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Vermont Experience With Anaerobic Digesters. Dan Scruton. Vermont Methane Pilot Project. Started in 1999 with DOE funds thanks to Senator Jeffords Initially wanted to set up pilot sites Decision to step back and determine why the systems from the 1970s and 80s did not catch on.

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vermont methane pilot project
Vermont Methane Pilot Project
  • Started in 1999 with DOE funds thanks to Senator Jeffords
  • Initially wanted to set up pilot sites
  • Decision to step back and determine why the systems from the 1970s and 80s did not catch on
program mission
Program Mission
  • Identify, and help overcome, the strategic hurdles to widespread adoption of agricultural methane recovery and use technologies
what did we do
What Did We Do ?
  • Vermont Methane Pilot Project Initial Literature Search
    • Most of the systems from the 1980’s no longer in use
  • Resource Assessment
    • Cows = 28 megawatts
  • Attached Growth Research
    • Dramatically shorter retention times are possible
feasibility farms
Feasibility farms
  • Positive cash flow in the 500 cow and up
    • 7 year pay-back or better
  • 300 to 500 cows positive if put a value on odor
  • Small farms may be viable for hot water only systems if manure liquid or niche (making cheese so have supply of whey)
  • Farmer generally gets better return on capital with other uses of the money
hurdles
Hurdles
  • MARGINAL ECONOMICS
  • Traditional designs only suitable for largest farms
  • Perception of Complicated Operation
  • Problematic designs causing high maintenance
hurdles7
Hurdles
  • Gas quality
    • low BTU
    • H2S is corrosive
  • Sale to grid was complicated
  • Low wholesale price
  • Little to no existing service industry
  • Ancillary benefits not quantified
hurdles8
Hurdles
  • Time.
  • Farmers already working long days and do not want more headaches.
hurdles9
Hurdles
  • Significant problems with recent systems
  • Technology need to improve before widespread adoption is recommended
  • Hasn’t slowed the flow of salespeople
solutions
Solutions
  • Legislative
  • Technical
  • On-farm

Just keep nibbling away.

net metering
Net Metering
  • Credit power from generation meter to other farm meters
    • Barns, houses, employees, etc.
  • 150 kW max
  • No demand or time of day charges
  • Simplified regulations while still safeguarding safety and power quality
  • Can “BANK” power for one year
existing demonstration site
Existing Demonstration Site
  • Foster Brothers Farm in Middlebury, VT
    • Active digester since 1982
  • Side-by-side system
  • Investigate simpler designs
  • Reduce maintenance
  • Shorter retention times
  • Can try things without major expenses
research at fosters
Research at Fosters
  • Steam for heating
    • Reduced start-up from months to weeks
    • Gas output starts much faster
    • Excellent at dealing with frozen manure
  • Economics reasonable on whole manure systems
new on farm systems
New On-Farm Systems?
  • Three systems are under construction
  • Plug Flow
  • Vertical Plug Flow Tank
  • Mixed Tank Attached Growth
whole manure horizontal flow
Whole Manure Horizontal Flow
  • “U” shaped cross agitated plug-flow digester
  • 20 day retention time 100°F
  • Generator selling all of its power to the utility
  • Working with CVPS on Cow Power
digested solids for bedding
Digested Solids for Bedding
  • Separating manure after the digester
  • Digested solids
    • ½ Dried down partial for use as bedding
    • ½ Available for land use or sale off farm
swamp on a rope
Swamp-On-A-Rope
  • Totally different approach to manure handling
  • Separate manure first
  • Liquid to a digester designed to:
    • Be delivered fully assembled
    • Digest in 2 days (normally 20)
  • Liquid then goes through a system that outputs:
    • Nutrients in a sludge
    • Clear water that meets EPA discharge standard
major ramifications
Major Ramifications
  • No hauling water around on the roads
  • No liquid manure storage to stir
  • No odors from spreading liquid manure
  • Potentially the nutrients will be segregated between P and N
    • Farmers could easily match application rates to soil needs
thank you www vermontagriculture com
Thank youwww.vermontagriculture.com

Dan Scruton

Dan@agr.state.vt.us