September 16, 2009 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle September 2009, Vol. 50, No. 9, p. 12

Corvallis, Oregon
Stahlbush Island Farms in Corvallis grows fruits and vegetables on about 4,000 acres utilizing sustainable agriculture practices. In 1998, the farm launched its own brand of frozen fruits and vegetables and since has expanded that operation by selling to other food companies who use the fruits and vegetables for ingredients in such products as soups, pies and baby foods. Residuals from the processing operation were being trucked off site for cattle feed and land application. Looking for a more sustainable management method for the residuals, Stahlbush Island Farms hired Essential Consulting Oregon, LLC (ECOregon) to conduct an anaerobic digester feasibility study. The study analyzed waste streams, codigestion substrates and biogas yield, and evaluated interconnection options, AD systems and permitting requirements. Stahlbush decided to proceed with installing the digester; the project took 14 months to complete at a cost of $10 million.
Full-scale operations began in July. Nearly 55,000 wet tons/year of mixed biomass (primarily fruit and vegetable waste) are being processed by two 900,000-gallon capacity hydraulically mixed AD tanks designed by AAT Biogas of Wolfurt, Austria. The food processing residuals are blended with dry grass straw or grass seed screenings and stored in Ag-Bags. “The silage step ‘preserves’ the waste and acts to buffer the seasonal production, allowing the digesters to be fed at a consistent rate year-round,” explains Matt Coen of ECOregon. “Afterwards, the digestate is separated (dewatered), the liquid fraction is concentrated, and all coproducts are land applied to Stahlbush acres.” The biogas fuels a 1.6 MW capacity combined heat and power unit. Electricity is being sold to the PacifiCorp utility; recoverable heat (hot water and steam) is utilized in the processing facility.

La Crosse, Wisconsin
City Brewery in La Crosse installed an anaerobic system for wastewater treatment, but has been flaring the biogas. In January, City Brewery and nearby Gundersen Lutheran Health System partnered to build a combined heat and power system (CHP) that will utilize the biogas to power an engine generator, yielding about 3 million kWh/year. Gundersen Lutheran anticipates that the CHP project will offset 8 to 10 percent of the electricity used on its campuses in La Crosse and Onalaska, Wisconsin. Heat generated from the gas engine will be captured and recycled back to produce heat for the waste treatment process at the brewery. The system is expected to start operating in October.
Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania
Terra-Gro Inc., a composting operation located at a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, now accepts food processing waste. “We take in starchy potato waste from a nearby potato chip factory, and mix it with manure and crop leftovers,” says Loren Martin of Terra-Gro. “We compost the mixture in 6-foot by 12-foot wide windrows, housed in fabric structures.” Terra-Gro has three of these buildings, each 60 by 400 feet long, and turns two windrows in each building using an old Scarab turner. “We screen our finished compost to 3/8-inch minus and sell it in bulk, primarily as a top dressing for athletic fields,” explains Martin. “Because we compost in the fabric buildings, the product is very consistent and attractive to higher end markets.”

San Jose, California
The City of San Jose is considering anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce biogas from its municipal solid waste (MSW). The MSW currently goes through a dirty MRF (material recycling facility), prior to being composted by Z-Best Composting. The proposed dry AD system would process about 150,000 tons/year of material prior to the composting stage, in order to produce biogas from the MSW.
The proposed dry AD system is well suited to processing the organic faction of the MSW coming out of the dirty MRF, and would be constructed in three phases, each with a capacity of approximately 50,000 tons/year. The facility would be operated by Zanker Road Resource Management, which through its family of companies owns and manages the MRF, local composting facility and landfill. It would be located near the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant, and most of the Zanker facilities.
The biogas will either be: Used to power on-site or off-site generators; Cleaned and compressed for use in CNG powered vehicles; or Upgraded natural gas distribution systems. About 30 to 40 people would be needed to develop the biogas plant, and another 50 to 60 positions created once the plant is fully operational.

Tacoma, Washington
A multilevel parking garage in downtown Tacoma has been converted into a green office and retail space, complete with a water capture and recycling system and a green roof. Building construction is in the final stages, but the 29,800 square-foot green roof, planted with wildflowers, sedum and meadow grasses, is thriving. Tagro, the City of Tacoma’s Class A digested biosolids product, comprises 15 to 20 percent of the green roof media. It was mixed with granular pomace and some clay, and installed with a blower truck. Media depth is about 4-inches, and sits on top of a waterproof membrane, capillary fabric and about 2.5 inches of rock.
Rainwater will be captured and flow to a 180,000 gallon cistern – formerly a Turkish bath dating back to the 1880s, that was discovered in the basement of an adjacent building. The rainwater will be used to flush the building’s toilets, as well as irrigate the green roof.

