BioCycle December 2017
Middlebury, Vermont: College To Purchase Renewable Natural Gas
Middlebury College will significantly reduce its carbon footprint thanks to a partnership with Goodrich Family Farm in Salisbury (VT), Vanguard Renewables and Vermont Gas. Under the terms of a recently signed agreement, Vanguard Renewables will construct, own and operate an anaerobic digester facility at Goodrich Family Farm that will produce renewable natural gas (RNG). The RNG will travel by a Vermont Gas pipeline to Middlebury College’s main power plant. The college has agreed to purchase the bulk of the facility’s RNG output — 100,000 Mcf/year of the digester’s anticipated production of 140,000 Mcf/year of RNG (1 Mcf is equivalent to 1,000 cubic feet of RNG).
Located on more than 2,200 acres, the Goodrich Family Farm is a generational dairy farm with 900 milking cows. The digester will process 100 tons/day of manure from the farm and 165 tons/day of food waste sourced by Vanguard Renewables. The farm receives an annual lease payment for hosting the AD facility, along with free heat for farm use. The digester project is in the permitting phase. Once permits are in place, Vanguard will begin construction and Vermont Gas will initiate work on a 5-mile pipeline that connects Goodrich Family Farm with the company’s pipeline network in Addison County.
New Castle, Ontario: Pilot Tests Small-Scale Digester
The BioQUBE, a modular anaerobic digestion system manufactured in the United Kingdom that fits inside one repurposed containers, is operating as part of a pilot project at Algoma Orchards Ltd., a large-scale apple processing plant in Newcastle, about an hour east of Toronto. Pulp from the orchard’s juice production, and feedstock from Longo Brothers Food Markets, are being utilized as feedstock. The BioQUBE is producing about 110 m3 of biogas for every metric ton of feedstock from Algoma’s operation, and 108 m3/metric ton of Longo’s material.
CCI Bioenergy Inc. is the North American representative of Britain’s QUBE Renewables, which developed the system, originally designed for UK military camps. Three prototype BioQUBEs have been installed in Britain since 2012. CCI has been operating the pilot at Algoma Orchards for about a year. “We’re learning about the system; what works and what doesn’t,” says Kevin Matthews, CCI president. “That includes what adjustments might be needed for Canada’s colder climate and differing feedstocks, as well as the potential to manufacture components in North America.” The BioQUBE, which can be installed on the ground or a rooftop, is expected to cost $500,000 to $1 million and is designed for a payback period of less than five years.
Eugene, Oregon: Pairing Feedstock Inventory With RNG Production
Oregon Senate Bill SB 334, passed into law earlier in 2017, requires the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) to complete a detailed feedstock inventory related to biogas and renewable natural gas (RNG) resources in the state. Among the requirements is formation of an advisory committee to provide input on barriers for developing and utilizing biogas and RNG in Oregon, and to offer policy recommendations to promote RNG.
ODOE will engage the advisory committee on a number of tasks related to the bill:
• Create an inventory of physical feedstock resources available in the state. Estimate gross potential volumes and practical volumes based on limits created by raw material access, transportation and preprocessing, delivery of finished product, technology, and economics.
• Conduct a literature review of technology for producing biogas, cleaning biogas to pipeline standards, and converting it to RNG.
• Inventory existing biogas and RNG producers.
• Complete a detailed review of the biogas and RNG supply chain from original location to end user.
• Assess the economics of each step in the supply chain.
• Complete a life cycle assessment, focusing on each step in the supply chain.
• Develop policy alternatives for issues raised by the committee.
ODOE will submit a report on biogas and RNG in the state to the Oregon Legislature in September 2018.
Atlanta, Georgia: UPS Dramatically Increases RNG Use
UPS announced an agreement with Big Ox Energy (a wholly owned subsidiary of Environmental Energy Capital LLC) to purchase 10 million gallon equivalents (MGE) of renewable natural gas (RNG) annually. This is the largest investment in RNG to date for the global package delivery company, according to a company press release. In addition to the agreement with Big Ox, which runs through 2024, UPS signed a five-year agreement earlier in 2017 with ampCNG for 1.5 MGE of RNG/year from the Fair Oaks dairy farm in Indiana. The RNG agreements will help UPS reach a key sustainability goal — 40 percent of all ground transportation fleet fuel from sources other than conventional gasoline and diesel by 2025.
