NREL and Cogent Energy Systems Validate Innovative Waste-to-Energy Technology

Cogent Energy Systems (Cogent) and NREL researchers are evaluating the company's HelioStorm Gasifier—an innovative waste-to-energy (WTE) technology that converts solid waste feedstocks into clean syngas—as a means for powering microgrids.

By converting small amounts of municipal solid waste feedstocks to syngas, a synthetic gas comprised primarily of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, Cogent's HelioStorm Gasifier is capable of fueling an electricity generator with rapid on and off cycle times. At NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), the team is using a real-time dynamic simulation of the technology in order to manipulate the mix, concentration, and rate of gases that will be fed to an onsite engine, or generator, that combusts syngas to produce electricity. The generator will be connected to one of ESIF's 250-kVA resistive/inductive/capacitive load banks in order to simulate the WTE combined load of a standalone microgrid.

Once the team demonstrates the system's ability to operate in a steady state, NREL will work with Cogent to develop a control system to automate the simulation of the HelioStorm Gasifier and electrical generator to work in concert with solar power, supplying electricity in response to load demands that exceed solar energy output. By operating this way, the system can be used to address and complement the intermittency of other electricity sources for a standalone microgrid.