GE has unveiled the first greenhouse combined heat and power project in the U.S. with carbon dioxide fertilization for Houweling’s Tomatoes in California.

The new Jenbacher J624 two-staged turbocharged natural gas engine provides power generation for the greenhouse during peak hours, as well as sending power back to the grid; generates heat from the combustion process that can either be used immediately to heat the greenhouse or stored for later use; and pipes purified CO2 into the greenhouse to help fertilize the tomatoes.

Between the high efficiency combustion and the heat and CO2 reclamation, GE says that the engine operates at better than 100 percent efficiency.

“A key goal at GE focuses on helping our customers to reduce their impact on the environment and on their community,” Scott Nolen, product line management leader for GE Gas Engines, said in a press release. According to Nolen, one of these new engines ”can provide electrical power for about 4,400 average U.S. homes, saving about 10,700 tons of CO2 per year. This is equal to the annual CO2 emissions of more than 2,000 U.S. cars.”

Houweling’s Tomatoes, which installed the new engine in its greenhouse, is a leading grower of hydroponically grown tomatoes and seedless cucumbers in North America. Their mission is to produce the freshest, safest, and best tasting products in the most environmentally sensitive way possible.

“The impact of this project on the region goes far beyond the vegetables produced in the greenhouse,” said Casey Houweling in a statement. “GE’s proven technology and industry-leading efficiencies allow us to have one of the lowest CO2 footprints and water usage in the region for a power plant of this size. In fact, we plan to use the water condensed out of the exhaust gas in our operations—this will save approximately 9,500 gallons per day of usage from local water sources.”

image by jeffcouturier