Anaerobic Digestion
July 27, 2017, California - A liquid organic biofertilizer made from the material that is left over after manure or food waste is digested to create clean electricity compares favorably in nutrient value with commonly used synthetic materials in trials on canning tomatoes and corn.

UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering Ruihong Zhang designed an anaerobic biodigester nearly 10 years ago that is used to turn food waste from campus dining halls into clean energy.

Several dairies have also invested in digesters to treat their manure, which would otherwise emit the greenhouse gas methane, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture offers grants to help defray the cost.

Cost is the major stumbling block to more widespread use of the technology, and the trial of a biofertilizer made in the campus digester is an attempt to see if the bottom line can be made just a little more favorable. READ MORE
July 25, 2017, Canyon County, ID - A group of businessmen, mostly from the Treasure Valley, is proposing to build a $94 million plant in rural Canyon County to turn sorghum into paper plates and other food-packaging products, and to turn sorghum waste, manure and slaughterhouse waste into natural gas for energy.

The plant would be built on farmland where U.S. 26 meets U.S. 95 southeast of Parma. It has cleared several local zoning and permitting challenges. Now comes the hard part: raising money to build it, starting with $18 million for a first phase.

The group has formed a company called Treasure Valley Renewables. Its members include people with experience in manufacturing, ethanol plants, pulping mills and anaerobic (oxygen-free bacterial) digester operations.

The three-building plant would house about 75 jobs paying an average of $45,000 per year, says Chuck Anderson, a leader of the ownership group. Anderson is president of Boise Bio Gas and owner of QBM Management in Boise, a project-management and process-analysis company.

One part of the plant would turn sorghum into fiber molds Anderson says would make a biodegradable material for producers looking to replace Styrofoam food packaging material.

Neither product offers the kind of instant riches that venture capitalists usually target when they invest millions into technology companies, Anderson says. But Anderson, who has spent a career engineering paper plants for large companies, says he's confident the plant promises the kind of steady profits to attract investors. READ MORE 
June 14, 2017, Deerfield, Mass. - Peter Melnik, a fourth generation dairy farmer from Deerfield, Massachusetts, is a firm believer a farm should be economically and environmentally sustainable. This belief started him on a 10-year search for a way to make an anaerobic digester work on his farm.

"At first I thought I could build a small digester to produce enough electricity for my farm," Melnick said. "Then the concept of food waste was introduced to me and the story just grows from there."

The recent announcement of an alliance between Dairy Farmers of America and Vanguard Renewables, a Massachusetts-based renewable energy developer, was the missing piece of the puzzle for Melnik. READ MORE
May 24, 2017, Granville, Mass. – The Town of Granville could soon be using cattle to create energy.

The town's select board plans to power their municipal buildings with credits from Rockwood Farm, which is planning to build a methane digestor.

A digestor converts manure into methane gas, which will run a generator that will heat and power the farm. The farm will sell its metering credits to the town.

The local renewable energy would reduce the cost for powering town buildings. READ MORE
May 23, 2017, Potsdam, NY – Clarkson University will use federal funding to advance anaerobic digestion techniques for small-to-medium-scale dairy farmers.

The university will work in conjunction with the Cornell Cooperative Extension farm dairy specialists on farms working to improve manure management.

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand recently announced $500,000 in new federal funding for Clarkson University.

The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

NIFA grants support research and programs that help dairy producers and growers achieve long-term viability, high yield, and labor efficient production of local agricultural products. READ MORE
May 19, 2017, Waunakee, WI - Once infamous for spills, permit violations and even an explosion, the manure digester just north of Waunakee is now receiving accolades from an environmental group dedicated to clean lakes.

The Clean Lakes Alliance presented Clean Fuel Partners, LLC, the digester operator, with the Lumley Leadership Award for Lake Stewardship for its efforts to reduce phosphorus entering the Yahara Watershed.

"We were completely surprised and caught off guard when we were announced," said Clean Fuel CEO John Haeckel. "I would like to think it's because we have been working to make the Waunakee facility work, to sort of resurrect it from a place where it wasn't successful."

The manure digester was originally built in partnership with Dane County and operated by a different company, Clear Horizons, with the intention of removing algae-causing phosphorus from three area farms that would otherwise flow into lakes and streams.

The digester also captures methane in the process to produce energy. READ MORE
May 9, 2017, Sacramento, Cali. - The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for project funding from the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP), authorized by the Budget Act of 2016.

