Entrepreneur Connects Generators To AD

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Courtesy of BioCycle Magazine

A Northeast company brings anaerobic digestion and renewable energy to the feedstock sources in Ohio and New York State.

Western New York is one of the top dairy-producing regions in the U.S. The by-products of making milk, cream, yogurt and other dairy products have certain characteristics that make them ideal fuel for anaerobic digesters designed to produce methane gas for the generation of electricity. “Dairy waste tends to have high fat and high protein content, and high acidity. The acidity is a problem when disposing of the material by land application, but not for digester systems like ours,” says Lauren Toretta, president of Greenwich, Connecticut-based CH4 Biogas, LLC. CH4, founded in 2008, has been focused on developing anaerobic digestion facilities that can consume food waste and make biogas to generate electricity. Lauren Toretta’s father, Paul Toretta, cofounded CH4 in 2008, along with Bob Blythe and Bigadan Holding.

CH4 formed Synergy Biogas, LLC to build, own and operate its first biodigester project in 2011 at Synergy Dairy, a 2,000-head dairy farm in Covington, Wyoming County, southwest of Rochester, New York. The Synergy facility uses the Bigadan anaerobic digestion technology; it was New York State’s first biogas plant specifically designed for codigestion of animal and food wastes. It processes manure from the host dairy, along with food waste transported to the site, totaling about 425 tons/day. There are two concrete receiving tanks (total capacity of 240,000 gallons), one to store the food waste substrates and one to store manure supplied by the farm. Manure and food waste are pumped via a macerator pump through the heat exchange system and combined in one of three pasteurization tanks (8,000 gallons each). Material is pasteurized at 160°F for an hour to kill pathogens, help improve gas production and reduce odors.

Pasteurized feedstock passes through the heat exchange system to bring the temperature down to the mesophilic range (about 100°F) and is pumped to a 2.2 million gallon digester vessel. Retention time in the continuous stirred tank reactor is about 22 days. Digested material is transferred to a storage tank where additional biogas is captured and stored, and is then pumped to screw press separators to produce solids for bedding. Digested effluent goes to a storage lagoon, and is applied to the dairy farm’s cropland.

Biogas is treated to reduce hydrogen sulfide, and then fed to a GE Jenbacher J420 engine to generate 1.4 megawatts (10,000 MW hours/year) of renewable electricity that is sold to the grid. The facility also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 10,000 tons of CO2 each year, produces 16,000 yards of bedding for the dairy and reduces manure odors, according to CH4. Three employees manage the Synergy system. Funding for the facility included a $750,000 grant from National Grid’s (a utility) Renewable Energy and Economic Development Program, and $1 million of incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The project also qualified for the U.S. Treasury’s now-expired 1603 program that covered 30 percent of eligible capital costs.

Read the full article in BioCycle Magazine

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