Food processing and agricultural waste converted into electrical power is now part of the electricity profile of Le Sueur, Minnesota, and 11 other municipal electric utilities that are members of the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA). The Hometown BioEnergy facility, located in Le Sueur, has begun operation on schedule and is producing electricity from biogas created from agricultural and food processing waste.
According to MMPA, the 8 megawatt (MW) facility is the largest of its kind in the country to employ an anaerobic digestion (AD) process.
“Anaerobic digestion is a natural process where waste is heated in large tanks, and the microbial action results in methane biogas,” says Kelsey Dillon, the project director of the MMPA facility. “The process is similar to what happens in a home septic system, where microbes degrade and stabilize organic matter; but in our case, we heat the material to accelerate the production of biogas on a commercial scale,” adds Dillon.