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Ingham County partnership with MSU seeks to turn organic waste into electricity

Photo of Michigan State University's mobile commercial anaerobic digester that will turn organic waste into renewable energy.
Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources Department of Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering
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Michigan State University's mobile commercial anaerobic digester that will turn organic waste into renewable energy

A new partnership between Ingham County and Michigan State University is hoping to reduce the amount of trash going into the landfill. The project will turn food and animal waste into electricity.

It all begins with a mobile commercial anaerobic digester. That’s essentially a machine that takes sludge, manure and other organic waste and turns it into renewable energy according to MSU College of Engineering professor Wei Liao.

"We can put them into good use too for energy. Not for human consumption, but we can turn those organic matters into an energy source, into new energy," he explained.

Liao says the project involves taking the unit to Potter Park Zoo and the Ingham County Fairgrounds to break down food and water waste into gas.

"So we can park over the either zoo or fairground during the summertime they're operating. We handle the organic waste from the cafeteria or, in particular, in the fairground if you have, you know, the big events there, handle some of the wastes there," he explained.

The gas will then be turned into usable energy for electric vehicle charging stations. Liao says the mobile units will be able to convert about 1 metric ton of wet organic wastes per day to generate around 40 kWh of electricity.

"The electricity generated per day from the mobile unit is enough to charge an EV sedan," Liao added.

The unit will begin operating later this year.

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