UPS fueling stations in Lexington and Louisville, KY, New Stanton and Horsham, PA, Richmond and Roanoke, VA, West Columbia, SC, and Doraville, GA will use the Bix Ox RNG to fuel UPS delivery vehicles and tractors. UPS used 61 million gallons of natural gas in its ground fleet in 2016, which included 4.6 million gallons of RNG. It’s on track to use 14 MGE of RNG in 2017. UPS has more than 5,200 compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles in its fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. Earlier this year, it announced a more than $90 million investment in natural gas vehicles and infrastructure. This investment included an additional six CNG fueling stations, 390 new CNG tractors and terminal trucks, and 250 LNG vehicles. Use of RNG yields up to a 90 percent reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions when compared to conventional diesel, according to UPS.
Washington, DC: EPA Finalizes 2018 Renewable Fuel Volumes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that establishes the required renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program for 2018, and biomass-based diesel for 2019. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set the RFS volume requirements annually and to finalize the standards by November 30th for the following year. The final standards are only slightly changed from the proposed standards that EPA issued earlier this year. The final volume requirements for 2018 are as follows: Cellulosic biofuel: 288 million gallons; Advanced biofuel: 4.29 billion gallons; Renewable fuel: 19.29 billion gallons. The final biomass-based diesel volume for 2019 is 2.1 billion gallons.
The RFS program was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. EPA implements the program in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy. The RFS program is a national policy that requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil or jet fuel. Learn more: RFS, and the associated RIN credits.
Tucson, Arizona: Virus Survival Data For AD Systems
A team of University of Arizona researchers studied survival data for three animal viruses and two bacteriophages (a virus that infects bacteria) during anaerobic digestion. The study addresses a knowledge gap for the survival of adenoviruses at mesophilic temperatures, and for most viruses at thermophilic temperatures, note the researchers. Adenoviruses are common causes of respiratory illness, but most infections are not severe. They can cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye (conjunctivitis). Bacteriophages play a role in human disease by turning some harmless bacteria into agents of disease.
Mesophilic digestion reduced bacteriophage concentrations from 6.38E08 to 152 ± 30 while thermophilic digestion further reduced them to 53 ± 17. Animal poliovirus (one of three adenoviruses studied) was reduced from 3.47E07 to 1.47E05 after mesophilic digestion and to 757 ± 237 (below level of detection) following thermophilic digestion. The data for both adenoviruses studied provide the first published reports for survival of these viruses during mesophilic anaerobic digestion, which has been reported to have as much as a 94.4 percent inactivation rate in other studies. Data were also obtained for thermophilic digestion, which showed greater inactivation of viruses at the higher temperature. Data on the survival of one adenovirus is of particular interest since it is a lipid-based virus that has been suggested as a surrogate for the Ebola virus. This study will be published in the February 2018 issue of The Total Environment.
Howard County, Maryland: Moving Ahead With AD Project Planning
The Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) and Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman announced the establishment of BTS Bioenergy’s North American headquarters and the planned development of two anaerobic digestion recycling facilities in Howard County. Kittleman and BTS Bioenergy entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizing the partnership, which will result in up to $40 million in investment and the creation of up to 20 jobs in Howard County, according to a HCEDA press release. “This MOU creates a collaboration between Howard County, Maryland Environmental Services (MES), and BTS Bioenergy and will put us at the forefront of the next generation of clean, renewable energy,” said Kittleman. BTS Bioenergy, headquartered in Italy, is reported to have over 190 anaerobic digester facilities in Europe and Asia. These two facilities in Howard County would be the company’s first locations in the U.S.
MES, a self-supporting, independent Maryland agency, entered into an agreement with BTS Bioenergy to provide operational support for the Howard County projects. Currently, MES operates 14 water and wastewater treatment facilities throughout Howard County, including those at a number of Howard County schools. The county has close to 60 food processing plants that could be feedstock sources for the digesters.
Santa Barbara, California: Digester Included In Approved Landfill Project
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a revised resource recovery project planned for implementation at the Tajiguas Landfill in mid-November. Without the project, the landfill would be slated to close in 2026. With it, the closure date is extended to 2036. Two new facilities to process solid waste were approved — a 290,000 tons/year mixed waste materials recovery facility, and a 73,600 tons/year dry fermentation anaerobic digestion (AD) facility for the organic fraction of the mixed waste, along with source separated organics. The price tag increased from an estimated $111 million to more than $130 million, with construction to be financed through 20-year bonds issued by the county, reports Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara paper.
The AD facility would sit on a 3.9-acre site at the landfill in a 68,500 square foot building. Selected technology is a dry AD process developed by Bekon, a German company. Bekon’s parent company, EGGERSMANN, also owns the KOMPOFERM technology used in AD facilities operational in San Jose, South San Francisco and Monterey, California. Two combined heat and power engines will produce 1 MW of electricity continuously. Digestate would be composted on-site. Financing is expected to be complete in early 2018, with start-up anticipated in early 2020.