 2000

Dukesolutions and Harmony Products to Develop Additional Biomass-to-EnergyFacilities

DukeSolutions and Harmony Products have agreed to jointly develop at least four additional animal-waste (biomass) processing plants, bringing the same waste-to-energy, organic fertilizer and environmental solutions to the Southeast and Midwest that they are working to provide for the Virginia poultry industry and the surrounding Chesapeake watershed.

In August, the companies announced plans to construct a $7 million Harrisonburg, Va., plant that will be America's first large-scale application of a poultry waste-to-energy-to-organic fertilizer operation. The plant is under construction and is scheduled for completion later this year.

Today's joint development agreement is a commitment to leverage at four- or-more additional facilities the technologies applied at the Harrisonburg plant. The sites planned for the Southeast and Midwest are undetermined. The companies also are exploring expanding the waste streams the plants could accept to include industrial wastewater sludge from wastewater processing plants in the poultry industry and other animal waste streams. Estimated construction costs for four new plants is $36 million. All are scheduled for completion by late 2001.

"We've seen estimates for up to 200 plants worldwide," said Keith G. Butler, DukeSolutions chief operating officer. "About half of which could be in the United States. "

When completed, the plants will sell energy to industrial customers in the form of steam that is produced by the gassification of animal litter. DukeSolutions and Harmony Products will share ownership with Renewable Energy Corporation Limited of Sydney, Australia. DukeSolutions will focus on the waste-to-energy technology and operations and Harmony Products will operate the plants and market the fertilizer output.

Legislative activity on animal waste issues has been considered in 20 states.

"Some people think a choice must be made between poultry jobs and a clean environment. We don't think so," said Butler. "Biomass-to-energy-to- fertilizer is a strategic alternative. Some see a ton of poultry litter and see negative environmental consequences and costs. We see a business plan and a tremendous opportunity to give something back to the world we live in. Each ton of litter processed equals about $100 in revenue in terms of fertilizer and energy. Each of these new plants could process up to 100,000 tons annually or enough energy to heat 15,000 homes."

The holistic approach the companies will utilize at the plants represents an entire business cycle. Harmony produces fertilizer used to grow feed for producers' animals whose wastes are used as raw material to help produce both fertilizer and fuel used in the production of fertilizer. The DukeSolutions- developed biomass-to-energy plant would then allow Harmony to increase fertilizer output while providing an environmentally safe outlet for litter.

"We can affix a price tag on these plants and a value to the profits we'll see," said Tom McCandlish, president of Harmony Products, "but how can you put a value on the Chesapeake Bay or contributing significantly to the worldwide sustainability?"

Under the joint development agreement, DukeSolutions and Harmony Products will cooperate in the analysis and development of a comprehensive solution for the beneficial use of animal waste streams. The intent is that optimum economic solutions should be adopted for management of a targeted organic waste stream. The solutions adopted should include both waste-to-energy components and fertilizer components in a proportion that is optimized based on local conditions including waste availability, fertilizer market, energy prices and other relevant factors.

"There are many companies trying to find a solution," said McCandlish. "We could have viewed Duke as a competitor and vice versa. But by optimizing both the energy and fertilizer we can offer a solution without added costs to our clients."

Further background on biomass disposal

Animal waste has two potential values -- fertilizer and energy.

For instance, current industry practice for the disposal of poultry litter has been the bulk spreading of the waste materials over agricultural lands. Over-application of litter in geographically concentrated areas may deteriorate environmental quality. Poultry waste in bulk tends to decompose rapidly, releasing soil nutrients. When over applied, these water-soluble nutrients are dissolved in rainwater, which feeds into watersheds. Utilization of litter as fertilizer can lead to increased levels of phosphorus in the soil.

The demand for poultry is growing and so is the issue of poultry litter. It is becoming less valuable and harder to manage. There are numerous environmental and business benefits from biomass-to-energy-to-fertilizer projects. Decreased runoff of poultry litter into lakes and streams helps protect the environment. The gassification technology used to convert litter into fertilizer and energy produces the lowest emissions possible. The energy conserved means less reliance on fossil fuels. Additionally, a high-quality organic fertilizer is produced.

The organic fertilizer releases nutrients over time, reducing runoff when compared to traditional synthetic fertilizer. It also increases crop yields and quality, thus increasing land utilization and decreasing water consumption. The process of producing organic fertilizer is also environmentally friendly when compared to synthetics.



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