A newly developing Canadian company has signed a letter of intent to locate in Great Plains Industrial Park, the Great Plains Development Authority board heard Thursday.
VDQ-NRG Systems Inc. of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, states it uses sustainable waste processing technology to eliminate landfills and profitably recover energy and resources.
Great Plains park director Brad Reams said VDQ has created energy pods and processes waste through a thermal depolymerization process.
Thermal depolymerization (TDP) is a process for the reduction of complex organic materials, usually various waste products, turning it into carbon black and bio oil.
“We are turning waste into energy using thermo-chemical processes with no need to reduce the moisture content of the waste. Our solution does not burn the waste, it is not incineration, gasification or pyrolysis,” the company website states.
“I’ve connected them with the bio fuels team from EnTech,” Reams said, speaking of the Wisconsin company with which Great Plains is working on a distributed energy partnership. “They will help broker that bio oil. It’s some that can be sent to a refinery and refined a little bit more to be used as a biodiesel. That could be done locally here at the Coffeyville refinery if things were lined up correctly there.”
Reams said it would be about a 24-month project before they are on the ground.
“But we now have a letter of intent from them that we would be their first U.S. location, which allows us to continue to work with Strategic Partners, people we know who are interested in investing in something like this,” Reams said. “I’ve had some discussions with this group and other representatives about medical waste, which we believe is going to be a bigger issue here in the near future with the PPE (personal protective equipment) and getting that brought around full circle. As we become a provider, or fulfillment center for PPE, we’d be distributing that and then bringing it back in to be processed into oil … bringing it full circle.
“We’re talking to a lot of Canadian companies right now with some contacts we have up there,” Reams said.
Because the Canadian companies are not allowed to travel right now, everything is being done virtually. Reams said it puts a bit of a crimp in things, but he believes that VDQ has some good technology. He said they are trying to get one of Great Plains’ connections in Canada to go look at the VDQ operation right now. The operation is smaller, consisting of a plastics recycler and an organic recycler, which has presently been stripped down because they are making a bigger one out of it.
“Again, this is not something we’d see come to fruition for about 24 months, but it is kind of an exciting project, because not a lot of people are doing depolymerization, and, again, the off-takes are pretty significant. If we can get a carbon black off-take onsite we’d attract some other businesses.”
Reams told the board they are working with two other companies considering Great Plains. One company is referred to as Project New Energy and the other Project PRC. Project New Energy would be considering bringing in some green energy and tech opportunities. The company was onsite Thursday for its second visit. The company has some Kansas investment ties already.
“We’re very happy to have them back. Any time you can get a group from out of state come back a second time it makes you feel pretty good,” Reams said.
Project PRC pertains to the creation of a PPE fulfillment center and other medical devices.
“Right now we’re talking about some interesting technologies that I think will help people get back into the swing of things, in government buildings, etc., with the peace of mind they are in a healthy building. I think that is a huge part of getting people back to work safely and getting our society back to operating more normally. Getting people back into a building they know is safe and what they can’t see in the air is not going to harm them. Some very interesting technologies out there, and we’re working with some people at the state level to hopefully get those implemented.”
Reams said Great Plains has about eight projects in process right now. To date, they have about 50 leads they have worked on.
“We’re still waiting to hear back on about three different leads,” he said.
The most visible project activity going on in the park is new leases secured on all the 1400 area buildings.
Transportation Partners & Logistics (TP&L), already located within the industrial park, has been operating a lay down yard to receive and store wind industry components at Great Plains. The company transports these parts to wind energy projects within a few hundred miles.
To manage other aspects of its operations, TP&L required storage facilities.
Reams said a two-year lease was signed for buildings 1404, 1408, 1409, 1410, 1411, 1412, 1413, 1414, 1417, 1418, 1419S and 1420.
A one-year lease was signed on buildings 1403, 1405 and 1406.
TP&L has been making repairs to the buildings’ doors and repairing and using the loading dock systems. County commission candidates Brian Kinzie and Cole Proehl have been out to visit to gain insight into new developments and improvements in the park and were pleased to see the progress.
