Q.1. How does VRAD© work for both MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) and MLW (Municipal Liquid Waste)?
A.1. VRAD© works the same in both MSW and MLW applications but the pre-processing equipment used with it changes.
For use with MSW it is usually necessary to add a certain amount of recycled water back to the process to eliminate air pockets and keep the mixture in a truly anaerobic (without oxygen), or liquefied state.
MSW comes in every shape and form that you can imagine or describe. It is therefore necessary to precondition MSW before it enters the VRAD© Process. MSW must be crushed, shredded, and ground to as fine a grain or powder as possible. At the present time equipment to do a perfect job of preconditioning MSW does not exist. We have to do the best we can until such a machine is designed and built. And EDI is working on that design.. The fineness to which we grind MSW determines to a great extent the overall efficiency of the process. Under ideal conditions VRAD© can reduce 90% of the injected feedstock to pure water and pure biogasses.
MLW (wastewater or sewage), on the other hand, has too much water. Typical MLW only contains one tenth of one percent biosolid matter to be reduced (digested). Water, in order to be separated from the biosolid matter in the VRAD© system, must be evaporated, and even though VRAD© has a unique low energy system for evaporating off and recycling water, boiling off millions of gallons of water would be out of the question.
Large old fashioned open air settling tanks, called clarifiers, that scrape the scum from the top and the settlement from the bottom and send them to the digestion system are slow and inefficient. They process too much water, increasing the energy required by the system, and are a detriment to the overall efficiency of a VRAD© system. Progressively fine filter screens as used in the VRADStar© process increase the efficiency of MLW energy systems many fold.
Q.2. Why does the size of the granules entering the VRAD© process make a difference in the efficiency?
A.2. For the same reason we chew our food when we eat: to take advantage of all the biomass energy contained in the feedstock, or at least as much as possible. The human digestive system and VRAD© are anaerobic digestive systems. Both use super microscopic bacteria to breakdown the feedstock in order to produce energy. The larger the food particles the longer it takes the bacteria to reduce it to energy.
Q.3. Wouldn’t it be possible to just keep the feedstock in the retort longer to make up for larger sized feedstock?
A.3. Yes. And, we do that all the time. But please remember that if we increase our SRT (solids retention time) then larger tank capacity is required which in turn increases the heat energy required by the process and that lowers your ROI. There are many factors that must be considered in the design of each VRAD© process plant that meets your particular needs and situation.
Q.4. Can you tell me the ROI I can expect from my plant?
A.4. Yes, that is, within practical limits. I am sure you are beginning to see that there are a lot of variables that must be considered, not the least of which is how you can best profit from the energy and other products your plant will create.
Q.5. Before we can build our plant we will need financing. Can you help us in that regard?
A.5. Yes and No. We are not bankers or venture capitalists. We will survey your site and provide you a report for a nominal fee. We Analize your projected waste stream; your mean annual weather conditions; your altitude; costs and sale prices of natural gas and electricity in your area; your avoided internal costs; etc.; and furnish you with a report which is of course our finely honed educated guess.
Of course we know the theory, but we also live in a real world and there are an infinite number of variables that we can only reduce so far, that is where our thirty years of experience makes a big difference.
There are more than 120 thermophillic anaerobic digestive processes in the world today, all with different results, all somewhat similar to VRAD© but none nearly as sophisticated or efficient as our VRAD© design. This allows us to sharpen our educated guesses. But how true are the claims of others?
So, here we are, engineers trying to be salesmen, yes and we are optimistic about VRAD© , because we believe deeply in VRAD©, but we will not lie to you. If the theory says you should realize so many millions a year in return and the variation is 10% we will be optimistically looking for that extra ten percent and if you use a figure that is 20% below that you should be absolutely safe.
If you shy away from the real world and like to be coddled, then try out our competitors, big companies, with biog sales forces that push aside the engineers in order to make a sale. The world is full of big company failures led by sales forces that will not stop at promising anything that will sell a job while we sit here more than ten years after its invention looking to sell our very first job and prove to the world what we already know.
Q.6. Why does the USDA/EPA AgStar Program need the VRAD Process?
A.6. In the early 1900s people pretty much all used outhouses for toilets. The outhouse was a hole dug down six feet or so in the ground with a little wooden house above it situated in the back or side yard of a house and about twenty five to fifty feet from the house. There was an old Sears and Roebuck Catalog to entertain you and for use as toilet paper and some kind of container with lye (NaOH) to sprinkle in now and then to kill the smell.
After several years the hole filled up and the little house was moved over a new hole. The AgStar Program is the same kind of design on a much larger scale. Manure is collected and run into a very large hole or lagoon where it is allowed to decay at a very slow rate, the water is drained off and the decaying manure produces the raw gasses of anaerobic decomposition under a large plastic blanket which collects the gasses, passes them to either/or/and gas water heater or gas engine to provide energy.
