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February 2017

COVERING BIOGAS All-Methane Issue Showcases Industry Versatility, Growth


New, Developing US Project Roundup Page 14


Extracting Max Value From Biosolids Page 20




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2017 International Biomass Conference & Expo

05 EDITOR’S NOTE Going Vertical

APRIL 10-12, 2017

By Tim Portz

06 COLUMN Annual Review of Canadian Biogas Industry By Jennifer Green

07 COLUMN RNG Poised for Growth in New Administration By Marcus Gillette

08 BIOGAS NEWS 12 CONTRIBUTION Smell of Success: Implementing an Active Landfill Gas System

The city of Lebanon, New Hampshire, implemented a gas collection and control system that improves air quality and has potential to serve as an additional source of revenue. By Marc Morgan, Edward A. Galvin and Eric S. Steinhauser

14 FEATURE Biogas Advances in the U.S.

A regional roundup of U.S. methane-based energy projects that have recently come online, or are under construction, demonstrates the sector’s versatility, growth and potential. By Anna Simet and Katie Fletcher

20 CONTRIBUTION How to Value Biosolids

Wastewater treatment plants face challenges when striving to extract maximum value out of biosolids. By Robert Lems and Karthik Yenduru

ADVERTISER INDEX¦ 24 11 3 2 8 9 23 10 17 19

2017 International Biomass Conference & Expo Andritz Feed & Biofuel A/S Astec, Inc. Biogas Producer Map Biomass Preparation, Handling & Storage Workshop CPM Global Biomass Group D3Max Heating the Midwest KEITH Manufacturing Company Mole Master Services Corporation

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Organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Magazine, this event brings current and future producers of bioenergy and biobased products together with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s a true one-stop shop––the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. (866) 746-8385 |

Heating the Midwest APRIL 10, 2017

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Biomass Preparation, Handling & Storage Workshop APRIL 10, 2017

Minneapolis Convention Center | Minneapolis, Minnesota The operation and financial success of any biomass-to-energy facility requires its operators to utilize high-quality, consistent biomass feedstocks. The Biomass Preparation, Handling & Storage Workshop agenda will allow producers to take an in-depth look at the latest innovations and strategies in biomass handling and compare it to their own. Whether producers are sourcing wood chips from a handful of trusted suppliers for a campus boiler or are a biorefinery working to gather, store and convert hundreds of thousands of tons of agricultural residues, this agenda will offer practical value. (866)746-8385 |

Emerging Biomass Feedstocks Forum APRIL 10, 2017

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2017 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo

Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) February 2017, Vol. 11, Issue 2. Biomass Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biomass Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.


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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Stacy Cook, Koda Energy Ben Anderson, University of Iowa Justin Price, Evergreen Engineering

Going Vertical In a sweeping overview of activity and construction currently underway in the biogas sector, the article that serves as the foundation for this issue—completely dedicated to biogas production and use—specifically mentions 26 different projTIM PORTZ ects. That same article identifies 24 different ser- VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT vice and technology providers making vital con- & EXECUTIVE EDITOR tributions to these projects. Setting aside only the installation of small-scale biomass thermal, I can say, without even looking, that the biogas segment can boast the largest roster of under-development and under-construction projects within the broader biomassto-energy space. Still, it remains difficult to absorb the industry’s measure. To go a step further, the frenzied excitement that has marked other biomass sectors when they have experienced similar project counts feels notably absent. A close read of this this page-14 feature, “Biogas Advances in the US,” written by Managing Editor Anna Simet and Associate Editor Katie Fletcher, may well reveal why that is. The article illustrates the incredible variety of biogas deployments currently underway, outlining digesters that have been built at hog farms, dairy operations, landfills, organic waste collection depots, breweries, supermarket chains and wastewater treatment plants. In nearly each case, the reactor design is unique, designed specifically for that project. This lies in stark contrast to other biomass segments, like wood pellet production, that rely on designs that share many common elements. In this way, one of the biogas segments biggest values—incredible flexibility—brings along with it a unique challenge. Investors and lenders crave certainty and predictability, and are looking for technologies that they are confident can deliver repeatable success. It should also be noted that, unlike many other biomass sectors, the biogas segment is devoid of a clear feedstock champion. Other biomass technologies are championed and propelled by the owners and producers of the feedstocks that end up at the plant gate. The ethanol industry was championed by corn growers. The forest products sector champions wood pellets. For now, biogas has no such clear champion. As a result, biogas is, and for the foreseeable future, will be responsible for its own advocacy and market development efforts. This underscores the importance of financially supporting the trade groups doing the hard work of advocating for this incredible technology. It is unlikely that anyone else will do so on our behalf. This issue clearly demonstrates the biogas sector has built itself a wide base. Now, it’s time for the industry to build upon these successes, share them broadly with the investment community, find and win new industry champions, and go vertical.

Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center



Annual Review of Canadian Biogas Industry BY THE CANADIAN BIOGAS ASSOCIATION

The past year has been a time of considerable progress for the biogas industry. Several climate change initiatives have been brought forward by the federal and provincial governments, and advances have been made in respect to several specific renewable energy initiatives for which the Canadian Biogas Association has been a major player. In Ontario, the government announced its Climate Change Action Plan in June, setting aside CA$ 100 million for the renewable natural gas (RNG) industry, $100 million for natural gas infrastructure, and $20 million for a pilot program using methane from agricultural materials or food wastes for transportation purposes. Ontario also implemented a cap-and-trade system, effective Jan. 1, that will support the CCAP initiatives. A number of decisions related to the CCAP have yet to be made by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, including specific renewable fuel content percentage, target timelines and how CCAP funds will be allocated. The Ontario government brought forward a number of other energy policies in 2016, which may create a more conducive atmosphere for further development of the Canadian biogas industry, such as changes to net-metering to encourage biogas developers to increase production for their own use. While the Large Renewable Procurement Program was suspended (projects greater than 500 kilowatts (kW), the Small Feed-in Tariff Program’s (projects less than 500 kW) final procurement call saw 74 biogas applications totalling 16.5 MW, moving into the review process. There was movement advancing the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario, and commitment to develop a food and organic waste framework. The Ontario government is also reviewing an environmental activity sector registry approach that may allow smaller biogas projects to undergo a more flexible approval process. Other provinces also implemented climate change policies that encourage further development of renewable energy, including biogas. In August, the British Columbia Utilities Commission allowed for a rate-base change for RNG, lowering the premium for RNG to voluntary customers. B.C. will also be amending the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation to encourage emission reductions in transportation, allowing utilities to double the total pool of incentives available to convert commercial fleets to natural gas, when the new incentives go toward vehicles using 100 percent RNG. In Alberta, the Climate Leadership Plan, effective Jan. 1, encourages renewable energy development by establishing a target of 30 percent renewable energy by 2030. The CBA voiced the need to include small-scale biogas (less than 5 MW) in existing programs, to recognize the economic advantage of biogas and the delivery of greater GHG reductions, to assess the self-sustainability of all renewable energy forms on an equal footing, and to consider al6 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | FEBRUARY 2017

