Digester Performance Partnership
Examination of Anaerobic Digester Performance Protocol Use
ASERTTI, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's AgSTAR Program, and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development jointly supported the
development of a protocol (Martin 2007) for characterizing, evaluating and
monitoring performance of the growing number of on-farm anaerobic digesters.
Since publication in January 2007 of "A Protocol for Quantifying & Reporting
the Performance of Anaerobic Digestion Systems for Livestock Manures,"
ASERTTI has conducted additional work in the anaerobic digester area through
a grant funded by the Blue Moon Fund.
The Blue Moon Fund project launched a study titled "Pilot Performance and
Cost Database for Anaerobic Digestion Systems for Livestock Manures" to
better understand how the protocol was being used, and find ways to increase
the volume and quality of performance data available to the public. The
project, completed in 2009, produced an MS Access
database populated with data on installed farm anaerobic digester systems,
pre-made reports summarizing performance data for Web posting, and a final
report describing experiences and identifying problems that researchers have
encountered in using the protocol. Based on information
gathered during the course of the Blue Moon funded project, the primary
obstacle to using the protocol is the overall cost. The cost for at least 12
months of sampling and laboratory analysis, as well as for writing the
performance report, has deterred researchers from attempting protocol use.
The cost issue will be addressed to a limited extent by the release of an
international protocol that has tiers of protocol use rather than the
current all-or-nothing approach. However, funding for
protocol use will continue to be a significant issue.