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Biodigester Development Enters Homestretch

By District Energy posted 03-30-2021 11:36


Grand Rapids Business Journal


The city of Grand Rapids’ ability to manage municipal solids in an environmentally sustainable manner — and produce natural gas, electricity and phosphorus through its new biodigester — is on the horizon.

The city began its $38 million biodigester project in 2017 to convert food waste to energy. As the project enters its final stages of production, the Grand Rapids City Commission on last week authorized the extension of a professional services contract with The Christman Company to align with the biodigester’s final completion timetable. The project remains under budget with no additional funding associated with the contract extension.

According to City Engineer Tim Burkman, 95% of the biodigestion equipment has been installed, and commissioning is now underway. While biodigester construction is expected to wrap by Wednesday, Christman’s contract extension through December will keep the team intact through the biological startup of the digesters, including all stages of the process of seeding, digestion and commissioning.

During his biodigester project update to the City Commission, Burkman reported that:

  • More than 75 hours of training has been provided to staff on the various equipment and components, including biogas storage, combined heat and power, specialized pumps, odor control, polymer thickening agents, chemical analysis tools, software and safety protocols.
  • Dozens of staff, including operators, mechanics, technicians and support staff are preparing for biodigester startup.
  • The combined heat and power system is operational and will be ready to function as soon as the biodigestion process begins.
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