Biodigester Feasibility (SP0082)

Status: COMPLETED May 2012 - October 2013

Macdonald has the benefit of an organic waste stream comprising both food waste from campus buildings and farm waste. This duality makes Mac an ideal location for research and experimentation with anaerobic digestion applicable to both municipalities and farm operations. Implementation of digestion is a great opportunity to contribute directly to McGill’s own sustainability but also to the sustainability of the local and regional community through experimentation with digestion technologies in a northern climate. Because of the administration’s recent decision against a proposed multi-million dollar large-scale digester for Macdonald, this feasibility study aims to explore smallerscale options that could work for a fraction of the cost. As a result of the biodigester feasibility study done for the Macdonald campus, it is expected that a dual burner will be required to generate heat energy from a combination of biogas (coming from wastes) and natural gas (from the network). This type of system is only available on the market for large scale energy production, thus a small scale dual burner must be designed to meet our requirements. A team of four mechanical engineering students have taken this challenge as part of a year-long class project. The project consists in designing a safe, efficient, and reliable burner that maximizes the use of biogas as a heat source, and combines it with natural gas when needed to produce the energy output required. Even though these two fuels consist mostly of methane, their different compositions affect their combustion properties, requiring the burner to respond to different burning conditions. The successful design of this dual-burner will allow us to move one step ahead in the design and later implementation of an anaerobic digester system at the Mac campus. 

For further information conerning this project, or to get in touch with its members, please contact the krista.houser [at] (SPF Administration Team).