VTScada Biofuel Project Wins NC Award for Engineering Excellence

Custom Controls Unlimited Inc. of Raleigh, North Carolina was invited to assist on a global warming initiate in their state. The waste-to-energy demonstration was developed through support from Duke Energy, Duke University, and Google with additional funding from state and federal grants.

This unique application has received international interest. Cavanaugh & Associates, P.A. was awarded the American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina’s Henry A. Stikes 2013 Grand Conceptor Award for Engineering Excellence.

Energy from Methane Gas
At Loyd Ray Farms, the plan was to process the waste generated by the 9,000 head of hogs. The million dollar system would use primarily off-the-shelf technology, including an anaerobic digester and aeration basin. Methane gas collected from the digester would run a 65 kilowatt micro-turbine capable of generate 512 – 639 megawatt-hours of clean energy annually. The electricity generated would power a waste treatment system to clean up the waste that is not converted to biogas and power about half of the farm.

Carbon Offsets and Renewable Energy Credits
Capturing the methane would contribute carbon offset credits to the Duke University Carbon Offsets Initiative and provide renewable energy credits for Duke Energy. As methane is 21-times more potent than carbon dioxide, reduction in emissions would be the equivalent of taking 900 cars off the road.

A Unifying HMI
The challenge to Custom Controls was to take a number of the standard components and create an effective and efficient control system. Because of severe budget limitations, the decision was made to link incompatible hardware from several supplies through a VTScada monitoring and control application using multiple device drivers.

A Vision for the Future
?Through this pilot, (we are) showing how these projects can make economic sense for North Carolinians and lead to dramatic reductions in emissions over the long term,? wrote Jolanka Nickerson, the program manager for Google?s Carbon Offsets Team. ?We hope technologies like this can scale across the U.S. and world. This pilot project is performing better than even we expected.?

About the ACEC of North Carolina

Patrick M. Cooke
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