Anaerobic Digest

October 25, 2012 | General

Anaerobic Digest

BioCycle October 2012, Vol. 53, No. 10, p. 17

Fremont, Michigan: Community Digester Starts Up

A ribbon cutting was held October 10 to celebrate the start-up of the Fremont Community Digester (FCD), an organic waste-to-renewable energy power plant in Fremont. The digester, owned and operated by NOVI Energy, will have capacity to receive 100,000 tons/year of primarily food processing and agricultural wastes. It will generate 3 MW of electricity that will be sold to Consumers Energy under a long-term, Michigan Public Service Commission-approved power contract. “We started loading the digester in August,” says Anand Gangadharan, president of NOVI Energy. Remaining construction is nearing completion. The facility is scheduled to enter commercial operation by the end of the year. Debt financing of the $22 million project, from Comerica Bank, was supported by a $12.8 million USDA Biorefinery 9003 loan guarantee.

Madison, Wisconsin:Strategic Biomass Feedstock Assessment

To expand its biomass assessment beyond only a snapshot in time of overall state feedstock quantity in Wisconsin, and to identify barriers and opportunities, the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative (WBI) recent biomass feedstock assessment looked at a combination of biomass quantity, quality, price factors and conversion technology. After reviewing existing literature on biomass quantity studies, the research team completed extensive biomass quality analysis to match up feedstock with best production uses. Finally, a robust price analysis was done in the woody biomass sector to make sure consideration was given to the highest and best use for wood products and economic growth. The findings were then used to examine regional or even local opportunity for biomass energy site locations.
Results of the assessment can be found in WBI’s recently released report, “Wisconsin Strategic Bioenergy Feedstock Assessment.” It concluded that the state has a large amount of biomass available for bioenergy projects. The top three feedstocks —wood residues, corn stover and manure — total more than 10.1 million dry tons available per year. Dairy cow manure biomass feedstock alone represent 4.77 million dry tons available per year, representing the energy equivalent of replacing a large-scale coal plant. Researchers assessed pockets of high-density biomass that create opportunities for regional aggregation sites for energy use in Wisconsin. They found possibly 10 large biomass feedstock clusters of manure, three large biomass wood residual clusters, three large corn stover clusters, a dedicated woody crop opportunity cluster and some small clusters for a possible energy crop such as switchgrass. The full report is available at:

Eureka, California: RFP For Regional Organic Waste Digester

The Humboldt Waste Management Authority (HWMA) in Eureka released its request for proposals (RFP) in September, soliciting professional design services for development, installation, start-up and commissioning of an anaerobic digestion system. Vendor selection is expected in May 2013. The Authority commissioned a study, completed in May 2010, to determine the feasibility of establishing a regional organic materials diversion program in Humboldt County (population around 135,000). The study concluded that developing an anaerobic digestion facility for processing organic materials would reduce the overall cost of solid waste management and provide the greatest greenhouse gas emissions reduction potential.
The HWMA anticipates that the digester project will need to be designed for source separated organics from commercial and industrial sources with potential to expand to include residential organics, including food scraps and yard trimmings. A need for preprocessing incoming materials is also anticipated. The facility will be owned and operated by HWMA with the vendor providing ongoing technical support as needed. Feedstock quantities have decreased since the feasibility study was conducted in 2010. The Authority’s waste characterization study, published in March 2012, identified approximately 15,000 tons/year of organics generated countywide. The digester system should be sized to handle 3,000 to 10,000 tons/year of organic materials, notes the RFP. Because HWMA cannot guarantee the composition of the materials, the digestion system should be designed to be flexible and capable of expanding as residential and commercial organics collection programs throughout Humboldt County are expanded over time. Proposal must be submitted by January 17, 2013. A required preproposal conference was held in late September.

