Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT UNITED EARTH ENERGY?
Our people are skilled, experienced, engineers, managers, computer technicians, machine designers, and fabricators. In many large scale renewable energy projects, several specific skill sets are needed
1) Design Phase Engineers - Building and Site Planning, Equipment Design and Layout, etc.
2) Operations - material handling, maintenance, controls, supply chain, staffing
3) Pollution Control - a keen and complete understanding of Environmental Impacts is required.
All these required skills are in-house. We don’t have to sub-contract for pollution control, or process control, or mechanical design (as examples). That allows us to provide higher value at lower costs, with much faster response times for our customers.
HOW LONG HAS UNITED EARTH ENERGY BEEN IN BUSINESS?
UEE was formed in 2013 by Rand Jacot and his son Cody Jacot. The company focus has always been on clean, sustainable energy and since 2015 we have dedicated our resources and talents towards being a full-service environmental engineering, manufacturing and consulting firm. We leverage our teams’ talents and experience in process and product engineering, environmental testing and consulting, and process industries production management to bring turnkey waste-to-energy systems to market.
WHAT TYPES OF CLIENTS DOES UEE WORK WITH?
UEE works with private entities and governmental agencies around the world. We are working with a broad cross-section of customers in multiple industries and in several countries. From landfills, scrap tire mono-fills, centralized animal feedlots (CAFOs), forestry services, and large farmers there is wide variety of organic waste to be managed. We have projects pending in South Africa, Senegal, Swaziland, Ireland, Philippines, and throughout the US. We also work with materials processors, such as oil refineries, charcoal processors, the chemicals industry, fertilizer companies, and a wide variety of EPA certified test labs.
HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK?
Our technology is based on two simple engineering principles: The law of conservation of mass, and the law of conservation of energy. Mass is neither created nor destroyed, and energy is neither created nor destroyed. They simply get converted to different forms. Our thermal process is specially designed and controlled to “decompose” organic waste materials into 3 forms: a gas (or vapor) product, a liquid product, and a solid product. We don’t burn anything. The high heat completely destroys the feedstock. Energy (in the form of heat) is liberated from the feedstock in our process. We capture that and use it. Many systems waste this extra heat. Once we’ve produced the gas, the liquid, and the solid by-products, they are used as new input materials for other energy production (such as powering an electrical generator).
WHAT WASTE PRODUCTS CAN BE USED?
Any organic waste. This includes mixed solid waste collected at curbside of most homes. Mixed waste includes cardboard, paper, food waste, yard clippings, tree branches, etc. Our process works with animal waste (manure) from chickens, turkeys, pigs, cattle, etc. Scrap tires are a great feedstock, because the rubber / polymer is all organic - but we have to remove the steel reinforcement wires after processing. We cannot process rock, sand, glass, metal, aluminum or similar inorganic materials. These are typically separated by specialized classification and screening equipment prior to processing.
WHAT ENERGY PRODUCTS CAN BE PRODUCED?
Depending on the specific project requirements, UEE can design and configure specific process equipment to produce a wide variety of marketable products. Carbon based products include fertilizers, charcoal, industrial air filter media, and wide range of clean, carbon-based fuel pellets or briquettes. Liquid products derived from crude oil include naphthas, gasolines, kerosine, jet fuels, alcohols, acetylene, and water. The gaseous (non-condensing) vapors are consumed in our process equipment and provide heat energy for the equipment. When the production of electricity is justified, either the gaseous products or the oil can be used as fuel for the generators.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER WASTE-TO-ENERGY SYSTEMS?
There are several technologies on the market. broadly classified as either biological systems or thermal systems. The biggest use of biological systems is for large animal feedlots and city wastewater plants. The manure waste goes to a large “reactor” that uses bacteria to decompose the waste and liberate gas. This gas is then conditioned and cleaned for energy use. But this process still produces a solid waste product that must be disposed . The gas production part works fine, but the total cost of operation is very expensive, when you include the other waste that is still generated.
The UEE technology is a thermal process that is the basis for steelmaking since the industrial revolution. Petroleum “coke” is made using similar technology as well as all charcoal production in the USA. We add specialized thermal systems to capture all vapor emissions from this process. We convert these gases into useful products as opposed to simply letting them go up a smokestack (which then would require expensive pollution control equipment to scrub these fumes). We applied our knowledge and experience in charcoal production to other waste feedstocks, so it doesn’t end up in a landfill, and can be converted to productive energy.
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO SUCCESS?
