Alex Newell

Alex Newell

Alex Newell

Speaker | Cornerstone Environmental Group, a Tetra Tech Company

Dublin, CA | (630) 410-7217 |

USCC Member

Alex Newell is a staff engineer with two bachelors degrees in Geological Engineering and Geology and Geophysics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His responsibilities at Cornerstone include designing landfill gas (LFG) collection and control systems (GCCS); designing covered aerated static pile (CASP) compost facilities, performing wellfield evaluations, preparing bid documents and cost estimates for various projects, compiling technical reports, conducting construction quality assurance (CQA), providing project assistance to project managers, and editing permit applications or permit modifications.

Presentation Title: The Challenges and Lessons Learned for Start-Up of Automated Covered Aerated Static Pile Composting Facilities

Session: New Learnings on Composting Technological Deployment

Time: Wednesday, January 30, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Presentation Summary: The startup of several facilities recently in the West Coast are good case studies for challenges faced and lessons learned during start-up of a covered aerated static pile (CASP) composting facility.During facility start-up, various parts and pieces of the system mustbe tested for proper operation and for coordination with the system programming. At the same time, the operation must meet various requirements of the facility permits, which have different requirements depending on the issuing agency (e.g. the Local Enforcement Agency versus the Air Quality Management District).

A challenge arises from an engineering standpoint during the evaluation and review of the recorded data, primarily used for permit compliance purposes, for proper operation of both the system programming and proper operation of equipment during system start-up. System recording intervals are often set at frequencies that do not allow for assessment of proper system response (e.g. daily versus hourly recordings).

To ensure a coordinated startup that would meet permit requirements, some facilities have implemented a pre start-up phase prior to commencing full facility operation. This phase offered the ability to evaluate the system functionality while providing training opportunities for the operations team. This allowed for a streamlined review of the system equipment and programming as opposed to working through issues as they arise during full facility operation.

The implementation of a pre start-up phase consisted of data recording at a higher frequency and reducing feedstock intake from designed rates. Higher frequency readings allow the facility to identify both equipment and programming complications while staying in compliance with permits. Reducing daily intake amounts provided flexibility in facility operations while addressing equipment and programming challenges.

Review of programming is an additional challenge that implementing of a pre start-up phase can help to resolve. Complications in programming from a subcontractor or blower vendor can be difficult to detect prior to start-up as system reactions cannot be addressed without feedstock being accepted. Having the program vendor onsite to provide assistance during the pre start-up phase to make real-time changes as they are occurring aids in accelerating this process.

Coordination of and good communication among the various parties (i.e. operator, compliance specialists, design engineer, equipment vendors and programmers) during facility startup was key to a successful startup of the CASP compost facilities. Challenges with equipment, individual parts and overall programming and management of data required both for operation and for compliance were thoroughly reviewed and resolved due to a smart approach to startup.