Village Farms launches innovative fuel cell project

March 24, 2014
Written by Village Farms
March 24, 2014, Vancouver – Village Farms International Inc. announced today that it is part of the first renewable energy quad-generation project ever to be realized for a greenhouse operation from fuel cell technology.

This project enables the commercial production of renewable heat and food grade carbon dioxide (CO2) that would benefit the Village Farms greenhouse, along with electricity and hydrogen for additional commercial markets.

A ceremonial ground-breaking event is scheduled on April 2 at the company’s Delta, British Columbia greenhouse to celebrate the collaboration with Quadrogen Power Systems Inc., FuelCell Energy Inc., and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

CUTTING EDGE FUEL CELL TECHNOLOGY

It is being described as the most advanced greenhouse technology ever achieved using cutting edge fuel cell technology.

Village Farms is an industry leader with large in technological advancements, environmental sustainability, and clean agricultural technologies, says president and CEO Michael A. DeGiglio. “This project is yet another testimony of our focus in maintaining this commitment. And further, this is another example demonstrating Village Farms position as the leading choice among technology companies.

“Considering the numerous research developments and advancements that have occurred within the greenhouse industry over the past several years, Village Farms has been at the forefront of commercializing the majority, making us the go-to partner in complementary technologies.”

EXPERIENCED WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE

Village Farms is no novice when it comes to utilizing renewable energy, and for the last 10 years its Canadian facilities have been using renewable landfill gas as an additional heat source alternatively to natural gas.
The heat is supplied from a cogeneration power plant that is owned and operated by Maxim Power Inc. on the Village Farms property.

“Co-generation is a feel-good success story because it takes landfill methane gas that would have been burned on-site at the landfill and instead turns a waste product into a viable heat source that is safe for people and plants,” explains Jonathan Bos, the company’s development director. 

“This new project is even more advanced and cutting edge as it will be the first demonstration of not only heat supply for the greenhouse but also food grade CO2 that is generated from the landfill gas via a fuel cell.”

MULTIPLE VALUE STREAMS


The landfill gas will be cleaned by an innovative system designed and built by Quadrogen Power Systems and then used by the stationary fuel cell power plant built by FuelCell Energy to generate the multiple value streams including electricity, heat and hydrogen.

The fuel cell utilizes a highly efficient electro-chemical process to generate power that avoids the emission of virtually any pollutants due to the absence of combustion. 

Village Farms will be the sole user to benefit from the CO2 renewable energy stream and hot water that is coming directly from the fuel cell.

Once operational, Village Farms will seek to increase the output of renewable CO2 and in addition, seek to further utilize the technology in future Company developments at new locations or in other markets.

POTENTIAL BENEFITS

The potential benefits of this new technology are numerous, not only for Village Farms but for the environment at large.

First, landfill gas will be eliminated from the waste stream helping reduce the city of Vancouver’s overall carbon footprint.

The reduction in carbon footprint will be mirrored by Village Farms as the end user of this waste stream, helping the company reduce its need for fossil fuels. As well, since the food grade CO2 is actually used by the plants as a nutrient in the process of photosynthesis, the plant then converts the CO2 to oxygen, which creates another primary benefit for the environment.

Additionally, this will allow further efficiencies for Village Farms by reducing overall costs, and enhancing use of CO2, which is attributable for approximately 25 per cent of a plant’s yield.

'AT THE FOREFRONT OF GROUND-BREAKING TECHNOLOGY'

“The quad-generation project will be a game changer in the existing arena for the renewable landfill gas market at large,” notes Quadrogen president and CEO Alakh Prasad. “We are pleased Village Farms will be at the forefront of this ground-breaking technological advancement in green technology as the first demonstrated user for quad-generation fuel cell technology.”

Village Farms marketing manager Helen L. Aquino says the project “is analogous to our water conservation, land preservation, and soilless growing methods that are highly resource efficient and environmentally sustainable. The conversion of landfill gas to clean food grade CO2 for the plants, which then convert the gas to oxygen is creating what amounts to a carbon negative waste stream.”

She describes the company as “the most sustainable greenhouse operation in the industry today.”

ABOUT VILLAGE FARMS

Village Farms is one of the largest producers, marketers and distributors of greenhouse-grown tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers in North America. It has greenhouse facilities in B.C. and Texas.

ABOUT QUADROGEN POWER SYSTEMS

Quadrogen designs and builds reliable, cost effective cleanup systems for a wide variety of gaseous fuel applications. These technologies are modular and scalable to cost effectively purify landfill gas, digester gas, or syngas. The company is headquartered in Vancouver.

ABOUT FUELCELL ENERGY

Direct FuelCell® power plants are generating ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power at more than 50 locations worldwide. With more than 300 megawatts of power generation capacity installed or in backlog, FuelCell Energy is a global leader in providing ultra-clean baseload distributed generation to utilities, industrial operations, universities, municipal water treatment facilities, government installations and other customers around the world.

These power plants have generated more than two billion kilowatt hours of ultra-clean power using a variety of fuels including renewable biogas from wastewater treatment and food processing, as well as clean natural gas. 



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