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updated: 11/18/2011 7:43 PM

Naperville gasifier to be unvieled Monday

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One man's yard waste is about to become another man's flex fuel in Naperville.

City officials will be joined by representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, Packer Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory as they unveil the city's new Green Fuels Depot at 2 p.m. Monday at 3712 Plainfield/Naperville Road.

Once yard and brush waste is collected at the depot, a gasifier will heat it in an oxygen-free environment and convert in into a gas. That gas can then be processed through a generator set to produce electricity. Or, it can be converted to ethanol using a process being developed at Argonne National Lab. The gasifier also produces hydrogen gas, which can be used as a fuel in itself.

The three fuels produced then will be used to operate alternative fuel vehicles within the municipal fleet.

"This machine is the first of its kind to be able to convert it three ways," Councilman Bob Fieseler said Friday.

The system produces about 15 kilowatts of electric power, enough to run about 12 suburban homes. Some of this power is used to keep the system operational. The remainder can be used as electricity for plug-in hybrid vehicles, or it can be supplied back to the Naperville grid. Packer Engineering owns the gasifier located at the depot. And if it produces the results expected by city officials, Packer is likely to begin marketing the technology to other municipalities and farming communities.

If those efforts are successful, Fieseler said, he would hope Packer would expand its staff and production facility in Naperville.

Primary funding for the test program came from the U.S. Department of Energy through U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert. Packer Engineering and Naperville also are providing noncash contributions to the overall project.

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