Michigan State University Selects Anaergia to Develop AD System

Project is said to be the largest college-campus-based renewable energy biogas plant in the United States.

February 5, 2013
REW Staff

Anaergia Inc., Burlington, Ontario, has been selected and has initiated development on what it says is the largest college-campus-based anaerobic digestion (AD) system in the United States. The anaerobic digestion system will be located at Michigan State University’s (MSU) Dairy Cattle Teaching & Research Center on the South Campus Farms.

“Anaerobic digestion provides the flexibility to convert a wide variety of waste streams, including food scraps, manure and food processing waste into renewable energy and resources,” says Ajit Srivastava, chairperson of the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at MSU. “This project provides MSU the ability to demonstrate how anaerobic digestion can address the critical issues of society including food, environment and energy”.

Once complete in 2013, the facility will convert 16,800 tons per year of food waste from campus dining halls, manure from MSU’s dairy farm and food processing waste from the local community into 460 kilowatts (KW) of renewable energy. The renewable electricity will be used on campus, while the natural fertilizer created through the process will be used on agricultural land.

“The payback on investment for this project will come from the energy produced, the fertilizer sales and also from tipping fees,” says Dana Kirk, manager of the MSU Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center (ADREC).

The organic waste will be fed to a complete mixed digester (CSTR) where the material will be naturally broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. The methane-rich biogas produced in the digester will be used to generate renewable energy using a combined heat and power (CHP) system. The nutrient-rich liquid will be separated from the leftover solids leaving the digester and used as natural fertilizer. The remaining fibrous solids can be composted for use as renewable bedding material for dairy cows or sold to the public as fertilizer.

“Michigan State University is taking great steps to further improve the quality of life for the community,” says Bernie Sheff, vice president – agricultural for Anaergia. “MSU’s anaerobic digestion project will generate renewable energy that can reduce dependence on the university’s coal-fired power plant in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Anaerobically treating multiple waste streams in one flexible and centrally located system improves economies of scale and allows for the most cost effective solution to be delivered.”

“MSU is demonstrating clear leadership in the global trend to divert organic wastes from landfills by converting them into renewable energy and natural fertilizer through anaerobic digestion,” says Steve Watzeck, CEO of Anaergia. “We are proud to have been selected for this project by MSU, and are excited about the contributions we will collectively be making to sustainability.”