What are Anaerobic Digesters?

What are Anaerobic DigestersAnaerobic digesters are used for purposes such as food waste recycling. They come in three or four different kinds of designs. All of them consist of three components in total.

 

  1. In the first compartment, there’s an input unit for the food waste to be entered.
  2. In the second compartment is the digester
  3. In the third one is an output unit that removes the residue.

A typical anaerobic digester consists of a sealed vessel, or series of sealed vessels. In these vessels, bacteria are activated without oxygen.

The organic food waste is thoroughly mixed and heated to a certain temperature. The mixture of gases formed during the procedure of anaerobic digestion is generally known as biogas.

Biogas

Biogas plant sketchBiogas primarily comprises of two gases- methane and carbon dioxide.

During the process of upgrading, the gases are then separated to obtain Methane and carbon dioxide. Both these gases have a variety of uses.

Biomethane Usage

Biomethane is almost the same as natural gas. The only difference between the two is that natural gas takes millions of years to produce, while biomethane can be engineered in an anaerobic digester in a few days. With the decreasing number of natural gas mines, anaerobic digesters offer a really good substitute.

Thus, Biomethane is used for the same purposes as the natural gas including heating, cooling, chemical production, fertilizers and hydrogen production.

Carbon Dioxide Usage

Carbon dioxide is an inert gas that is deemed quite valuable- it can be used for various purposes. Carbon dioxide is commonly used in fire extinguisher systems, carbonation of soft drinks, refrigeration units, decaffeination of coffee, welding as the shield gas, oil extraction, respiration stimulants for medical use, aerosol cans as a propellant, and in greenhouses for food production.

Digestate Usage

Digestate produced from a systematic treatment structure guarantees that all the substance is broken down into its most fundamental chemical components that has no contaminants, does not have an unpleasant odor, and is free from pathogens and weed seeds.

This digestate can then be used as a fertilizer which works better than the synthetic fertilizers available in the market these days.

Anaerobic Digesters in the US

Pennsylvania-flagsBig scale anaerobic digesters have been in use in the United States for several years now but their usage is not as common as it is in other developed countries. According to US EPA’s reports and surveys of 2012, Wisconsin has the largest number of anaerobic digester facilities in the US with a total of 26 anaerobic digestion plants, New York has 25, and Pennsylvania comes third with 22 facilities.

Anaerobic Digesters in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania houses around 7,000 dairy farms with an average herd size of less than a hundred cows. Odor and nutrient management are a great concern to the farmers in the state of Pennsylvania. The general financial feasibility seems to be the prime reason driving installation of anaerobic digesters in Pennsylvania over the past few years.

Energy Recyclers have a vision to see the state of Pennsylvania as the epitome of environmental sustainability. With their anaerobic digester facility in Pennsylvania, they want to save the environment by reducing the landfill as much as possible so as to reduce the harmful effects of the greenhouse gases.
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