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First commercial-scale high-solids anaerobic digester in North America

By Scott Jenkins |

Harvest Power (Waltham, Mass.; www.harvestpower.com) recently began operation of the first commercial-scale, high-solids anaerobic digester in North America. The facility produces biogas from food waste and yard waste in Richmond, B.C., Canada. “The anaerobic digester employs essentially the same biology that you would see in the stomachs of ruminants, but the process is being applied to a high-solids feedstock,” explains Paul Sellew, CEO of Harvest Power. The process begins in a series of gastight tunnels equipped with a percolation system where an aqueous solution of hydrolysate is sprayed down over the feedstock and organic acids are collected below. The hydrolysate is then fed to naturally occurring anaerobes to make biogas. After digestion, the feedstock is composted and sold as high-quality soil products, while the biogas is used by a 2.5-MW combined heat and power (CHP) system. The clean energy component of the facility will process about 40,000 ton/yr of food and yard waste from local residences and businesses, in addition to the 200,000 ton/yr processed by the adjacent composting system. Harvest has established a longterm agreement with the local utility to supply power to the grid, Sellew notes (for more on…
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