Before the JC-Biomethane biogas facility came online, 25,000 tons of organic materials from Portland businesses were shipped to landfills. Today, Oregon is home to the first biogas plant in the Pacific Northwest that transforms that post-consumer commercial food waste into methane-rich biogas, which is then used to generate electricity.
The plant uses an anaerobic digestion process to convert heated organic waste into biogas and byproducts such as liquid fertilizer and fiber compost. While most biogas facilities process a single feedstock, such as municipal wastewater solids or dairy manure, JC-Biomethane co-digests post-consumer commercial food waste and smaller volumes of dairy waste, plus fats, oils and greases from food processing plants and other sources.
The biogas fuels a 16-cylinder reciprocating engine—similar to a locomotive engine—that generates electricity. It will generate approximately 12,250 megawatt hours of electricity annually, energy equivalent to power about half the homes in Junction City for a year.
Portland General Electric purchases the renewable power through an arrangement with the Blachly-Lane County Cooperative Electric Association and Bonneville Power Administration.
Designed and managed by Dean Foor of Essential Consulting Oregon, LLC, the $16 million facility is a clean and nearly odorless renewable energy plant. It was made possible with a $2 million Energy Trust incentive, plus approximately $4.7 million in federal grants and a $1 million Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit pass-through payment.
“The field of waste management seemed reluctant to embrace the technology of processing food wastes into biogas,” Foor said. “The technology needed a push to make it happen and show its potential. That’s what Essential Consulting Oregon did with the JC-Biomethane facility. We were exceptionally fortunate to have backing from Energy Trust.”
While the facility solves a waste problem and generates electricity, it also prevents the release of methane into the atmosphere. And nutrients from the organic materials, including inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus, are recovered and sold as agricultural fertilizer at a nearby business.
Full details are available in this case study.