Tim O’Neill

Tim O’Neill

Tim O’Neill

Speaker | Engineered Compost Systems

Seattle, WA | tim@compostsystems.com

Tim is founder and president of ECS and has worked in compost industry for 30 years. Under his leadership ECS has provided engineering and/or process technology to 100’s of large-scale composting facilities. He is active in compost process science and compost air emissions research. Tim serves as a Trustee for the Compost Council’s Research and Education Foundation and regularly teaches workshops on facility design, process optimization and odor management. His professional passion is combining science-based inquiry, professional engineering and operational experience to help our industry improve.

Session Code: A3

Track: Current Research (hosted by CREF)

Session Name: PFAS and Air Emissions

Session Time: Wednesday, January 25, 4:15 – 5:45 PM

Presentation Title: Research to Improve Compost Facility Air Emissions Permitting

Presentation Description: The waste management industry is increasingly caught between mandates to recycle more organics through composting and ever more stringent environmental regulations. Air emissions are a critical component in permitting compost facilities where a chief concern is the volatile organic compound (VOC) emission factor (EF). The default EF’s commonly used by regulators throughout the US represent an average of a random collection of widely varying source tests conducted between 2000-2010. Neither the testing nor the regulations that followed gave actionable consideration to the process conditions that were the cause of this wide range of EF’s and the resulting high average EF’s that are now the basis of many permits. High EFs are key drivers in the cost and complexity of permitting and add requirements for expensive source tests and purchase of VOC off-sets.

The goal of this research is to develop a technology-agnostic guideline for regulators, and process designers, to predict VOC EF’s from easily measured composting Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). The experimental setup combines a full featured two zone aerated static pile (ASP) with WSU’s sophisticated air emissions sampling and analysis capabilities. Starting in May of 2022 a matrix of side-by-side trials was initiated to measure and compare both VOC EF’s and speciation as key process conditions are varied. The specific process conditions considered included mix characteristics, aeration direction (positive, negative, reversing), temperature, and oxygen levels. The process conditions are controlled to mimic known operating conditions over the typical range found at full-scale facilities. A combination of both continuous and periodic air analysis has yielded unprecedented insights to the correlation between compost process conditions and life-cycle total and speciated VOC air emissions. This presentation will discuss the initial findings of this research.

Session Code: D3 (& C3)

Track: California

Session Name: Meeting the Facility Challenge

Session Time: Wednesday, January 25, 4:15 – 5:45 PM

Presentation Title: Meeting the Challenge of SB 1383 Through Operational Excellence and Optimized Process Conditions

Presentation Description: Burrtec takes care of the waste and recycling needs for a large client base in Southern California. With the advent of SB 1383 Burrtec has grown their service offerings to manage the challenging, food waste rich, organic feedstock their clients now must divert from landfills. Burrtec’s approach has been to develop a series modest-sized composting facilities that are distributed around their service area. This model has the advantages of shorter hauling distances and integrating into the operations at existing waste handling sites. Given the location and limited footprint of these facilities, they require excellent environmental controls and high efficiency throughput. These requirements have been met with a two-pronged approach. First, operators have developed efficient methods to remove contaminants and to track and pre-process the feedstocks to meet BMP standards for composting. Second, Burrtec teamed with ECS to build composting facilities that can maintain optimized process conditions throughout the active composting phase producing rapid stabilization and minimal environmental impacts.

The Burrtec Agua Mansa composting facility represents this approach. Commissioned in 2021, this facility is designed to manage 26,000 tons per year of source separated organic waste collected from the LA Basin. This presentation will discuss the processing sequence, mass balance and product yield at the facility, as well as the compost science and engineering behind the negatively aerated CASP where active phase composting is carried out.