Pocasset Firm Develops New Trash-Based Fuel Source
By: Diana T. Barth
A new product, its patent pending, is undergoing development in Pocasset, and its manufacturers hope it will give “waste to energy” a new definition.
That product is called Eco-Tac, and it is essentially a small block of processed waste that can be burned like coal, but with fewer emissions.
Its proponents are hoping to manufacture it in Massachusetts, but distribute it widely outside the state, targeting, at first, places like universities and hospitals that use small- to medium-sized coal-fired boilers.
Eventually, the product’s use might be broadened to encompass large generating plants.
Eco-Tac is made with solid waste, said William F. Rhatigan, a member of the Bourne Charter Review Committee and one of the principals, along with fellow Pocasset resident Gerald J. O’Brien of WERC-2 Inc., the Delaware corporation the duo created in order to develop the product.
More specifically, it is created with the waste left behind after recycling, absent any construction and demolition materials; in other words, the residual matter that would normally be buried in a landfill after recyclables have been removed from municipal solid waste.
Through what Mr. Rhatigan described as a proprietary manufacturing process, that waste is transformed into an odorless product that can be burned just like coal, except without the dust or sulfur and the other environmental issues associated with coal. It burns without any smell. The company’s brochure describes Eco-Tac as “THE alternative fuel.”
In the US alone, Mr. Rhatigan said, a billion tons of coal are used annually to generate electricity, largely in huge generating plants, but also in hundreds of thousands of small boilers, some built in the 1940s and 1950s.
Many institutions still use those boilers, supplementing them with newer ones using oil or gas. That is because, he said, it is so expensive to either replace or retrofit those older boilers. Eco-Tac, he said, can provide a greater BTU value (in other words, more heat) than coal with fewer emissions.
He explained that RFD, or refuse-derived fuel, has been around for some time, in a shredded form, one that can be burned, but is not easily transportable.
Eco-Tac was conceived after he and his partner, along with expert help, bent their minds around a way to encase it, or make it easy to transport.
The manufacturing process, one that includes exposure to infrared light and X-rays, creates a binding agent out of the components of the waste, itself. As a part of the process, the manufacturer knows exactly what chemical components are present in the fuel.
The end product can be shaped in almost any way, the most universally useful being a rectangular one that is a little less than an inch-and-a-quarter long by a little more than three-quarters of an inch high. That size could be put into a hopper and “shoveled” out just like a piece of coal.
Eco-Tac could also be molded into an octagonal shape that would allow it to be easily pulverized for use in equipment designed for burning fuel in that form.
Eco-Tac is designed for commercial, not household, use.
Mr. Rhatigan said his company, which has an office in Ireland as well as at 4 Barlows Landing Road in Pocasset, would like to site a manufacturing plant in Massachusetts, taking the product out of development and to the next stage. The company will need a large waste stream, one that he expects will be brought by train directly into an enclosed facility for processing. The end product would then be shipped out by rail.
WERC-2 and its experts are already working on a design for such a facility, as well as for the software that will be used to manage the manufacturing process.
The company wants to create jobs in-state, but will be marketing primarily in the Midwestern United States, where many institutions are operating coal-fired generating equipment.
WERC-2 will also be operating abroad. Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, he said, are ahead of the United States in searching for technologies that deal with solid waste without recourse to landfills.
Mr. Rhatigan said the company is capitalized by private investment, but that it owes Senate President Therese Murray and her office many thanks for assistance with its business development.
The idea for Eco-Tac was an outgrowth of what people learned when exploring the solid waste industry, Mr. Rhatigan said, an exploration done around the time that WERC-2 Inc.’s predecessor, WERC, was talking with Bourne about the idea of partnering with the town to run the Bourne landfill.
While the name Eco-Tac had not as yet been chosen for the product, the idea of the project was being conceived. WERC withdrew its landfill management proposal in February. A patent request for Eco-Tac was filed several months later, Mr. Rhatigan said.
He emphasized that WERC-2 has nothing to do with the original company, WERC, but since the use of that name had already been reserved, it was simpler to keep it. Eco-Tac, a much catchier name, was chosen for the product, a “tic-tac” of transformed waste that Mr. Rhatigan said is odorless, easy to transport, and much more environmentally friendly to burn than coal.
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