This program receives funding from California Climate Investments Program, with proceeds from the state's cap-and-trade auctions, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing a variety of additional benefits to California communities.

CDFA-DDRDP will award between $29 million and $36 million for the installation of dairy digesters in California that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Existing milk producers and dairy digester developers can apply for funding of up to $3 million per project for anaerobic digestion projects that provide quantifiable greenhouse gas reductions. The program requires a minimum of 50 percent of total project cost as matching funds.

Prospective applicants must access the "Request for Applications" at for detailed information on eligibility and program requirements.

To streamline and expedite the application process, CDFA is partnering with the State Water Resources Control Board, which hosts an online application tool, Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST).

All prospective applicants must register for a FAAST account at

Applications and all supporting information must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. PT.

CDFA will hold two workshops and one webinar to provide information on program requirements and the FAAST application process (see below). CDFA staff will provide guidance on the application process, provide several examples and answer any questions. There is no cost to attend the workshops. Individuals planning to attend should email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with his or her contact information, number of seats required and the workshop location.

Sacramento – Friday, May 12, 2017
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
California Department of Food and Agriculture
2800 Gateway Oaks Drive, Room 101
Sacramento, CA 95833

Tulare – Monday, May 15, 2017
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Tulare County Agricultural Building Auditorium
4437 S. Laspina Street
Tulare, CA 93274

Webinar – Tuesday, May 16, 2017
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
To register for the webinar, please visit the program webpage at

Prospective applicants may contact CDFA's Grants Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with general program questions.

May 3, 2017 - The AgSTAR Program will be hosting, Part two of the Innovative Business Models for Anaerobic Digestion webinar series.

The Webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 from 2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern Time.

Industry leaders from Noblehurst Farms Inc., EnviTec Biogas, and DVO, Inc. will review innovative business models for anaerobic digestion (AD) projects and discuss the hub-and-spoke model of hauling manure from several farms to a centralized digester, how to establish successful business arrangements with food waste producers, sustainable production of renewable energy and coproducts using AD and how AD project risks and benefits can be shared among multiple parties.

The webinar will include a question-and-answer session and participants will be encouraged to ask questions. Participation in the webinar is free. To register, visit:
May 1, 2017 Oshkosh, WI – This June, we're launching our hands-on Digester Operator Training Course at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh from June 13-15.

This is a must-attend event for any operator, owner, developer or anyone looking for hands-on digester operations experience. Attendees will have the opportunity learn from top digester operators to learn how to increase biogas production, digestate quality, revenue and avoid costly, time-consuming and smelly mistakes.

Over three days, digester operations experts from the American Biogas Council and UW-Oshkosh will start the morning with you in the classroom and ERIC lab to review topics from operations basics and safety to advanced topics like lab testing and operation software and remote monitoring. Then, we'll head to a digester to spend half or more of each day working with the operations team, turning valves, collecting samples and troubleshooting issues. We'll have three different types of digesters for you to experience – continuous mix, dry fermentation and plug flow.

Sign up before the class fills up.

Many would say that solids are the most critical component to handle in a digester, but water is a critical factor as well, logistically and financially.

April 13, 2017, Haverhill, MA — The city's board of health has approved a waste-to-energy digester for farm in Bradford.

April 4, 2016, Chilton, WI – DVO, Inc.’s Phosphorus Recovery system received honors at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Nutrient Recycling Challenge Summit in Washington, DC.

The goal of the challenge was to identify technologies that not only help farmers manage nutrients from livestock manure and create valuable products, but also protect the environment.

“We are honored to be recognized for our innovative phosphorus recovery technology,” said DVO president, Steve Dvorak. “The practical ability to recover and recycle nutrients will make modern agriculture more sustainable and provide real benefits for our communities and the environment.”

The Nutrient Recycling Challenge was launched by the EPA in late 2015 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pork and dairy producers, and environmental and scientific experts. The EPA initially received 75 concept papers and recognized the top 10 submissions with awards. DVO received a spot in the top 10 with an Honorable Mention Award for its work on advanced phosphorus recovery.

DVO’s Phosphorus Recovery (PR) system is a fully commercialized and economical treatment process that removes up to 95 percent of the total phosphorus from large-scale farm and commercial waste streams and up to 55 percent of total nitrogen content from digested wastes. By treating these wastes first in DVO’s patented Two-Stage Mixed Plug Flow anaerobic digester and then employing the add-on PR system, valuable nutrients are conserved and natural resources are protected by reducing the likelihood of runoff and water pollution.

