Wisc. engineering firm calls biogas a top growth area

By Luke Geiver | November 21, 2012

The waste-to-energy market is the single biggest driver of growth for Wisconsin-based engineering and consulting firm, Symbiont Inc. The $18.6 million project in the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Wisconsin that the company has recently started helps to show why. With the help of Miron Construction Co., and Biothane LLC, the company will design an anaerobic digester near an existing FCPC Casino to produce roughly 2 MW and 7.7 million Btu per hour. The facility will utilize organic waste streams from 10 food processing facilities. The waste will be trucked in and used in two 1 million gallon AD tanks that will create roughly 700 cfm of biogas. The power and thermal output from the facility will be sent back to the casino.

In general, food processing plants continue to consolidate and therefore grow in size, according to Jeff VanVoorhis, director of marketing for Symbiont. “The larger the facility, the more waste is generated as a byproduct of material processing. Food processing waste can be 10 to 100 times stronger in concentration than typical domestic/household waste,” he said, adding that, “the magnitude of the waste stream is often larger than the capacity of the municipal waste treatment facilities.”

Because Symbiont is a design-build firm that does not sell equipment or chemicals, VanVoorhis said the company has been successful at evaluating and selecting the best treatment process for each application. In addition to the FCPC project, the company is also working on a 3.2 MW AD project in Turtle Lake, Wis. The project will also utilized food processing waste from roughly 10 facilities. The waste will be both trucked and piped in. The facility’s two 2 million gallon AD tanks will create roughly 1,000 cfm of biogas. The heat and power will be transferred back to the food processing facilities.

According to VanVoorhis, the company is involved in at least five AD projects per year for food processors. The FCPC project will be constructed using a modular configuration, allowing for future expansion and increased capacity. Construction will begin this fall and be completed in 2013. The Turtle Lake facility will be completed in 2013 as well.