Sarnia is looking for an operator for a biodigester to treat waste water from the proposed Comet Biorefining ethanol plant.
The anaerobic digester would produce methane for energy that could include electricity and a byproduct that could be spread as fertilizer.
Sandy Marshall, executive director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, said the digester project could cost $20 million to $30 million. A request for proposals has been released to identify a potential owner-operator.
The deadline for proposals is the end of June.
Sarnia-Lambton can offer access to steam, power, water and skilled trades to the bio-chemistry companies the agency works to attract and support but “one of the things we’re missing is the ability to treat these really rich organic steams that come from bio-plants,” he said.
“They’re too rich to go into a traditional waste water plant.”
The waste water needs to pre-treated in an anaerobic digester and the agency has been trying for some years now to fill that “infrastructure gap” so the community can continue to attract new bio-chemical companies, Marshall said.
“It’s just one more selling point for Sarnia-Lambton and the hybrid industry cluster.”
The digester could also take green bin material from municipal waste, as well as other sources of organic waste.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said the province is requiring some communities, including Sarnia, to begin green bin collection of organic waste in the coming years.
He said that when Sarnia looked at green bins a decade ago it found the system was “extremely expensive,” but the digester project could be an opportunity for the city.
“I think there’s an opportunity here for us to become directly part of the bio-fuels sector by being involved in something that gives us a benefit back,” Bradley said.
Elmira has a plant that digests green bin and other organic waste material to generate enough electricity for the town’s needs. Among the material it uses is green-bin waste from Peel Region.