The following article, written by Ben Messenger, appeared April 12, 2013 on the Waste Management World magazine website. Read below or view the contents on the WMW website.

Fresno, Ohio based Pearl Valley Cheese has installed a cheese waste fueled 65 kW C65 Capstone MicroTur­bine to save the company more than $40,000 per year in electricity costs.

According to Walbridge, Ohio based GEM Energy, which custom-designed and installed the system, it will run on methane gas produced by recycling cheese manufacturing waste water in an anaerobic digester.

The energy services and power integration specialist said that Pearl Valley had previously been using the biogas produced by the digester to fuel the steam boiler for process heat, but based on falling natural gas prices and rising electric prices, the company ultimately decided on a technology that could generate electricity with the renewable fuel.

However, the company explained that before biogas can be used as fuel, moisture must be removed. While the existing system at Pearl Valley used a low-pressure moisture removal sys­tem, GEM Energy said that it designed a high-pressure moisture removal system to make the gas work with the Capstone turbine.

According to GEM Energy Pearl Valley’s owners selected the Capstone MicroTurbine, due to its ultra-low emissions, low maintenance costs, quiet operation and ability to handle gas with a high sulfur content as the best fit for their facility.

The system allows Pearl Valley to operate on multiple energy sources, including electricity, natural gas and biogas – which reduces the impact of sharp increases in cost for any single energy source.

Pearl Valley Cheese manufac­tures 25,000 pounds (11,300 kg) of cheese per day and distributes natural cheeses throughout the eastern United States. The company’s 40,000-square foot (3700 square metre) operation houses a retail store, administra­tive offices, cold storage warehousing and manufacturing facilities.

GEM Energy said that by recycling waste to generate electricity, Pearl Valley Cheese has reduced its use of fossil fuels, as well as greenhouse gas emissions, helping Pearl Valley to meet its sustainability goals.