Aside from the fact that this raw gas is terribly acidic and eats up iron and steel at a awesome rate, the solids soon fill up the lagoon and it is time to fill it over with clean dirt and dig a new hole. The problem is that most farmers, dairymen, hog farms etc. do not have this kind of land to dig up another lagoon and let the first one stand fallow for years and years (at least fifty) to where the earth is stable enough to build on.
If you go back to the late 70s and early 80s you will find that the USDA with a push and a nod from the DOE had a similar program for dairymen, the government would put in a couple hundred thousand and the dairyman financed the rest and away you go. And away they went. These dairymen are mostly not in the business anymore but someone is stuck with what to do with the quagmire that was left behind. It was a disaster. The current program is still such a disaster. The current program recognizes the problem to some extent, requiring the lagoons to be ten feet deep instead of the four feet of the original program. Now the dairyman will be able to stay in business twice as long before it all catches up with him and he too is forced out of business.
In the VRAD process we confine all of the anaerobic activity to a tank, a tank hat will process many times as much feedstock as a typical lagoon, because it is faster and because the feedstock is well mixed and because it is so configured that short circuiting does not take place.
In lagoon operations, feedstock is pumped into one end of the lagoon and drawn off the other end. In order to insure that the feedstock gets a chance to be biodegraded by the bacteria it needs to remain in the lagoon for at least thirty days, however even if the lagoon is partitioned into channels which are expensive and wasteful of land and materials, the heavier solids settle to the bottom and the light materials and the water find the shortest distance between these entry and exit points so that a lagoon to be effective will, after a year or so of operation, have to be expanded to several times the original size. How many dairymen can afford to keep expanding their lagoon area indefinitely through the years, fighting the detrimental effects of the wind and the sun on the ever expanding expensive plastic covers these lagons require. In a few short years the dairyman faces a disaster. Where is the USDA when he needs help, they are busy getting some other poor unsuspecting dairyman into trouble. If you can find a dairyman who was in the original program he will tell you honestly that the program was a complete disaster and that the present program in its present form will be just as bad. The problem you will find is to find a dairyman who is still in business having gone through the original program.
Obviously the people involved in the AgStar Program are not visionaries, they have not concerned themselves with what will happen to your business twenty years from now, nor have their partners the EPA considered what you will do with this lagoon full of decayed and decaying matter that is too unstable to build a house, barn, or tool shed upon. It is a problem that will effect the value of that land for the next hundred years.
The USDA, EPA, and DOE need to get their collective heads together fund the dairyman, hog farmer, chicken rancher, etc. the five million dollars it will take to build the kind of plant that will last for fifty years, produce a steady flow of return on this investment, and will be environmentally and ecologically sound.
Q.7. Why is VRAD© the process of the future?
A.7.Not just the near but also the distant future. Imagine in your minds eye a picture of the United States dotted with VRAD units in every town, city, farm, and hamlet, all quietly turning out pure natural (biomethane) gas for local use for heating homes and running industrial processes and at the same time adding electrical power to the world's grid. Dozens upon dozens of these distributed energy sources guaranteeing our virtual immunity from terrorist attacks by their numbers alone; saving on transportation costs by their ability to be located in the most convenient physical location to accept refuse; while collecting carbon dioxide and other byproducts to be used and converted in our distributed industrial complex in the manufacture of products stronger than steel and other products yet to be discovered or invented. This is the VRAD promise and sooner or later it will come to pass.
Q.8. How can VRAD process so much material with such a small footprint?
A.8. VRAD tanks are built with high aspect ratios, that is, they are much taller than they are wide. This is done for many reasons, the principal reasons being that: it greatly facilitates mixing and eliminates short circuiting; it allows the total conversion of biosolids to combined heat and power; it provides for the easy elimination of sand and other inert materials from the process thus eliminating clogging; and it provides the operator the option of producing a pasteurized homorganic fertilizer product that is even more valuable than energy in some parts of the world.
The other main reason that VRAD© takes up such a small footprint is speed. The VRAD© process is three to ten times as fast as mesophillic processes and the addition of our patented mixing and contra axial flow system gives VRAD the effective bio-reduction speed of more that ten times that of standard processes.
Q.9. Who will do the engineering design work for our plant? Will you do it or can our lo0cal design engineers do it?
A.9. We can do it either way. We’ll talk about that soon too.
Q.10. We have had a number of questions regarding the Web Page that I call Plain Talk. It seems, and I suppose it is only natural, people do not understand why the great difference between the high and low performance figures. How could there be that much difference?
A.10. First of all, we wouldn't build you a process plant that would be as bad as the low figures, but people are doing and reporting on it every day now. Then there are landfills where people are so idiotically persuading themselves and others that they are saving energy by covering the landfill with plastic and collecting “biomethane”, the dirty stuff, where the combined capital and operating expenses way surpass the cost of the energy produced. This is “PR” of the lowest form.
