Nova Chemicals has found treasure and renewable energy in trash at its expandable polystyrene plant in Painesville.
Since March, the site has been using landfill gas piped in from a nearby landfill to supply most of the plant's natural gas needs. On an annual basis, the landfill gas will replace natural gas at a level that would heat 160 homes, Painesville site leader Brian Fedor said in a recent interview there.
Calgary, Alberta-based Nova worked with Granger Energy a landfill management and recycling firm in Lansing, Mich. to develop a pipeline system using landfill gas from the Lake County landfill, located about two miles away from the EPS plant. Granger has supplied Hardy Industrial Technologies a nearby chemical processing firm with landfill gas from a similar system for several years.
Officials with Granger first approached Nova with the idea in 2004, leading to a lengthy testing and research effort.
Our primary concern was if we could field enough supply and if we could operate safely, Fedor said. Could it be safely installed? And can it do what was promised? We had to prove the technology worked.
Landfill gas a mixture of methane and air now supplies 55-65 percent of the site's total natural gas needs. The gas is used in equipment used in polymerization of styrene monomer to create EPS. It's also used in the plant's processing areas. Nova's ability to retrofit existing boilers that use the landfill gas also kept costs down.
We aggressively pursue sustainability projects, and this is one we can't say no to, Fedor added. Especially since it's displacing natural gas, which is non-renewable.
At the landfill, this gas was just being flared. It wasn't benefiting anybody. A project like this allows us to put our money where our mouth is. It shows that sustainability isn't just something we talk about.
Aside from the pipelines and boiler work, the only cost to Nova was installation of a new control panel. Nova also worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Northeast Ohio Air District, both of which were very supportive of the project, according to Fedor.
Nova has annual capacity of 85 million pounds of EPS in Painesville, making shape and block grades that are sold into foam packaging, insulation and decorative molding. Nova has owned the site which employs about 50 since buying it from Arco Chemical Co. in 1996. Located 30 miles east of Cleveland, the 55-acre site has a lengthy history in plastics and chemicals, dating back to 1952, when Allied Chemical opened a sulfuric acid plant there.
Allied stopped sulfuric acid production in Painesville in 1960 and converted the site to PVC resin production in 1963. The location later was owned by Georgia-Pacific, which converted it to EPS production in 1983 and sold it to Arco in 1986.