Florida livestock pavilion gets bioenergy plant

By Lisa Gibson
Posted March 3, 2010, at 4:35 p.m. CST

A bioenergy demonstration project at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Marion County, Fla., will produce energy and organic fertilizers using the pavilion's raw animal waste.

Florida-based Sigarca Inc. owns the demonstration facility and the patented dry-fermentation process it will use to power itself and provide excess energy to the pavilion. The fertilizers produced will be bagged and marketed to local nurseries and landscaping companies.

The modular system is not specific to animal waste, according to Jose Sifontes, Sigarca CEO, but can process any biodegradable feedstock including municipal solid waste, waste-activated sludge, food waste, paper, agricultural waste, industrial waste and bioenergy crops. "Actual demonstration uses waste generated at the pavilion during the different weekend shows that include different animals," he said.

The process uses specially-designed bioreactors to digest the feedstock in a heated and moistened environment, Sifontes said. The compact and safe plant produces no run off, noise or noxious odors.

The demonstration project will operate for one year while studies are conducted to evaluate its performance and its ability to operate on a larger, commercial scale. Sigarca was awarded $500,000 for the project from the Farm to Fuel grant program, initiated by Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson. The project is the first to receive a grant from the fund. Sigarca and its partners invested an additional $539,000 to develop the facility.

The plant will create numerous economic benefits for its hosts including income from the sale of renewable energy, organic soil, soil tonic and carbon credits; savings from eliminated hauling and tipping fees; and tax incentives and rebates, Sifontes said.