May 17, 2011 | General

Anaerobic Digest

BioCycle May 2011, Vol. 52, No. 5, p. 18

Madison, Wisconsin
The Call for Papers is open for BioCycle’s 11th Annual Conference On Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling, October 31, November 1-2, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. All facets of anaerobic digestion (AD) of municipal, industrial and agricultural organic waste streams will be covered, along with integration of AD and composting. With high fuel prices, a focused track on upgrading digester biogas to vehicle fuel is scheduled, with papers being solicited from around the globe. Also on tap are sessions on all aspects of AD project development – establishing long-term feedstock supply contracts, siting and permitting, financing and technology selection, optimizing operations and obtaining profitable purchase contracts for the biogas. Insights to why facilities in Europe are upgrading operations with composting and/or AD will be provided, along with the logistics necessary to make those transitions successful.
Other topics to be covered include: Digestate markets, liquid fertilizers and coproducts; High strength waste-water treatment; Separation, processing scenarios for mixed organic streams; Odor management and nutrient recovery; Mutual benefits between municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) digesters and local industry to process organic waste streams and reduce WWTP energy usage and carbon footprint; Carbon markets; and Current research. Holding BioCycle’s 11th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling in Madison provides a wealth of touring opportunities, including manure and food waste digesters, AD research projects and a dry fermentation system for source separated organics. The Call for Papers closes on July 15, 2011. Abstracts should be limited to 250 words, and can be submitted at
Paris, France
The International Energy Agency Bioenergy Task 37’s new brochure, “Utilization of Digestate From Biogas Plants As Biofertilizer,” concludes that digestate is an easy to use organic fertilizer that can replace fossil fuels that otherwise would be used for fertilizer manufacture and its transport. “Production of good quality digestate for use as biofertilizer is the result of careful control of all aspects of the process, from feedstock to field,” states the brochure’s introduction. “Feedstock selection, adherence to strict standards (government and/or farmer determined) and compliance with codes of good agricultural practice are all key issues.” Numerous research studies are cited, providing data on nutrient content, application rates, weed seed and pathogen destruction and more.
For example, two recent studies in Sweden showed that common fungal diseases of plants are irreversibly inhibited or killed during mesophilic digestion with a hydraulic retention time of between 25 to 30 days. “Both these studies highlighted the fact that the digester temperature alone is not responsible for the destruction of the spores,” says the brochure. “The evidence suggested that it is the combination of the conditions in the digester – pH level, quantities of volatile fatty acids, the negative effect of ammonium and hydrogen sulphide – together with time and temperature, that combine to create the hostile environment in which the spores are unable to survive.” It adds that a new German biowaste ordinance requires proof that sanitation of digestate has occurred by determining inactivation of Salmonella senftenberg, tomato seeds and Plasmidiophora brassicae (club root) after digestion. The brochure can be downloaded at the following website:
Albany, New York
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is encouraging businesses, schools and other large facilities to take advantage of a special renewable energy incentive program for large-scale photovoltaic and biogas power initiatives specifically targeted to New York City and the lower Hudson Valley. NYSERDA will invest $150 million in the program over the next five years and will award up to $30 million a year, of which $25 million is targeted for New York City and southern Westchester County. The goal is to promote more clean-energy production in a part of the state that traditionally has been a large consumer of fossil fuels. The projects could be used at large businesses – especially manufacturing facilities – and colleges, universities or other schools.
Through a competitive process, NYSERDA will select proposals that involve one of the following technologies: 1) grid-connected photovoltaic systems (solar energy to power electricity) greater than 50 kilowatts, and 2) high-capacity-factor electric generation projects greater than 50 kilowatts that use biogas created through anaerobic digestion. (Power can be generated from biogas produced on-site or from biogas transported from another location via pipeline.)
The incentive pays up to $3 million per site, or 50 percent of the cost of the project, whichever is less. Applications have been available since late March and are due May 24 for the first round of the program. If any funding is left, a second round of applications will be due August 10. The program is funded under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), created by the state Public Service Commission via a surcharge to ratepayers in 2004 to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The projects are meant to produce power for on-site use, not for direct sale to the electric grid. However, under certain circumstances, unused power can be added to the grid in exchange for future utility credit. “No other region of the state has its own special renewable energy funding allocation,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA. “By focusing on New York City and surrounding areas, this program will help make the most populous part of the state more energy efficient. The projects supported by programs like these will continue to take New York on the path toward energy independence while growing clean-energy jobs in the state.”
Carson City, Nevada
