Combining anaerobic digestion and hydrothermal liquefaction in the conversion of dairy waste into energy: A techno economic model for New York state

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There is increasing global interest and policies being enacted to lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially from the agricultural sector. In the U.S. for example, states with large dairy operations may combine proven manure valorization technologies, such as anaerobic digestion and hydrothermal liquefaction. Sustainable manure treatment would increase the recovery of energy and other useful co-products, namely biogas, biocrude oil and hydro-char as well as lower the environmental impacts. In this study, the economic feasibility of implementing a centralized bioenergy system in New York State was investigated. The feasibility of this transformation depends on many factors, including capital costs, discount rates, and other financing arrangements, electricity selling prices, incentives and farm sizes and locations. For a large-scale implementation in New York State accounting for nearly 50% of the state’s dairy farms, our model of a distributed, hybrid anaerobic/hydrothermal system was shown to treat 590 million liters of wet manure per day, producing 607 million kWh of electricity, 162,000 L of biocrude oil and 117,000 kg of hydro-char per day. Electricity selling price is a critical factor. Increasing the electricity selling price from wholesale ($0.06/kWh) to retail ($0.18/kWh) increased the net present value from $395 million to $1.5 billion (considering a 40-year project lifetime).


Waste Management



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Civil and Environmental Engineering