An environmental group in Linden Hills received a $45,000 grant to research an idea for turning organic waste into power.
Linden Hills Power & Light (LHPL) will use the grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce to research the likelihood of constructing a community-based anaerobic digester, which would convert organic waste into reusable energy.
Convertible organic waste would include leftover food, pet waste, paper that’s been in contact with food, and various types of yard waste including leaves, grass and tree clippings.
If all goes according to plan, it would be the country’s first community-based anaerobic digester, meaning residents would be able to supply it with their own waste.
“It would be such a good environmental step,” said LHPL Executive Director Felicity Britton.
Some United States cities, such as Seattle, already recycle organics, but only on commercial levels, Britton said.
“The Old Dutch factory [in Roseville] has one,” she said. “But they use it just for themselves.”
Anaerobic digestion turns organic waste into methane gas, a natural gas substitute. Methane gas could be used to heat homes or power buses and garbage trucks. In addition to conserving energy, Britton noted the economic possibility of anaerobic digestion.
“Selling methane gas to companies like CenterPoint [Energy] could really get this going,” she said.
LHPL hopes to include the Edina Morningside and St. Louis Park Minikahda Vista neighborhoods in their project. Linden Hills has about 3,000 homes, Britton said, and the project would need roughly 5,000 to be economically feasible. Including the two other neighborhoods would make the digester more feasible, Britton said.
Although many of its promoters are excited, the project’s research is still in development.
“We’re still in pretty early days, but we’re hopeful,” Britton said. “No matter what results, the study will give us useful information.”