Senate Bill (SB) 184 is a pilot Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program designed to spur the growth of wholesale distributed generation (WDG) in Nevada. The bill passed the state Senate in early May and was headed to the Assembly for consideration later this month. “Enactment of this bill would be a great win for all of us who know that feed-in tariffs are the best way to transition to a clean energy economy with wholesale distributed generation,” says Ted Ko of The Clean Coalition, a nonprofit based in California whose mission is to make clean local energy accessible. “The FIT program would be open to solar, wind, biomass, biogas and hydropower, and would require standard, long-term contracts for utilities to purchase clean energy.”
The WDG market includes small-to-medium scale renewable energy projects, close to where energy is needed. The incentives built into FIT contracts are limited to 0.5 percent of energy rates; a typical household monthly bill of $100 would increase by no more than 50 cents, notes the Clean Coalition. The pilot program is estimated to bring online 10 to 20 MW/year of new clean energy. More information is available at
Toronto, Canada
Construction of the city of Toronto’s second anaerobic digester is on schedule. Preparation of the site for the $77.5 million, 83,000 tons/year (tpy) facility located at the Disco Waste Management Facility Station is almost complete; construction was set to begin this month. The plant is scheduled to go on-line in July 2012, processing food scraps, kitty litter, disposable diapers and other organics from the city’s Green Bin curbside collection program. Full-scale operations are expected by the spring of 2013. “Everything is progressing well,” says Steven Whitter, director of new infrastructure development and contracted services with the city of Toronto’s Works Department.
Costs include $59 million for the facility itself, $14 million for site preparation and a $4.5 million contingency fund. It will include buffer tanks, enabling it to be fed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Biogas will be used either as fuel for department trucks and buildings or to generate electricity. “We’re leaning toward biomethane,” Whitter says.
Once the Disco facility is at full capacity, the existing digester at the Dufferin Waste Management Facility will be revamped and upgraded to handle 55,000 tpy (it currently processes about 44,000 tpy). About 143,000 tons of residential organics are collected annually; that figure is expected to increase to 187,000 tons as high-rise apartments and condominium buildings join the Green Bin program. The goal is for the city to process two-thirds of the materials at its own plants and have outside contractors handle the remainder. The current excess is trucked to four privately owned composting facilities. Toronto had come under heavy criticism because of problems at a couple of these facilities. Plants run by Orgaworld Canada, Ltd. near London, and by Universal Resource Recovery in Welland were ordered closed last year because of noxious odors. All four facilities have been operating successfully this year, Whitter says, adding that having reliable destinations for all the organic wastes “is a luxury we haven’t enjoyed since the start of the program” in 2005.
Washington, DC
In mid-April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the FY2011 funding notice for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and also released a long-awaited Interim Rule for all components of REAP. Both the funding notice and the Interim Rule address: 1) grants and loan guarantees for clean energy projects; 2) grants for feasibility studies; and 3) grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. The Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) announced $70 million in REAP funding this year, based on the 2008 Farm Bill’s mandatory allocation of the same amount. USDA will issue a supplemental NOFA for additional funding if Congress allocates additional discretionary funding in the still-uncertain FY2011 budget. Application deadlines are as follows: June 15 for clean energy project grants and combined grants and loan guarantees; June 15 for loan guarantees only; June 30 for renewable energy feasibility studies grants; and June 30 for Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Assistance grants.
An article prepared by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) for its website,, explains that applicants need to review the NOFA carefully, as it is based on the new REAP Interim Rule – even though the rule was issued as “proposed” and USDA is requesting comments (deadline is June 13, 2011). For example, ELPC notes there are higher funding limits for loan guarantees – up to 75 percent of total project costs; and the maximum amount of the loan guarantee was increased from $10 million to $25 million. The Center noted it would have a comprehensive summary of all of the interim rule’s requirements in the near future.
Los Angeles County, California
An April 2011 memo from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (DPW) to the Board of Supervisors provided a 6-month status update on initiatives to advance conversion technology (CT) development in the county. A year earlier, the supervisors unanimously approved three Memorandums of Understanding for three CT demonstration projects. At that time, the board also instructed the DPW, in coordination with appropriate stakeholders, to assess the feasibility of developing a CT facility at one or more county landfills, and to identify other potentially suitable sites within Los Angeles County.
CR&R, Inc. is one of the three approved demonstration project developers. The company plans to develop a 150 tons/day anaerobic digester project at its material recovery facility (MRF) and transfer station in Perris, California. The DPW assisted CR&R in securing a $4.5 million grant from the California Energy Commission this past January. The grant is key to successful financing of the project, notes the memo to the supervisors. It adds that “this project will process MRF residuals into biogas, which will be further processed into pipeline-quality natural gas or compressed natural gas (CNG) for CR&R’s fleet.” The conditioned biogas also could be supplied to a fuel cell to generate electric power for on-site use by CR&R and/or for sale. In addition, the company is in discussions with third parties regarding sale of energy and compost products. Construction is expected to commence in 2012 and be completed in 2014.
The other two demonstration project developers are International Environmental Solutions (pyrolysis) and Rainbow Disposal Company, Inc. (pyrolysis/gasification). The complete memo can be downloaded at:

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