The Environmental & Economic Benefits of Anaerobic Digestion

The Environmental & Economic Benefits of Anaerobic Digestion

January 15, 2020
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Anaerobic Digestion? MV Can Help

MV Technologies H2SPlus ™ and SulfAx Systems are in use to treat H2S in biogas streams for emissions control to beneficial end-use across applications from anaerobic digesters at farms, wastewater treatment facilities, food and beverage processing and more. Our systems have been used in treating AD biogas used in boilers, internal combustion engines, gas turbines and gas-upgrading (RNG) facilities.

MV has been involved in and successfully completed over 40 municipal, industrial and private anaerobic digestion (AD) projects. In addition, we are integrated into the first municipal waste dry digestion facility in North America.

For many reading this, you are already aware of the benefits of anaerobic digestion. But for those who are not, this is a brief synopsis of the economic and environmental benefits of anaerobic digestion.

What Is Anaerobic Digestion?

Anaerobic digestion is a naturally occurring process. In the absence of oxygen, bacteria break down organic materials and produce biogas. The process reduces -- or digests -- the amount of material, producing biogas as a byproduct. This biogas can then be used as an energy source. Anaerobic digestion (AD) technology is commonly used throughout the United States to break down sewage sludge at wastewater treatment facilities, byproducts at food and beverage processing facilities and waste (mainly manure) at farms.

The anaerobic digestion process occurs in three steps. First, plant or animal matter is decomposed by bacteria into molecules, such as sugar. The decomposed matter is then converted to organic acids, which are then converted to methane gas (biogas). The by-products of the process include methane gas AND organic solids and liquids and small amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. MV Technologies' systems help to remove the H2S gas from the methane. Following this process, both the biogas and the remaining organic solids and liquids can be used in multiple ways, presenting both environmental and economic benefits.

Environmental Benefits of Anaerobic Digestion

One of the most obvious environmental benefits of anaerobic digestion is its function in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By capturing methane gas that may have otherwise been lost to the atmosphere, AD operations displace fossil fuel energy use. This contributes to climate change mitigation and is notably beneficial in all AD technology use scenarios.

The use of AD technology on farms provides a multitude of examples of how anaerobic digestion benefits the environment. As farmers work diligently to meet the increasing demand for food and remain viable and profitable in the current global market place, the efficient use of water and nutrients for crop and livestock needs can reduce costs and environmental impacts and contribute to safer, more productive farms.

Digesters on farms can:

  • Protect animal and human health by reducing pathogens.
  • Convert nutrients in waste into more accessible forms for plants to use compared to raw manure, thereby increasing crop productivity and yield.
  • Recycle nutrients on the farm, creating an economically and environmentally sustainable food production system.
  • Produce heat, electricity, or fuel from biogas which can be used onsite, lessening the agriculture sector’s dependence on fossil fuel energy.
  • Accept food waste from places like restaurants and grocery stores. This means less food waste is sent to landfills. Food waste has the added benefit of increasing the efficiency of farm digesters.

Economic Benefits of Anaerobic Digestion

Aside from numerous environmental benefits, there are several economic benefits associated with utilizing anaerobic digestion technologies. For wastewater treatment facilities that are incorporating food waste into anaerobic digesters, they experience two-fold savings through the reduction of energy costs via onsite power production, as well as through the receipt of tipping fees for accepting the food waste from food processing companies. Food and beverage processing facilities can leverage the same benefits on site, but the introduction of food waste into wastewater treatment facilities has become increasingly popular in recent years.

The construction and operation of digesters at creates local job opportunities and increases local tax revenue, presenting opportunities in several forms. Digesters create opportunities for:

  • Local contractors specializing in site work, concrete, plumbing, electrical, permitting and engineering during the planning and construction phase of the operations.
  • Skilled laborers to keep the system functioning at optimal levels once completed and operations.
  • Businesses specializing in nutrients, manure solids and energy markets.
  • Agro-tourism; whereby visits to farms allow guests to learn about environmental improvements and the source of their food.

Aside from creating opportunities, the use of AD technologies presents an additional revenue stream with the potential to sell the organic nutrients from the by-products of digested waste to other agriculture and horticulture sources.

For all industries utilizing anaerobic digestion technologies, the opportunity to reduce energy costs is present due to the utilization of biogas to generate electricity and fuel on-site vehicles; thereby reducing dependence on local utilities. However, AD operations also provide an additional revenue stream with the option to sell excess biogas or the electricity generated by the biogas to the local utilities, providing locally sourced renewable energy to the respective community and tax credits, RINS and LCFS to the processing source.

Leverage Your AD Benefits With MV Technologies

Want to optimize your AD technology performance and maximize your AD benefits? Contact us today to discuss how we can help.

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