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Detroit Renewable Power (DRP) is an energy-from-waste facility on Detroit’s east side that processes up to 3,300 tons of municipal waste each and every day. It’s transformed into fuel that’s burned to create 720,000 pounds of steam per hour.

DRP is one of three renewable energy generation and distribution subsidiaries of Detroit Renewable Energy, formed in 2010. The other two subsidiaries are Detroit Thermal and Hamtramck Energy Services.

“It is very important to understand that Detroit Renewable Power is not an incinerator; it’s a co-generating facility,” says Steven White, Detroit Renewable Energy president and chairman of the board. “We also produce electricity.

“Incineration is a burning process in and of itself, and there’s no value remaining after the burn. Co-generation is where we use the waste as fuel. Steam is created from the burning process, and that steam is used to power a turbine to produce electricity.”

The portion of the steam directed through turbines generates up to 68 megawatts of electricity. The remaining steam is exported to Detroit Thermal (the city’s steam loop), heating and cooling more than 140 buildings in downtown and midtown Detroit—including the Detroit Medical Center, GM headquarters and the GM assembly plant in Hamtramck, White explains.

“A variety of companies rely on this steam for both heating and cooling,” adds White. “This is a renewable energy source that is derived from tons of waste.”

Each day DRP also removes from the waste stream and recycles about 80 tons of ferrous metal and about 10 tons of non-ferrous metal. Imagine the reduced burden on area landfills.

Linwood Bubar, DRP president, and Robert Suida, DRP plant manager, take Kirk Heinze on a fascinating tour of the facility.

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