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Synagro plant will soon generate electricity

May 11, 2013

A construction worker stands in the foreground as workers install a waste-heat boiler inside the incinerator building at Synagro in Woonsocket on Thursday. Photo/Joseph B. Nadeau

WOONSOCKET — The heavy lifting has been completed and the Synagro sludge incineration operation off Cumberland Hill Road is well on its way to generating its own electrical power.
The company completed the lowering of a massive waste-heat boiler inside the incinerator building on Friday and will now begin the work of connecting the new equipment to existing machinery and electrical services.
The generation system is being installed in space that had once housed the city wastewater treatment plant’s original sludge incinerator when the plant was built in the 1970s. The old incinerator was removed and scrapped when an updated incinerator was installed several years ago under the city’s long-term lease arrangement allowing Synagro’s commercial operation of the former municipal sludge incinerator site. The city also contracts with another management company, Veolia Water North America, to run its wastewater and drinking water treatment operations. Synagro processes sludge and dry cake waste from a mix of municipal and commercial customers after trucking the material into the local plant under a carefully-managed schedule.
Synagro’s $10 million waste-heat recovery project, approved by the city last year, will provide the company with the equipment needed to generate 1.8 megawatts of power from its local operations, according to David Abbamonte, plant manager for Synagro.
“The pay back on this project meets our criteria for this type of investment and it is consistent with Synagro’s green initiatives,” he said.
“Rather than just going up the smokestack, the heat is going to produce electricity from non-carbon sources,” Abbamonte said.
The generated power will be used to run Synagro’s operation off Cumberland Hill Road and also for a portion of the city’s electrical needs in running its wastewater treatment operation at the site.
Any unused power would be sold to the regional power grid as an added operational savings for Synagro.
The contractor on the project, Allstate Construction, Inc., of Fairfield, Conn., brought the 200,000-pound blue-painted Victory Power boiler to the city by train. It was then loaded onto a massive flatbed for a nighttime ride across the city to Cumberland Hill Road. A heavy-duty lattice-boom, derrick crane from Bay State equipment was used to lift the waste-heat boiler from its flatbed to its installation site in the plant.
The company had already installed the steam turbine that will generate the power in a lower section of the building.
The next step in the project will be to connect the waste-heat boiler to the incinerator and also to complete power transmission connections to the facilities that will use the power.
“It is going well and everything is on schedule,” Abbamonte said as the boiler was installed this week.
The 200,000-pound boiler and 50,000-pound steam turbine were the largest pieces of equipment involved in the project, but Abbamonte said much more work will have be completed before the switch is thrown and power generated at the wastewater treatment plant site.
“We are hoping to complete installation in the early part of the 4th quarter and have start-up by the end of the year,” he said.
The city will be receiving a $225,000 payment in lieu of taxes from Synagro on the new equipment before the end of the current fiscal year and will see that payment increase to $250,000 when the new facility comes online.
Woonsocket will also benefit from being able to buy reduced cost power from the waste energy generator for a portion of the wastewater treatment plant’s power needs, Abbamonte said. “They don’t have an obligation to buy from us, they have the option,” he said.

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