ternative means to valuing environmental attributes that are simple and effective. Quebec’s Energy Policy 2030 has four objectives: to decarbonate Quebec, to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency, to make full use of Quebec’s natural resources and to develop its green economy. The Quebec government wants renewable energy to meet 61 percent of Quebec’s needs by 2030 (it currently stands at just over 47 percent). Quebec wants to reduce fossil fuel usage, particularly in transportation, by electrification of transportation, the use of natural gas in trucking and the expansion and increased use of public transit. At the end of 2016, the federal government announced the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which sets forth actions such as making greater use of renewable power, reducing methane emissions from oil and gas, protecting forests, wetlands, agricultural areas and reducing emissions from government operations. The objective of this framework is to reduce GHG emissions and contribute to meeting or exceeding Canada’s 2030 climate change target of a 30 percent reduction below 2005 greenhouse gas levels. The federal government also announced a commitment to develop a clean fuel standard to reduce the carbon footprint of the fuels supplied in Canada. Consultations will begin early 2017. During 2016, the federal government and several provincial governments committed to more actively opening up export markets to energy products. This is an objective of the federal PanCanadian Framework, as well as the Alberta Climate Leadership Plan. Several Ontario government Ministers recently met with the CBA, other renewable energy associations and private companies to discuss the barriers to and ways of encouraging the export of renewable energy products. The CBA has also prepared detailed prebudget submissions for both the federal and Ontario governments in 2017, recommending more funding to develop infrastructure for the biogas industry. In summary, during the past year, the Canadian biogas industry has been pleased that federal and provincial governments are placing more emphasis on designing major initiatives to increase their supply of renewable energy, devising more effective energy export policies, moving toward streamlining environmental approval processes and providing more funding to encourage the development of RNG. Contact: Jennifer Green Executive Director, Canadian Biogas Association 613-822-1004


RNG Poised for Growth in New Administration BY MARCUS GILLETTE

By the time this issue hits your mailbox, Donald Trump will have been sworn into office as president of the U.S. With the incoming Trump administration naming appointees with strong ties to the petroleum industry, not surprisingly, there was much discussion at the RNG 2016 Conference in San Diego in early December, about how the next few years would play out for the renewable natural gas (RNG) industry. The RNG industry is positioned to continue thriving. Johannes Escudero and David Cox, executive officers of conference host RNG Coalition, kicked off the two-day event programming by depicting the positive state of the industry. “The RNG industry has never been stronger,” they affirmed, noting that the industry has built more projects in the past five years than in the previous 25 years. There are more than 53 RNG projects in the U.S., 43 of which inject into the natural gas pipeline system. These projects convert a portion of the more than 70 million tons of organic waste generated per year in the U.S. into ultra-clean compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas transportation fuel and renewable heat and power. A panel moderated by Evan Williams of Cambrian Energy assessed the factors that financiers and developers consider when evaluating the viability for prospective projects. Two other panels delved into fuel regulations that drive RNG development. During one panel, representatives from the California Air Resources Board, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and U.S. EPA discussed the futures of California’s Low Carbon and Very Low Carbon Fuel Standards, Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program, and the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS). The other addressed hot button issues under the RFS, including pipeline injection guidance, the Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule, and prospective RNG to electric vehicle fuel pathways. Production and use of RNG to displace gasoline and diesel in heavy-duty vehicles has rapidly grown since RNG transportation fuel became eligible to generate cellulosic biofuel RINs, the corresponding credits attached to gallons of RNG fuel under the RFS. Domestic production grew from the equivalent of 20 MMgy of petroleum fuel in 2013, to just under 90 MMgy in 2015. RNG is on pace to supplant more than 250 MMgy by 2018. In respective conference presentations, Paul Niznik of Argus Media and Michael McAdams of Holland & Knight Law and the Advanced Biofuels Association discussed the future of credit markets and the implications of November’s elections on RNG industry trajectory. Notably, the election had little influence on the price of cellulosic RINs; late in 2016, they were fetching higher prices than ever before.

Significantly, Escudero and Cox also detailed how the development of RNG projects and expansion of the industry matches up with the narratives of economic growth, job creation, and domestic energy growth and security that have been pillars of the incoming Trump administration. The conference marked the release of a new white paper written by the RNG Coalition and Energy Vision that expounds on that message. “Fueling Economic Growth with Renewable Natural Gas” is designed to equip advocates of this ultra-clean, waste-derived fuel and energy source with data-supported talking points. It provides a timely introduction to RNG for policymakers and individuals who are not already familiar with the contribution of the RNG industry to the U.S. economy in recent years. “RNG is already a billiondollar industry,” the report highlights, adding that RNG project investments in just the past five years have totaled more than $368 million. RNG projects have added significant jobs in recent years, as the U.S. economy has gotten back on track. “Since 2014, RNG has been responsible for creating 4,000 direct and indirect jobs,” the white paper explains. A panel moderated by Iogen’s Gordon McLennan showed that growth prospects for RNG are not limited to the U.S. Sarah Van Der Paelt (Union Gas) shared that Canada’s two largest gas utilities are advocating for a 2 percent RNG requirement for the nation’s gas utilities. Following the conference, the U.S. DOE Biotechnologies Office published a new report that assesses that wet and gaseous organic waste stream feedstocks represent a substantial and underutilized resource for biofuels and byproducts. It indicates that wet and gaseous feedstocks (animal and food waste, wastewater residuals, biogas, and fats, oils and greases) in the U.S. offer more than 17.5 billion gallons (gasoline gallon equivalents) of annual resources, in addition to those wastes currently used in operational landfill digesters. RNG companies have disclosed that more than 25 new projects are set to come online by the end of 2017, and already another 15 planned RNG transportation projects slated to come online by 2020. With each new RNG project injecting an average of $16 million into jobs and construction, this growth equates to additional investment of $640 million and adds nearly another 7,000 direct and indirect jobs to the U.S. economy. Author: Marcus Gillette Director of Public & Government Affairs, Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas 916-588-3033











COMPLETING CONSTRUCTION: DONG Energy installs one of two large bioreactors at the REnescience plant. PHOTO: DONG ENERGY

Construction continues on REnescience plant DONG Energy recently provided an update on the development of its U.K.-based REnescience plant. Construction on the project began in February 2016, with the plant scheduled for commissioning this spring. “Now, the plant is really starting to take shape,� said Flemming Kanstrup, project director at DONG Energy. “The entire area where we’ll produce biogas, which is to be converted into green power is almost ready. And we’re now in the process of in-

stalling the two large bioreactors where we’ll use enzymes and water to extract all organic fractions from the waste.� According to DONG Energy, the plant will handle unsorted household waste without prior treatment. The waste will be mixed with water and enzymes in two large bioreactors more than 50 meters long, and more than 5 meters in diameter. The facility is expected to generate approximately 5 MW of power.

Agrivert opens UK biogas project




U.K.-based Agrivert recently announced the opening of its fourth anaerobic digestion (AD) system in Bridgend, South Wales. The facility is expected to process approximately 48,000 metric tons of organic waste per year, generating 3 MW of electricity, which is enough to power more than 5,900 homes. According to the company, the facility will also generate enough biobased fertilizer to displace fossil fuel-derived fertilizers on more than 3,000 acres of local farm land. According to information released by Agrivert, the AD plant

took approximately eight months to build. An aerodrome in World War II, the company noted the site of the plant has been transformed since 2007 from a rundown brownfield site into a home for a cluster of interconnected renewable technologies. In addition to the new AD plant, the site also has a wind turbine, a field of solar panels, an eco-house and a plant that converts industrial waste into low-carbon cement. There are plans to add a second wind turbine, a 10-MW battery storage project and a hydrogen refueling station.



