German-made anaerobic digester to debut in Lowell; manure, food waste to become renewable energy

It's been in the dream phase for years, and today a group of forward-thinking civic leaders break ground to be the first to bring an innovative German-made anaerobic digester to the United States.

Sustainable Partners, LLC (SPART) owners Greg Northrup and Pam Landes landed private funding for the construction of the $6 million energy production plant and, with the unnamed investor, formed Lowell Energy AD, LLC.

The digester uses Upflow/Downflow/Reflow technology created by German engineering firm enCO2, LLC, and will convert 4,000 to 8,000 tons of manure per year from SwissLane Dairy Farms, and about 1.5 million gallons of wastewater, and waste fats, oils and greases from Litehouse Foods and area restaurants into methane that powers an 800 kW electric power generator.

Lowell Light & Power will purchase the electricity to help it meet its Michigan Renewable Portfolio Standard of 10 percent renewable energy sources as the city of Lowell grows.

The 25,000-square-foot digester will occupy the former Newell Manufacturing plant, long vacant, at 625 Chatham Street. Northrup says the facility will be entirely contained and will generate no odors from the waste products, only energy.

"We're taking material that used to go to landfills and we're using it to generate electricity," Northrup says. "We are also doing wastewater treatment for Litehouse. We'll take the wastewater and remove the solids, improve it, and put it back into wastewater system cleaner. We'll build a pipeline one-third of a mile long from Litehouse to the facility. They've been hauling the wastewater away by truck and dumping it, and those trucks will be gone."

Northrup says it's taken years to get the biodigester model developed, but once this first one is done, SPART expects to reproduce the results across the state and is looking at "five or six" other locations.

Northrup says the biodigester will be operational in late 2014 or early 2015.

Construction manager: Rockford Construction
Engineering: enCO2
Civil engineers: Williams & Works

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Lowell Energy AD, LLC

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