Rimrock Biodigester Facility – Transforming Greenhouse Gases into Renewable Energy
Rimrock Renewables LP is proposing to construct an on-farm biodigester facility to capture greenhouse gases from livestock manure and organic food resources and convert them to a usable energy resource called renewable natural gas (RNG). Today, those greenhouse gases (which are also odour causing), are being released to the atmosphere. The primary objective of the Rimrock Biodigester Facility is to capture as much of those gases as possible.
Proposed Facility Location
The proposed Rimrock Biodigester Facility will be an “on-farm” facility, co-located with the Rimrock Cattle Company Ltd. feedlot. Located within Foothills County, approximately 5.5 km west of the Town of High River, the proposed Rimrock Biodigester Facility will occupy approximately 40 ha southeast of the intersection of Coal Trail (Township Road 191) and Meridian Street (Range Road 10).
The Rimrock Cattle Company Ltd. feedlot will be the primary source of feedstock (livestock manure) for the biodigester facility, meaning the manure that is currently stored on the feedlot will be transferred approximately 200 m – 300 m to the biodigester facility where it will be anaerobically digested to capture odorous gases and produce RNG.
Like most biodigester facilities in Canada, and globally, the facility is located adjacent to the primary source of feedstock. Locating biodigester facilities immediately adjacent to the primary source of feedstock enhances environmental benefits (e.g., net decrease in greenhouse gas emissions) through reduced transportation requirements and hauling distances.
Rimrock Biodigester Facility Description
Feedstock for the proposed biodigester facility will primarily consist of livestock manure from Rimrock Cattle Company Ltd. feedlot, along with organic food resources. Raw un-hydrated manure will be transported to the facility via a private internal road from the adjacent feedlot. Organic food resources will be sourced as close as possible to the proposed biodigester facility, depending on availability, quality, and specifications of the material.
The feedstock will undergo anaerobic biodigestion in fully contained anaerobic digesters where micro-organisms (bacteria) will break down the organic material within the feedstock, in the absence of oxygen, producing biogas and digestate.
The biogas will be upgraded onsite at the biodigester facility to produce pipeline quality RNG which will be injected into a low-pressure ATCO Gas distribution pipeline to serve the local community.
Digestate, a beneficial by-product of the biodigestion process, will be used for application to lands as a less odorous, biologically stabilized fertilizer alternative to raw manure, which is currently being land spread in the region.
Click on the interactive image below to learn more about how the biodigester facility will operate:
Odour Abatement Technologies
Based on feedback from local landowners and residents and Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, we are proposing notable improvements to the overall Project design, including the implementation of additional odour abatement technologies.
In selecting the optimum design refinements and odour mitigation strategies, our team has spent the last several months reviewing best available technologies for odour abatement, consulting with research and industry experts, and working intensively with engineering, environmental and regulatory consultants.
Enclosed and Efficient System
As part of recent design updates, the facility layout has been rearranged to co-locate the digestate separation and staging processes alongside the feedstock receiving operations. This has been done so that all tanks involved in feedstock receiving and digestate separation (two manure blend tanks, two digester feed tanks, three organics reception tanks, one digestate nurse tank and one liquid digestate tank) will be enclosed, under negative pressure, and tied into an odour abatement system via sealed ducting. The odour abatement system will also treat air from the feedstock hopper building, feedstock receiving hoppers, feedstock pumphouse building, and digestate separation building.
We have also replaced the previously proposed manure blend building with a feedstock receiving system that is designed so that raw manure receiving hoppers will be placed in an enclosed building and connected to the same odour abatement system. To minimize handling, trucks transporting raw manure from the feedlot will unload the feedstock directly into enclosed, odour abated, receiving hoppers. Also, manure hydration will only occur in enclosed tanks that are tied to an odour abatement system.
Odour Abatement System
A 2-stage odour abatement system has been selected that will remove approximately 95% of odorous emissions from all tanks involved in feedstock receiving and digestate separation, as well as the feedstock hopper building, feedstock receiving hoppers, feedstock pumphouse building, and digestate separation building.
- Stage 1 – Wet Chemical Scrubber: Wet chemical scrubbers operate by bringing a scrubbing liquid into contact with an odorous gas stream. The liquid absorbs (reacts with) the targeted odorous compounds, effectively removing them from the process air. Wet chemical scrubbers, including the one proposed as part of the facility odour abatement system, are well demonstrated to operate with very high removal efficiencies (exceeding 95%).
- Stage 2 – Activated Carbon Filter: Activated carbon filters, also known as carbon adsorption systems, will treat all process areas that can be enclosed and vented to produce a controlled air stream. Activated carbon filters utilize a sealed vessel filled with porous bulk carbon material, with a large surface area to adsorb odorous compounds. The odorous air passes through the carbon beds, and the compounds are physically adsorbed onto the carbon's surface. Activated carbon filters are very effective in removing a wide range of odorous compounds with a well demonstrated removal efficiency of approximately 95%.
Optimized Liquid Digestate Pond
The liquid digestate pond has undergone a redesign to optimize its performance and reduce the risk of potential odours. The new two-celled configuration will consist of a polishing cell complete with mechanical aeration, and a storage cell. The polishing cell and mechanical aeration system were appropriately sized to satisfy demand from oxidation of any biodegradable organic material, and from oxidation of dissolved sulfides, and ensures aerobic conditions to prevent further generation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The material leaving the polishing cell will be fully stabilized, so no anaerobic activity is expected in the storage cell. Mechanical aeration is a proven technology and as sized anticipates removing approximately 95% of VOCs and H2S in the liquid digestate through oxidation. Additionally, the active depth of both the polishing and storage cells were optimized to further reduce the risk of odour generation.
What are the Proposed Facility’s Environmental Benefits?
This proposed biodigester facility will turn waste into energy and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We consider this a huge win for the environment and it has a high potential to improve odours for rural communities in close proximity to agricultural operations.
The proposed biodigester facility will:
- Reduce greenhouse gases by capturing odour causing gases and convert them to a usable energy resource called renewable natural gas (RNG). Today, those greenhouse gases (which are also odour causing), are being released to the atmosphere.
- Reduce storage time for livestock manure at the Rimrock Cattle Company Ltd. feedlot, reduce odours from land application and support improved management of pens and land application.
- Produce digestate, a beneficial by-product of the biodigestion process, will be used for application to lands as a less odorous, biologically stabilized, organic fertilizer alternative to raw manure, which is currently being land spread in the region.
- Provide a sustainable waste management strategy in conjunction with the agricultural livestock and energy sectors.
- Produce enough renewable natural gas to heat ~6,000 homes per year (450,000 Gigajoules of RNG per year) in Foothills County. RNG produced will be used in place of natural gas, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.