Fremont Regional Digester reopens in Michigan

By Generate Capital Inc. | September 18, 2017

Fremont’s biodigester has reopened under new ownership and management, converting 165,000 tons of organic waste every year into renewable electricity that can power more than 2,500 Michigan homes.

Generate Capital Inc., a San Francisco-based sustainable infrastructure company with a focus on waste-to-energy projects, has invested substantially this year in order to resume operations at the Fremont Regional Digester. The plant is now designed to run around the clock with capacity to handle approximately 450 tons or 120,000 gallons of organic waste per day.

Generate Capital partnered with Dynamic Systems Management LLC, an experienced Waukesha, Wisconsin-based developer and operator of biodigesters, to manage the facility. Daniel Meccariello, Chief Operating Officer of DSM, is proud of the reopening and of the benefits the digester will bring to the community. “We are working with nearby food processors and agribusinesses to help divert thousands of tons of waste from landfills,” he said. “We will be able to accept and process just about any type of organic material and turn it into an immediately usable, environmentally-friendly form of energy for local families.”

Gerber Products Co. in Fremont is one of the first local companies to provide feedstock for the digester. “Nestle Gerber has worked with the digester in Fremont since the beginning, and we appreciate the value it brings to the community and the environment,” said Tom Boerger, Fremont factory manager for Gerber.  “We look forward to working with Dynamic Systems Management and the digester in Fremont in the future.”

“The city of Fremont was very pleased with Generate’s purchase of the Fremont Community Digester and impressed with their ability to refurbish the plant and get it back up and running in such a short time,” said Fremont City Manager Todd Blake. “The digester not only benefits our local economy by supporting food and agricultural producers in West Michigan by recycling food waste to produce electricity, but will also create a lasting impact on the Fremont community and our natural environment.”

Meccariello likened the Fremont Regional Digester to a massive mechanical version of a cow’s stomach. First, organic waste is removed from its packaging, ground into a watery slurry and pumped into digestion tanks. There, micro-organisms convert the slush into biogas, which is used to generate power. The leftover solids are then used as an organic fertilizer by local farms.

The facility will work with customers to develop plans for organic waste disposal that address everything from transport of the wastes and tipping fees to delivery schedules and handling of specialized wastes. Fremont Regional Digester has developed a network of trucking subcontractors that can perform regular pick-up services for customers and even provide a Certificate of Destruction for those requiring disposal certainty. “We welcome customers of all sizes—whether they have deliveries once a day or once a week,” Meccariello said. “It really doesn’t matter what the organic waste is or how much they have.”

With the new upgrades, the plant is now equipped with state-of-the-art controls for improved monitoring, depackaging equipment, and measures to minimizes odors. A stringent digestate management plan approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ensures the full lifecycle of the waste is accounted for.

Biogas produced from the digester will be used to generate more than 2.8 megawatts of electricity. For a typical Michigan household using about 8,500 kilowatt hours per year, the digester should produce enough electricity to power 2,500 households.