Grand Rapids city promises biodigester won't stink

Grand Rapids biodigester ground breaking

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Grand Rapids leaders promise the city's new biodigester will not stink like the one that led to so many odor complaints in Lowell last year.

“It is not going to happen in Grand Rapids,” says environmental services manager Mike Lunn.

Thursday dignitaries broke ground on a new $38 million biodigester at the city water treatment facility on Market Street.  They say the system is needed to treat growing amounts of organic waste from Founders Brewery and other agribusinesses.  

“One option was to build a new treatment train that would have cost $120 million,” says deputy city manager Eric DeLong. “Or we could find an innovative solution.”

A pipeline will transport waste from Founders Brewery and other customers into airtight biodigester tanks.

 Mixing the waste with micro-organisms will create bio gas. Burning the gas will operate electric generators to help operate the plant.  

“Energy to not only power the facility here but other ideas we have,” adds public services managing director Tom Almonte.

Last year a biodigester in Lowell was shut down after the operator was unable to prevent the persistent release of unpleasant odors.  

Administrators say they are making sure that doesn’t happen in Grand Rapids

“We have built in odor control,” explains environmental services manager Lund. “Besides carbon filters there are bio-filters to polish the odors so we are not going to have those issues Lowell had. We are going to have a municipal biodigester, there are thousands of them across the U.S. with no odors and ours won’t have any either.”   

The city will borrow $38 million to pay for the biodigester by selling municipal bonds.  If things go as scheduled, the system will go on line in 2019.

“With this new biodigester we are going to be able to attract new businesses, create more jobs and be able to bring talented people to our community,” says Grand Rapids mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

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