We are creating high-grade compost to improve crops and plants on farms and gardens. Perdue did this at the site for the past 20 years. Our process takes in chicken litter and produces virtually odorless compost, selling 30,000 tons a year.
We want to expand our work to help the environment, family farmers and the local economy. We’ll enlarge our compost facility to include an anaerobic digestor, a fully enclosed process similar to compost, only without air. Our expansion will let us take in more chicken industry waste and create two products. 1. Renewable natural gas to power homes and businesses. 2. A soil supplement called digestate that we’ll compost on-site. This is a double win for Sussex County and Delmarva.
We are Bioenergy Devco, an international company with our U.S. base in Annapolis, Maryland. We’ve been in this business globally for 25 years, building 250 plants and operating 140 of them. Our first U.S. plant in Jessup, Maryland, recycles more than 100,000 tons of organic food waste each year.
We will use a technology similar to the way a cow’s stomach works. It’s called anaerobic digestion and uses microbes to safely ferment organics in tanks and convert them into energy and a soil supplement. Our entire system is completely enclosed, fully automated and constantly monitored.
This is the first industrial-scale anaerobic digestor in the United States focused on the management of pre-consumer organic waste. We have been creating plants around the world for 25 years, building 250 and operating 140 similar facilities. Anaerobic digestion has a long history in this country and has been used in wastewater plants for decades.
We know that some of the material we use smells, including waste from the chicken industry. Our anaerobic digesters are completely enclosed, from when the trucks deliver the materials, through the digestion process. All air in our facility is filtered as it leaves the building. The compost produced for local gardens and farmland is virtually odor-free.
Farmers now apply chicken waste directly to their land as fertilizer. When it rains, nutrients in the waste (heavy in nitrogen and phosphorous) can trickle through our sandy soils into local streams and rivers, eventually into the Chesapeake Bay. At the BIC, we will take up to 250,000 tons of chicken industry waste each year and put it to better use, generating renewable natural energy and creating a safe product to help farms and gardens grow. That will reduce the chicken litter put on land — and reduce runoff.
Our plant manager and staff live here on Delmarva, some a few minutes from the center. We wouldn’t propose this project if it weren’t safe. We’ve received a permit from the state fire marshal. The Blades and Seaford fire departments visited to assure the center has no safety issues. In more than 20 years, our company’s safety record is exemplary.
The technology we use, anaerobic digestion, is hundreds of years old. It uses microbes to turn natural, organic materials into energy and a soil supplement called digestate. No combustion or refining is involved. We have been building anaerobic digestion plants for a quarter-century, continually improving the technology and making it work more cleanly and efficiently.
Renewable natural gas is perfectly safe. It’s the same quality as standard natural gas from underground and goes into the same pipelines. The trucks used to transport renewable natural gas are the same as those that transport propane and other natural gases.
All our work happens only with approval from the state of Delaware and Sussex County. We have land-use permissions, a permit for our trucks to enter the property, an approved stormwater plan, and an authorized state fire protection plan. We are applying for permits from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, which will let us build and run our anaerobic digestion system, expand our composting work, control air pollution and treat wastewater.
The chicken industry waste that we accept is very wet, so we don’t need water from the aquifer. We recycle this liquid into our process. Excess water will be treated at our full wastewater treatment facility. The city of Seaford will accept our excess cleaned water. No potable water is used in our anaerobic digestion process. We have heard people say the center will drain groundwater. That is not true.
Being good neighbors is vitally important to us. The Bioenergy Innovation Center has been part of the western Sussex community for more than 20 years, first operated by Perdue and by us in the past two years. We build our sites as close to the source of our feedstocks as possible to lower transportation costs for our providers. Our location is surrounded by farms, including eight poultry farms in a short distance. We are working to expand what we do here to benefit more people and more family farms.
The expansion will add about 25 additional quality, well-paid jobs. We’ll hire scientists, including microbiologists and environmental technicians, heavy-equipment and floor operators. We pay well and offer full benefits. We hire from the local community and will advertise those jobs when they open.