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Ecovation, a developer of value-driven green energy systems incorporating anaerobic digestion technology, announced that it has broken ground on a renewable energy generation system at the Fairview Swiss Cheese facility in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Once completed, the facility will produce 28 million cubic feet of biogas annually, which will be used to offset fuel oil and electricity used in cheese production.
The system will treat acid whey from John Koller and Son, Inc.’s Fairview Swiss Cheese plant, along with additional high-strength material trucked in from local sources, using Ecovation’s Mobilized Film Technology (MFT). The waste stream will be treated in an anaerobic reactor to create biogas. The gas will then be piped into a boiler to produce steam and electricity needed for cheese production. Effluent from the anaerobic digester will flow to an existing aerobic system for final polishing and discharge.
The project began with a feasibility study, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and conducted by the Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension for Mercer County, to uncover potential local opportunities for converting waste to energy. The project was conceived, developed and funded through the collaboration of John Koller and Son, Inc. and several local, state and federal agencies. State and county engineers identified Ecovation’s technology as the best fit for Fairview Swiss Cheese after visiting successful Ecovation operations in New York State. The project received two grants: a USDA 9006 Rural Development Grant and a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Energy Harvest Grant.
The MFT anaerobic process allows for the high-rate conversion of organics into energy. With its patented design and integration system, MFT maximizes microbial population and optimizes their efficiencies to treat waste streams in a shorter amount of time and with a smaller environmental footprint than other options.