MassCEC Awards $2.3 Million for Organics-to-Energy Projects

Jul 12, 2013 –
BOSTON

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) awarded 18 grants worth $2,374,968 to advance the development of facilities that convert commonplace organic waste materials into heat and electricity during the Fiscal Year 2013 (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013).

These grants were issued through the MassCEC’s Commonwealth Organics-to-Energy program, which focuses on technologies that generate energy from inputs like food waste, yard waste, animal manure and sewage sludge, without direct combustion.

The 18 grants were awarded to public and private entities for the construction of facilities, for studies, and for other activities that lead to better ways to use organic matter as an energy source rather than dispose of it in landfills or incinerators.  The principal technology supported is anaerobic digestion.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process in which beneficial microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen, resulting in the formation of biogas.  The main component of biogas is methane, which is also the main ingredient in natural gas.  Anaerobic digesters are enclosed vessels that provide ideal conditions for the biological reactions to take place.  The digesters also contain the biogas so that it can then be used to run a generator or heat a boiler. The remaining “digested” material is rich in nutrients and can be used as a fertilizer or soil amendment.  Anaerobic digesters are already in use at several wastewater treatment plants in Massachusetts, most notably the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s Deer Island Treatment Plant.  Two dairy farms in the Commonwealth also use anaerobic digesters to generate electricity and produce fertilizer from cow manure combined with pre-consumer food waste. 

MassCEC awarded five construction grants totaling $1.75 million to the developers of the following projects:

  • AGreen Energy, Barstow Farm, Hadley.  Dairy farm will install a digester to process manure from the milking barn plus liquefied food waste.  The biogas will be used to run a generator for heat and electricity for use on the farm as well as export to the grid.
  • AGreen Energy, Bar-Way Longview Farm, Deerfield.  Dairy farm will install a digester to process manure from the milking barn plus liquefied food waste.  The biogas will be used to run a generator for heat and electricity for use on the farm as well as export to the grid.
  • Commowealth Resource Management Corporation, Dartmouth.  A digester to run primarily on source-separated food waste will be constructed at the Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District’s landfill.  Biogas from the digester will be combined with landfill gas to generate electricity sold as wholesale power.
  • NEO Energy, Fall River.  Digester will be designed to accept expired supermarket foods and other source-separated food wastes.  The biogas will fuel electric generators to produce electricity for the grid.
  • NEO Energy, Millbury.  Digester will be designed to accept expired supermarket foods and other source-separated food wastes.  The biogas will fuel electric generators to produce electricity for the grid.

In addition, MassCEC awarded $624,968 to 12 public entities and one non-profit for studies and other services related to the development of new anaerobic digestion systems, or the use of existing wastewater digesters to co-digest food wastes.  The awardees for these grants were the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District, the Town of Lexington, the Town of Hamilton, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the Town of Millbury, the City of Fitchburg, the City of Brockton, the Town of Greenfield, the Town of Barnstable, the City of Easthampton, the Town of Ayer, and the Town of Plymouth; the Franklin Park Zoo received a grant to study the feasibility of co-composting animal manure, yard wastes and food-concession waste, and recovering the natural heat from the process to make hot water and run a greenhouse.