ReCommunity Holdings Collaborates with UMass TIMBR Researchers on Multiple Clean Energy Research Projects

Interdisciplinary Team Tackles the Challenge of Reengineering MSW for Energy Feedstocks

ReCommunity Holdings partners with communities to recover discarded natural resources destined for landfills and convert them into clean, efficient and cost-competitive commodities, products, and energy. 

The Charlotte, NC-based company is currently sponsoring several research projects led by Professors Paul Dauenhauer, Jeffrey Blanchard, Michael Henson, Susan Leschine, and T.J. Mountziaris. These projects represent a unique collaboration of chemical engineering and life sciences researchers at a single institution to determine how to design select constituents from municipal solid waste that address the specific feedstock requirements for energy industry sectors.  The scope of work will advance the learning of the engineering of feed stocks for the most efficient production of sustainable energy/transportation fuels/industrial chemicals and customization of additives to reduce the emissions of electric power plants that currently rely on conventional energy resources (like coal). 

Recycled materials can be grouped into three categories: inorganics such as ceramics and metals, carbohydrates such as paper, and hydrocarbons such as polyethylene and other plastics. These recycled materials will be combined and pelletized into a particle referred to as ReEngineered Feedstock (ReEF) which can be compositionally ‘tuned’ for each potential market. By researching the relationship between ReEF composition and product value, the investigators intend to understand the optimal distribution of recycled materials for ReEF production within three potential markets: coal emission reduction, biological biofuel production, and gasification biofuel feedstock. The development of specialty products from recycled materials will utilize a simultaneous three project strategy to maximize value by utilizing all three classes of recycled material.

It is anticipated that each project and product will require a mixture of each recycled category; however, each ReEF product will require unequal quantities of hydrocarbons, carbohydrates and inorganics. The distribution of recycled material will be evaluated independently for each product.  Coal emission sorbents will require high composition of inorganic components such as CaO or MgO to capture emissions. Alternatively, gasification feedstocks benefit from the incorporation of plastics which have high hydrogen content and produce a high-quality gas product. Biological feedstocks benefit from a high quantity of carbohydrates which can be enzymatically converted to biofuels. All three ReEF products, once tuned for their targeted markets, will utilize the entire spectrum of recycled materials.

It is also anticipated that undertaking all three projects will maximize research opportunities while efficiently utilizing capital equipment.  Coal emission sorbents and gasification feedstock development will both utilize reactor unique high-temperature fluid bed reactor capable of simulating industrial gasifiers and boilers.  Fermentation of product gases and ReEF can occur also within the same biological reactor. The advantage of shared equipment as well as on-site interaction between projects will result in maximum research benefit to the entire program.

UMass Contacts

Paul Dauenhauer, Investigator
Chemical Engineering

Jeff Blanchard, Investigator

Mike Henson, Investigator
Chemical Engineering

Sue Leschine, Investigator
Veterinary and Animal Sciences

James Demary, Project Manager

Partner Organization

ReCommunity Holdings Inc