The Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) and Zero Waste Energy, LLC (ZWE) held an open house today introducing the country's first dry anaerobic digester (AD) utilizing the SMARTFERM technology for use in processing organic waste.
The SMARTFERM technology, developed in Germany, will be the first of its kind in the US and will turn organic waste such as food scraps into electricity and high-quality compost for agriculture use. This state-of-the-art processing system represents the next generation of organic waste management strategies to maximize energy and compost production.
SMARTFERM's 21 day batch process diverts over 99% of organic waste, reduces greenhouse gases, reduces reliance on landfills and produces a clean, green energy. The technology is semi-mobile, space efficient, prefabricated, and scalable up to 30,000 tons of waste per year. These attributes enable the customer to reduce installation time and costs when compared to other AD technologies. The SMARTFERM at the MRWMD is equipped to process up to 5,000 tons per year, creating 100kW of electricity or up to 3,200 BTU/Ton of Biogas with 58-60% methane content. The SMARTFERM technology will be manufactured in the US by a ZWE partner who is a leader in the manufacturing of waste industry equipment, Dover ESG.
Seen as a pilot program, the SMARTFERM installation will help determine the role of anaerobic digestion in the future of organics management at the MRWMD, considered one of the most advanced waste management districts in the country. For the past four years, the MRWMD has been composting food scraps in response to requests from the local hospitality community's interest in a more sustainable use for its organic waste. This dry AD project is the next achievement in efficiency for the District, who will sell the energy created from the dry AD to the neighboring Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency.
"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 that this will be the first of many SMARTFERM plants installed in the US over the next several years."
Anaerobic digestion (AD) has recently to come to the forefront of the waste industry. The installation at the MRWMD is the first dry AD project in the US for ZWE, with three others in the construction stages in California alone. Over 30 of the more traditional wet AD systems are also underway throughout the state, contributing to the approximately 200 throughout the country. Leading the way, Europe already has over 8,000 AD installations with as many as 25,000 planed by 2020 according to the German Biogas Association.