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Anaerobic Digestion: Turning One Man’s Trash Into Another Man’s Treasure. January 20, 2009 Dr. Catherine Keske Dr. Sybil Sharvelle. Recovering Manure to Produce Energy. Benefits of Anaerobic Digesters How Digesters Work Trends and Feasibility Economic Issues

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Anaerobic digestion turning one man s trash into another man s treasure l.jpg

Anaerobic Digestion: Turning One Man’s Trash Into Another Man’s Treasure

January 20, 2009

Dr. Catherine Keske

Dr. Sybil Sharvelle

Recovering manure to produce energy l.jpg
Recovering Manure to Produce Energy Man’s Treasure

  • Benefits of Anaerobic Digesters

  • How Digesters Work

  • Trends and Feasibility

  • Economic Issues

  • How to Get Involved or Learn More

  • Questions

Benefits of anaerobic digesters l.jpg
Benefits of Anaerobic Digesters Man’s Treasure


Economic and Social

On-farm energy generation (avoid electricity purchases)

May sell energy to utilities

Savings on bedding

Sale of composted solids

Carbon credits available

Renewable energy certificates

Odor control

  • Production

    • Soil management

    • Manure management

    • Biogas production

  • Reduces environmental pollution

    • Water

    • Green house gases

    • Ammonia

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Anaerobic Digestion: How It Works Man’s Treasure

Green Power

Anaerobic Environment



Acids  CH4

Organics  Acids

Hot Water

High BOD


High Nutrient

Low Odor


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Model Project: Quadra Project in Indiana Man’s Treasure

Green Power

Frito Lay

Biodiesel Plant

Cold Soybean Oil

WE Can Do This in Colorado Too!

Food Waste

Anaerobic Digester

Hog Waste

Hot Soybean Oil

ADM Soybean Processing

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Waste Suitablility Man’s Treasure

  • Low solids content, < 14% solids

  • Low inorganic content

    • Soil

    • Rocks

  • Higher organic content, more energy content

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Average Annual Minimum Temperature Man’s Treasure

Colorado – Cold Climate

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Colorado – Dry Climate Man’s Treasure

Need to Find Nearby Source of Wastewater or Add Groundwater to Waste

Average Annual Precipitation In Colorado

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Alternative Design - Two Stage Leachate Collection Man’s Treasure

Low Moisture

Manure and




Anaerobic Digester

High Organic Leachate

Methane Gas

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Costs of Anaerobic Digesters Man’s Treasure

  • Cost of the digester:

    Approximately $1 million

    Average life: 15 yrs. (Range: 10-20)

  • Cost of the solids separator:

    Approximately $75,000

    **Key to raising profitability**

  • Opportunity cost

    Cost of your next best alternative

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Are Digesters Profitable? Man’s Treasure“Yes…”

  • Several models show profitability

    • Measured in cash flows associated with the investment

  • Critical to use a solids separator

    • Use the solids as a co-product

    • Bedding is the most economic use

  • Larger herds lead to economies of scale

  • Key element to profitability: Energy prices

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“…But…Will a Digester Work for My Operation?” Man’s Treasure

  • Greater than 500 head (more than 1,000 head preferred)

  • Requires steady flow of manure (CAFOs)

  • Climate matters – the warmer the better

  • Must be able to use the biogas

  • “Community” digesters are an option

    • Pipelines transport waste to central site

    • Could consider other facilities (e.g. food processing)

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“Yes, But…” Man’s TreasureEconomic Considerations

  • Majority of studies conducted in the East

  • Profitability relies on carbon credits

    • $2 per metric ton of CO2

  • “Net positive gain” may include a net gain to the environment (not necessarily a net gain to the farmer/rancher)

  • Profitability critically depends upon energy prices

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Want to Learn More? Man’s Treasure

  • Contact Us!

  • Institute for Livestock and the Environment:

  • USDA Producer Workshop

    2/19/09 York, Nebraska

  • AgStar:

  • Colorado Governor’s Energy Office:

    Sponsoring feasibility studies

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Questions? Man’s Treasure