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Brightmark Energy launches Central Washington’s first dairy biogas project

In the United States (US), Brightmark Energy LLC, a San Francisco-based waste and energy development company, recently launched a biogas project in Yakima County, Washington state, that will convert 150 000 (US) gallons (≈ 568 000 litres) per day of dairy waste from up to 7 000 cows into renewable natural gas (RNG).

US dollars

In the United States (US) Brightmark Energy LLC, a San Francisco-based waste and energy development company, recently launched a biogas project in Yakima County, Washington state, that will convert 150 000 (US) gallons (≈ 568 000 litres) per day of dairy waste from up to 7 000 cows into renewable natural gas (RNG).

Collaborating as Augean Renewable Natural Gas, Brightmark Energy LLC, Promus Energy LLC, and George DeRuyter & Sons Dairy developed the project. Brightmark Energy will manage the joint venture and Promus Energy LLC, a renewable energy development company and the original developer, will serve as the project manager.

New pipeline infrastructure

A key component of the Augean project is the construction of new pipeline infrastructure by Yakima County and Augean that sets the table for RNG projects for other dairies in the area. The Augean project will collect biogas from DeRuyter’s anaerobic digester (AD) fueled exclusively by manure.

The raw biogas will be cleaned, upgraded into biomethane, and compressed into pipeline quality RNG, which will be transported through the new pipeline system and injected into the nearby Williams NW regional gas transmission line for sale as vehicle fuel.

In addition to RNG, other renewable products generated by Augean’s anaerobic digestion process include biofertilizer, digested dairy fiber for use as cow bedding or as a peat moss substitute, and reclaimed irrigation water.

Brightmark specializes in energy technologies that turn waste into productive, sustainable energy solutions. We are working to develop similar projects across the country to help dairy farmers mitigate the regulatory and environmental concerns associated with waste management while transforming manure management from a cost center to a profit center, said Bob Powell, Brightmark Energy.

Water and resources conservation

Brightmark’s investment in the Augean project enables DeRuyter to upgrade its 12-year-old manure collection system and digester to increase its capacity and conserve water. DeRuyter anticipates that the project will save the dairies over US$500 000 per annum in operating and environmental compliance costs.

On day one after the digester upgrades were complete, we were out there emptying manure ponds to turn that waste back into useful products and to recycle nutrients. We’re glad for the opportunity to lead the way for others in the industry in this arena, said Dan DeRuyter, co-owner of DeRuyter Dairies.

Dairy-derived RNG is the lowest carbon intensity transportation fuel available because it greatly reduces the emission of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from lagoon-stored manure and wastewater.

The process also benefits the local environment by processing and recovering much of the nitrogen in manure as a value-added biofertilizer that can be efficiently transported to crop fields that need the nitrogen and other nutrients, displacing chemical fertilizers and creating sustainable cycling of nutrients that prevent water and air pollution.

Other advantages include the drastic reduction of pathogens and odor in the process water and products recovered from the system.

The Augean biogas project is also supported by a US$1.4 million grant from Yakima County and a US$500 000 Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

After years of working with Promus and the dairies, Yakima County is pleased to provide a matching grant for the pipeline system, which sets the stage for dairy digester projects that convert waste into value-added renewable products that improve environmental, economic, and community health, said Mike Leita, Chair of the Yakima County Board of Commissioners.

In addition to the Yakima County project, Brightmark is currently developing similar biogas projects in New York, Wisconsin, Florida, and Minnesota, and the company is actively seeking feedstock suppliers with an interest in collaborating on waste to energy projects.

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