Secondly, if you take the average of the high and low figures that I show on that page you will come up with a figure that is comparable to the performance being realized by some of the European plants. But that is the best they can do. We can take you up to the top figure. We may stagger around the 85 to 90% mark for a few months until we get it really tuned up for your operating conditions, but that is where we can take you. And this is business, not monkey business, but business based on technological integrity and adult supervision.
Q.11. What must be considered when: LOCATING A VRAD© PLANT?
A.11. A VRAD© plant is an industrial plant. The process itself is totally enclosed i.e. it doesn’t release gasses to the air, contaminants to the water, or solids to the earth. And we say that you could site it next to City Hall if you wanted to but you probably would not. We say this to make you think. No other waste to energy plant is nearly as clean as one of our plants. But, it is an industrial plant, it looks industrial, it has the smallest footprint of any waste to energy plant, it is very clean, but it looks industrial with all the tanks and piping that make up the process. At least one or more of the tanks must be very tall, perhaps as high as one hundred and fifty feet. That is part of what makes the process the outstanding process that it is. Most importantly it can and should be located in the center of transportation for the collection area. This feature alone will save your city and surrounding area hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and for some cities the savings go into the millions each year. No other process plant can do that, they have to be located as far away from the city as possible because they stink and are dirty.
A VRAD© plant must be serviced by trucks, large trucks with trash and garbage that operate 24-7. This kind of traffic does not belong in a residential neighborhood, with children who play in the street, and people who work hard all day and want to come home to a nice quiet neighborhood in the evening. This just doesn’t work with a plant that works all night and has large pumps running, bright lights and trucks arriving and leaving twenty four hours of the day seven days a week. The tipping floor, the place where the trucks dump their load onto conveyors that allow for sorting before all the garbage and trash enter the process itself, is inside a metal building with air doors that prevent all the smell from going out into the surrounding countryside. Yet it is not possible to keep some of the smell from going out as the doors open and shut. So in locating your VRAD© plant you must think about the prevailing wind and where this odor bight be carried when it does leak out.
Yes, you need to find a spot in an industrial neighborhood, what we would call a light industrial neighborhood where people will not have to look out their living room window at a yard full of “water tanks”. We will paint the tanks a nice color and even put the name of the city on the side so everyone knows where they are but we don’t want to put a VRAD© plant next to the meat market, the local pharmacy, or peoples homes.
Q.12. How much LAND is REQUIRED for a VRAD© Plant?
A.12. A VRAD© Process has a very small footprint. We can usually fit a plant handling 1000 tpd (tons per day) of MSW and MLW into 5 (five) acres, however a lot depends upon the access for trucks from the street or highway to the tipping floor and out again smoothly and efficiently.
A 1000 tpd plant is an optimum size. If you will want to double or triple the capacity of your plant, plan on doubling or tripling the footprint. Obviously some sections of the plant will not have to be doubled or tripled in size but larger plants not so obviously require more shop and spare parts area so that there is little overall saving in space.
During the construction phase of the project we will need an additional 5 (five) acres for a staging area. You will want us to landscape, beautify, and shield our operations from the neighborhood with trees, shrubs, and gardens, so any additional land for these purposes is worthwhile.
Q.13. What makes VRAD© so much better than other waste process plants?
A.13. It produces pure methane, pure water, pure sequestered CO2, pure byproducts such as sodium sulfate (Epsom salts); is 100% more efficient, and more than three times to as high as ten times as fast as other designs. Other processes produce only impure, raw or dirty biomethane, impure water that requires additional treatment before use, and huge amounts of untreated sludge that cannot be, and are not today, disposed of safely.
The first thing one needs to understand about VRAD© is that it is not a wastewater treatment process, it is a waste-to-energy process, and more specifically it is a biowaste to energy plant. It was not adapted from a wastewater treatment plant, or a redesign of a digester from a wastewater treatment plant, or was it designed to treat wastewater. It was designed to treat solid waste and, the criteria that are used in wastewater treatment simply do not apply, nor are they even considered.
Wastewater treatment plants are virtually water treatment plants, treating an influent that is 99.9% liquid; they are aerobic plants that generate and release to the atmosphere huge amounts of greenhouse gasses; only the 0.01% suspended biosolids in their influent is treated anaerobically. On the other hand VRAD© is a biosolids, anaerobic plant that is totally enclosed and treats 65% biosolids and 35% liquids, producing pure biomethane (CH4), an energy gas product that is cleaner and has a higher Btu content per cubic foot than the natural gas we purchase as pipeline gas, not to be confused with the biomethane gas as advertised from landfills and lagoon digesters that is 40% “dirty gas”. Only EDI can make that claim.
