Anaerobic Digest

BioCycle  March/April 2017, Vol. 58, No. 3, p. 20

Waikoloa, Hawaii: County Approves New AD Plant

The Hawaii County Planning Department has given its approval to a new anaerobic digestion facility in Waikoloa. BioEnergy Hawaii LLC plans to lease just under 15 acres at the West Hawaii Concrete Quarry to build the 200 tons/day (tpd) facility. Feedstocks will include green and food wastes, fats/oils/greases and source separated organics. A high solids plug-flow digester will be used, although the final design has not been selected. A portion of the biogas will be upgraded to 196 diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) of biomethane to fuel the trash trucks run by Pacific Waste Inc., a sister company that hauls about 80 percent of the commercial waste on the west side of the Big Island. Another portion will be used to make 480 kWh/day of electricity. Digestate will be composted on-site, producing about 87 tpd of finished product. The estimated $50 million BioEnergy project includes backing from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s investment company Ulupono Initiative and other private equity with support from a $100 million special purpose revenue bond issued by the state.

Quantum BiopowerSouthington, Connecticut: Anaerobic Digestion In Connecticut

After years of planning and development, two merchant anaerobic digestion facilities in Southington — one now operating and one receiving a crucial permit — have moved ahead. Quantum Biopower began processing source separated food waste streams in early 2017. It worked with Global Water & Energy on development of the 2-stage thermophilic digester. The plant has a “pretty robust” depackaging and food waste decontamination line inside its reception building, notes Brian Paganini, Quantum’s Vice President and Managing Director. The facility digests only food waste, including liquid, low solids and high solids streams, and has capacity to process 40,000 tons/year. Dewatered digested solids will be composted at an adjacent facility owned by Supreme Industries, a sister company. About 25 percent of the liquid digestate is recycled back to the front-end of the process as dilution water. The remainder goes through aerobic treatment and is discharged to the sewer. Quantum has a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Town of Southington to supply electricity to some of its buildings.

In late February, Turning Earth, LLC announced that it has received its “Permit to Construct and Operate a Volume Reduction Plant for Composting and Anaerobic Digestion of Source Separated Organic Materials” from the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. The Turning Earth anaerobic digestion and composting facility will also be located in Southington, and is expected to take in about 54,000 tons/year of food waste and an estimated 20,000 tons of leaves and wood.

Modesto, California: Crystal Creamery Anaerobic Digester Partnership Honored

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honored Crystal Creamery with its Food Recovery Challenge National Innovation Award at the company’s dairy processing plant in Modesto. Food Recovery Challenge participants pledge to improve their sustainable food management practices and report their results. Crystal Creamery’s goal is to achieve zero waste by 2020; it currently diverts more than 98 percent of materials from landfills through reuse, recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion. This includes a partnership with Fiscalini Farms, a nearby farm with anaerobic digesters, to process its wastewater by-product along with manure and other dairy by-products into electricity. Fiscalini Farm’s AD facility, operated by Organic Solution Management LLC, can produce 1 megawatt of power, along with bedding for livestock at local farms.

Inland Bioenergy AD food waste tanksChino, California: Food Waste Digester Upgrade

The Inland Bioenergy anaerobic digestion facility in Chino, operated by ES Engineering, has capacity to process up to 200,000 gallons/day of liquid food waste. Four 15,000-gallon tanks receive macerated commercial food waste from various sources. Those contents feed into a 140,000-gallon equalization tank, which in turn feeds one of two 1.2 million gallon anaerobic digesters. When ES Engineering began managing the Chino plant, the digesters were equipped with top-mounted propeller mixers, but the amount of mixing being achieved was insufficient. “Our co-owners, a waste management company, have several large contracts with grocery stores and food producers for unwanted/expired products,” explains Alfredo Ferrin, Plant Manager. “So it was very important for us to maximize this large supply of feedstock with the right mixing system. Feedstock flow can vary from 10,000 gallons/day to as much as 200,000 gallons/day, but on average it is 50,000 gallons/day. We needed equipment that does a very good job mixing and pumping a wide variety of slurries with quite high levels of solids.”

ES Engineering installed the Landia GasMix system on one of the digesters, which includes the Landia Chopper Pump designed with an external chopping system that is separated from the pump casing and the impeller to prevent clogging in the digesters. It utilizes a combination of biogas and liquid recirculation to fully mix the digester and improve biogas quality, helping to boost biogas production. All mechanical components of the system are externally mounted, enabling inspection and maintenance to be completed without having to enter or open the digester. The chopper pump draws sludge from the digester and pumps it through a chamber; biogas is drawn from the top of the digester, mixed with the sludge and injected into the tank. A similar upgrade was made to the second digester when it had to be drained for service. Together, the two digesters produce 3.3 MW of electricity.

Washington, DC: Rural Support For New Administration May Be Key For Biogas

While some elements of the Trump administration may prove challenging for continued expansion of biogas programs, its electoral support from rural regions of the country could prove an important safeguard to its funding in legislation such as the 2018 Farm Bill. To further facilitate that support, the biogas industry needs to continually remind legislators how the industry contributes to revitalizing rural communities. Such were primary conclusions of an American Biogas Council (ABC) webinar in January that featured Maureen Walsh, ABC’s Federal Policy Director, Todd Campbell, former Senior Advisor for Energy and Bio-based Economy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Paul Bleiberg, Senior Director of Government Relations for the National Milk Producers Association.

Overall, said Walsh, since ABC began educating Congress about biogas in 2011, “we have made some significant progress in terms of getting an understanding of the benefits of anaerobic digestion at the congressional and administration level.” Specifically, she cited Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) as being “very familiar” with the biogas industry. However, she said, for members of Congress “who are not so warm and cozy with renewable energy, we have a need to frame our discussion around rural economies, clean air, clean water, nutrient management, and agricultural areas to be successful.”

Critical for the biogas industry will be the massive 2018 Farm Bill, which includes programs for rural energy and conservation that help drive biogas project development. The current Farm Bill contains mandatory funding for such programs, such as $50 million for the USDA’s Rural Energy for America program, that runs through 2018 and that Congress cannot change. “I would imagine it will be challenging to get funding for energy programs,” in the next Farm Bill, said Walsh, “but a lot of rural voters got behind Trump, so hopefully that will help propel the Farm Bill’s support of biogas.” Bleiberg, who worked on the 2014 Farm Bill, said the challenge will be to get House support on the mandatory funding for energy programs earlier in the process. He explained that current agriculture committee leaders in the House and Senate work well together and he thinks they will focus on getting the Farm Bill done more quickly than the last one.

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