- Ground was officially broken on the $43 million Wasatch Resource Recovery project this week, Utah's first anaerobic digester for food scraps, as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune. The North Salt Lake facility is a public-private partnership between ALPRO Energy & Water and the South Davis Sewer District, which will manage operations.
- The project will use GE's Monsal digestion technology, which also includes a system to separate out non-organic contaminants for recycling. The first phase will include two digesters capable of processing 180,000 tons of source-separated material per year and a second phase will boost that volume to 250,000 tons per year, as reported by Biomass Magazine.
- The facility is expected to produce enough renewable natural gas to power 15,000 homes and biosolids will be sold for local agricultural use. The gas will be purchased by BP Energy Corporation, with the potential to use some for on-site power after the project's second phase is complete. Current projections estimate the facility will be open by late 2018.
This project has reportedly been in development for about five years and has attracted a broad base of support along the way, including Utah Governor Gary Herbert who attended the groundbreaking. ALPRO has also obtained commitments from nearly 25 local businesses — including Nestle and a local Coca-Cola distributor — to process material once operational.
Momentum Recycling, which has received attention for its glass diversion efforts in Utah and Colorado, is also a partner on the project. Their website already includes a page soliciting commercial food scraps that also emphasizes capabilities to handle packaged material. Lining up this many commitments for commercial tonnage up front is the ideal scenario for any new digestion project. And while no plans have been announced to handle residential material yet, that could be possible in the future with this type of guaranteed base.
According to the American Biogas Council, Utah ranks 37th out of all U.S. states in terms of methane production potential from biogas sources — though much of that potential hasn't been tapped into yet. ABC's analysis shows opportunities for dozens of potential new projects sourcing biogas from food waste, agriculture, wastewater and landfills.
Recent advances in gas capture technology, as well as federal credits, have made food scraps one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy in the waste industry and that makes it more likely this may not be the last project of its kind in Utah.