Washington, DC: American Biogas Council Updates

Elections were held for four open seats on the Board of Directors of the American Biogas Council (ABC) in September. Joining the Board for their first terms are Juliette Bohn from Humboldt Waste Management Authority and Chris Voell from BioCNG, LLC. Nora Goldstein, editor of BioCycle, and Paul Greene from O’Brien & Gere are both rejoining the Board for their third term. Directors are elected by the 160 member organizations of ABC, which include anaerobic digester developers/ builders, engine and turbine manufacturers, farmers, wastewater utilities, landfill operators, engineering and law firms, financiers, nonprofits, universities and the entire biogas supply chain. “I’m especially pleased that the ABC will be able to benefit from Juliette’s California policy and municipal waste experience, as well as Chris Voell’s deep experience in organic waste management most recently from his former positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” said ABC Executive Director, Patrick Serfass. “Paul Greene and Nora Goldstein have proven their tireless dedication to the ABC since its inception and we will all benefit from their contributions to the biogas industry.”
Bohn, Voell, Goldstein and Greene join Directors Amy Kessler-Turning Earth, Ben Mathews-Caterpillar, Bernie Sheff-UTS Residual Processing, Christine McKiernan-BIOFerm Energy Systems, Kerry Kelly-Waste Management, Norma McDonald-Organic Waste Systems, Paul Relis-CR&R, Shane Chrapko-Himark bioGas, and Wayne Davis-Harvest Power to round out the ABC Board. The American Biogas Council’s annual all-member meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 30 during BioCycle’s 12th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling in St. Louis (October 29-31).

Sacramento, California: Governor Signs Bill That Benefits Biogas

In late September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1122 into law, essentially creating a procurement program for at least 250 MW of energy generated by small renewable biomass or biogas projects. The law directs the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), within the feed-in-tariff program, to direct the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities to collectively procure a minimum of 250 MW of electrical generating capacity from these small projects by June 1, 2013. The bill, authored by Sen. Michael Rubio, also requires the CPUC to develop a methodology to account for environmental and ratepayer benefits of using biogas and biomass for electrical generation. Sources of biogas include food and agricultural facilities, animal waste facilities, farms and waste water treatment plants.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Biogas-Powered Casino

The Forest County Potawatomi Community plans to break ground in November on an $18 million anaerobic digestion and biogas generation plant in the Menomonee Valley that will convert organic residuals from food companies into gas to power the tribe’s Milwaukee casino. The 2-MW plant will use the Biothane anaerobic membrane bioreactor technology to process an average of 175,000 gallons/day of liquid organic feedstock into electricity that will be sold to We Energies. The Milwaukee-based utility provides power to parts of Wisconsin and northern Michigan. It will also produce hot air and hot water for the casino. Construction is is scheduled for completion by September 2013, says Josh Morby of Miron Construction, the project’s general contractor. Milwaukee-based Advance Waste Services will be the exclusive provider of waste to the facility, collecting it from food and beverage manufacturers and dairy farms within a roughly 200-mile radius of the plant.
Part of a major green initiative by the Potawatomi, the facility will be built west of the casino on an employee parking lot on West Canal Street. Savings in utility costs at the casino will pay back the cost of building the plant within seven to 10 years, says Potawatomi attorney Jeff Crawford. Financing is a combination of stimulus grants awarded to the Potawatomi by the U.S. Department of Energy, tribal money and private financing, adds Crawford. Five full-time workers will operate the plant.

Ontario, Canada: Biomethane Production Guide

The Biogas Association recently published Farm to Fuel: Developers’ Guide to Biomethane to stimulate production of biomethane in Canada. The Guide helps farmers with anaerobic digesters evaluate whether biomethane production for injection into the natural gas grid is a good fit for their farm and operations. It walks them through the planning process, offering a check-list of questions to ask relevant technology and service providers. It also alerts farmers about considerations such as feedstock, financing, permits and safety. “We want farmers to know there are options when they consider biogas developments,” says Jennifer Green, President of the Biogas Association. “Biomethane development is growing in Europe and the U.S., and we are working to develop a biomethane industry here. This Guide is an important tool in that development process.” The Farm To Fuel Developers’ Guide to Biomethane can be downloaded at

San Jose, California: Commercial Waste MRF With Organics Sort

In August, Republic Services, Inc. started processing commercial waste from 8,000 businesses in San Jose, as part of its long-term collection and processing contract with the city of San Jose. The materials recovery facility (MRF), located at the Newby Island Resource Recovery Park in Milpitas, can process 110 tons/hour of multiple waste streams, including the organic fraction. The sorted organics, currently being composted at the Z-Best facility in Gilroy, California, will eventually be processed at Zero Waste Energy Development Company’s (ZWED) dry fermentation anaerobic digestion plant, which is still under construction. Some of the food waste-rich loads of commercial waste go directly to Z-Best (a sister company of ZWED). The majority of loads, however, are sorted by Republic Services. The MRF has capacity to process 420,000 tons/year of material.

Sign up