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Renewable Energy Facility 1

Our First Renewable Energy Facility

The Palm Beach Renewable Energy Facility 1 (REF 1) is a refuse-derived fuel (RDF) waste-to-energy (WTE) facility. The facility is owned by the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County and operated by Palm Beach Resource Recovery Corporation, a subsidiary of Babcock and Wilcox Corporation.

REF 1 opened in 1989 and currently processes in excess of 850,000 tons of municipal solid waste per year. The facility successfully provides a 60% reduction by weight in the quantity of waste landfilled. In the absence of REF 1, the Authority’s landfill would have been depleted in 2005.

Facility Highlights

REF 1 consists of a tipping floor, an RDF processing plant, an RDF storage building, two boilers, a turbine generator, pollution control equipment, and associated facilities and equipment. The design capacity is 2,000 tons per day (624,000 tons per year), although the facility has surpassed this. The design capacity is based on two of the three processing lines operating at any one time, but by operating all three lines on peak days, the operator is able to process at a rate up to 3,000 tons per day for a limited period of time.

The facility generates enough electricity to satisfy the power requirements of all the Authority’s North Jog Road facilities and approximately 30,000 homes. SWA sells the excess power generated by the facility to Florida Power and Light.

Additional benefits include the recovery of ferrous metals and aluminum and the diversion of more than 500,000 tons of garbage per year from the Class I landfill.

The plant has state-of-the-art pollution control equipment, consisting of Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) for NOx control, carbon injection for the control of mercury and volatile organic compounds, spray dryer absorbers for acid gas control and fabric filter baghouses for the control of particulates.

How The Plant Works

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is unloaded onto the tipping floor. Unprocessible waste such as appliances, tires, vegetative waste, metal and potentially hazardous materials, such as propane tanks, is removed from the waste stream. This material, which accounts for 3-4% by weight of the total delivered MSW, is landfilled.

MSW is fed by front-end loaders or excavators onto conveyors that "feed" the flail mill. The flail mill tears open any plastic bags, and the garbage falls onto a conveyor. Ferrous metal is then removed from each line by an overhead magnet. Aluminum cans are removed by eddy current separators and transported to recyclers.

The remaining waste then passes through a rotating trommel screen that removes sand, grit, dirt and glass (all less than two inches in size). These non-combustible materials are conveyed to a waiting truck and then landfilled.

Any materials not removed by the trommel, the magnets or the eddy currents go through a secondary shredder to produce the RDF. The RDF is then conveyed to a 3,000 ton capacity storage building, where it's fed into the boilers by way of conveyors.

RDF is burned in one of two boilers to generate steam, which drives a turbine generator to produce electricity.

Ash Production & Pollution Control

REF 1 produces two types of combustion residue: bottom ash and fly ash. Bottom ash is collected from beneath the combustion chamber and accounts for 75% of the ash produced by the plant. Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are recovered from the bottom ash. Fly ash is a powdery residue that is trapped by the plant’s air pollution control devices and accounts for 25% of the ash produced by the plant. The two ash streams are combined within the plant and delivered to the Class I landfill for disposal.

The SNCR system installed in the boilers sprays urea into the boiler in precise locations and amounts to control NOx emissions in the flue gas. Post combustion, powdered activated carbon injection is used to control mercury and volatile organic compounds. Next, the flue gas passes through a scrubber (spray dryer absorber) which uses a lime slurry to control acid gas emissions. Finally, the flue gas passes through a fabric filter baghouse, which removes particulates.