"The boilers are actually still here," said SOBE Thermal Energy Systems CEO David Ferro.

And with them, lots of history.
But as Ferro walked us through the former Youngstown Thermal facility downtown, he explained how that history will help shape its future.

"All this will be completely renovated," he said. 

Ferro's vision - to turn what used to be Youngstown Thermal into a waste-to-energy facility.

"We are bringing innovation," he said. "We've got a lot of support."

The facility would not burn, but indirectly heat things like tires, railroad ties and plastics.
That creates a synthetic gas to use in process heating, gas turbines or reciprocating engines to make electricity.

We pressed him to assure people that the process is safe and that the energy produced will be truly clean.

"We have the data to prove it and once we're operational we're going to make at least some of that emissions data to the public," Ferro said. 

Ferro has already applied for air permits.
Thursday, he'll meet with Youngstown city council's public utilities committee to go over the project.
He knows people will have questions but is confident in the answers they'll get.

"Years of trial and error with a pilot facility in Germany...we hired independent engineering companies to validate the gas composition and the emissions associated with burning that gas."

Ferro also says there's no hazardous waste removal, no importing energy to run the facility, and that emissions are clean controllable to less than EPA  requirements.

The facility would operate continuously and wouldn't rely on government subsidies.

Ferro expects to have the facility finished and operating by this time next year.