Behind a bunch of goats off Route 132 in Bethlehem, the latest in "green" technology was unveiled Monday. A generator that will be powered by bio-diesel is ready to produce enough electricity to power up to 150 homes.
A $500,000 grant from the Department of Energy funded the project on Chris Glyros's Litchfield County farm. The farm already uses a series of chemical reactions to turn vegetable oil (mainly soy bean oil) into something that can be burned in an engine. The series of reactions extracts byproducts that can damage an engine and what's left can heat a home (when combined with home heating oil) or power a tractor.
The electricity produced by the generator will be used to power the farm and what's leftover will be sold back to Connecticut Light and Power and put back on the grid. Glyros expects 250 kilowatts of juice will be generated which is enough to power not just his farm but up to 150 homes.
Burning bio-diesel is cleaner than burning a fossil fuel but there are still some concerns. Some studies claim bio-diesel releases more nitrogen oxides than diesel. This type of air pollution has been linked to health problems and acid rain. Glyros refutes those studies and says that data collected from his generation plant will help determine whether nitrogen oxide emissions are as substantial as some studies suggest.
Part of the grant is to study the economics of generating electricity from bio-diesel including which types and blends of vegetable oil burn the most efficiently.