Cortland turns dairy waste into energy

The city of Cortland has recently announced that its wastewater facility will be applying a 500,000 watt electric generator that will be fueled by methane.

The methane used to fuel the generator will be created from both dairy waste and biosolids. With the highly organic strength of these products going through the process of anaerobic digestion; which is a series of process where microorganisms break down biodegradable material (items that can break down into natural materials in the environment without causing harm) in the absence of oxygen.

According to the American Biogas Council, the process is used for industrial and domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels.

This process that began in 2013, as Byrne Dairy reached out to the Cortland County IDA in order to build a greek yogurt plant in Route 13 industrial park.

With acid whey being a powerful organic fluid and one of the biggest waste product of greek yogurt.

"With this project, Cortland takes an important step in our Climate Action Plan," said Cortland Mayor, Brian Tobin. "Cortland is proactive in greenhouse gas reduction, and this project, when running at full capacity, will be equivalent of removing 660 cars from the roads."

The project is partially funded by a grant from the NYSERDA for a total of two million dollars.

According to the press release from last week, "Cortland wastewater generator creates electricity from dairy waste," the system includes an industrial anaerobic digester that will double Cortland's digestion capacity.

It will also double a biogas cleaning system to scrub moisture, hydrogen sulfide and siloxanes from the gas.

The generator will supply the wastewater facility's electrical needs.

There will however, be leftover energy, that will be exported onto the grid; using the heat coming off the generator to heat facility buildings that were previously heated by natural gases.

"Wastewater treatment has always been about protecting the public health and the environment," said Superintendent of Wastewater, Bruce Adams. "These days it is also about resource recovery and economic development. This project is a huge win on both counts. Byrne Dairy has been a great partner in bringing this vision to realization."