ADM to produce pipeline-quality RNG at Illinois corn processing facility Archer Daniels Midland Co. recently announced renewable natural gas, produced as a byproduct at the company’s corn processing facility in Decatur, Illinois, will be distributed by Ameren Illinois into the nation’s natural gas infrastructure. Methane is produced as a byproduct of the anaerobic digestion process at ADM’s Decatur wastewater treatment fa-

cility. Once the project is complete, ADM will purify the methane into pipeline quality natural gas and transport it to an Ameren Illinois’ gas pipeline. Ameren Illinois will distribute the gas into the interstate pipeline system, where it will be available for use as a clean, affordable transportation fuel. The project is scheduled to be complete in May.


Carbon Cycle Energy breaks ground on North Carolina RNG project Colorado-based Carbon Cycle Energy broke ground in December on a $100 million swine waste-to-renewable natural gas (RNG) project near Warsaw, North Carolina. The project was first unveiled in March, with Carbon Cycle Energy being the builder and owner, and Duke Energy being named as the contracted RNG purchaser. The facility is expected to be complete late this year. Under North Carolina’s renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS), investor-owned utilities are required to purchase or generate 12.5 percent renewable energy by 2021. The REPS includes specific provisions for solar energy, swine waste resources and poultry waste resources. For swine waste, the regulation states that by 2018, at least 0.2 percent

of total electric power in kilowatt hours sold to retail electric customer in the state must be supplied, or contracted for supply in each year, by swine waste. Duke indicated it will use the RNG at four of its power stations under a 15-year contract. C2e said another unnamed company will also purchase RNG from the project. The plant is expected to utilize 750,000 tons of organic waste annually, and at full capacity, produce 6,500 dekatherms of RNG daily. In addition to swine manure, C2e will use industrial food processing waste as substrates. Raw biogas will be upgraded on-site, and injected directly into the natural gas pipeline system.


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APRIL 10, 2017

Minneapolis Convention Center

Minneapolis, MN

The Midwest relies heavily on fossil energy for heating homes and businesses. Heating the Midwest is a network of thermal biomass advocates working to increase awareness and usage of renewable biomass for heat, which has the potential to greatly reduce the region’s dependence on propane and fuel oil for thermal energy. Guided by a bold vision, Heating the Midwest proposes that by 2025, 15% of all thermal energy in the Midwest come from renewable energy sources – 10% from sustainably produced biomass and 5% from solar thermal and geothermal sources. This shift in thermal energy sources has great potential to produce economic, social, and environmental benefits for the Midwest.

EPA sets 2017 CWC prices The U.S. EPA has set the cellulosic waiver credit (CWC) price for 2017 at $2.00, up from the 2016 CWC price of $1.33. According to the EPA, for any year that the projected volume of cellulosic biofuel production is less than the applicable volume of cellulosic biofuel set in the Clean Air Act, it must reduce the required volume of cellulosic biofuel for that year

to the projected volume and provide obligated parties the opportunity to purchase CWCs. The price of CWCs is set using a formula specified in the CAA. According to documents published by the EPA, the price of CWCs is the greater of 25 cents or $3 minus the wholesale price of gasoline, with both figures adjusted for inflation.

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES NOW AVAILABLE! Because Heating the Midwest is co-located with the International Biomass Conference & Expo, sponsorships are expected to quickly sell-out. Contact us at or call 866-746-8385 to learn more.

Canadian biogas project to power ethanol plant


In December, Canadian officials celebrated the groundbreaking of biomethanation facilities of the Société d’économie mixte de l’est de la couronne sud (SEMECS) in Varennes, Quebec. The project will facilitate the treatment of organic waste generated by nearby residents, generating biogas. Once purified, the biogas will be used as fuel for the Quebec-based GreenField Ethanol Inc. refinery, and will replace a portion of the natural gas that the company uses in its processes.

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April 10-12, 2017, Minneapolis, MN


Farmers who sell their crops to the ethanol plant will be able to use the digestate produced in the biomethanation process as an organic amendment. The Canadian government is committed to investing up to $16.2 million from the Green Infrastructure Fund to build the biomethanation facilities, and the government of Québec is contributing up to $14.3 million under the Program for Processing Organic Matter Using Biomethanization and Composting. The total estimated cost is $57.8 million.





Air Liquide to develop landfill gas upgrading plant in Mississippi Air Liquide has announced plans to design, construct and operate its first landfill gas to renewable natural gas purification plant in the U.S. at the Northeast Mississippi Landfill in Walnut, Mississippi. The site, owned by the Northeast Mississippi Solid Waste Management Authority, is operated by Waste Connections Inc. and receives approximately 350,000 tons of waste per year. Using Air Liquide’s gas separation membrane technology, the plant will have

the capability to purify the methane emitted by waste decay and make it suitable for use. In addition to the biogas purification plant, Air Liquide will build and implement a dedicated 4-mile pipeline that will feed the biogas into a natural gas pipeline. The project is scheduled to break ground during the first quarter of 2017. The initial production capacity of the facility is expected to be 1,300 MMBtu per day, with plans to expand.

Wärtsilä supplies biohybrid plant to German energy company Wärtsilä has been awarded the contract to supply a biohybrid production plant to German-based Erdgas Südwest GmbH. The new plant will produce both liquefied biogas (bioLNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The Wärtsilä delivery will include the company’s liquefaction system. According to the company, the system is specially designed to clean and liquefy both biogas and pipeline gas streams. In the process, the liquid is cooled

to a temperature of -160 degrees Celsius before being stored in a fully insulated tank. According to Wärtsilä, the new biohybrid solution will be integrated into the customer’s existing biowaste-to-biogas production, while LNG production will be part of the customer’s existing pipeline gas infrastructure, which will be located at a single site in southern Germany.







A GRIP ON GAS: The city of Lebanon, New Hampshire, installed a landfill gas collection system that not only reduces problematic odors, but will enable energy production in the future. PHOTO:SANBORN HEAD & ASSOCIATES INC.

Smell of Success: Implementing an Active Landfill Gas System BY MARC MORGAN, EDWARD A. GALVIN AND ERIC S. STEINHAUSER


p until January 2015, the Lebanon Regional Solid Waste Facility operated without an active landfill gas collection and control system (GCCS). Located in Lebanon, New Hampshire, the site has been operated by the city of Lebanon Department of Public Works since the 1960s. The site currently includes a recycling and transfer center, a closed construction and demolition landfill, a closed

unlined landfill, and an active lined landfill. The site takes in over 50,000 tons of solid waste per year. For decades, the only form of landfill gas (LFG) control that existed at the site was a passive system that consisted of a series of vents that emitted LFG to the atmosphere, and to the surrounding city of Lebanon and its citizens. The site is located less than a mile away from a business area, and because of this passive venting system,

odors have been an issue for the citizens of Lebanon and their visitors. In an effort to reduce odors and move the city closer to producing energy from the site, the city’s engineering consultant, Sanborn, Head & Associates Inc. helped the city develop an active GCCS system. The active GCCS consists of vertical gas extraction wells, gas collection trenches, condensate management features, gas con-

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).


BIOGAS¦ veyance pipe, connections to existing vents, and a blower/utility flare station. The active GCCS was developed in three distinct stages.

were installed at low points throughout the system in order to capture the liquid and discharge it to the leachate collection system of the lined landfill.

