GE Energy to supply co-gen/CO2 fertilization system

GE Energy is supplying a Jenbacher C02 fertilization and co-generation system to a tomato greenhouse in Ontario. The 12-megawatt system will feature four gas engines that will supply power and recovered heat to a 55-acre greenhouse facility located about 350 kilometres west of Toronto. CO2 from the engine exhaust will be diverted, purified, cooled, then fed back into the greenhouse to accelerate tomato growth. About 10 megawatts of power will be sold into the provincial grid under a 20-year contract signed with the Ontario Power Authority, which recently awarded six other co-gen contracts.

Construction on the new system will begin in May and is scheduled for completion in December 2007. This is an important deal for GE Energy. While such a system is common in places such as the Netherlands, this particular project will be GE’s first in North America and the company plans to use it as a reference case for other sales. Pretty cool stuff.

The press release comes out later today, so I’ll post a link when it becomes available.

7 thoughts on “GE Energy to supply co-gen/CO2 fertilization system”

  1. Reusing both “waste” heat and CO2… this is the type of thinking we need a lot more of… and the type of innovation that can make rapid strides without subsidies. When they start using pyrolysis of dead tomato plants to provide syngas for the generators, then we’ll be at a nearly sustainable system.

    I’m always happy to read stories of businesses picking the low-hanging fruit of efficiency… there’s so much out there, and it requires more ingenuity than money. We also need to throw a lot of money at our energy/carbon emission problems, but money alone will not solve the problem.

  2. How is this green news?

    Burning natural gas and the exhaust CO2 going into a greenhouse is no different than my car or furnace exhaust going out over the forest or a wheat field. They built a greenhouse and are now using fossil fuel heat? Plants absorb CO2 whether they are in a greenhouse or not. A tree at least keeps the carbon out of the environment longer than a tomato.

    A better news item would be “Tyler plants 10 acres of trees and then drives his car around it all day, reports the CO2 being stored is saving the world.”

  3. This is a story about efficiency.

    It’s honestly QUITE ‘green’ if you are able to save energy by refining an inefficient process.

    For one. The generators are using natural Gas. It may not be the most environmental energy source, but it sure beats coal based power – remember Nanticoke Generating Station?

    The system also uses Heat Recovery (CoGen) to further improve efficiency. The waste heat (which in other generating stations would be just that – wasted) is used to keep the greenhouses warm. The exhaust is purified to almost pure Co2 and is used to help nourish plants.

    The exhaust from your car isn’t quite as nice… natural gas burns much cleaner.

  4. Great thinking. When they “purify” natural gas exhaust, what to they do with what they take out? Dump it out behind the greenhouse or release it into the atmosphere? Maybe they take it to a landfill. Do they get everything in the purification and it’s 100% pure CO2 or do the vegatables end up breathing in trace contaminants from combustion?

    This story is a minor fossil fuel efficiency improvement in a commercial venture that is about profit not the environment and the tomatoes certainly don’t qualify as organic by any stretch of the imagination.

  5. The waste equals food argument.

    That they are growing here in Ontario means they aren’t being trucked in from California, and maybe they are more like real ones than the URGreenToGo variety.

    Do we need to eat tomatoes or are there natives we could get by on?

  6. This is a major improvement on how most vegetable greenhouses work in Ontario. A lot of them use natural gas fired boilers (or dual-fuel boilers using No. 6 heating oil). The boilers supply heat and C02 to the greenhouse, but electricity is purchased from the (inefficient) grid.

    On a hot summer’s day when the outside temperature is 30 degrees C, the boilers are often still running at full power, just to supplement the C02 in the greenhouse to prevent the operation having to purchase (expensive) bottled C02. Most of that heat is wasted, or used to heat water for overnight use.

    The co-generation systems will allow a much better conversion of heat to hot water, and the ratio of electricity generation to heat generation will be a better match for the greenhouse load in the summer.

  7. You mean the organic regulations in Canada don’t allow things grown in greenhouses, or because the ambient level of CO2 is enhanced? That certainly is a big difference with what organic means in the US.

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