No waste of time – City learns more about digester

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It would be feasible to have a project in Gaylord that would turn organic waste from the area into an energy source.

That was the main result of a study recently completed by Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc. (SEH) of St. Paul. The study was presented to the Gaylord City Council last week by Jill Mickelson, project manager.

Gaylord’s City Council, last fall, ordered a feasibility study for an anaerobic digester project. The study was funded, in part, by the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERT) pilot program, the City of Gaylord, in conjunction with Michael Foods Egg Products Inc. The City was awarded a $7,550 grant from CERT.

The City Council approved the study, and allowed SEH to share the information with a local industry. The purpose of the study was to determine the initial feasibility of constructing a joint anaerobic digester facility to handle the wastewater needs of the City and potentially incorporate biomass from local private agricultural businesses. A targeted product of the facility would be the generation of a marketable methane biogas that could be used profitably in a variety of ways. Other materials formed during methane digestion, including carbon dioxide and nutrient-rich digestate, could be used locally or marketed for resale.

City Administrator Kevin McCann said that it sounds like a “doable project,” but that the Council would like to see the project as a partnership with local industry.

The study identified the following conclusions and recommendations:

• The technical feasibility of methane-rich biogas productions from local feedstocks has been established.

• The municipal wastewater lagoons would not be a significant feedstock source.

• For best economic return, the facility should refine and sell co-products of methane production.

• Carbon offset credits may provide a small proportion of the overall income, but have future growth potential.

• The local use of semi-refined biogas is preferred over the cleanup to pipeline quality.

• While currently low, energy prices are expected to recover over the next three to seven years, and rise continually for the foreseeable future.

• Long-term contracts are desirable from the facility’s standpoint to ensure a reliable feedstock supply.

• Additional study is required to identify the best technology, location and uses of renewable energy from the Gaylord facility.

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