Costa Rican and MSU officials help dedicate new anaerobic digester
Many dignitaries from the United States and Costa Rica gathered in the Central American country this week to officially commission a newly built anaerobic digester, the product of a partnership between Michigan State University and the University of Costa Rica.
An anaerobic digester takes organic waste – anything from food scraps to animal manure – and turns it into energy.
The project was funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Division of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Partners included the University of Costa Rica, Nicaragua’s Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua León, and Panama’s Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí.
Participants in the event included Alain Norman, Embassy of the United States – San Jose, Regional Environmental Officer for Central America and the Caribbean; Rene Castro, Costa Rica’s minister of environment, energy and technology; Henning Jensen Pennington, University of Costa Rica rector; and Steve Pueppke, MSU associate vice president for research and graduate studies.
The anaerobic digester does its work in an airtight tank. Using solar energy, the material is heated to about 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 days. Microorganisms in the manure break down the organic material, creating biogas that can be burned for heat or electricity, as well as partially decomposed organic matter, water and nutrients that can be applied to crop fields as fertilizer.
The project is expected to provide energy for a recycling center at the Fabio Baudrit Agricultural Experiment Station in the Costa Rican city of Alajuela.