Regenis 2017 Mid-Year Update

Regenis 2017 Mid-Year Update

New Horizons In Nutrient Recovery

One of the more exciting recent developments in on-farm manure and nutrient management is incorporation of fine solids separators (FSS) capable of separating fine solids and their associated nutrients from the wastewater.

When paired with an anaerobic digester, these FSS units allow for 90% of the phosphorous and 35% of the nitrogen from dairy waste to be removed from the slurry in a solid form. Because of the FSS process, dairy farmers can create a new stream of revenue by selling the phosphorous as a bio-fertilizer, or they can more easily transport it to distant fields and more efficiently meet their nutrient management plans.

Only a handful of FSS units have been installed in North America, but that number will increase when Regenis cuts the ribbon on a dissolved air floatation device (DAF), a type of fine solid separators at Edaleen Dairy in Lynden, Washington on July 10th. Regenis and Edaleen Dairy teamed up in successfully writing a grant to the Washington State Department of Commerce RD&D program, which in part allowed for funding and demonstration of this new technology.

“Nutrient recovery is going to be a bigger and bigger deal moving forward,” said Edaleen Dairy’s Mitch Moorlag. “With current and future regulation, things aren’t getting easier for farmers and more tools are needed to help us achieve a higher level of stewardship of the land.”

“With an FSS, I’ll need to buy less land, apply fewer nutrients to my land and not have to truck nutrients anymore. That’s what you call a winning triple bottom line,” Moorlag said.

“Phosphorus is something that farmers need to keep growing crops to feed America so it will always be in demand. I think the biggest future trend will be that new, renewable sources of phosphorus like the ones streamlined by the FSS will become a bigger part of the commercial fertilizer business as people look for more sustainable options,” Moorlag said.  

Flowing With Operations & Maintenance 

In order to protect the investment in an anaerobic digester, proper operation and maintenance is required. Substrates need to be added and mixed in the right proportions and outflows need to be carefully monitored to increase the amount of biogas, kill pathogens and prevent clogs in the system.

Regenis currently handles the operations and maintenance of seven digesters, and every one of them, whether complete mix or mixed plug flow, is operational with excellent digester (100%) and engine (95%+) runtimes. Our track record has led to other digester owners reaching out to us to help them achieve the same level of optimal performance. In fact, in just the first half of 2017, Regenis was hired to consult on four different upright steel tank mix reactors in the Pacific Northwest under the leadership of our Regional Directors—Brad Weg in Idaho, and Andy Hansen in Washington.

“Our O&M team are really the unsung heroes of the company because they operate without great fanfare, but also because they allow us to expand our breadth of expertise beyond the development and construction phase. Importantly their expertise in O&M allows us not only the ability to identify initial design and build flaws contributing to suboptimal digester performance, but also to correct substrate mixtures and identify potential chemistry and safety problems before they happen, preventing shut downs which could lead to more costly repairs,” said Regenis Vice President, Bryan Van Loo.

Craig At The Capitol

In mid-May, a group of biogas industry leaders including our own Director of Research and Technology, Dr. Craig Frear, was in the nation’s capital to meet with lawmakers and to demonstrate how an endless supply of hot emissions (from cows, not politicians) can be captured and turned into one of America’s cleanest sources of baseload energy—renewable natural gas (RNG).

“While most methane captured from anaerobic digesters is used to generate electricity, it’s becoming more viable to turn that biogas into renewable natural gas, which can be pumped into our existing natural gas infrastructure to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions even further,” Frear said.

That was the takeaway message at the RNG Forum hosted by the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas and the American Biogas Council, which included biogas industry members and government agencies overseeing energy and agricultural policies at the federal level.

Following the conference, Frear–as part of a delegation of Board of Directors of the American Biogas Council—spent two days on Capitol Hill sharing that message with the new administration as well as over 20 members of Congress and their policy staffs as part of a primer on how federal policy is integral to the success of the biogas industry.

“Congress, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be making some key decisions over the next few months,” Frear said, “and stability is critical for the industry right now.”

Frear cited protecting the already enacted Renewable Fuel Standard from major changes as well as supporting/expanding the biogas pathway for both RNG and electrical vehicles as priorities during the 115th Congress.

“Every fuel molecule and/or electron created in the biogas sector is one less that has to be generated from dirty fossil fuels,” Frear said. “We know this is the future of energy production in the United States, and we want biogas to be recognized as an equally important fuel source because it doesn’t require the sun to shine or the wind to blow to keep the lights on. Additionally, its flexibility to be used as either electricity on the transmission grid or clean natural gas delivered through pipelines translates into greater energy security for our nation.”