Doug VanOrnum, vice president of technology and strategy at DVO, accepted the award at a ceremony at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on March 30.

More information on the challenge can be found at


In 2013, the Canadian Biogas Association issued a study identifying the opportunities in biogas production so provinces could develop policies to support this budding industry. It also developed farm-to-fuel guides to help farmers decide whether biogas production makes sense for them.

The study determined biogas could make up three percent of Canada’s natural gas supply, Canadian Biogas Association executive director Jennifer Green told the 2016 Agricultural and Municipal Biogas Forum, held recently in Abbotsford, B.C.

She calls biogas an “overwhelming” opportunity for agriculture, saying agriculture could produce about two-thirds of the biogas, or about 1.65 million cubic meters per year.

While there are a growing number of anaerobic digesters on Ontario farms, there are only three in B.C., with one more under construction. The province’s first anaerobic digester began operation in rural Abbotsford about five years ago and is now producing gas from cull potatoes and other organic waste. Not long after, as part of its demonstration farm, Bakerview Dairy in Abbotsford put in a demonstration digester that utilizes manure from its tiny 50-cow herd to produce electricity for the farm.

In early 2015, Seabreeze Farms in Delta fired up B.C.’s second large-scale digester, using manure from its 350 milking cowherd and cooking fats and oils.

While one purpose of an anaerobic digester is to manage and create value from farm waste, it produces its own waste (digestate). The digestate includes most of the nutrients from the inputs, as they are not absorbed by the gas production process. This is a concern for both regulators and farmers as high livestock concentrations are already leading to nutrient overloading on many fields. Bringing in off-farm inputs only exacerbates the issue, leading to potentially serious environmental consequences.

As a result, the digester “is only one piece of the equation,” says Chris Bush, who built the Sumas Prairie anaerobic digester, located outside of Abbotsford.

That’s why researchers and industry are working on ways to manage the nutrients, particularly phosphate, to maximize their value while minimizing any detrimental environmental impacts.

There are a number of ways to do that, says Henno Haaring of Dorset Green Machines, based in the Netherlands. The first step is to separate the liquid and solid digestate so each can be applied separately or, in the case of the liquid, re-circulated. Cheapest is a press screen, which provides good dry matter content in the solids but has poor nutrient recovery. Another low cost option, a drum filter, provides good phosphate recovery but is not very efficient, has highly variable results and requires a lot of filter maintenance.

A decanter has high phosphate recovery and leaves little dry matter in the liquid but is expensive to buy and costly to operate.

A belt press is very good at separating solids and liquids, removing enough dry matter to make the liquid treatable by filtration or reverse osmosis. However, it requires additives and a knowledgeable operator.

Haaring says Dorset’s solution is to dry the digestate, which not only reduces the volume but creates a good final product.

“We generate a product with 85 to 95 percent dry matter that is 10 to 25 percent of its original weight,” he says. Its nutrient content depends on whether the drying is done with or without first separating the digestate.

“The dry product can be used as fertilizer, bedding or even fuel,” Haaring says.

One of Dorset’s installations dries 100,000 tonnes of hog manure, producing 25,000 tonnes of solids. The solids go into a “phosphate factory” which further compresses them into 6,500 tonnes of pellets with a nutrient content of 2.1 percent N, 6.5 percent P and 1.5 percent K. The pellets are then exported from the intensive hog production area in the Netherlands to the north of France.

Trident Processes of Abbotsford has integrated some of these technologies with ideas of their own to develop a complete nutrient recovery system, which it is now being tested at Seabreeze.

The system first separates the fiber and conditions it for reuse as bedding in the barns, leaving four percent solids in the remaining wastewater. A second press removes most of the remaining water, creating a “sludge” with double the solids content and 85 to 90 percent of the phosphate, 54 percent of the nitrogen and 17 percent of the potassium, says Bush, now Trident’s operating manager. It then uses polymers to concentrate the sludge, complete with its nutrients, into a “cake” which contains 25 percent solids.

The cake can be pelletized and sold off-farm as a nutrient-rich fertilizer. The remaining wastewater, which Langley environmental farm plan advisor and consultant Dave Melnychuk calls a “digestate tea,” contains very few nutrients.

The Seabreeze dairy slurry generally contains 0.25 percent nitrogen, 0.05 percent phosphorus and 0.21 percent potassium. Once through the Trident process, the tea contains 0.16 percent N, less than 0.01 percent P and 0.12 percent K. In contrast, the bedding contains 0.40 percent N, 0.13 percent P and 0.11 percent K while the cake contains 0.68 percent N, 0.22 percent P and 0.12 percent K.

