In early 2005 I determined that biomass waste is a renewable energy resource in the State of Michigan and wrote a grant application for the construction of a plant to convert animal and farm biomass to methane gas and subsequently to electricity. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) awarded a $1 million grant under their Energy Efficiency program to my biomass initiative using the advanced Austrian biodigester technology that I carefully researched and selected.
I negotiated with several Michigan farm businesses for the optimal site for this biomass plant. In early 2007 den Dulk Dairy, LLC, one of the largest dairy farm business in the U.S. became the select partner to install the biomass plant to process the manure of 1000 dairy in one of is farms.
A team of highly experienced companies in general contracting, engineering, cement fabrication, and electrical integration was then established. In addition to my GVSU biomass project manager on my staff, Sarah Lineberry, Reynolds, Inc. was the General Contractor. The Sidock Group, Inc. of Muskegon were selected as the Project Engineering Management. Calvin Dyke of CJD Farm Consulting was selected as the Agricultural Consultant. The entire team worked closely to transfer accurately the Austrian biodigester plant technology of Entec biogas, GMBH.
The key reason for my selecting the Entec biogas anaerobic digestion technology was its success in Europe and its very diverse and robust technology that can process various waste streams. These include: livestock manure form dairy, pig, poultry, food and restaurant waste, organics separated from solid waste, slaughterhouse waste, food process waste, distillery mash, municipal sludge, and yard waste.
The Entec biodigester technology uses anaerobic digestion process under controlled temperature. Anaerobic digestion is the bacterial breakdown of organics materials in the absence of oxygen. This biological process produces biogas, which is principally composed of methane (55-65%) and carbon dioxide (35-45%) with trace amounts of hydrogen sulfide, water vapor, oxygen, and various hydrocarbons. The Entec biodigester technology used a bacteria absorption column that reduces the sulfur emission to under few parts per million. The biomass plant also produces a solid digestate that was separated and dried. This digestate is nearly 95% e. coli bacteria free due to the anaerobic digestion processing temperature. The digestate can be used as a fertilizer that is srayed diretly on crops and can be further processed to make compost.
MAREC Biogas Plant: Conversion of Manure of 1000 Dairy to 230 kW Electric Power
MAREC Biogas Plant: Schematic of Entec Biodigester Anaerobic Reactor
MAREC Biogas Plant: Sulfur Removal Biological Colum
MAREC Biogas Plant: Solid Digestate Storage
MAREC Biogas Plant: Capstone Micro Turbine Biogas to Electricity Generator
The raw manure heating value is approximately 5,770 BTU per dry pound. One dairy cow generates about 20 pounds per day of raw manure. The MAREC biomass plant utilized the manure of 1000 dairy or approximately 115,400,000 BTU per day. The biomass plant produced about 95,000 cubic feet of biogas per day, or approximately 57,000,000 BTU per day. This means that roughly 50% of energy can be recovered from raw dairy manure through anaerobic digestion. This translates to some 16,694 kWh per day or 696 kW of power. At a micro turbine engine efficiency of about 35% the biomass plant can convert the manure waste stream of 1000 dairy cows into a power source of 243 kW. Said another way: ONE DAIRY COW IS A 243 WATT LIVING RENEWABLE ENERGY BIO-TECHNOLOGY!
The entire biomass plant requires approximately 34 kW of power to run all of its operations (balance of plant power). Therefore, this biomass plant produces a net positive 209 kW, which can be used to run a large portion of the electric requirement of the dairy farm. Biodigester plants are also carbon dioxide neutral. They are very widely used in regions of Europe where concern for the environment is significant and/or electricity is very expensive due to limited fossil fuel resources.