Livermore, California
A waste audit at Costco Wholesale in Livermore revealed that 75 percent of its 65 tons/month of garbage was compostable organics. The 156,000-square-foot store, which serves 30,000 customers/week and has 265 employees, now diverts all but 10 tons/month to composting and recycling. Workers traded in disposable utensils used during lunch breaks for washable mess kits, and three bins (trash, recyclables and organics) were set up in the food court for customers. The managers are now working to replace nonbiodegradable items such as straws, hot dog wrappers, and pepper packets.
The Livermore Costco is the only one of the company’s more than 500 store locations worldwide to cut its waste stream by 80 percent. It received assistance from nearby waste specialists at UC Berkeley, and $5,000 from StopWaste.Org, a public agency providing waste reduction guidance in Alameda County. The store was awarded a green business certificate in June from the Alameda County Green Business Program.

Raleigh, North Carolina
Governor Bev Perdue announced 14 Green Business Fund grants, totaling $950,000. The funds are part of her three-pronged strategy to make North Carolina a leader in green economy jobs: Strengthening state leadership in energy policy; Making smart investments to create jobs and foster innovation; and Providing green-collar workforce training. Recipients of the second annual round of grants from the fund include Centralina Council of Governments, awarded $85,000 to help develop the Greater Charlotte Region Biofuel Facility to turn used grease into biofuels for consumers. InnovaTech, Inc. received $53,317 to develop a prototype phytobioreactor for cost-effective growing and harvesting of algae for use in biofuel production.
Other elements of Governor Perdue’s JobsNOW Green Economy Plan include using more than $265 million in federal recovery funds for renewable energy, energy efficiency and weatherization. It also earmarks $7 million in federal recovery funds for green workforce development by investing in green-collar job training and education in North Carolina’s community colleges and universities.

West Yellowstone, Montana
The West Yellowstone solid waste composting facility initiated a bison mortality composting pilot this summer. The composting site is part of the solid waste transfer station that primarily services Yellowstone National Park. In the past, bison mortalities were brought to the facility and transported to the landfill. Horse and bison manures from the Park also are delivered to the facility, to be composted. For the pilot, a 24-inch bed of wood chips was laid down. Bison were laid down on the pile, and covered with another layer of wood chips. “This is a work in progress,” said Kathy O’Hern, manager of the West Yellowstone composting plant during a recent facility tour. “The bison hide is very thick, so we will see how long it takes for the animals to decompose.” O’Hern added that the composting bison will be left alone through the winter, and be uncovered in the spring of 2010. “We hope to have some nice bison skulls to donate to local schools,” said O’Hern.

Leicester, North Carolina
Danny’s Dumpster of Leicester (near Asheville) began operations in 2007 with a 1985 Toyota van, serving residents in Madison County as the only trash and recycling hauler in the area. Expanding services to include organics, Danny’s Dumpster now picks up trash, recyclables and organics from over 40 customers, including Park Ridge Hospital and the University of North Carolina Asheville. “Danny’s Dumpster takes away our recycling and compostable goods and has reduced our trash pickups by 66 percent,” says Kevin Westmoreland, co-owner of The Corner Kitchen in Asheville.
Recyclables are taken to a MRF in Asheville, and the organics are delivered to Crowell Farm, a former dairy farm turned full-scale composting operation. Crowell accepts yard trimmings, manure, food scraps (including meat), food soiled paper/cardboard products, and more. Danny’s Dumpster is set up for residential collection in select areas as well, and offers a point-based system for earning finished compost based on the quantity of organics diverted from the home. For more information, visit

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to offer a new grant under the PA Green Energy Works! program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program is intended to reduce energy costs for consumers, businesses and local governments, and will provide grants for biogas, wind, solar and combined heat and power (CHP) projects. Up to $5 million are available for biogas projects, with a maximum of $250,000 per project. Projects must be ready to begin within six months of the grant award, and completed within 24 months (or prior to April 30, 2012, whichever occurs first). Guidelines are available at, by clicking Energy Independence under the heading “Where is your money going?”

Point Reyes Station, California
The Bob Giacomini Dairy in Point Reyes Station completed construction of a manure digestion and power generation system, which began producing renewable energy in June 2009. At the heart of the system, designed by Williams Engineering Associates, is the 32,000-square-foot covered lagoon digester located adjacent to the freestall dairy barns. Flushed manure (55,000 gallons) from Giacomini’s 300-cow organic dairy along with wastewater from the cheese plant (3,000 gallons) are pumped daily to the new 2.5 million-gallon lagoon, resulting in a 43-day hydraulic retention time. Estimated biogas production is 20,000 cubic feet/day. Effluent from the covered lagoon overflows to a new lined storage lagoon for use as fertilizer on the dairy’s pastures.
A custom-engineered HDPE system encloses the covered lagoon, captures the biogas, and channels it into a pipeline where it is transported to the new 80-kW cogeneration system located adjacent to the dairy parlor and cheese plant. The biogas is filtered to remove H2S before being fed to the generator set, which will provide a substantial portion of the electrical requirements of the dairy milking center and the cheese plant through an interconnection agreement with PG&E. Heat from the generator engine and exhaust system will be captured and used to produce hot water for the dairy parlor and cheese plant. Combined electrical and heat benefits will total approximately $50,000/year. The project was funded in part by grants from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Western United Resource Development and PG&E Self-Generation Incentive Program.

Sign up