Waste District Trials Dry Anaerobic Digestion

The Monterey Regional Waste Management District is piloting a dry anaerobic digester from Zero Waste Energy.

The dry digester uses Smartferm technology, developed in Germany, to turn organic waste such as food scraps into electricity and compost for agriculture use.

The Smartferm installation at Monterey’s waste management district will help the organization determine the role of anaerobic digestion for its future. For the past four years, the district has been composting food scraps in response to requests from the local hospitality community’s interest in a more sustainable use for its organic waste. The district will sell the energy created from the dry anaerobic digestion to the neighboring Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency.

Smartferm’s 21-day batch process is semi-mobile, prefabricated and scalable up to 30,000 tons of waste per year. The Smartferm at the Monterey waste management district is equipped to process up to 5,000 tons per year, creating 100 kW of electricity or up to 3,200 BTU/ton of biogas with 58-60 percent methane content.

The Smartferm technology will be manufactured in the US by Zero Waste Energy’s partner Dover ESG.

This installation is the first dry anaerobic digestion project in the US for Zero Waste Energy, with three others in the construction stages in California.

According to the German Biogas Association, Europe leads in anaerobic digestion with over 8,000 existing installations and as many as 25,000 planned by 2020. Zero Waste Energy says the US has about 200 of the more traditional wet anaerobic digestion systems.

Founded in 1951, the Monterey Regional Waste Management District manages the solid waste stream from greater Monterey Peninsula region, an area of about 853 square miles and 170,000 residents and visitors. Since 1983, the district has operated a landfill-gas-to-energy program that converts methane gas to energy and presently produces 5 MW of electricity – enough energy to fulfill its own energy needs with surplus power sold to the grid to power 4,000 local homes.

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