An Integrated Solution to Zero Waste

R. White
Sierra Energy,
United States

Keywords: gasification, waste diversion, net carbon negative fuel, hazardous waste conversion, renewable energy, distributed energy


Sierra Energy aims to eliminate landfills and generate renewable energy by making waste gasification globally accessible. To meet this goal, Sierra Energy developed FastOx®, a gasification technology capable of converting nearly any waste into low-carbon fuels. This technology safely converts waste stream into a medium BTU synthesis gas (syngas), ideal for compressing, cleaning, and reformation using off-the-shelf technologies into alternative fuels, including electricity, hydrogen, or FT diesel. The FastOx process breaks down waste at the molecular level by injecting oxygen and steam at 4,000 °F. The oxygen reacts with the carbon in the waste to create syngas and the remaining organics are melted and recovered as non-leaching and salable material. FastOx gasification works to offset fossil fuel use, divert waste from landfills and create sources of distributed energy. The complete conversion of carbon found in waste into fuel via gasification can turn liability into profit for landfill operators and heavy waste producing industries such as oil and gas, agriculture, coal, construction, and medical. FastOx gasification will also reduce related emissions that contain short-term climate pollutants. In a study by Sierra Energy that examined the environmental impact of California’s annual waste, it was concluded that if all CA’s waste was converted to hydrogen gas and used for transportation fuel, 87 million metric tons would be cut from annual CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to taking half of the state’s vehicles off the road. FastOx was developed and successfully demonstrated for five years at the Department of Defense’s Renewable Energy Testing Center at McClellan AFB. As a result, the US Army, California Energy Commission, and PG&E funded the first commercial system, which is now under construction at Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County, California. Sierra Energy’s current installation, funded by the DOD, the CEC and Sierra Energy, is scheduled to be operational by April 2017, and is designed to demonstrate conversion of up to 15 metric tons of biomass and post-recycled waste into renewable energy products, including electricity (DOD funded study), FT liquids (current CEC funded study), and hydrogen (DOD Defense Logistics Agency SBIR, Phase II funding, pending).