By Emmanuelle Brière
Proposed High Solids Anaerobic Digestion Facility - Isometric View
Composting is an increasingly common recycling method in municipalities across Canada. The reasons for its popularity are well known: composting is environmentally friendly and, when done on a regular basis, can reduce the amount of household waste by one third. But a further benefit of diverting these wastes from landfills has recently attracted a lot of attention: their potential as a source of renewable energy.
Fraser Richmond Soil & Fibre, Ltd. (FRSF), with financial support from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) through the Clean Energy Fund, is implementing the first Canadian high-efficiency system for turning food scraps and yard waste into a source of renewable energy. This clean energy project, recently launched in Richmond, British Columbia, will generate electricity and heat from organic waste that would otherwise be sent to landfills.
From Organic Waste to Energy
Foundations for the new high-solids anaerobic digestion facility at Fraser Richmond Soil & Fibre, Ltd. in Richmond, B.C.
You may not think that food scraps and yard waste could be used to heat our homes, but it can be done, thanks to an innovative high-solids anaerobic digestion (HSAD) technology. Anaerobic digestion involves fermenting organic materials — such as manure, sewage sludge, industrial effluent, forest and agricultural waste — in an oxygen-deprived environment to produce biogas, compost and heat.
The biogas (which is primarily methane) produced by this project will be used to generate electricity for the City of Vancouver. “This is a great opportunity for the federal government to be involved in the first Canadian implementation of this technology,” says Laura Martin, a science and technology advisor and project manager with RNCan’s Office of Energy Research and Development (OERD). “The project has potential for replication all over Canada. Projects like this will help Canada meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets while at the same time reducing the volume of waste sent to landfills.”
Why is this Demonstration Being Carried Out in B.C.?
FRSF is the largest compost manufacturer in British Columbia and operates the largest certified composting facility in North America. Currently, over 150,000 tonnes of food scraps and yard waste are processed by FRSF each year. The waste comes from regional municipalities and is diverted from landfills by Metro Vancouver, an organization that provides 22 Vancouver municipalities with a number of services, including water, sewage and solid waste management. The composting clean energy project will help Vancouver meet the Zero Waste Challenge, launched in 2007, which aims to divert 70 percent of the region’s waste from landfills by 2015.
A Beneficial Project for Canada
The Urban Waste to Electricity Project is a remarkable opportunity to encourage the public to compost more and to allow experts to advance renewable energy research.
And the project may benefit many other communities outside of the Vancouver region. FRSF will be able to share the knowledge gained from the project with other municipalities and partners, and thus promote anaerobic digestion technology facilities elsewhere in Canada and North America, leading to the creation of many jobs as well as significant reductions in the use of fossil fuels.
For more information on the Urban Waste to Electricity demonstration project or on sources of renewable energy, visit the NRCan Media Room and the CanmetENERGY site. To learn about the context of the project, visit the site for the Clean Energy Fund, part of Canada's Economic Action Plan.
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