Biogas plants open in Wash., Calif.

By Anna Simet | December 14, 2012

Two biogas plants have recently been completed in Washington and California. Both will generate electricity to power onsite operations, but the California facility will also produce a liquid transportation fuel to power a truck fleet.  

Agri Beef Co., which producer of the premium Northwest beef brands Snake River Farms, Double R Ranch and St. Helens, built the plant at the site of its beef processing facility in Toppenish, Wash. It captures methane for an anaerobic lagoon that’s part of the plant's water treatment system, and uses it in the company’s steam boilers, displacing nearly 20 percent of the facility’s natural gas needs.

After purchasing the beef plant in 2003, Agri Beef identified several areas for improvement, one of which was water conservation and the water treatment system. A critical part of the system, according to Agri Beef, is anaerobic lagoons that generate methane. In order to make use of it, the company completely redesigned the water treatment lagoon by adding below ground vents, while trapping the gasses under a specially-designed cover that encapsulates the lagoon. The captured gas is then pushed through a series of pressurized containers and storage system eventually being burned in the plant’s boilers. 

On Dec. 14 in Sacramento, Calif., CleanWorld is officially opening its Sacramento Biodigester system, what it believes is the nation’s largest commercial-scale, high-solids anaerobic digestion system.

The digester will convert 10,000 tons of food waste and organic materials per year, or 25 tons per day, from area food processing companies, restaurants and supermarkets into renewable natural gas, electricity and soil-amendment products. A 30,000-ton-per-year scale-up of the facility is planned for January.

Waste and recycling company Atlas Disposal Industries is developing a 1 million-gallon-per-year renewable natural gas fueling station at the site of Sacramento Biodigester, and will use resulting natural gas to power its trucks and other vehicles. Groundbreaking on the fueling station is planned for January, with completion in the spring.

Electricity from the digester will be used to power the station.

According to CleanWorld, the biogas plant and fueling station will create 16 long-term jobs in Sacramento and generate more than $1.1 million in annual combined tax revenue for the city, county and state.