Project planning is very important. Each waste feedstock behaves differently (because of its chemical makeup). Environmental laws and regulations are specific to each geographical location. There is no “one size fits all” system, and even if there was, it would not be cost effective. Our team always insists on a full engineering assessment and environmental survey to determine both the technical and economic feasibility of each project. Part of this feasibility includes Environment Impact Assessments, addressing solid waste regulations, clean water regulations, and clean air requirements. Our staff is experienced with US EPA laws and procedures and have been called as an expert witness for clients in various EPA rulings.
Another key is commercial take-off agreements. These are unique agreements with local customers who will buy the products we produce. The nature (or grade) of the products that can be produced are varied. So it’s important to match the customer demand with the production capability required, which is based on the quantity and makeup of the waste feedstock.
HOW IS THE CARBON USED?
Elemental carbon is fundamental for life on earth. Organic products, by definition, are carbon based. As mentioned above, we produce a form of solid carbon as a by-product from our process. The nature, form, and quality of this carbon char (as it’s referred to in its initial form) varies based on the type of feedstock being processed and the degree of processing and/or refinement it is subjected to. The markets for different types of carbon char include: charcoal, home heating (where there is no availability of natural gas), agricultural fertilizers, air and water filtration products, etc. With further refinement and other post-processing, the carbon-char can be upgraded to activated carbon which is used in a wide range of industrial, chemical, and medicinal applications.
HOW IS THE OIL USED? IS THIS BIODIESEL?
The oil produced is referred to as crude oil. It’s similar to home heating oil, such as #4 Diesel. The oil has high energy content, low sulfur (dependent on the waste feedstock) and is quite suitable as replacement fuel for boilers and other combustion equipment without further processing. Many people refer to the oil produced from renewable energy plants as biodiesel,. However, this term is becoming mostly associated with diesel fuel produced from ethanol made from corn (or sugarcane). While there are similarities, biodiesel from ethanol should not be confused with this oil.
The oil produced by the UEE process is suitable for use in stationary diesel generators. Some commercial oil refineries prefer this oil to crude oil extracted from oil wells because of the low sulfur content of this oil. This ultimately lowers the refiners processing costs to produce highly refined gasolines, diesel fuels, and other hydrocarbon based chemicals. When sold to refiners, we refer this oil as a “blending oil”, because the refinery will blend this with other oils for their markets.
DOES THIS SYSTEM MAKE ELECTRICITY?
YES. Electricity is generated using electro-mechanical generators fueled by internal combustion engines. The most typical form of this are the stationary generators used throughout the world for backup or standby power. We take advantage of these generators which are in plentiful supply and convert them to primary power applications fueled by our diesel and gas production.
IS ELECTRICITY THE MOST IMPORTANT RENEWABLE ENERGY PRODUCT?
Yes and No. In the USA, electricity is generated by coal fired power plants, nuclear plants, hydro-electric stations, and increasingly, renewable sources such as solar, wind, and biomass fuels. Retail (i.e., consumer) prices for electricity vary by state but average $0.13/kwh with a high of almost $0.18/kwh in New England and a low of $0.10/kwh in the Southeast (2016 data). Some means of electricity production are not sustainable or predictable (e.g., wind and solar) and other factors such as regulatory controls (for fossil-fuel fired and nuclear power plants) or production technology (e.g., direct-fired turbines) add considerably to the production costs and risks.
In addition, “selling” electricity to the grid, means selling to the utility who must then resell this purchased electricity at a fixed price. So the price at which a utility will agree to purchase electricity from an independant power producer will be considerably lower than retail electric rates.
United Earth Energy takes a more pragmatic approach. Our focus is on creating long term energy self-sufficiency for our customers. So electricity production is just one form of energy product from our system, not the only form. The fuel and other by-products that can be produced may generate a larger and more sustainable economic benefit, depending on the requirements and objectives of the project.
WHAT IS A POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENT?
PPA’s are typically purchase agreements from a utility provider (such as a local electrical utility) to an independent power producer. PPA’s are popular as a funding mechanism for renewable energy plants because many utilities are required by law to procure some percentage of their total electrical power from renewable sources (albeit at rates that are advantageous to the utility). The challenge with an electrical PPA is in defining the terms of the sale. We are aware of examples where the independent power producer was forced to absorb fines and penalties from not meeting the PPA that ultimately shut down the project. Our team has the expertise and technical knowledge to work with the utilities to properly define and structure a suitable agreement.