Melnychuk believes the tea offers tremendous potential as it still includes some nitrogen but almost no phosphorus.

Noting many farmers “have too much phosphorus but not enough nitrogen in their fields,” Melnychuk has started a
three-year trial to find out how corn and grass respond to the tea. Even a low application rate produced a wet yield of 29 tonnes/hectare, higher than the 25 to 28 tonne average in B.C. fields.

“We are very pleased with the initial results,” Melnychuk says. He notes there was less phosphorus in both the corn and grass fields at the end of the season than at the beginning. “If we can validate that for the next two years, it provides an option for phosphate rich soils.”

University of B.C. civil engineering professor Victor Lo is trying a different approach: treating the manure before it even gets to the digester. He has spent the past few years developing a microwave-enhanced advanced oxidation system to reduce solids in the manure by 85 percent and extract the phosphorus and crystallize it as struvite, which is 95 percent pure phosphorus.

Lo says nutrients can be captured more easily when the solids are broken down and microwave technology is the only way to do that. The system “reduces the amount of disposable solids and number of nutrients which need to be applied to the land.”

Lo says the resulting largely liquid product “reduces the processing time in the AD.”

He is now building demonstration units and conducting feasibility studies at both the UBC Dairy Education & Research Centre in Agassiz, B.C., and the James Wastewater Treatment Program in Abbotsford

Although the system may not be a money-maker because of its high capital and operating costs, Lo believes it could solve some of the environmental issues farmers and waste treatment plants face.




October 21, 2015, Boston, MA – At its third annual conference, the American Biogas Council (ABC) recognized 12 organizations for their leadership and innovation, which are helping to strengthen and grow the U.S. biogas industry.

The award recipients were honored during the 2015 Biogas Industry Awards Reception held during BioCycle REFOR15 Conference and Expo. This year, the ABC recognized biogas industry leadership and innovation with three awards: Innovation of the Year, Project of the Year and the new Outside-the-Box award.

"The Biogas Industry Awards not only recognize excellent projects and innovations," explained Bernie Sheff, chairman of the ABC board and vice president of engineering for ES Engineering Services. "They recognize great industry achievements and creative solutions to commonly faced issues that can be held out as an example to others."

This year, the ABC expected to present six awards, one Innovation of the Year Award, one Outside the Box Award, and four Projects of the Year across four categories: agricultural, municipal, institutional and merchant. In the end, 12 were awarded.

"The quality of innovation in the biogas industry is at a fever pitch today," remarked Patrick Serfass, executive director of the ABC. "We're excited to honor our winners for their steadfast commitment to overcoming obstacles and discovering new ways to help us deploy more biogas systems in the U.S."

There are more than 2,100 operational biogas systems in the U.S. today with the potential for more than 11,000 new systems to be built.


Biogas Projects of the Year:

