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Estimating the Biogas Potential From Colleges and Universities

[+] Author Affiliations
Jacqueline Ebner, Shwe Sin Win, Swati Hegde, Scott Vadney, Anahita Williamson, Thomas Trabold

Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY

Paper No. ES2014-6433, pp. V002T04A005; 12 pages
  • ASME 2014 8th International Conference on Energy Sustainability collocated with the ASME 2014 12th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Volume 2: Economic, Environmental, and Policy Aspects of Alternate Energy; Fuels and Infrastructure, Biofuels and Energy Storage; High Performance Buildings; Solar Buildings, Including Solar Climate Control/Heating/Cooling; Sustainable Cities and Communities, Including Transportation; Thermofluid Analysis of Energy Systems, Including Exergy and Thermoeconomics
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, June 30–July 2, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4587-5
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Academic institutions present a unique opportunity for anaerobic digestion (AD) projects in that they have a concentrated population that generates waste, utilizes heat and electrical power, and often are motivated to implement sustainability initiatives. However, implementation of AD on college campuses in the U.S. is only beginning to emerge and data required to size and operate digesters are limited. This paper provides formulae to estimate food waste generated at college and university campuses base upon data collected at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Bottom-up and top-down estimates are presented and results are compared to an extensive review of publicly available data from other colleges and universities. The bottom-up methodology resulted in a lower estimate (18 kg food waste/enrolled student) than the top-down estimate (29 kg/enrolled student). Both were significantly lower than the estimate previously reported in the literature (64 kg/enrolled student). Bench-scale co-digestion experiments of the food waste with dairy manure resulted in a methane yield of 437 ml CH4/g VS. Applying this methodology to only 4-year colleges in New York State has the potential to generate 27 million GJ of energy from food waste.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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