LIMA — The mountain of gravel at the Lima Energy site just gets wider and taller as crews grind up more and more concrete foundations at the former Lima Locomotive Works site.
Construction has commenced in earnest between Metcalf and South Main streets, the site of Lima Energy’s gasification plant.
Crews from Messer Construction Co., a Cincinnati-based commercial construction company, are removing foundations, basements and floors from the many buildings that once stood there, Mayor David Berger said. Crews are using equipment to crush the concrete into smaller pieces, and the resulting gravel will be used in new construction of the Lima Energy structures.
Those passing by either on the Metcalf Street Bridge, Fourth Street or South Main Street can see the construction happening and the growing mountain of gravel close to Main Street.
It is the start of the first phase of the ultraclean converter plant and the construction of the Technology Innovation Center. The center along South Main Street will be the home of the company’s administration facility, research and development laboratories, auditorium, conference center and cleantech showroom.
“We continue be excited about both projects moving forward,” Lima Energy Chairman Harry Graves said. “I was up to Lima not too many days ago, and that pile of site development work is getting higher and higher.”
Crews initially estimated 140,000 tons of gravel would be produced at the site, but the discovery of basements and other deep structures has increased the estimate to 250,000 to 300,000 tons. Large earth-moving equipment will be used to grade the site after the excavation is complete, to prepare for construction of the plant, Berger said.
In October, Lima sold the site for $1.5 million to Lima Energy. The city acquired the property in 1999. In November, officials held a groundbreaking at the 63-acre site.
The Lima Energy plant will use what the company calls ultra clean Btu conversion gasification technology to convert solid hydrocarbons — such as renewable sources, bio-feeds, petroleum coke petcoke, or coal — into synthetic gas.
After years of making little progress securing financing for the project, Lima Energy finally had a catalyst in September that led to the groundbreaking: the infusion of $35 million in debt financing from Toronto, Canada-based Third Eye Capital, along with $11 million in an equity investment from Global Energy Inc for the $2 billion project.
Primary production of the Lima Energy Project, when fully operational, is being designed to be 8 million BOE (barrel of oil equivalent), about 47 billion cubic feet per year of synthetic natural gas, and 516 megawatts net of electrical power.