HDR Recognized for Work on Gills Onions Project

An HDR Engineering, Inc., project, the Gills Onions Advanced Energy Recovery System, has won the Grand Conceptor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies.

The project was led by the HDR water business group’s Southern California office in Irvine.

HDR also received an Honor Award for its work on the Nebraska City 2 Power Plant.

Gills Onions, the largest fresh-cut onion processor in the nation, faced a growing problem with disposal of waste from their onion processing. The HDR Gills Onions team turned this problem into a positive with a breakthrough, $9.5 million facility that greatly reduces the volume of waste and uses the waste to produce power.

In the facility, juice is extracted from onion peels and treated in a high-rate anaerobic digestion reactor to produce methane-rich biogas. The biogas is then treated and used to power two 300 kilowatt fuel cells that supply 60 percent of the onion processor’s annual power needs.

The combination of the energy produced, cost savings generated and grant funding will result in a full payback in less than six years.

“The project eliminates a growing waste problem while providing a clean source of power for Gills Onions,” said Gary Bleeker, HDR executive vice president and director of water programs, “HDR is proud to have been part of such an innovative project, a project that not only helps Gills Onions solve a difficult problem, but does so in a way that is sustainable and environmentally sensitive.”

HDR is an employee-owned architectural, engineering and consulting firm with more than 7,800 professionals in more than 185 locations worldwide.