PREDC checking feasibility
of biodigesters


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The board of directors of the Penetangore Regional Economic Development Corporation (PREDC) recently visited Carl Frook on his farm near Elmwood to explore whether biodigesting is a realistic approach to reducing the amount of household waste going to the landfill. 

Frook has been operating the biodigester under his company, Marl Creek Renewables, since it was commissioned in 2012. It produces 500 kilowatts (KW) of power using manure from beef cattle and corn silage. 

“The installation is impressive,” says, Allan Ribbink of PREDC. “It operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week, using advanced technology that turns waste into electricity. The electricity is fed onto the grid. 

"This approach to recycling not only produces revenue from the sale of the electricity, it can also be adjusted to divert organic matter from our landfills to a biodigesting process. The result is many additional years for each cell in the landfill, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Robert Cottrill, vice-president of the PREDC board of directors, says that while this is not going to create a lot of new jobs, it does offer a means to divert waste and allows the option of putting those saved millions of dollars into other community projects and infrastructure. 

"This is a smart solution to managing our waste and saving our money for more worthwhile things," says Cottrill. "The first-hand experience of the biodigesting process and learning about the technology, tells us this is a potential solution for municipalities faced with huge costs for landfill management. 

"It uses waste that would otherwise become a pollutant. Biodigesting not only produces methane gas but fertilizer is a byproduct. The biodigesting process kills harmful pathogens so the fertilizer is safe.” 

Cottrill stresses that the payback on an installation can be five to 10 years, but the payback for taxpayers starts right away.

Frook points out that he has waited two years since his start-up before initiating installation of a third generator of another 250 KW for a total of 750 KW. 

“It is so important to ensure balance between what we can produce and what we can obtain to convert biomass to methane gas and electrical power," he says. "We have proven ourselves to be a dependable recipient of biomass and have achieved credibility in the industry."

One municipality may be unable to produce enough household waste to feed a biodigester but several municipalities could partner to keep one going and share in the savings,” says Ron Coristine, executive director of PREDC. 

Advantages to biodigesting include: it operates when wind and solar cannot; it captures methane gas rather than allowing it into the environment; and it reduces the waste going to landfills. The biodigesting process would have to be adjusted to use household organic waste


There are about 30 biodigesters in Ontario now and the evidence suggests there will be many more in the years ahead. Municipalities could opt to collaborate on a biodigester program or possibly partner with local business to develop one.

PREDC wanted to highlight biodigesting as part of Green Energy Doors Open 2014.

“While we cannot afford the time to put on an exhibit for Green Energy Doors Open, it was our way to bring attention to green energy and interest municipalities and the business community in solutions,” says  Ribbink. 

"We will be exploring biodigesting further in the months ahead and hope we can interest municipalities in exploring it with us," says Cottrill. "We know it is a serious option for producing renewable energy and want to help municipalities take advantage of it.”

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Thursday, September 25, 2014