“It’s a good way to get those buildings built up,” board chair Bob Wood said. “It is great to have the opportunity to get some repairs done on those buildings.”
The building leases have resulted in a steady stream of trucks coming in and out of the park as the buildings are filled to capacity.
Great Plains property manager Tim Peoples said trucks are running four to five days a week. Around 186 trucks had gone through in eight days.
“They have four forklifts down there operating full-time,” Peoples said.
“It has been great for us and it is testing our processes, how we work the gate and our handling of freight in and out, and how we handle carriers,” Reams said. “We are looking at some of the things we do, how we can change it to make it more effective and how can we change it to make it more efficient.”
“TP&L has been great to work with through all of this,” Peoples said.
Reams said they are working with TP&L on four other leases around the park and those will be announced when they are signed.
Peoples told the board the increased truck traffic for the storage buildings has not been causing much wear and tear on the roads because they are able to keep them on straightaways.
As for the lay down yard traffic, Peoples said as of Tuesday, they have had 1,626 heavy trucks leave the lay down yard, and 251 heavy loads coming inbound from out of state. He said that is causing wear and tear on the roads.
“We are working on a grant right now for concrete pads for turning areas,” Peoples said. “That’s where we are having all the wear.”
Peoples told the board because of the multiple building leases, and many of the buildings not having been used for some time, the park is having to address repairs. Most significant, he said, is hail damage. The storm that hit Oswego causing so much damage did considerable damage to some roofs at the park, knocking 2-inch holes through the metal roofs of some of the buildings.
In the 1400 area there was minor hail damage and a Pittsburg roofing crew is in doing roofing repairs on those.
As the park moves into buildings with the other leases, looking ahead, Peoples said they will have to put new metal roofs on buildings 1913 and 1915 because the damage was so extensive. He has sought bids on those.
It is not cost effective for Great Plains to insure the buildings because of their age and condition. Wood said as repairs are made to leased buildings, the board may want to consider insuring them. As things stand, any business leasing a building is asked to carry insurance on the items in the buildings and general liability insurance. They are made aware within the leases that Great Plains presently does not insure the buildings against loss.
In all, Peoples said, TP&L would be looking at about leasing 24 buildings. Right now crews are going in and finishing cleaning out buildings that have items the park has stored in them and moving it to other locations. The county has moved their equipment they were storing there, to a location off site.
“It’s all good for us,” Peoples said. “They were happy about it because not only are we creating a revenue, but they will be receiving a tax on these now, so it is all positive for everybody.”
In addition, TP&L’s storage leases have led to the creation of more temporary jobs over the next four months as products are unloaded and stored.
“It is exciting to see all the trucks when you drive down there now you see them lined up down there staged to unload, you’ve got two at the docks, you’ve got forklifts coming and going,” property manager Becky Dantic said. “It gives you a vision of what the future is for out at the industrial park. It’s exciting to see that happening.”
In other business, the board:
— Heard that remediation in the 800 area is complete. Around 75 to 80 loads of dirt were hauled offsite. The company has reseeded the new ground. They are now going through eight rounds of ground water monitoring to see if they have more stability and there is a decreasing trend in that area of contaminants. They did finally get to clean samples in the walls of the excavation area so they believe they have gotten it all.
— Heard SWMU 11 (an area where hazardous wastes were placed at one time), they have removed 10 of the 11 groundwater monitoring wells because they have been clean through two years of testing now.
— Heard meetings have been held with Grow Labette about adjusting the Great Plains marketing plan. Amid COVID, they are moving from going to conferences and attending shows, talking to people in person, to other outreach methods, such as a new website with different features and considering digital publications and other resources. They are working to get word out they are a transportation hub. They are working to get their green field sites into Location 1 services to make them a certified site so it would come up on national searches. Then people looking for 500 acres or more would know that Great Plains has those areas to lease, in addition to smaller acreages.
— Approved a request for a SPARK memorandum of understanding to access county funds to set up the Great Plains conference room with needed equipment to conduct conferences with companies/agencies across the U.S. and elsewhere.
— Heard the long awaited landfill permit modification for SWMU 16 was finally approved.