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Energy Answers International is now in permitting stages to build a large waste-to-electricity power plant, called the Fairfield Renewable Energy Facility, on the Fairfield Peninsula, Baltimore. Construction began in 2010. The company specializes in re-using society’s waste products to create electricity, steam, and recycled goods.
The Fairfield Renewable Energy Facility will mainly run on municipal solid waste, which includes garbage from homes and some businesses. It will also use other types of trash and biomass when available. Street and park maintenance, construction and land clearing, and used shipping pallets all yield burnable woody debris. Ruined cars, in the process of being recycled, give up rubber, paper, hard plastic, and vinyl that are combustible. Old tires, ground into chips and co-fired with other fuels, help the mix burn hotter, pound for pound.
The plant will take up approximately 20 acres of a 90-acre plot adjacent to Curtis Bay in South Baltimore. The remaining space will be available for lease to other industrial projects, with preference given to ventures that utilize the plant’s by-products as raw material: steam, electricity, and re-processed waste. The site has been used for industrial processes since the early 1900’s – fermentation of molasses gave the site a local nickname of the “vinegar works”. Most recently, it was being used for a chemical factory operated by the FMC Corporation.
When Energy Answers moved in, they set up a community advisory task force to negotiate with the surrounding neighborhoods of Curtis Bay and Brooklyn. This enabled the company to make the commitment to hire locally for the 150-180 jobs the plant will create, and plan truck delivery routes that avoid residential areas. As the surrounding industrial space is leased for other projects, it is expected that more jobs will become available.
While operating the plant will adversely affect air quality, Energy Answers will be taking steps to mitigate pollution. Exhaust smoke will be mixed with a lime solution to trap gasses that form acid rain, and passed through a fabric filter to limit soot particles. Activated charcoal, similar to that in tap water filters, will take heavy metals, dioxins, and furans out of the plant’s exhaust and its ash, and a regenerative selective catalytic reduction system will remove nitrogen oxides. To make steam and act as a coolant, boilers will use greywater from nearby Patapsco Wastewater Facility, collected rain, and water recycled from the plant.