Stage 1: Lined Landfill

Stage 2: Unlined Landfill

Stage 1 was the first step in the right direction for the city. As waste in a landfill ages, the LFG production rate declines. For this reason, the LFG produced by the newer waste in the active landfill was viewed as a higher priority than the LFG being emitted from the older unlined landfill. The major component of Stage 1 was the installation of 12 vertical gas extraction wells to a maximum depth of 80 feet into the waste mass of the lined landfill. The vertical gas extraction wells consist of 8-inch diameter perforated PVC pipe encased in crushed stone. The wells are fitted with a wellhead, consisting of a valve and monitoring points that can measure and regulate the applied vacuum as well as other LFG parameters (e.g., gas composition and temperature). Typically, the effective radius of influence of a vertical gas extraction well is about 100 feet. Vertical wells are an effective GCCS component for extracting LFG, and are typically installed in areas that are at or near final grade. In areas of the lined landfill that were not final grade, LFG collection trenches were installed. The collection trenches consist of 6-inch diameter perforated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe that is encased in crushed stone. The difference between the vertical wells and LFG collection trenches is that the trenches are installed almost horizontally, a minimum slope is provided to manage liquids (condensate) generated when the collected LFG is cooled. Because the trenches are laid out in a horizontal manner, they are more likely to be subject to differential settlement as the surrounding waste settles. The LFG collection trenches have an elliptical zone of influence estimated to be 100 feet horizontally and 40 feet vertically. To increase the collection potential of the GCCS, the 24 existing passive LFG vents were connected to the gas conveyance pipe network. By connecting the vents to a vacuum source, the potential for fugitive LFG emissions, and hence odors, was reduced. Condensate management features

The second stage of the active GCCS focused on the site’s unlined landfill and its 18 passive LFG vents. Similar to the passive vents located on the lined landfill, each of these passive gas vents were modified and connected to the primary gas conveyance pipe (GCCS header). A series of wellheads allow for the control of vacuum at each vent location. Wellheads can be adjusted to control the amount of vacuum applied to a GCCS component. Operators do not want to apply more vacuum than necessary; otherwise, too much air can be pulled into the system. Through a series of testing ports located on the wellheads, operators can adjust the vacuum, and optimize the performance of the GCCS.

Stage 3: Looking Forward

Stage 3 of the active GCCS has yet to be constructed. Stage 3 focuses on operations and odor reduction, and will consist of expanding the GCCS to collect LFG going forward as the site continues to accept waste. Stage 3 will consist of installing additional LFG collection trenches installed at succeeding levels in the active filling area. Once the site achieves its permitted final grades, Stage 3 also will include about 16 more vertical gas extraction wells.


Following construction of Stages 1 and 2 of the GCCS and the receipt of an air permit to operate the LFG utility flare, the city activated the GCCS in January 2015. The startup phase faced some initial operational challenges, which were further hindered by bitter cold weather. The startup issues were resolved through excellent cooperation between the city, its contractors and Sanborn Head. At present, the city is extracting and flaring approximately 400 cubic feet of LFG per minute from the two landfills. The general public has been very supportive of this project, and local businesses and their customers have been pleased with the odor control measures and improved air quality.

Future Plans

The next step in the city’s GCCS endeavors is to install a landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGTE) engine. LFGTE engines have the ability to take LFG and convert it into electricity. With the anticipated LFG flow, the city hopes to power the site’s facilities independent from the electrical grid. As new waste is accepted at the active landfill, LFG flow is expected to continue to increase and generate additional electricity. The city intends to set up a LFGTE plant capable of producing approximately 1 MW of electricity. The physical “brick and mortar” component of a LFGTE plant is not difficult to design, and there are hundreds of similar facilities in the U.S. and abroad. The problems associated with LFGTE projects stem from the financial side of the operation. Appropriately structuring ownership and identifying positive revenues from a project of this size can be challenging. Currently, the city is looking into the alternatives including selling the LFG to a developer that would own and operate the LFGTE facility, or financing the project themselves and net metering the energy produced at the landfill to offset its own load. Other possible revenue sources include carbon credits associated with the methane destroyed in the flare or the LFGTE power plant.


In many ways, this project was a great success for the city of Lebanon. Not only does the city have an active GCCS that improves air quality and has the potential to serve as an additional source of revenue, but local businesses and the citizens of Lebanon are beginning to realize how important an asset this landfill is to the city. In times where public resistance against landfill projects is commonplace, it is a breath of fresh air to complete a landfill-related project with public backing. These types of facilities are not the “dumps” people think they are; they are highly-engineered facilities that are designed with considerations geared toward protecting human health and the environment. Contact: Edward A. Galvin Senior Project Engineer, Sanborn, Head & Associates 603-415-6132



Biogas Advances IN THE US Producing a range of end products from a seemingly endless list of resources, methane-based energy project development is picking up in the country. BY ANNA SIMET AND KATIE FLETCHER


attle, poultry and swine manure, dinner scraps, wastewater treatment plant sludge, vegetable canning and potato processing waste, beer-making residuals, landfilled trash and the list goes on indefinitely, materials that most people would seek to dispose of are becoming hot commodities in the developing U.S. biogas industry. While seemingly infantile when compared to other countries’ mature methane-derived energy sectors such as Germany, recent years have seen a development boom inspired by a variety factors, including the U.S. renewable fuel standard. The U.S. is currently home to over 2,200 operational biogas-producing sites, according to the American Biogas Council, including 171 on-farm digesters, 1,500 digesters at wastewater treatment plants—only 250 of which use the produced biogas—563 landfill-based energy projects (26 pipeline, 537 electricity), and there are well over 11,000 potential sites for new projects, prospects being eyed by both domestic and foreign developers. Different states and regions will soon or have recently become home to new projects that produce a variety of end products, from electricity to renewable natural gas, based on available feedstocks, incentives/funding and power prices, as well as building momentum to reduce waste and create renewable energy. The following is a roundup of some of the projects to come online or begin construction during the past year.

US West

In dairy country, digesters have a history. While that history isn’t exactly rosy, the tides have changed, and a considerable force behind a new wave of interest and development can be attributed to California state grants that have and will continue to fund tens of millions of dollars worth of digester projects, policy and initiatives to improve state air


quality, and, at least in part, to brothers Daryl and Kevin Maas, who own companies Farm Power Northwest and Maas Energy Works, which collectively own or operate 11 existing projects, with many more in development. “We got our start up in Washington—we operate five digesters between there and Oregon, and in 2010, we started doing some work in California, and realized there was a large market,” [Daryl] Maas says. “It’s the largest dairy state in the country, but there wasn’t much of an industry there. It had been plagued by oneoff projects that ran for a year or two and shut down, there wasn’t a lot of support after startup. After our experience in Washington and Oregon, we knew we could help the farmers down in California.” Just this year, Maas Energy Works brought online two new digester projects, and completed a revamp of an existing digester that had previously shut down. The VerwayHanford covered lagoon digester project in Hanford, California, fired up in October, is the largest dairy digester on the West Coast. “There’s currently 1 MW installed, but the dairyman plans to install an additional 2 MW,” Maas says. “Right now, we’re making more fuel than we can burn, but getting these engines on the grid takes a long time. At any given time, they’re pulling from or sending power to the grid, and zeroing out their consumption and charges. The rest of the gas is flared off right now, but we’ll make power with it as well when we get the other generators online.” The Open Sky Ranch Dairy Digester, a Riverdale, California, covered lagoon project that came online in September, has a single 800-kilowatt (kW) engine that Maas says “is running as hard as we want it to right now, but there’s excess gas. If all goes well, we’ll install another 800-kW engine later this year.” The Open Sky engines are Dresser Rand by Guascor, but Maas says engine supplier selection is left up to the farmer. “We don’t always

use [Dresser Rand], but it’s a popular engine,” he explains. “We also use Caterpillar engines, and one of our projects may use a GE engine going forward—we do look at all of them. Although we do own a couple digesters in California, most of the projects we’re involved in are owned by the dairymen—we work for them and manage the project for them—and each dairyman has its own way of making decisions.” With a variety of reputable companies to choose from, Maas says it often comes down to cost. “We really like Dresser Rand, it’s good to work on and efficient, economically speaking. The Caterpillar is a more expensive motor, but it tends to last longer, the same thing goes for GE.” He emphasizes that Maas Energy Works does not sell digesters, equipment or a technology. “We’re technology neutral, and we can hire who we want to,” he says. “We recom-

