A Full-Scale Biodigester: Engineering Campus Sustainability Via Anaerobic Processes
As state flagship, the University of Massachusetts Amherst bears a responsibility to serve as an example to other college campuses as a modern leader of innovation and sustainability. However, the campus generates thousands of tons of food waste annually, exacerbating a distressing sustainability issue. Anaerobic digester technology presents a feasible solution to campus and global sustainability. Primary benefits include decreased landfill use, recycling of organic waste, and the provision of an efficient energy source for campus energy demands. Not only could anaerobic digestion technology offset campus costs of $55,000 per year in transporting organic waste to off-site composting facilities, it could also supply 5% of UMass’ annual energy consumption (Feasibility Study for Siting Anaerobic Digestion Facility at UMass Amherst Campus, 2013). Thus, we are proposing the implementation of a full-scale anaerobic biodigester on campus to improve campus sustainability.
In 2013, a feasibility study on the implementation of a biodigester on campus concluded economic payback of over 15 years. In the 5 years following, however, the amount of compostable waste generated on campus has increased by roughly 33% (UMass FY Waste Management Report 2013 & 2018), which could decrease the duration of economic payback by roughly 33% to 10 years.
Read Team Manuscript and Team Policy Brief for additional information.