New CarbonLITE Facility Invests in Cogeneration System

The new facility will use a combination of local utility power and power generated from the new CHP system

Future site of CarbonLITE Facility in Reading, Pa.
Future site of CarbonLITE Facility in Reading, Pa.

Chp GraphicA1 EnergyIn 2017, China announced a new policy to restrict the import of various solid waste and raw materials, including plastics such as PET, PE, PVC, and PS. Since the implementation of material restriction, much of the U.S. has been at a standstill with PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic processing. The need for domestic PET processing plants has skyrocketed since cities and state governments have created laws to fix the plastic waste issue.

Much of the PET that once went to China is now stagnant in our waste stream or shipped to the few Southeast Asian countries still accepting plastic for incineration. With the production of PET plastic now at 3.1 million tons in the U.S., companies like CarbonLITE are expanding PET plastic processing facilities to help handle some of these recyclables domestically.

CarbonLITE, a Riverside, Cali., facility founded by Leon Farahnik, is now expanding to Berks County, PA. The organization is one of the few plastic processing plants in the U.S. to make food-grade PET plastic so that it can be reincorporated into the system again. The final location was based on proximity to major customers.

CarbonLITE converts used plastic bottles made of PET into a resin. The resin is then used to create new PET bottles. It's CarbonLITE's 6-step recovery process that makes it possible for food grade PET to be turned into new bottles. Most PET plastic is typically down-cycled into fabric fibers, carpets, and polyester.

The new facility will be investing in combined heat and power (CHP) to power the energy-intensive plastic processing at the plant.

A1 Energy and Cleveland Brothers have partnered to manage and execute the addition of 4 MW of cogeneration power to the new facility. The new facility will use a combination of local utility power and power generated from the new CHP system. Blue Rock Construction Inc. (based in Allentown, Pa.), in partnership with Brasler Properties and Endurance Real Estate Group, is the general contractor responsible for the new facility's build-out. Kupper Engineering, of Ambler, Pa., is providing electrical, mechanical, and plumbing engineering services. In addition, Kupper Engineering is providing interconnection application services to Met-Ed for the use of three 1,475kW natural gas gensets in CHP mode rated to operate in parallel with Met-Ed's system, as well as engineering services for a new 15kV service and distribution line. 

What is CHP?

CHP systems are an efficient solution for meeting facility energy needs. CHP systems achieve over 80 percent fuel efficiency compared to traditional methods of buying grid supplied electricity and generating steam or hot water in boilers. The higher fuel efficiency leads to both energy savings and reduced environmental footprint for the CHP adoptee. And for energy users concerned about reliability, CHP can be configured for black start/island mode operation for increased reliability during utility outages. With both turnkey and third-party Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) solutions now available, and the increased awareness of its many benefits, industrial adoption of CHP is on the rise.

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