POWERED UP: Biogas projects that have freshly come online include (top left to right) Quantum Biopower's food waste-to-power project in Southington, Connecticut; the Verwey-Hanford covered lagoon dairy digester in Hanford, California; (bottom left to right) Roeslein Alternative Energy's swine waste-to-renewable natural gas project at Ruckman Farm in northern Missouri; Republic Service's Richland Creek Landfill Gas-to-Power Plant in Buford, Georgia, and Blue Sphere Corp.'s biogas power plant in Charlotte, North Carolina. PHOTOS: QUANTUM BIOPOWER, MAS ENERGY WORKS, ROESLEIN ALTERNATIVE ENERGY, REPUBLIC SERVICES, BLUE SPHERE CORP.

mend vendors and contractors to the farmer, but most have some of their own experience that isn’t unique to a digester—for example, an earth mover. They can hire locally, and we direct how the work should be done. Same for the mechanical work, the welding. We try whenever possible to get the local farm equipment vendors…that’s really important. When things age, you have to have long-term support that is reasonably efficient economically, and you don’t have to be calling other time zones for help.” Maas says on top of the aforementioned projects, the company has two more under construction that will come online in early 2017—the covered lagoon, Verwey-Madera Dairy Digester in Madera, California, and another in Kittson, California, as well as several working through permitting and financing. “There’s a lot of activity out here, the farmers

are very interested in the technology,” Maas adds. “In our opinion, they’ve just been waiting for developers who they trust and technologies they believe will work, because a lot of them have been burned in the past—permitting, operating and financing issues. We’re operating 11 digesters, and some have their problems, but they keep running, and overall, we’ve been able to show these things perform.” Off farms, there are many biogas projects of different kinds developing in California and the west. DMT Clear Gas Solutions, supplier of a membrane-based gas separation technology, is working on a new system in Chino, California, alongside ES Engineering. “They operate a digester for solid food waste—the biogas is sent through gas turbines,” explains DMT’s Robert Lems. “Starting in March, we will install a system that takes about 50 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm) of this gas and

turns it into compressed natural gas (CNG) for a small, local CNG station that is privately used to fuel cars and trucks,” he says. DMT is also involved in new biogas projects with Hawaii Gas, as well as Carbon Cycle Energy (see Northeast). LA Sanitation and engineer/builder Constellation Energy’s Hyperion Treatment Plant Cogeneration Project is nearing completion in Playa del Rey, California, with all major equipment installed. The egg-shaped anaerobic digester will take in municipal sewage, ultimately producing up to 6,000 scfm of biogas that will be used to create 25 MW of electricity and steam. Gas produced at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is currently used for power generation at the nearby LADWP Scattergood station, but the new generation plant will provide all the process heat and electricity required by the WWTP. FEBRUARY 2017 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 15

¦BIOGAS Further south, Ameresco and the city of Phoenix, Arizona, have teamed up for a project at the city WWTP. Under terms of the project, announced in August, Ameresco will build, own, operate and maintain the facility, which will process raw biogas into renewable natural gas (RNG). “Ameresco will deliver the RNG into the Kinder Morgan Natural Gas Transmission Interstate Pipeline for sales to third parties that will use it for transportation fuel,” explains Michael Bakas, executive vice president of Ameresco. With a project size of 3,250 scfm capacity, the project is expected to be largest of its kind in the nation. The project is currently expected to be operational by late 2017. Of the 49 small-scale energy plants/solar photovoltaic installations that Ameresco owns, 24 are landfill gas plants, and two are wastewater biogas plants. Unlike typical project developers, Bakas says, Ameresco is armed with everything it needs to round out a project, including development, permitting, engineering, financing, construction, operations and maintenance. “This affords Ameresco a competitive advantage, to be able to work with our clients to develop a comprehensive project that addresses their objectives, whether Ameresco owns the energy asset, or our client does. Likewise, being product-agnostic and having a solid distribution base in many markets, we are able to put remote projects together to the benefit of our customers. A good indicator of this is that we’ve brought online many projects that others had attempted but failed to develop.” After completing a biogas fuel cell project at its IKEA Emeryville, California, location over a year ago, home furnishings retailer IKEA launched additional projects at four more of its California stores, expanding its fuel cell portfolio to 1.3 MW with a system in East Palo Alto, Costa Mesa, Covina and San Diego). The last of the installations, which were contracted to fuel cell supplier Bloom Energy, came online in mid-January.

US Midwest

In the Corn Belt, ADM’s RNG project with utility Ameren Illinois will utilize byproduct from its corn processing facility’s wastewater treatment system in Decatur, Illinois. The project will allow Ameren Illinois to distribute RNG from ADM's corn processing facility into the interstate pipeline system, not long after Ameren’s recent completion of a new, $5.3 million gas control center in Decatur. The project partners are targeting completion of construction in May 2017. Also in Illinois, the Orchard Hills Generating Station near Rockford fired up its 16.3-


MW landfill gas-to-energy project in October. The facility, powered by six 620 GE Jenbacher engines, is owned by Hoosier Energy, which uses the power internally to supply its members. EPC contractor Ameresco is operating the project for Hoosier, according to Bakas. The project marks Hoosier’s third operational landfill gas plant, after the 4-MW Clark-Floyd Landfill Gas Plant in southern Indiana and the 15-MW Livingston Landfill Gas Plant near Pontiac, Illinois. Wisconsin is already home to about three dozen on-farm digesters, most funded at least in part via state grants/incentives, and the state is readying to fund a roster of new digester projects with up to $20 million, as the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection announced it would issue a request for proposals for new cow waste digesters in January. With a goal of addressing water quality, the initiative is targeted at business consortiums and farmers interested in utilizing anaerobic digester technology to build, operate and maintain a system. And perhaps one of the most notable biogas projects to begin producing fuel in 2016, in July, Roeslein Alternative Energy and Smithfield Hog Production achieved production of RNG at the Ruckman farm site for delivery to the national pipeline from its $120 million swine waste-to-energy project near Albany in northern Missouri. The project, launched in 2013, has been broken into two phases. Phase one involves the installation of impermeable covers and flare systems on 88 manure lagoons located on nine hog finishing farms, two of which are now producing RNG, and phase two involves installation of equipment to remove biogas impurities—a pressure swing absorption technology provided by Guild Associates—to create pipeline-quality RNG. Over the next few years, phase two will continue with construction of biogas cleaning systems and commencement of RNG production at the remaining seven farms within Smithfield’s operations. Duke Energy in North Carolina has agreed to purchase one-third of the nine farms’ RNG to help meet clean energy requirements for power generation with a 10-year contract, and RAE is also selling gas to the vehicle fuel market with Element Markets. “For the balance of gas we have to sell, vehicle is the target because of the current RIN (renewable identification number) market—D3 RINs are pretty attractive—but there are other markets we will look at,” says Chris Roach, director of RAE. “Right now, the electricity market for RNG is still running at about half the value of the RIN market, so it’s secondary for us.”

