Actor brings biofuel recycling to eastern North Carolina

Published 3:53 am Sunday, November 7, 2010

Staff Write

John O’Hurley, who portrayed J. Peterman on the 1990’s TV show “Seinfeld”, was in Beaufort County at Whitehurst Lake House this weekend talking about greener ways to promote energy in eastern North Carolina.
O’Hurley and Energy-Inc. President/CEO Kim Kirkendall promoted their company and its mission to convert waste into energy. Invited guests were treated to a demonstration where garbage was converted into clean-burning, energy-packed gas.
O’Hurley said when he was asked by his three-and-a-half-year-old son where garbage goes, his reply was, “We either bury it or we burn it.” He said he was tired of that being the only thing garbage was good for, and co-founded Energy-Inc. to find new ways of using garbage as fuel.
“Every now and again, it takes someone with a good idea and voice it, putting the vision and technology into action,” O’Hurley said.
He added the idea was synchronization between two men with great vision – Kirkendall and EJE CEO Judson Whitehurst. Energy-Inc. and EJE have partnered together to put money back into the economy.
“We all know what Microsoft is and what it did to technology and the Internet,” Whitehurst said. “This has the same capability of its industry. This will put us in the forefront. It will create jobs and a bunch of high-paying jobs at that.”
According to Kirkendall, the North Carolina projects are expected to begin operating next year as Energy-Inc. plans to apply for state air emission permits next week.
O’Hurley and Kirkendall said the landfill project in Greenville will gasify plastic, wood and tires in oxygen-free chambers that heat garbage to about 1,800 degrees.
The project planned at the C&D Landfill in Greenville will also create 75 jobs. It will produce gas for electricity and biodiesel fuel for the commercial market.
“The plan is to start gasifying 100 tons a day and, over a year, work up to 1,500 tons a day,” Kirkendall said. “We are not creating emissions. There are no smokestacks on these machines, as we are striving for zero landfills.”
Kirkendall went on to discuss ways in which waste can be used for fuel, as well as what kinds of waste.
“Tires, for example, are 100-percent recyclable,” he said. “Currently, they are either being buried or shredded and made into other things, which is very expensive to do. Our technology is very cost efficient and is very productive.”
O’Hurley and Kirkendall had a small unit on site for demonstration purposes, which was actually burning tires. However, there were not any emissions coming from the exhaust – only steam.
Kirkendall added that Energy-Inc. makes everything to Southern California specifications.
“Only because Southern California has the strictest emissions requirements in the country, if not the entire world,” he said. “So that way we know it will be OK for the other states, as well as North Carolina.”
Though Energy-Inc. is based out of Nevada, O’Hurley and Kirkendall signed two contracts in Pitt County to convert waste to energy, using landfill and farm animal waste.
“Garbage now behaves as an asset rather than a liability,” O’Hurley said. “It’s scalable, it’s portable and it’s efficient.”
The biomass and biofuels that the systems convert to clean power include municipal waste, medical waste, tires and agricultural waste.
“Our objective, even though we own a landfill, is to do away with landfills and end the waste stream altogether,” Whitehurst said.
“Our systems save our client’s on energy production and waste disposal,” Kirkendall said. “The benefits are the increased efficiencies, reduced fuel and electricity costs, reliability of electricity and creation of thermal energy.”
According to Kirkendall, some specific benefits include generation of electrical and/or mechanical power, recovery waste heat for heating and cooling, utilization of a variety of technologies and fuels, proximity to a building or facility and produce biofuels that include ethanol and biodiesel.
“Companies are realizing the importance of energy performance and its overall impact on shareholder value, corporate profits and image,” Kirkendall said. “Energy-Inc. can play a pivotal role in changing the business processes and management strategies, to incorporate comprehensive energy management and sustainability practices.”
Kirkendall added that over the past seven years, Energy-Inc. and its associates have successfully supported and developed energy management projects for corporations resulting in significant energy cost savings throughout the world.
Energy-Inc. is working with various government organizations to assist in developing energy efficient technologies for buildings, homes, transportation, power systems and industry.
“We know that energy security also means national and economic security,” O’Hurley said. “That is why Energy-Inc.’s government programs specifically target the reduction of dependence on foreign oil.”
Energy-Inc. is signing a 20-year contract with the landfill’s owner, Greenville-based EJE Recycling and Disposal.
EJE will supply garbage and the companies will share revenue from the sale of electricity and biodiesel.
Other than being CEO of at least seven other companies, O’Hurley’s credits include Broadway shows, TV sitcoms, soap operas and game shows. He has also composed music and written motivational books. However, away from the acting limelight, he plays the leading role of a venture capitalist and financier behind the real J. Peterman Co. clothing catalog that was parodied on “Seinfeld.”