American Biogas Council 2015 Award Winners

A total of 12 awards were presented by the American Biogas Council to municipal, institutional and merchant anaerobic digestion facilities and innovative technology developers

The American Biogas Council (ABC) presented its annual awards during an evening reception at BioCycle’s 15th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling (BioCycle REFOR15) in Danvers, Massachusetts in October. BioCycle REFOR15 is the Official Conference of ABC.

“The Biogas Industry Awards not only recognize excellent projects and innovations,” explained Bernie Sheff, Chair of the ABC Board and Vice President of Engineering for ES Engineering Services. “They recognize great industry achievements and creative solutions to commonly faced issues that can be held out as an example to others.”

Agricultural Biogas Projects

The Furrer and Martin Families were awarded the Agri.Biogas Project of the Year for their Green Cow Power facility in Goshen, Indiana, which uses manure from local dairies, plus large volumes of food waste, to generate 3.15 MW of electricity, heat, digested liquids for fertilizer, and digested solids for cow bedding. Two DVO Two-Stage Mixed Plug Flow™ digesters process three semitrailers of manure per day (about 20% of total material digested) collected from five dairies located within a three-mile radius of the digester, along with food, food processing and biodiesel processing wastes (80% of the materials digested) from the surrounding community.

Green Cow Power generates 630 scfm (standard ft3/min) of biogas and 2,200 kW of electricity, which is sold to the local utility, NIPSCO. Heat recovered from the engine is used to heat the digester. Digested liquid is stored in lagoons to be used as a crop fertilizer. Funding for Green Cow Power was provided by 1st Farmers Bank & Trust.

Municipal Biogas Projects

Three projects received awards in the Municipal Biogas category — quasar energy group’s Wooster, Ohio facility, the City of Gresham Wastewater Treatment Plant (WTTP) and Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s Hometown BioEnergy.

Quasar’s Wooster Renewable Energy project digests biosolids, fats, oils and grease (FOG), and food waste. The company entered into a public/private partnership with the City of Wooster to retrofit, operate and monitor existing anaerobic digesters at the City of Wooster’s Water Pollution Control Plant. The city was exploring solutions to address fines and orders from Ohio EPA (OEPA) to make improvements to the plant (see “Wastewater Treatment Plant In Compliance — And Off The Grid,” December 2014). The updated anaerobic digesters manage five times the throughput of the original system, allowing the facility to treat more material while meeting and exceeding OEPA regulations. Improvements implemented include increased capacity to manage solids, new insulation, enhanced mixing technology, and a nutrient resource recovery system.

Biogas production is 165,000 BTU and generates 1.1 MW of electricity, enough to power the digester, the treatment plant and the city’s neighboring water treatment plant. Class B biosolids are land applied on regional farms. The project was completed in 14 weeks, and is achieving $500,000/year in operational savings. Expanded solids handling capacity allowed the City of Wooster to attract a new Daisy Sour Cream plant, bringing hundreds of jobs to the area.

The City of Gresham, Oregon was named a Municipal Biogas Project of the Year for its Cogen Expansion and FOG Receiving Station at its 10 MGD WWTP. Biosolids, FOG from restaurants, and food waste are codigested to generate 800 kW of electricity and heat; digestate is used as a fertilizer at local farms. The Gresham plant recently became the first energy net zero water resource recovery facility in the Pacific Northwest, and one of a handful in the U.S. (see “Gresham, Oregon Wastewater Treatment Plant Hits Net-Zero Energy,” March/April 2015). Partnering with Energy Trust of Oregon and Oregon Department of Energy, the Cogen and FOG Expansion Project became operational this year. Since February 2015, the plant produces about 10 percent more energy than it consumes on site, exceeding energy net-zero.

The WWTP also operates a ground mounted solar array that has a peak energy output of 360 kW and provides 7 percent of the overall electrical production. The thermal energy is used on site to heat the digesters and provide hot water for building heat. The renewable electric power is used on site to power the WWTP plant processes. Any excess power is sent to the local electrical utility (PGE) through a net metering agreement, which specifies that any net exported-electrical power production at the end of the net metering year is donated to the utility’s low income energy assistance program. Renewable energy generation and energy efficiency measures have eliminated $500,000 in annual electrical costs at the WWTP and generated $250,000 in annual FOG tipping fee revenues.

Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s (MMPA) Hometown BioEnergy project in Le Sueur, Minnesota was the third recipient of a Municipal Biogas Project of the Year award. MMPA’s digester uses manure, sweet corn silage, food processing waste and FOG to generate 8 MW of electricity, along with heat, digested liquids for farm fertilizer and digested solids for cow bedding, biomass fuel or soil enhancement (see “Utility Powers Up Anaerobic Digester,” November 2014).

Three characteristics make Hometown Bioenergy a unique renewable generation asset for MMPA: The plant handles a wide range of both solid and liquid feedstocks; its significant gas storage (950,000 scf) enables MMPA to generate electricity during on-peak hours when electricity generation is more valuable (known as dispatachable renewable generation); and the plant is connected to the City of Le Sueur’s distribution grid, saving MMPA members money by avoiding transmission costs and reducing line losses.

Institutional Biogas Projects

The University of Wisconsin (UW) Oshkosh Foundation’s Rosendale Biodigester project in Pickett was awarded an Institutional Biogas Project of the Year for its collaborative project between UW Oshkosh and MilkSource’s Rosendale Dairy, Wisconsin’s largest dairy. The facility digests manure to generate electricity, heat, liquid digestate for fertilizer and digested solids that are pelletized for use as a soil amendment. It also serves as a teaching center for training of technicians, scientists, engineers, and animal husbandry specialists. The plant is comprised of two BIOFerm continuous flow anaerobic digestion tanks, slurry bins, components for desulphurization and biogas drying. It processes up to 110,000 tons/year of separated manure slurry and solids from about 8,500 dairy cows. The combined heat and power unit (CHP), rated at 1.4 MW, generates up to 12,264 MWh/year of electricity plus a nearly equivalent amount of thermal heat used for space heat. Electricity is purchased by Alliant Energy.

The second Institutional Biogas Project of the Year was awarded to CleanWorld’s University of California (UC) Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) in Davis. The facility uses manure and 50 tons/day of food waste to produce digested liquids for fertilizer and biogas that is blended with landfill gas (LFG) to generate electricity. Digester biogas production is 211,000 scf (standard ft3)/day. That is combined with the LFG and used in four 200 kW microturbines with heat recovery. The electricity powers the university’s West Village Project. The heat is first used for the AD system; excess heat is run through an organic rankine cycle generator to produce an additional 125 kW of electricity. Digested liquids are used as fertilizer. Digested solids will be composted at a facility to be located at the AD site.

Merchant Biogas Projects

Forest County Potawatomi Community’s Renewable Generation Biogas Facility (FCPC Renewable Generation, LLC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was awarded a Merchant Biogas Project of the Year for its AD facility (see “From Casino Kitchens To On-Site Digester,” May 2014). The project uses food waste from a local casino, grocers, the dairy, meat and beverage industries plus by-products of pharmaceutical and methanol production to generate 2 MW of electricity, heat, and digested solids for fertilizer. A U.S. Department of Energy grant of $2.6 million in 2011 initiated development of the plant, which has five tanks to receive incoming feedstocks, an equalization tank to mix and hold material, and two 1.3 million gallon anaerobic digesters. The digesters are continuously stirred and can process 132,000 gallons/day. The CHP engines, unloading bays, gas skid, heat exchangers and solids processing are all enclosed with biological odor control.

The facility is in an urban area on a brownfield site, adjacent to the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, which supplies food waste and receives power and heat for use on site. It is operated by Greenfire Management Services LLC and uses technologies supplied by Veolia Water Solutions and Natural Systems Utilities, LLC. Digested solids are land applied on a local farm. Ammonia-rich centrate is discharged to the sewer.

South San Francisco Scavenger Company’s (SSFSC) Blue Line Biogenic CNG Facility in San Francisco also received a Merchant Biogas Project of the Year for its operation of a dry AD system that uses commercial and residential yard trimmings and food waste to generate 120,000 diesel gallon equivalents/year of renewable natural gas (RNG) for its waste hauling vehicles and organic-certified compost (see “Digester Closes Loop For Bay Area Hauler,” November 2014). The facility, designed to process 11,200 tons/year, utilizes eight modular SmartFerm digesters and two in-vessel composting tunnels supplied by Zero Waste Energy, LLC. SSFSC estimates each vehicle collects enough organics during one route to fuel it for an entire day.

Three companies — Magic Dirt, LLC, DVO, Inc. and quasar — received Biogas Innovations of the Year awards for their digestate-related technologies. Newlight Technologies received ABC’s Outside-the-Box-Award.

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