RAE plans to supplement the hog manure feedstock with biomass harvested from restored prairie grasslands to produce additional RNG, and is planning an above-ground digester system for the grass. Additional companies involved in the project include J-W Power Company, Martin Energy Group, French Gerleman, Polsinelli PC, Industrial & Environmental Concepts Inc., Power Solutions International, and Cummins Engines.

US Southeast

Developing and operational biogas projects are on the rise in the Southeast U.S., from Virginia to the southern tip of Florida. States like North Carolina, Florida and Georgia are home to 177 operational biogas projects combined, with the potential to reach as many as 1,300 additional biogas projects based on the estimated amount of available organic material in the states, according to the ABC. North Carolina takes the lead with 75 operational facilities and the potential for a whopping 899 new projects, mostly agriculture-based. Some of this potential can be attributed to North Carolina’s state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and the North Carolina Environmental Policy Act. There are also state funding opportunities. For example, state tax credits for alternative green energy projects helped bring both Blue Sphere’s Charlotte, North Carolina, and Johnston, Rhode Island, projects to where they are today, says Blue Sphere CEO, Shlomi Palas. The company has deployed the Italian company Austep S.p.A. as both its technology provider and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for these U.S.based projects. In Charlotte, the approximately $27 million, 5.2-MW food waste-based biogas plant is now connected to the grid, and all three generators have been in operation since midNovember. Power generated from this facility will be sold to Duke Energy through a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA). According to Palas, as of January, continuous work is being done at the facility. “It will take approximately three to four months to get to final completion,” he says. While Blue Sphere’s project is in the process of ramping to full capacity, about threeand-a-half hours away in Duplin County, North Carolina, near Warsaw, Carbon Cycle Energy LLC (C2e) broke ground in December on a swine waste-to-RNG project dubbed C2e Renewables NC. C2e expects the plant to be the largest, standalone biogas facility in the U.S. “Being the first to develop a biogas project of

BIOGAS¦ this scale came with a multitude of challenges,” according to a company spokesperson, who added that aligning the array of moving parts involved in order to successfully obtain financing for a project of this magnitude has been quite formidable at times. In addition to swine manure, the $100 million facility will use industrial food processing waste as substrates. “Duplin County was chosen for its large concentration of hog farms, meat and food processing plants and proximity to the natural gas pipeline,” a company spokesperson says. “It is an area that will benefit from improved disposal of organic waste for minimized odors, as well as water contamination abatement.” It’s expected that the plant will utilize in excess of 750,000 tons of organic waste annually, and at full capacity, produce 6,500 dekatherms of RNG daily, enough fuel to generate 290,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of power. Raw biogas will be upgraded on-site using DMT Environmental Technologies’ proprietary design of the gas purification unit operations developed specifically for the facility. From there, gas will be injected directly into the natural gas pipeline system. Duke Energy is the contracted RNG purchaser under a 15-year contract for use at

four of its power stations. Another unnamed biogas customer will be purchasing the biogas and converting the RNG to electricity as well. C2e has long-term contracts secured for both biomass feedstock supply and for biogas sales. “In addition to helping Duke Energy to meet its North Carolina RPS requirements, we are also helping our suppliers to meet various environmental requirements of their own,” the C2e spokesperson states. Swinerton Builders is serving as the EPC contractor for the project. The site began being cleared immediately following the Dec. 11 ground break, and is expected to be producing gas during the fourth quarter of this year. Besides C2e’s large swine waste project, Duke Energy finalized a second deal in 2016 to buy captured methane gas derived from swine waste at a project in Kenansville, North Carolina. This planned project will be built at the heart of Smithfield Food’s pork operations and, via a number of digesters built by Optima KV LLC, will produce about 80,000 MMBtus of pipeline-quality captured methane a year, which should yield about 11,000 MWh of renewable energy for two of Duke Energy’s power plants annually. Moving outside of North Carolina, Georgia’s 23 operational landfill gas (LFG)

systems in 2015 were joined by at least three landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGTE) facilities in 2016. Republic Services Inc. and Mas Energy LLC worked together to place these facilities at three landfills surrounding metro Atlanta, near Buford, Griffin and Winder. “Mas Energy decided to construct the projects in the chosen locations because we obtained a PPA with economically viable returns, support from the local community and we had a long standing positive relationship with Republic,” says Michael Hall, principal and chief development officer with Mas Energy. Republic Services’ director of engineering, Brian Martz, says they decided to proceed with the projects because of the “opportunity to beneficially use landfill gas at three sites simultaneously in the same market with reliable and valued direct and indirect partners.” Construction was completed between January 2015 and March of 2016, and all sites were completed by May and operational by September. According to Hall, the plants have been operating well and are able to utilize all of the gas made available by Republic. Combined, these facilities are capable of generating 24.1 MW of electricity for Georgia Power under a 20-year PPA. “The projects help meet Republic’s initiatives of beneficially reusing LFG

¦BIOGAS and Georgia Power’s initiatives of procuring renewable energy,” Martz says. Republic designs and installs an extensive and complex network of wells, pipelines, pumps and blowers that create a specific vacuum to carefully extract the generated gas from the landfill, Martz explains, without causing adverse conditions to the anaerobic decomposition process. Each site has the same basic design. According to Hall, the projects utilize Unison skids for gas compression and dehydration, Willexa systems for siloxane removal, 11 GE Jenbacher engines (J 616 models) to produce electricity, and Miratech CO Catalyst and SCR to remove carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. “The advantages to the standard design include interchangeable spare parts, familiarity with site operations between each operator and ease of training new employees,” Hall says. “We were also able to utilize volume pricing to decrease the overall project costs.” The assets are owned by Cube District Energy LLC, a portfolio company of I Squared Capital. Mas Energy is providing operations and asset management, in addition to its responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the assets. Nixon Energy Services, a GE Jenbacher distributor, provides daily operation and all maintenance services. Crowder Construction Co. was also an involved partner on these projects, as the design/build contractor. According to Martz, these projects bring their total number of operating LFG projects to 71. He says Republic has a sustainability goal to develop at least two LFGTE projects per year through 2018. Another LFG project at Florida’s Orange County landfill announced plans to double its size to the nominal flow capacity of 8,000 scfm in 2016. SCS Engineers was hired by the Orlando Utilities Commission to double the capacity, and the treated LFG is piped to Stanton Energy Center and cofired at the coal-fired power plant. According to ABC, toward the end of 2015, Florida had 63 operational biogas projects with the potential for 230 more.

