Anaerobic digester sought to help fill 'infrastructure gap'

Sedimentation tanks are shown at a waste-water treatment plant in France where anaerobic digestion is used to produce methane. A project is currently underway to attempt to bring a digester to Sarnia-Lambton. (AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORINFREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Efforts are underway to attract an anaerobic digester to Sarnia to turn nutrient-rich industrial waste water from bio-chemical plants into renewable natural gas.

Sandy Marshall, executive director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, said the government-funded agency is working with Comet Biorefining on a proposal to see an anaerobic digester built and operated in Sarnia. Comet plans to build a bio-refinery in Sarnia to turn corn and wheat stalks into sugar.

Marshall said the digester project could cost in the range of $20 million to $30 million and a request for proposals has been released to identify a potential owner-operator.

The deadline for proposals is the end of June.

“We look forward to working with the successful company to have them build a successful anaerobic digestion business here,” Marshall said.

Sarnia-Lambton can offer access to steam, power, water and skilled trades to the bio-chemistry companies the agency works to attract and support but “one of the things we’re missing is the ability to treat these really rich organic steams that come from bio-plants,” he said.

“They’re too rich to go into a traditional waste water plant.”

The waste water needs to pre-treated in an anaerobic digester and the agency has been trying for some years now to fill that “infrastructure gap” so the community can continue to attract new bio-chemical companies, Marshall said.