Posted by: Kenn Hermann | December 13, 2007

High-Tech Embraces the Environment in Akron, Ohio

There is wonderful environmental news — and a sweet smell — coming from Akron, Ohio.

You just flushed the toilet. End of story . . .maybe for you, but not for the city and the environment. The city of Akron, a moderate size city in Ohio, with a population of just over 200,000, estimates that it processes 1.2 million gallons of sewage per year for itself and several surrounding communities. Treating its wastewater and composting the solids costs the city approximately $8 million dollars annually.

The city just announced that it is going high-tech to lower energy costs and close the environmental loop in processing its sewage sludge. Schmack BioEnergy LLC, a partnership formed by KB Compost , the current manager of the city’s composting plant, and Schmack Biogas of Germany, has installed a $7 million biogas generator near the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The generator, the first of its kind in the U.S., will transform the sewage sludge into methane gas through anaerobic decomposition. The methane gas will, in turn, produce enough electricity to power the sewage treatment plant, biogas operation, composting facility, and 325 homes in the area. Initial plans call for the biogas facility to process 5,000 tons of sludge per year. If this testing proves successful, the city will move toward processing all of the 15,000 tons of sludge it produces annually. Taxpayers and the environment are both winners in this bold move. Flushing their toilets will now be even better for Akron’s taxpayers and environment.

(See and hear the full story: Akron Beacon Journal and WKSU)

Let’s hope this biogas generator is the first of many such facilities in the U.S. We have a very long way to go to catch up with European innovative energy technology that works in harmony with the environment. Schmack Biogas is the result of a simple dream that three German farmers had over a decade ago for turning their farmyard waste into renewable energy. It already has 200 facilities up and running in Europe and Asia, with more in the planning. There are surely such dreamers in this country.

The possibilities for transforming the multiple organic waste streams in our country into renewable energy with biogas generators are significant. In addition to municipalities, just think about installing biogas generators on the thousands of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (the millions of cattle, hogs, chickens, and turkeys in those facilities generate mega-tons of manure) across the nation. Wouldn’t it make much better economic and environmental sense to put incentives into the current farm bill to create renewable energy with these generators than to pursue the folly of ethanol? How much organic waste is generated by food processors every day? How much organic waste is landfilled every day? There is no reason why technological visionaries in this country cannot make biogas generating technology part of the solution to our energy needs and environmental health.

. . . and now I really must get back to those exams I’ve been putting off all morning.


  1. Neat site Will definitely visit soon.

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