US Northeast

The Northeastern region of the U.S. has been considered the nation's most economically developed, densely populated and culturally diverse region, ranging from the northern tip of Maine southwest to Pennsylvania. The region’s population has served as a driving factor behind a number of states implementing legislation to control waste, especially at large waste generators and collectors of waste like landfills, supermarkets and farms. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont


have a combined 542 biogas plants, with the potential for over 1,000 additional biogas plants based on the amount of available organic material, according to ABC’s August 2015 data. Out of the group, New York and Pennsylvania come out on top with 216 and 173 operating biogas plants, respectively, and the potential for over 300 additional plants in each state. Throughout 2016, there has been a host of developing biogas projects. In mid-April, the Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC celebrated the opening of its facility in Freetown, Massachusetts, which will process an estimated 34,000 tons per year of inedible food products from all of Stop & Shop New England’s 212 stores that cannot be sold or donated to regional food banks or local farms into 1.25 MW of electricity. In July, Vermont Technical College’s anaerobic digester (AD) named “Big Bertha” began operating at full capacity, transforming 16,000 gallons of cow manure and organic matter from Vermont farms and brewery waste from the Alchemist and Long Trail Brewing Co. into 8,800 kWh of electricity daily. The following month, American Organic Energy solidified its core engineering team to construct its AD facility on Long Island, New York. Louis Perry Group, a CDM Smith Co., in conjunction with GE Power & Water, the Eggersmann Group of Germany and Green Arrow Engineering will contribute to the project. Once fully operational, the facility will recycle food waste to produce vehicle fuel, electricity, compost and clean water. As noted, Blue Sphere’s Charlotte facility has begun operating, and its Johnston, Rhode Island, plant is nearing completion. Austep Group’s U.S. subsidiary, Auspark LLC, as EPC contractor, is going through the phases needed to bring the 3.2-MW Johnston facility to the testing and commissioning phase, according to the company’s November project update. The approximately $19 million facility will sell its power to National Grid via a 15year PPA once complete. Ohio has an RPS standard that Rumpke Waste & Recycling and Energy Developments (EDL) LFGTE facility at Rumpke’s Brown County landfill will participate in. Shovels broke ground in November on the $8 million project, which will generate 4.8 MW of electricity for sale to American Municipal Power Ohio. LFG is piped to Caterpillar 3520 reciprocating engines, each with the capacity to produce 1.6 MW of electricity. According to Dennis Bollinger, vice president of commercial and regulatory affairs with EDL, the project site was selected for a number of reasons. He says the landfill was capable of supporting the generation capacity that EDL needed to

install in order to meet its minimum thresholds, and Ohio is a strong focal point for the company’s energy developments. “It’s taking an otherwise wasted resource and using it for beneficial use,” Bollinger says. “If we weren’t there, the gas would just continue to be flared and it would be of no value to anyone.” The project is expected to be operational by April. Toward the end of 2015, Connecticut only supported 14 operational biogas systems, 10 of which were at WWTPs, but the state has the potential to quadruple this number. Quantum Biopower is one company helping the state reach its potential with the state’s first food waste AD system out of a potential six ABC estimates could be built based on available state resources. Quantum decided to construct its digester on 60 acres of land in Southington, at one of three locations where its sister company, Supreme Forest Products, operates green waste recycling; taking in brush, stumps, leaves and recycling it into usable, sellable products like mulch, compost and soil. “Based on the food diversion mandate and proximity to major highways, Southington is ideally located in the center of Connecticut. Plus, we were welcomed with open arms by the people of Southington, and we’re proud to call it home,” says Brian Paganini, vice president and managing director of Quantum Biopower. According to Paganini, the president of Quantum had a vision many years ago about creating compost blends that were infused with organic nutrients. He was willing to financially support the project, as he saw digestion as a way to accelerate the composting process and create unique organic compost blends from the residual materials. Building off that vision, there were a number of factors that drove this $14 million project, including successful lobbying efforts. “We worked very hard with both the environment and energy committees in the state legislature to support programs that lead to digester development,” Paganini shares. Of particular note, he adds, Quantum worked closely with ranking members of the general assembly’s environment committee to support the passage of Connecticut’s Virtual Net Metering Program. Connecticut was the thirteenth state to adopt the program, which allowed Quantum to sign a 20-year PPA with the town of Southington to power five of their government buildings. Not to mention, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection acted as a project partner, working with Quantum to permit and construct this first facility. “We will continue to partner with them to help develop digestate management standards in Connecticut and assist them in formalizing operator’s cer-

BIOGAS¦ tifications for digester operations in the state,” Paganini says. Quantum was able to overcome hurdles with permitting, technology, application, construction and energy offtake to bring its first facility to the early stages of startup and operation this year. At full ramp-up, the plant will take in 40,000 tons of food waste annually—about 150 tons per day—via its low-solids digester. The AD system uses a two-stage process, and a nutrient recovery and removal process, which allows the company to take a wide range of food waste; packaged, contaminated, clean food waste, liquid source separated organic streams, etc. Customers sending waste to the plant include Shop Rite, the Aqua Turf, the Farmington Club and Bozzuto’s, one of the largest privately held food distributors in the region. Paganini says there were two reasons why the company focused heavily on organics preprocessing during the project’s technology diligence process. First, as a merchant facility—the first in Connecticut—Quantum wanted to be built for feedstock flexibility to offer customers a complete solution. Second, Quantum was seeking a process that would remove the majority of inorganic material, ahead of digestion, so its downstream digestate was free from contaminates. “This ensures that when we make our compost, we are limiting the amount of contaminant materials,” Paganini says. The project will produce roughly 8,000 tons per year of a nutrient-rich organic compost blend, and the company plans on leveraging the market channels they currently have in place to market a premium-grade compost product to meet the needs of a growing organic compost movement, according to Paganini. The plant has the capacity of generating 1.2 MW of power, equivalent to about 750 homes’ electricity use for one year. However, this permitted capacity could be an issue for Quantum moving forward, as Paganini points out that they’re filling up their capacity fast. The company is considering a phase two plan to expand the facility’s footprint to avoid any future problems the capacity limit could cause. This project provides critical infrastructure for adherence to the state food mandate, Paganini shares, which means that if a large food producer (greater than 2 tons per week or 104 tons per year) is within 20 miles of Quantum’s facility, then they are mandated to divert food waste out of their waste stream. Also, Connecticut has a goal by the year 2024 to reduce, reuse and recycle 60 percent of its generated waste. Currently, the state is diverting 32 percent, and according to the state’s 2015 waste characterization report, food waste is the largest portion of Connecticut’s waste

stream (20 percent or 500,000 tons) and the least recycled. Construction of the biogas plant took eight months, and Quantum capitalized on the construction background within its group of companies to build it, with the knowledge that this would be one of more to come. According to Paganini, Quantum is currently vetting five projects along the East Coast for further development. “We no longer need to look at the successes of our European colleagues because real growth, in the biogas industry, is taking shape here in the U.S.,” Paganini says. “As more states implement food diversion programs and recognize digester methane as a

renewable baseload energy source, the runway becomes longer and more defined for future project growth. It’s a great time to be part of such an exciting industry as it takes shape right in front of our eyes.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4961 Katie Fletcher Associate Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4920


BIOSOLID BOOST: Pictured at a wastewater treatment plant, the TurboTec THP reactor couples a mixing and separation technology with eďŹƒcient heat recovery. PHOTO: DMT

