By Adam Smith
The North Jefferson News
Fultondale received a substantial gift from the state this week.
In a Wednesday press release from Gov. Bob Riley’s office, it was announced that the city would receive a $150,000 alternative energy grant.
In addition to Fultondale, Bay Minette, Enterprise, Tuscaloosa and Henry and Lee counties received grants. In all, $1.1 million in alternative energy project grants were awarded.
Mayor Jim Lowery said the city had been working on securing the funding through meetings with officials at Auburn University.
The funds will be used for a project to determine the feasibility of producing energy from wood waste.
City officials said a mobile gasification lab from Auburn University would set up shop at Fultondale’s construction debris landfill on Coalburg Road and examine ways of turning limbs and wood waste into a useable energy.
“This is going to be fantastic,” said Darryl Aldrich of Fultondale’s inspection services department, who has been attending energy conferences in Auburn for the last few years. “There are several types of energy sources that could come out of our wood chips.”
The City of Hoover made headlines over the summer for a program that turns wood waste into ethanol for E85 fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
Aldrich said Fultondale’s system will differ because Hoover takes their mulch, or biomass, to Livingston to be processed. Fultondale’s ultimate goal would be to build a plant at the landfill and burn and process the material on site.
Larry Fillmer, executive director of the Natural Resources Management and Development Institute at Auburn University, said the city’s affiliation with the school is part of the Auburn Energy Partners Program.
“We work with communities and small businesses to help find solutions to provide low cost applications for producing power, biofuels and using natural resources in the state to do that,” he said.
The university’s mobile gasification unit is co-sponsored by Alabama Power and provides funds to travel to different states to explore new energy opportunities.
Fillmer said the mobile unit would likely be at the landfill site for a brief period of time and return at a later date for more extensive research. He said the goal is to provide the city with long-term energy solutions.
“It’s one step we can take to use the material we have available to us,” he said. “It solves a couple of different problems. It could provide power for the City of Fultondale and the issue of having to use a landfill for waste material.”
Fultondale is also making strides in the realm of eco-friendly transportation. Aldrich said the city is examining the possibility of purchasing at least two vehicles that will operate using compressed natural gas (CNG).
“The natural gas is something that we have plenty of in our country,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to get off foreign oil.”
Project to determine feasibility of turning wood waste into energy.
By Adam Smith
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