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Turning waste into energy

Anaerobic digester illustration

MSU is poised to begin work on a new anaerobic digester, a system that will not only help reuse waste from MSU’s farms and dining halls but also will create energy for some campus buildings.

In April, the MSU Board of Trustees authorized the administration to begin work on the project, an approximately $5 million venture that should pay for itself in less than 15 years.

When it is completed, the system will provide a source of renewable energy that will be used to produce electricity for some of the buildings south of the main MSU campus. It also will keep organic waste produced at the university from going to landfills.

An anaerobic digester is a sealed tank, deprived of oxygen, in which organic waste is degraded at an elevated temperature. This allows the waste material to decompose quickly and produce methane that can be captured and used as fuel.

“Once complete, this system will be the largest on a college campus in the United States,” says Dana Kirk, a specialist in MSU’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering who is overseeing the project. “It will be the largest in volume and in energy output.”

Learn more about MSU’s anaerobic digester.

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