San Jose, California, expects construction on its recently approved US$20M dry anaerobic digestion plant to start in July 2012, will process MSW, provide 1.7 MW when fully operational in 2014

LOS ANGELES , October 14, 2011 () – A US$20-million dry anaerobic digestion plant that was recently approved in San Jose, California, is expected to be fully operational by 2014, when it will begin helping the city reach a zero-waste goal by 2020, reported The Wall Street Journal on Oct. 13.

Construction on the plant, which is from Germany-based Eggersmann Anlagenbau GmbH, is expected to begin next July. It will process up to 80,000 tons of waste annually and produce 1.7 megawatts of electricity that will power area residences.

The project encountered problems along the way with local and state zoning and permitting agencies, due to the novelty of dry anaerobic digestion, said Michelle Young, the organics manager for San Jose’s Environmental Services Dept., the Journal reported.

The regulatory hurdles were made more difficult by officials being suspicious of the unfamiliar technology, which it was thought would emit pollutants, she said.

As a result, the California Dept. of Resources Recycling and Recovery is considering changes in the types of permits needed to build and operate dry anaerobic plants, she said, the Journal reported.

The plant, which is designed according to Eggersmann’s patented process, will place compostable matter such as food waste and yard trimmings in an air-tight container and convert the methane gas the ingredients emit into electricity, said Emily Hanson, a project manager for Zero Waste Energy Development.

Zero Waste Energy Management helped the city identify Eggersmann as a supplier of the technology, said Hanson.

San Jose will be the first municipality in the U.S. to use dry anaerobic digestion, say city officials and industry experts. The technology is more commonly used to produce energy from sewage sludge, reported the Journal.

In its effort to become zero waste, San Jose plans for its businesses to divert 80% of their waste to recycling or composting by 2014, up from 22% now, while increasing the diversion of residential trash from the current 75% level.

Other elements of the plan include installing thousands of solar panels, reusing wastewater, and planting 100,000 trees.

The city has overhauled its waste-collection system in an effort to increase its control over trash flow, and last month, it reduced the number of its waste haulers to one, Republic Services Inc.’s Allied Waste, the Journal reported.

The primary source of this article is The Wall Street Journal, New York, New York, on Oct. 13, 2011.

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