Linden Hills group gets grant for anaerobic digester

Linden Hills Power & Light (LHPL) has received a $30,000 grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to conduct a feasibility study for a community anaerobic digester. With matching funds of $67,000 from national energy experts, the total budget for the study is $97,000.

Anaerobic digesters are industrial systems that recycle organic matter and use the resulting biogas — mostly methane — as an alternative energy source. The LHPL study will look at the economic possibility of waste collection and transportation and using the biogas and other byproducts resulting from digestion.

Possible uses for the biogas include heating and powering a large building like Southwest High School, heating and powering 30 Linden Hills homes or using biofuel to run school buses or garbage trucks.

Results from the by-products may include pipeline quality methane, industrial quality carbon dioxide and organic liquid fertilizer. The study will also determine the location and size of the digester, which is expected to cost around $4,000,000.

Anaerobic digestion is popular in Europe and used in cities like Toronto and Seattle. The process addresses waste management and renewable energy — two important environmental concerns facing urban areas.

The Linden Hills digester could produce roughly 25,347,000 cubic feet of biogas from an estimated 4,100 tons of yard waste each year. Organic waste generally consists of leaves, grass, food and tree clippings. Should a grant from Hennepin County come through in mid-June, residents of Linden Hills will receive 60-gallon wheeled carts in addition to their normal recycling bins. The carts are for all organic waste, including paper products that have touched food like pizza boxes or frozen dinners. Currently such waste is sent to the local burner, which is at maximum capacity, forcing excess into landfills.

LHPL is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Linden Hill’s carbon footprint. Executive Director Felicity Britton is excited to be working is such a progressive, educated area and expects a high participation rate among residents. “Our garbage could run our houses one day,” she says.

LHPL is working with legislators to provide funding for an even greater area that would stretch into Edina, Minneapolis and St. Louis Park. By October, they hope to begin collecting organic waste from residents and composting it as they study the feasibility of a digester. For more information, visit www.lhpowerandlight.org.