An Ohio company says it can parlay the problem of too much animal waste winding up in Grand Lake St. Marys into a new facility that could turn the waste into energy and add new jobs in the area.

It’s a waste-to-energy methane digester that would produce usable methane from the manure. It could be the fifth such project for the company, Quasar Energy Group of Cleveland. It’s seeking a federal grant of $1 million for the $2.24 million facility.

Farm runoff is a major cause of a cyanobacteria outbreak at the lake that closed down a $200 million tourism industry last summer and forced state officials to scramble for a solution. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said Thursday he has urged U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support the methane digester project to reduce harmful algal blooms, like the cyanobacteria in Grand Lake.

Quasar is currently firming up a location for the digester, which would likely be located south of the lake in a central spot in the watershed and take six months to build. The amount of manure to be processed hasn’t been nailed down yet, but three producers in the watershed have said they can each supply up to 50 tons of manure daily.

“Waste-to-energy projects like methane digesters can benefit farmers and communities around inland waters, like Grand Lake St. Marys. Local farmers can profit from the production and sale of renewable energy, and the lake will start to rebound as phosphorus levels are reduced,” Brown said. “Installation of a methane digester facility will not only provide environmental benefits to the community, but would also create jobs and provide consumers with a source of clean, domestic energy.”

Methane digestion is a biological process that converts manure into methane. Methane can then be tapped for heating or converted to electricity or compressed natural gas.

Last year, Quasar broke ground on its fourth Ohio biomass waste-to-energy system in Columbus, which is designed to process city biosolids, regional food waste, and fats, oil and grease to generate 1 megawatt hour of electricity, the company said.


By Steve Bennish, Dayton Daily News