Spectacular green energy orb to deliver sustainable profits to beef processor
A spectacular orb-shaped green energy storage facility being installed at one of Australia’s largest beef processing plants is an example of how industry can profit from environmental initiatives.
The 6000 m3 capacity storage tank collects biogas produced by the Global Water Engineering (GWE) COHRAL (Covered High Rate Anaerobic Lagoon) being installed by CST Wastewater Solutions at Oakey Beef Exports on Queensland’s Darling Downs.
To be commissioned next year, the plant will extract green energy biogas (methane) from its wastewater streams to replace millions of dollars’ worth of natural gas currently consumed at the abattoir.
The 26 m-high storage tank - one of the world’s largest of its type - features resilient flexible double membrane storage so that gas produced by the COHRAL plant can be safely stored separately from the gas generator. Use of the separate tank for gas storage provides security against leakage, with gas securely contained in the tank instead of being more loosely contained under lagoon covers.
GWE’s anaerobic waste water technology has been used worldwide at more than 300 installations of totally enclosed tanks, or reactors. However, this is the first time it has been applied to a covered lagoon, an application where it has significant further potential in countries with strong agribusiness sectors.
The plant is expected to repay its cost of construction inside five years through gas purchase savings - then continue to deliver benefits and profitability, according to Oakey Beef Exports General Manager Pat Gleeson.
In addition to lowering the plant’s dependence on increasingly expensive supplies of natural gas, the anaerobic digestion plant will simultaneously reduce the plant’s carbon footprint and produce wastewater far cleaner than typical waste lagoons.
COHRAL - which is applicable to both livestock and cropping operations - uses concentrated anaerobic bacteria to digest 70% of the organic matter (COD, or chemical oxygen demand) in Oakey Beef Exports’ wastewater to produce effluent of far higher quality than typical open lagoons.
“In addition to the obvious waste-to-energy benefits, the process also helps curb odours that emanate from open lagoons in processing plants,” says CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director Michael Bambridge. “This is becoming a much bigger issue in Australasia and other countries worldwide as urban encroachment means agribusiness and expanding communities are located much closer to each other than previously,” he said.
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