Zero Waste Energy builds dry anaerobic digester in Calif.

By Chris Hanson | February 07, 2013

An open house was held on January 25 to introduce Zero Waste Energy LLC’s first U.S.-based dry anaerobic digester (AD). The system is located at the Monterey Regional Waste Management District, where it will process waste generated by the area’s hospitality industry.

Unlike other dry digestion plants, ZWE’s digester is compact, quickly constructed, and efficient. Utilizing SMARTFERM technology developed in Germany, the machinery is semi-mobile, space efficient, requires only 3,000 square feet of space, and is self-heating using natural biological processes and recirculation of liquid moving throughout the waste material. Additionally, the system can be functional within 20 days and can be scaled to process more than 30,000 tons per year, making it attractive for use in urban areas.

“We are grateful for the MRWMD, who has taken an innovate leadership role and helped bring this valuable, viable technology to the industry and the country,” said Eric Herbert, CEO of Zero Waste Energy. “We are confident this will be the first of many SMARTFERM plants installed in the U.S.”

The new AD plant is going to be equipped to process up to 5,000 tons of waste per year, generating 100 kW of electricity or 3,200 BTU/ton of biogas with a methane content of 58-60 percent.

Being on the forefront of turning trash to gas is nothing new for the MRWMD. In 1983, the district began utilizing landfill gas to generate 5 MW of electricity to power its own facility. Excess power sold to the grid was enough to power 4,000 local homes. With the addition of the SMARTFERM plant, the district plans to sell the energy to the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency.