B.C. Bioenergy Network funds AD demonstration

By Anna Austin | February 03, 2012

The non-profit, provincially-funded BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN) announced it has awarded a loan and grant totaling $1.5 million to Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre, a Harvest Power Inc. company, to support the development of an “Energy Garden” that will convert organic waste into electricity.

To be located in the Lower Mainland of B.C.—the region around and including Vancouver—the demonstration project will divert 27,000 metric tons of organic materials from B.C. landfills. The funding supplied by BCBN will be put toward two project components, the first of which is a $1 million loan toward the commercial demonstration of a High Solids Anaerobic Digestion (HSAD) plant that will convert food scraps and yard trimmings to electricity.

HSAD is also known as dry fermentation, which is best for stackable materials like food scraps and yard debris that have a solids content of 25 to 50 percent, according to Harvest Power. Materials are mixed and loaded into digestion chambers using a wheel loader, and after two weeks in the digestion system the partially degraded material is aerobically composted.

The 6,000 MWh of electricity produced at the HSAD plant will be purchased under the B.C. Hydro Community-Based Biomass Power Call, and will be enough to power around 700 B.C homes. The residual organic materials remaining after the AD process will be further composted and returned to local farms and gardens as soil amendments.  

The second project component is acquiring a pilot scale, mobile HSAD unit, which BCBN provided a $500,000 grant toward. It will be initially tested in Richmond, and later toured throughout North America. The Mobile Energy Harvester fits inside a shipping container on wheels and will feature small scale versions of HSAD equipment. The tour will serve to demonstrate to local communities the economics, benefits and risks of deploying the system.