Technology Helps Heart of Texas Turn Waste into Fuel, Energy
From eco-friendly buildings and businesses to recycling programs that find a new use for just about everything, the Heart of Texas is going green in a big way.
The area is home to a growing number of green-focused businesses and initiatives, as various companies and organizations work separately and together to preserve the environment. A flagship venture is the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce’s new building, which is touted as the first green chamber building in the country. It anchors a three-block, $75 million mixed-use development downtown and has fast become a hub of activity for all things green in the area.
Mars Snackfood-US in Waco has earned national recognition for its use of landfill gas to replace a portion of the energy needed to power its operation. Mars invested in new boiler controls, instrumentation and a 5-milelong pipeline from the landfill to the plant. The move has been a resounding success and has received national, state and local awards.
Meanwhile, EQMA is poised to bring a new twist to the production of ethanol. A $250,000 grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund provided the seed money to produce up to 2 million gallons of alcohol a year using candy waste from Waco's Mars Snackfood-US plant and food waste from grocery stores and bakeries.
EQMA also plans to convert manure from dairy operations into fuel in an ambitious project that will begin with a demonstration plant at Tarleton State University's planned model dairy in Stephenville.
“We think that this might fit into a system and integrate with other technologies to maximize the output of the bioenergy recovery process for animal manures,” says Don Cawthon, dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, Agribusiness, Agronomy, Horticulture & Range Management at TSU. “In five or 10 years, these types of technologies will potentially cure a multitude of sins, not only to help with the energy issue but also help solve other pressing environmental issues associated with animal-feeding operations.”
College campuses have gotten in on the action as well, as Texas State Technical College has joined with four other colleges to bring in federal funding for their Green Corridor Collaborative. The five will pursue federal stimulus money allocated for renewable energy development, and it’s hoped that by pooling their resources they will each, and collectively, get a bigger slice of the financial pie.
Specific projects are taking shape as well. At McLennan Community College, the new Science building is expected to receive a gold rating by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. To gain this rating, MCC included solar panels, environmentally friendly flooring, low-flow water fixtures and more in the design. In addition, the Emergency Services Education Center beat out more than 2,500 other projects to snag Real Estate & Construction Review-Southwest’s Green Building of America award.