71. Industrial symbiosis: Turning waste into a valuable resource

Blog: Industrial symbiosis: How to grow a greener, more energy efficient tomato

Kalundborg is a small port city in Denmark with a 12th century cobblestone downtown and a decidedly industrial feel. It is home to a 1,500-megawatt monster of a coal burning power plant, a refinery, a pharmaceutical plant, a plasterboard factory and a half dozen other paeans to steel pipe and smokestacks. Yet it’s here in Kalundborg where the future of industrial society lies.

It’s called industrial symbiosis and it all started with their giant coal-fired power plant. Alongside all of those megawatts is excess steam, heat, gypsum and waste water and every single one of those byproducts have found a use in a complex ecosystem of industrial facilities around it.

And it’s in this vein that we headed to Chatham, Ontario to see industrial symbiosis in action. Our catalyzing project in this case is Greenfield Specialty Alcohols, formerly called Greenfield Ethanol. It’s a first generation ethanol plant, a biorefinery that uses corn as a feedstock to produce 200,000 million litres of ethanol a year. Their production is split evenly between ethanol that is mixed with gasoline for vehicles and industrial ethanol, which you find in everything from shaving cream to vodka.

This refinery doesn’t just produce ethanol however, it kicks out a cornucopia of byproducts which they’ve found a number of uses for. More…

Podcast: A greener tomato: How waste heat can cut a greenhouse's heating bill in half

Giant smokestacks are usually looked on as eyesores, Greg Devries sees them as economic opportunities. He's the president of Truly Green Farms a greenhouse operation in Chatham, Ontario that is set to take advantage of the waste heat from a nearby ethanol plant. Learn how it works and learn more about industrial symbiosis this week at green energy futures.


Greenfield Ethanol numbers:

It buys 19 to 20 million bushels of corn a year from Ontario producers. 

It produces 100 million litres of industrial ethanol a year. Used as a chemical in everything shampoo to vodka.

It produces 100 million litres of fuel ethanol a year. Mixed with gasoline as a transportation fuel.

It produces 140,000 tonnes of distillers grains. Used as animal feed.

It produces 100,000 tonnes of CO2 used by Praxair in a facility on site.

The remaining CO2, roughly 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes will go to Truly Green Farms.

It produces 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of industrial corn oil a year. Used either as a supplementto animal feed or biodiesel feedstock.

Truly Green numbers

Size of Truly Green Farms currently: 22.5 acres of greenhouse

Eventual size of Truly Green Farms once all planned additions are built: 90 acres of greenhouse

It produces 5.85 million kilograms of tomatoes a year.

Expected amount by which using the waste heat from Greenfield Ethanol will reduce their heating expenses: 50 per cent

Truly Green's heating costs: 40 per cent of their total expenses

Expected improvement to tomato yield by using Greenfield's CO2 : 3 to 5 per cent



The Kalumborg Symbiosis - Explore how the largest industrial symbiosis eco-system works in Denmark 

Gains in Plain Sight: The Common Sense of Cooperative Resource Management - Huffington Post

Sale of ethanol plant's waste heat will eliminate smokestack - Chatham Daily News

Greenhouse to utilize CO2, waste heat from adjacent ethanol plant - Ethanol Producer Magazine