Innovations

Vandermeer's Going Green!

In the midst of rising gas and hydro costs, we have ventured out and pursued many options to offset two of our biggest expenses. Through the services of CEM Engineering and PlanET Biogas, we have researched and started development of an Anaerobic Digester.

What is Anaerobic Digestion?

Anaerobic digestion is the breakdown of organic matter in an oxygen free environment. As the organic matter breaks down it produces methane. This methane is used to run an engine which produces electricity and heat.

The Vandermeer Anaerobic Digester

Construction has started on the new anaerobic digester at Vandermeer Greenhouses. The installation consists of the following components:

  • A primary digester, 18 meters in diameter and 6 meters high
  • A secondary digester with the same dimensions
  • A digestate storage 30 meters in diameter and 6 meters high
  • A GE Jenbacher engine producing 335 kW electrical and 402 kW thermal
  • A bunker for storing input materials
  • A separator for separating the solid fraction of the digestate for re-use in the greenhouse.

Inputs

The input for the digester is:

  • 5,000 tonnes of grape pumice annually
  • 2,000 tonnes of chicken manure
  • Greenhouse clippings
  • Other organic material as available.

All of these inputs are materials that farmers and processors in the area are currently disposing on land without treatment.

Outputs

Vandermeer will utilize these materials in the digester to produce electricity and heat. The electricity will be used in the greenhouse with the surplus sold to Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro. The heat from the engine will be used in the greenhouse, offsetting purchased natural gas. The resulting digestate output is:

  • Odour free
  • A desirable organic fertilizer
  • Almost completely pathogen free
  • The solid fraction may be suitable for use in the greenhouse as a peat replacement

(Please visit www.planet-biogas.ca for further information)