  • The Furrer and Martin Families' project – Green Cow Power in Goshen, IN – was named agricultural Biogas Project of the Year for their complex project which uses manure from five dairies, plus large volumes of food waste, to generate more than 3MW of electricity, heat, digested liquids for fertilizer, and digested solids for cow bedding.
  • quasar energy groups' project – Wooster Renewable Energy in Wooster, OH – was awarded the municipal Biogas Project of the Year for their project which digests biosolids, FOG and food waste at a volume that's five times the throughput of the city's original system to generate electricity in excess of the plant's needs, as well as heat and digestate used as fertilizer.
  • The City of Gresham's Cogen Expansion and FOG Receiving Station project in Gresham, OR was awarded the municipal Biogas Project of the Year for their operation of a net zero energy, 10 MGD water resource recovery facility which uses biosolids, FOG from restaurants and food waste to generate 800 kW of electricity and heat, and digestate used as a fertilizer at local farms. In addition to the notable physical plant, its creative use of a wide variety of financing tools such as RECs, transferrable tax credits, and public funds from both the city and state sets this project apart from its peers.
  • Minnesota Municipal Power Agency's project –Hometown BioEnergy in Le Sueur, MN – was awarded the municipal Biogas Project of the Year for their operation of a large Minnesota Municipal Power Agency digester which uses local manure, sweet corn silage, and FOG to generate 8 MW of electricity, heat, digested liquids for farm fertilizer and digested solids for cow bedding, burnable fuel or soil enhancement. The size of the system compared to other municipal biogas projects and its gas storage system which provides the option to only generate power during peak needs, sets it apart from its peers.
  • Univeristy of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Foundation's Rosendale Biodigester project in Pickett, WI was awarded the institutional Biogas Project of the Year for their collaborative project between the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Rosendale Dairy, which uses manure from Wisconsin's largest dairy to generate electricity, heat, liquid digestate for fertilizer and digested solids that are pelletized for use as a soil amendment. Apart from the physical plant, this first of its kind learning facility serves as a teaching center for the development of technicians, scientists, engineers, and animal husbandry specialists sets it apart from its peers.
  • CleanWorld's project – UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) in Davis, CA – was awarded the institutional Biogas Project of the Year for their innovative system which uses manure and 50 tons per day of food waste to generate digested liquids for fertilizer and biogas which is blended with landfill gas to generate electricity from several microturbines. What sets this project apart from its peers is the combination of wide variety of feedstocks, the blending of landfill gas with digester gas and the use of microturbines to power the university's West Village Project.
  • Forest County Potawatomi Community's Renewable Generation Biogas Facility in Milwaukee, WI was awarded the merchant Biogas Project of the Year for their exemplary system that brings together many players, using food waste from local casino, grocers, the dairy, meat and beverage industries plus byproducts of pharmaceutical and methanol production to generate 2MW of electricity, heat, and digested solids for fertilizer. The successful operation of this enormously complex collection of partnered organizations and feedstocks – plus its performance, which has doubled expectations – sets this project apart from its peers.
  • South San Francisco Scavenger Company's project –Blue Line Biogenic CNG Facility in San Francisco, CA – was awarded the merchant Biogas Project of the Year for their successful operation of a dry biogas system which uses commercial and residential yard and food waste to generate 120,000 diesel gallon equivalents of renewable natural gas each year for waste hauling vehicles and organic-certified compost. This exceptional physical plant plus the integration of dry digestion and vehicle fueling, where each collection vehicle will collect enough organic material on its route to fuel the vehicle for the day, sets it apart from its peers.

Biogas Innovations of the Year:

  • Magic Dirt, LLC's product, MagicDirt Premium Potting Soil, was named product Biogas Innovation of the Year because it represents both a product innovation for creating a sustainable, saleable product from digester-derived fiber and a marketing innovation for successfully selling a consumer product through major retailers such as Walmart. The success of Magic Dirt in the marketplace demonstrates that digester co-products can gain access to national retail markets, contribute to the greenhouse emission reduction goals of major retail chains, and attain consumer acceptance-all while contributing to the bottom line of the biogas project.
  • quasar energy group's technology Phosphorus Recovery System was awarded the technical Biogas Innovation of the Year for its innovative and exemplary portable phosphorus removal system. This technical innovation, which has been proven at scale, will help farms with and without digesters plus water resource recovery facilities to remove 99 percent of phosphorus from organic material, both preventing it from entering our waterways and recovering it for use where the nutrients are needed most. The mobile and versatile qualities of the system plus the nearly complete recovery of phosphorus and proven performance make this technology stand out as an exemplary technical innovation.
  • DVO, Inc.'s technology Phosphorus Recovery was awarded technical Biogas Innovation of the Year for its exemplary and innovative phosphorus and nitrogen removal system. This technical innovation has been proven to perform at scale and ultra-low cost removing 95 percent of phosphorus and 50 percent of nitrogen from digested material both preventing the nutrients from entering our waterways and recovering them for use where they are needed most. The nearly complete phosphorus recovery, impressive nitrogen recovery, proven commercial-scale performance and all at an ultra-low cost make this technology stand out as an exemplary technical innovation.

Outside-the-Box Award:

  • Newlight Technologies was awarded the Outside-the-Box Award for development and commercialization of its AirCarbon Greenhouse to Plastic technology. The AirCarbon process combines air and biogas with Newlight's biocatalyst to create a carbon-negative polymer at ambient operating conditions-no high pressures, high temperatures, or multiple major unit operations-generating significant savings in energy, water, capital costs, and carbon emissions. Turning biogas into cell phone cases and similar products is an innovation that should soon be "in the box" for the biogas industry.

October 19, 2015, Waunakee, WI – The operator of a troubled manure digester near Waunakee has tentatively agreed to sell the facility to a California firm.

Clear Horizons, the Milwaukee-based company that has operated the facility since 2010, announced recently that it had signed a letter of intent to sell the digester to Clean Fuel Partners of San Francisco. READ MORE

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