EcoEngineers has been awarded a State Energy Program Formula grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to conduct a feasibility study of waste-to-energy projects in Iowa. The grant will enable EcoEngineers to evaluate the economic and technical feasibility of converting biogenic waste streams from Iowa’s agricultural, livestock and industrial operations and municipal solid waste into renewable natural gas (biogas).
“We are grateful that IEDA chose our project. And, we are excited to be able to advance Iowa’s position as a leader in sustainability and renewable energy technology and production,” said EcoEngineers’ Managing Partner Shashi Menon. “This feasibility study is just one more example of Iowa’s commitment to innovative sustainable practices that could very well result in a future increase to the State’s economy.”
The study will compare costs and revenues associated with generating biogas from anaerobic digestion of waste streams. It will also look at existing biogas collection systems at landfills, and it will offer an analytical tool to determine optimum end use for the biogas. The anticipated outcome of the project is to demonstrate that alternative waste treatment options, such as anaerobic digestion systems are economically feasible and financially viable. The report and tools generated from this project will be free and available for the public to use.
“We are excited to partner with EcoEngineers on this project. Having the tools and resources to make decisions regarding waste-to-energy projects will not only spur economic development in the state but also assist in meeting a number of environmental goals like reduced emissions and improved water and air quality,” said Paritosh Kasotia, Energy Team Leader for the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Iowa is a good location for the study because the state leads the nation in agriculture, meat production and production of renewable fuels. These industries generate waste streams that are rich in organic material that can be broken down to produce biogas, comprised mostly of methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas can be used as a fuel in a gas engine where it is converted into electricity and heat, and can also be purified and compressed, the same way natural gas is compressed to CNG, and used to power motor vehicles.
Other incentives for the project include current federal policy under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that allows biogas from manure digesters and sewage treatment plants to qualify for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). However, the biogas must be used as transportation fuel. Over the past three years, EcoEngineers has supplied engineering and regulatory expertise for several landfill biogas and anaerobic digester projects and successfully connected the projects with environmental credit (RIN) markets, thus closing the loop to allow for financing. Through these projects, EcoEngineers has helped bring over 72 million gallon-equivalents of biogas generation capacity into commerce.