The Gills Onions project was one of eight projects considered for ACEC's top award. Other contestants included the new $1.3 billion Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas and the Sea-to-Sky Highway project in British Columbia, Canada. The award was presented at ACEC's Engineering Excellence Award (EEA) gala in Washington, D.C.
EHAC was selected by Gills Onions, the largest fresh-cut onion processor in the nation, as the lead Mechanical Contractor on this breakthrough $9.5 million facility that converts onion waste to power. In the facility, juice is extracted from onion peels and treated in a high-rate anaerobic reactor to produce methane-rich biogas. The biogas is then treated and used to power two fuel cells that provide electricity for the processing plant. As a result of this project, the owner has achieved increased energy independence, elimination of a waste stream, reduced operational cost, and a smaller carbon footprint.
The combination of the energy produced, cost savings generated, and grant funding achieved by the project will result in a full payback in less than six years.