Agrilectric Power Company
Agrilectric Power Partners is the power plant operations company in Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA. Acting as project and operations management for units in Lake Charles, the company has successfully operated the facility since 1984.
Over that period of time, company personnel have not been content with the status quo, but have continued to review, evaluate, and modify the process systems in order to improve the overall operation and improve by-product qualities. Modifications to the equipment design and procedures have resulted in improved availability and capacity. Although engineering has set the benchmarks, there is no replacement for experience of operating solid fuel combustion over time.
Unit No. 1
Start of Commercial operations: July 1984
Capability: 12 MW
Primary Fuel: Processed Rice Hulls
Ignition Fuel: Natural Gas
Steam Outlet Conditions: 660 psig (45.5 bar) 750 F (399 C)
Steam Flow: 129,000 Lbs/hr (58,513 Kg/hr)
One of the most important features of the Agrilectric electric generating plants is their environmentally friendly nature. Agrilectric's unique fuel is consumed by a combustion system that provides low emissions. The fuel is introduced to the combustion zone in a manner that maximizes combustion in a very short period of time. Steam, electrical generation and low carbon by-products are the results of the efficient use of the fuel. Agrilectric received the prestigious Environmental Protection Award by Power Magazine in 1985 for the original plant installation. By using a biomass fuel, rice hulls, the USEPA places value upon these plants primarily because they do not increase atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The carbon emitted is offset by the growth of new biomass. If rice hulls are not burned, they eventually decompose and the cellulose is converted to methane and carbon dioxide. Burning the hulls prevents the formation of methane, which is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Thus, the gases produced by the decomposition of the hulls have a combined potency of 4 times greater than those produced by combustion.
Efficiency of the system is a result of good engineering and proper operations. The boilers in Lake Charles have efficiencies in the 80% range. The system for heat recovery in the Lake Charles unit provides the unit with overall efficiencies approaching larger utility type generating plants. Efficiencies are much better on this type of unit when compared to other methods of rice hull combustion. The Agrilectric combustion system is a system of choice when efficiencies and by-product qualities are an important consideration.
Solid fuelled generating plants are traditionally less reliable and more expensive to maintain. Rice hulls are high in silica content and therefore can create additional operational difficulties if not performed properly. The Lake Charles plant has an availability factor exceeding 93% since beginning operations. An on-going effort of diligent operations practices and problem solving has proven to be the key to this successful record.