What Is A Digester And What Does It Do?

Digesters are biological processes that use microorganisms to decompose organic waste. The process creates biogas, a nutrient-rich liquid called digestate and a solid byproduct similar to compost. At their best, digesters can do a lot of good for the environment and the community. But like any piece of equipment, they need to be maintained to keep working properly. 

What Is A Digester? 

A digester is an oxygen-free container that holds organic waste like manure, food scraps and sewage. Microorganisms break down these materials and produce methane and carbon dioxide, which can be burned for energy. In the US, digesters are most often used for manure management at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), but critics don’t see them as a true solution to factory farming. Instead, they’re said to help support these types of operations by cutting emissions and reducing other impacts. 

The benefits to the environment are obvious, but they’re also helpful in connecting farmers and their communities. On farms with large-scale livestock, digesters can limit odors and other negative impacts that can be uncomfortable for neighbors, which is critical to maintaining good relationships. At Breese Hollow Dairy, a dairy farm with 1,800 cows in Maine, the manure from the herd is plowed into two digesters. The digester system generates a significant amount of electricity, which the dairy produces in exchange for manure. 

What Is The Digester Process? 

Anaerobic digestion is a natural process in which micro-organisms break down organic materials like cow manure or food waste. In a closed tank where there is no oxygen, the bacteria do this job and release biogas as well as a liquid that can be sold as a fertilizer. The energy from this biogas, whether used for heat, electricity, or transportation, is not fossil fuel-based but instead comes from the earth’s carbon cycle. This means that it is a clean, renewable alternative to fossil fuels. 

Digesters come in all shapes and sizes- some handle a single feedstock, like cow manure, while others have multiple chambers that mix up organic wastes as they get eaten up by the anaerobic bacteria. The specific feedstocks and end-use of the biogas can change how anaerobic digestion is regulated. For instance, a dairy farm that accepts only cow manure will be regulated differently than a restaurant that takes in post-consumer food scraps or industrial waste from a brewery. Regardless, they all have the end products: biogas, a liquid that’s similar to compost and a solid by-product called digestate. 

Why Do Digesters Need To Be Cleaned? 

Over time, digesters can accumulate grit and trash, which reduces the capacity of the digester and negatively affects its operation. By removing grit from the digester, tank capacity can be maintained, costs associated with heating the tank reduced and biogas produced is maximized. 

Why Hire A Professional To Clean Your Digester 

Fortunately, professional digester cleaning services like Gullett Sanitation Services, Inc. can get your tank back to working condition quickly and efficiently. They can clean the tank with a variety of methods, including vacuum trucks, hydro excavation, and chemical cleaning. Always leave it to the professionals to keep your digester functioning properly and efficiently!