How to Value Biosolids Wastewater treatment plants face challenges treating their biosolids, but there are solutions to achieve maximum value in an evolving market. BY ROBERT LEMS AND KARTHIK YENDURU


he core task of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is to clean domestic waste water before reuse or disposal. Treatment is separated into primary treatment and secondary treatment. Primary treatment has wastewater continuously pass through a clarifier, or settling tank, to settle out solids, or primary sludge. In secondary treatment, wastewater is aerated in a basin to promote microbial growth. These microbes form flocs and settle out as activated or secondary sludge. The combined biosolids must be treated on-site or transported to another facility for treatment and disposal. Sludge treatment facilities have two to four main steps of treatment: thickening, digestion, dewatering and sterilization. Small-scale WWTPs do not have the digestion step, and usually thicken and dewater sludge before transporting to another facility. Sludge thickening is done by all WWTPs to increase solids content of the sludge. Sterilization is done only if this is legally mandatory for Class A land application. At larger facilities, thickened sludge is anaerobi-

cally digested to break down complex matter via bacteria and reduce the sludge volume, reducing volatile solids and pathogens in the sludge, along with eliminating foul odors. Depending on treated sludge quality, the final product can be land applied, landfilled, incinerated or composted. Sterilized sludge is highervalued as Class A land application; nonsterilized sludge that is landfilled is typically Class B. Biogas obtained from the sludge digestion is either used on-site or flared. For WWTPs, biogas and biosolids pose three challenges—quantity, quality and finance.

source. Power can be used for internal purposes and sold to the electricity grid. Heat can be used to maintain digester temperature, but only a small part of the available heat is required. Excess heat is dissipated into the surrounding environment. Another option is upgrading to renewable natural gas (RNG), which increases the methane concentration by removing fouling components. Upgraded biogas can be injected into the gas grid or transported as compressed natural gas. RNG is currently valued at $15-25/ MMBtu within the renewable fuel standard as a D5 RIN (renewable identification number).

Biogas Handling


Sludge digestion produces biogas, the amount of which depends on sludge composition (ratio of primary to secondary), digester residence time, bacteria metabolic rate and several other parameters that influence how it is managed. If biogas production is meager, it is usually flared or used in a small boiler for digester heat. If a substantial quantity of biogas can be produced, it can used as a cogeneration fuel

Biosolids are faced with three main challenges: volume (quantity), biosolids classification (quality) and cost (finance). Sludge volume is reduced through AD and dewatering, but the output biosolids are classified as Class B with biogas as a byproduct. Addressing the challenges of biosolids has led to the innovation of continuous thermal hydrolysis process (cTHP), which elevates the sludge treatment efficiency. This

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).



unique technology exploits life steam injection, breaking down cell structures, leading to higher availability of volatile organic compounds and lowering overall viscosity. As a result of this process, digesters can handle higher biosolids loads, final sludge volumes are reduced, and output biosolids are Class A. An additional benefit is increased biogas generation by 25–35 percent.

How It Works

Sustec, part of DMT Group, patented the trademarked TurboTec, the first continuous THP process. A simple cooking analogy can be used to explain the essence of thermal hydrolysis process. Pasta in its raw form is inedible, but after boiling in a high pressure cooker, it’s softened and edible. Similarly, sludge waste is pressured and heat treated, breaking down cell structures, simplifying complex organic matter and lowering feedstock viscosity prior to digester feeding, accelerating microbial activity. This allows digester bacteria to spend less time decomposing the organic matter, and more time converting it into biogas and digestate. The TurboTec THP process operates at standard pressure of 4–6 bar (60-90 pounds per square inch) and temperature of 285-320 degrees Fahrenheit. Treatment at this temperature kills all microorganisms, pathogens and bacteria, and ensures waste stabilization. Moreover, due to lower viscosity, solids-loading of the digester can be increased by prethickening of the sludge up to 10–12 percent solids content. By coupling a mixing and separation technology with an efficient heat recovery, TurboTec THP can achieve this with only 800 kg/total dissolved solids (tDS) of steam being continuously injected into the hydrolysis reactor. Life steam injection serves to maintain the operating temperature and lower sludge viscosity by rupturing microorganisms into short-chained fragments, and the energy is reused to maintain digester temperature. Due to the continuous process design, the system works more efficiently than conventional batch processes, satisfying two of the three challenges. All that remains is whether this technology is economically feasible. A tool has been developed for analyzing the full potential of TurboTec THP process for a greenfield and existing-field situations in collaboration with DMT Clear Gas Solutions and Sustec. The tool considers operating parameters of the different sludge and biogas treatment steps, and evaluates the business case. For an existing-field, a digester was reviewed by adding a THP and gas upgrading system. But this is also compared to the situation where additional capacity is required. For a greenfield situation, digester size is reduced when using a THP, and the biosolids treated is kept equal. For either case, the tool can be used to determine the optimal strategy for biosolids disposal and biogas handling.

Existing-field Scenario

The project investment in an existing-field scenario represents the capital required for treatment facility improvements. This accounts of the equipment costs, building/civil, installation, piping, electrical/gas grid connection(s), contractor, contingency, engineering and legal administration. The economics of a businessas-usual case (i.e., combustion of biogas in a boiler) is used as reference to compare when biogas is upgraded and existing digester capacity is optimized as seen in Table 1. For the four different upgrading cases, biogas is converted to RNG and a CHP engine is operated using natural gas to explain the economics with respect to THP. As mentioned, implementing THP prior to AD allows the system to handle more sludge in the same digester capacity. The CHP-1 case has a project investment $7.3 million and treats about 27,500 metric tons of dry solids annually. In this case, all power produced from the CHP is utilized for operating sludge treatment process and revenue is from RNG grid injection. THP-1 case is the same as CHP-1 case, but the project cost includes a TurboTec unit. Because of the THP installed, the existing digester operates under capacity, but yields 25–30 percent more biogas, which reflects in the overall revenues. Additionally, operation costs are much lower for THP-1 than CHP-1, because of the sludge disposal cost difference. With implementing THP, the quality of the sludge changes from Class B to Class A, significantly reducing disposal costs, so immediate savings from THP are about $4 million, leading to a faster payback period. Cases CHP-2 and THP-2 treat about 45,800 metric of dry solids per year and have project investments of $17.5 million and $18 million, respectively. The case THP-2 is the

maximized version of THP-1 where digester capacity was not optimized. Conversely, CHP2 required extension of digester space to treat same amount of solids as digester in THP-2 case. Since the amount of solids treated increased, the operational costs, revenue and saving from THP all increased proportionally. Hence, the payback period for these two cases is nonexistent. The ROI for existing-field is nonexistent because the project investment difference is minimal, and the savings earned from investing in THP are significant in comparison. Simply from the sludge disposal difference, profit can be made when disposal cost per wet ton of Class B is much greater than Class A. The profits can be further increased, depending on the RNG price available. TurboTec is a viable solution to retrofitting existing digester plants, but also greenfield applications. Implementing THP offers the potential for reduction of sludge output and increase in biogas production. Furthermore, environmental regulations are becoming stricter regarding sludge disposal, emphasizing its earth-enriching benefits, as land application of biosolids helps the soil rejuvenate and promote plant grow. Moreover, with increased biogas output, the option of upgrading biogas to RNG is a viable source of revenue. With the energy paradigm shifting from fossil fuels to alternative carbon neutral sources, RNG pricing is expected to have high valorization, providing more incentive for investing in thermal hydrolysis to achieve Class A quality biosolids and to export or utilize biogas. Authors: Robert Lems and Karthik Yenduru DMT Clear Gas Solutions 503-379-0147



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2017 February Biomass Magazine  
2017 February Biomass Magazine  

The Biogas Issue