$38-Million Biodigester coming to Grand Rapids


Grand Rapids has begun building a $38-million biodigester that will convert food waste into energy.

City officials and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony last week at the city’s Environmental Services Department’s Water Resource Recovery Facility, or WRRF, at 1300 Market Ave. SW.

A new $38-million waste-to-energy biodigester and related sludge treatment system is being built at the site.

The project, initially projected to be completed in 2018, is now estimated to be done by 2019.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said the biodigester is part of the city’s goal of using 100-percent renewable energy to power city buildings by 2025.

“This project demonstrates the overwhelming public and private support we have in our region for green infrastructure,” Bliss said.

The city generates almost 30% of its electricity from renewable energy.

Why it’s needed

Environmental Services Director Mike Lunn said when the project was announced in February that the system is the city’s chosen solution for treating the growing stream of food waste from companies such as Founders Brewing Co., Coca-Cola and Amway.

City Manager Greg Sundstrom added it was the most sustainable and financially sound option on the table.

“Without this biodigester, Grand Rapids would exceed the capacity of our current system within the next few years and that would require spending $120 million to expand waste treatment operations at the city’s Water Resource Recovery Facility,” Sundstrom said. “Our plan reduces costs, protects the environment in a sustainable manner and advances progress on our city’s important quality-of-life priorities.”

How it works

Biodigesters are concrete chambers that mimic the work done by fermenters in a brewery, converting carbon to carbon dioxide and methane, Public Services Managing Director Tom Almonte said.

The plan will be to take organic waste and combine it with microorganisms in three sealed, air-tight tanks that each have a capacity of 1.4-million gallons. The project also provides space for an expansion of three additional tanks at the site to allow existing or future high-strength waste customers to tap into the system.

Water from a new $4-million, 10-inch transmission pipe the city has installed underneath Market Avenue will carry concentrated food waste from Founders Brewing and other businesses, such as SET Environmental, to the city’s treatment plant.

The waste will then be recycled through the biodigester to create a biogas that produces energy, primarily electricity, that can then be used to power and heat the buildings and operations at WRRF and to operate the digesters, Almonte said.

“Carbon filters and other technologies will be used to control the smell,” Lunn said. “It’s based on the same system we use at the wastewater treatment facility to control odors from raw solid waste.”


Grand Rapids will pay for the project with tax-exempt municipal bonds. Electricity production from the biodigester will help offset the costs of the investment, which is expected to help keep consumers’ rates steady, Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong said.

The biodigester system will produce about 95 percent of the WRRF electricity needs, DeLong said.

When fully operational, the biodigester system might open the door to potential new revenue streams, Commissioner Ruth Kelly said. The sale of city-generated phosphorous recovery has a potential annual return on investment that will make the investment revenue neutral to positive.

Firms on the project

Pasadena, California-based Tetra Tech is leading the design phase of the biodigester installation.

The Christman Company, based in Lansing, is serving as the project’s contractor.

The planning effort was guided by the city’s Utility Advisory Board.

Area impact

According to the city, the biodigester project has potential long-term benefits across Kent County, because the WRRF goes beyond serving the Grand Rapids to include the communities of Walker, Kentwood, Cascade Township, Grand Rapids Township, Tallmadge Township, Wright Township, East Grand Rapids, Ada Township, Gaines Township and Caledonia Township.


Article cited from: https://goo.gl/sTZq7C 





  1. Waste No Waste: Time to Embrace Biogas
  2. Is Big Gas finally learning to love biogas?
  3. We need to get behind Renewable Natural Gas
  4. Difference between a Turbo and Positive Displacement Blower
  5. The Difference between Methane and Natural Gas
  6. First Dairy Biogas Project in Connecticut
  7. Does Renewable Natural Gas Have a Future in Energy?
  8. Biogas Offtake Opportunities For Digesters
  9. Wisconsin Dairy Begins Production of Renewable Natural Gas
  10. Anaerobic Digestion Sector Forming a Clearer Picture
  11. Brightmark to Expand Western New York Dairy Biogas Project
  12. Biogas - The Energy Wonder That's Under Our Noses
  13. Power Generation Achieved by a Self-Assembled Biofuel Cell
  14. Less Carbon Dioxide from Natural Gas
  15. Project Uses Renewable Electricity for RNG Production
  16. Smithfield Hog Farm Provides Natural Gas to Missouri City
  17. From Waste to Gas
  18. Gas Clash Threatens Australian Export
  19. Maximizing Opportunities of Anaerobic Digestion from Wastewater
  20. Catalyst to Speed up Conversion of Biomass to Biofuel
  21. How It Works: Ethanol
  22. Anaerobic Digestion - the Next Big Renewable Energy Source
  23. Anaerobic Additions
  24. Three (3) Tech Solutions for Modern Landfills
  25. The Costs and Benefits of Anaerobic Digesters
  26. Bacteria Farts Power Wastewater Plant in Fort Wayne
  27. Europe’s First Poultry Manure Biogas Plant
  28. Electricity Using Pig Manure
  29. $38-Million Biodigester coming to Grand Rapids
  30. Biochar Could Benefit Anaerobic Digestion of Animal Manure

For additonal reading, please visit us at: News Worthy

Difference between a Turbo and Positive Displacement Blower