The VRADStar© PROCESS: A VRAD© plant can be anaerobicly expanded to treat more than the normal 35% liquid that comes in the door with waste and garbage. Such an expansion is capital intensive and can cost as much again as the original VRAD© plant itself but the additional water, depending upon the amount, would only add about 10% to the overall cost of plant operations, and has the outstanding advantage of being processed in a completely enclosed anaerobic environment, that produces pure water, not just treated wastewater, but water that can be polished in a bottling plant and sold as pure potable water.
Q.14. Will a VRAD© Process Plant work on Salt Water? Potable water is in short supply and very expensive in our area.
A.14. Yes, a VRAD© Plant can work on Salt
or Brackish Water; a 1000 ton per day MSW
(Municipal Solid Waste) plant needs less than
10,000 gallons the first day of operation,
and that water can be salt or brackish water.
After the first day that plant will be generating all
of the water it needs and when fully operational
such a plant will be generating more than
83,000 gallons per day of distilled water that
can be sold for potable water purposes.
Please Note: Before a VRAD© plant can become operational the tanks, pipes, valves, etc., must be pressure tested to insure their proper operation. This quality control function requires quantities of water, however the water used for these tests may also be salt or brackish water.
Q.15. Can the VRAD© Process be applied to landfills?
A.15. Yes, but we certainly do not recommend it. EDI is an environmental energy company that prides itself in environmentally pure and energy efficient waste processing. Landfills are neither energy efficient nor are they environmentally sound. A landfill is a cover-up. Not just a cover-up of waste and garbage but a gigantic cover-up of the irresponsibility and technological incompetence of the citizens in our communities charged with waste disposal decisions.
Why do I say that? Waste disposal was easy in our early days: We threw it the river; we fed it to animals, we burned it for heat; or, we threw it down a gully or used it to fill a hole in the ground. Well, you know the drill, the fish died, the animals caught diseases, and all the useless gullies got filled. We next found low land or valleys out from town and threw it in these places, burning what we could and letting the rest of it pile up using compactors to tamp it down and we called them landfills. Then the EPA helped the neighbors who didn't like the stink, smoke, and the blowing debris and figured out that all of this was unhealthy. So now we very neatly lay down a swath of garbage and fill over it with a swath or layer of dirt. This eliminates the smoke and smell to some extent, and blowing debris as long as the landfill is carefully fenced. It didn't take long before we weren't just filling land with garbage, trash, and dirt we were building "wastemonts", yes huge mounds, monuments and mountains of waste. So landfill is also the cover-up word for a wastemont. Mountains of waste now dot our countryside as monuments to our technical stupidity and environmental disregard.
These wastemonts will not decay and settle into firm earth for hundreds of years. We know that some community fathers have allowed housing to be built over a wastemont after 30 years when they have gone from office and no longer have to answer for their mistakes. Houses will settle, the foundations and walls will crack and dangerous gasses will slowly and perpetually seep out of the earth beneath the houses. While tests have shown that these mixtures of gas are not strong enough to explode just strong enough to shorten your life span, another cover-up!
The bacteria that slowly but surely decomposes all of this buried waste, the same bacteria that lives and works in your compost heap, only now it has to work through and around all the dirt that had been put into layers around it and this makes its work all that much harder and slower. This slow and persistent microbe that will work for hundreds of years until the last drop of biosolids have been neatly disposed of is the cousin to the microbe that transformed vegetation and animal matter into natural gas thousands of years ago and is the second cousin to the bacteria that we use in the VRAD© process which is hundreds of times faster and more efficient when fed properly.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that if one of the gasses that comes from a wastemont is methane, and methane is what natural gas is made of, that we could cover these wastemonts with plastic sheeting, collect the gas with pipes and burn it for energy. But who needs the heat ten miles from town? You can use the gas to run an engine and generate electricity which can be connected to the national grid no matter where in the country you are. This is a gigantic pipe dream. No one has ever figured out how to get enough energy from a wastemont to amortize the capital cost of the equipment let alone pay for all the maintenance for a hundred years. And, since this dirty raw gas that comes from a wastemont soon eats up any engine that it runs on, the whole project, in three years time, is nothing but a total disaster. Therefore the idea of using a VRAD© process to clean up the gas on an already bankrupt wastemont is totally absurd, that is, unless you are a politician who beats on his chest and cries "look at my environmentally sound, energy producing landfill, aren't I great, reelect me". When you find one of these you know who not to vote for the next time. He or she has no one they are trying to help but themselves and that is the worst of all of the cover-ups today. The taxpayer is paying the waste management people a lot of money to perpetuate this cover-up by advertising green solutions that are all red ink.
ASK A QUESTION: Would you like to ask your own question? Send an e-mail to HPMiller3D@ aol.com and put VRAD QUESTION in the Subject Line.