quasar energy group of Cleveland, which was awarded a $1 million grant in August to purchase a methane digester in the Grand Lakes area, is waiting for a property owner to setup up with a site, company president Mel Kurtz said. Ideally, the company would like to construct the digester on a farm, Kurtz said, but it could be built in a municipality or near a food processor or recycling center.
“quasar will contribute financially to the facility,” he said. “We will partner with a … willing farmer to build a digester.” Kurtz, who had limited time on the phone, said any farmer who agrees to work with quasar must be willing to treat the constructed digester as a demonstration site for others to tour.
The grant, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was awarded to help reduce harmful algal blooms in Grand Lake and other areas. People in the Region have a “don’t tell me, show me” logic, Kurtz said. “And frankly, I agree with them.”
Once the first facility is operating, Kurtz said more digesters could be on the way. He also touted the idea of a community digester to be located on a farm, where nearby farmers could have manure processed. Kurtz did not have a specific time-line for a project. He said the company is working with several people and entities in the region, but nothing is confirmed.
Methane digestion is a biological process that converts organic matter in manure into methane, which can be converted to electricity or compressed natural gas (CNG), an alternative vehicle fuel. quasar now is reviewing four methods of separating phosphorus from the effluent produced in the digestion process. “That phosphorus is a marketable commodity,” he said. Phosphorous from effluent is a great fertilizer that can be applied to agricultural land but not the already phosphorous-rich land in the Grand Lakes Watershed. Those nutrients would be shipped outside the area, quasar spokeswoman Caroline Henry has said.
Once a method is chosen, nutrient separating devices will be constructed and likely added to quasar's already operating digester at The Ohio State University’s Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. After further observation there, the portable units will be placed on skids that can be picked up and transported by truck, Kurtz said. “We will be working to make the situation better by creating a portable technology to separate nutrients and remove them from the watershed,” Kurtz said in a press release issued this summer. “This project will not only be about impacting the region but about demonstrating a technology that will benefit every farmer and every wastewater treatment plant that is struggling with a nutrient management issue.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who announced the quasar grant in August, wrote that quasar's pioneering and novel approach removes phosphorous from the leftover waste of digesters and turns it into a concentrated product that can be sold as a green alternative to chemical fertilizers. “This process gives local farmers and opportunity to profit while simultaneously reducing phosphorus levels in the lake,” Brown wrote.
quasar energy group earlier this year was working with local developer Steve Klosterman to build a digester in Butler Township. The project, estimated at $2.5 million, stalled when township trustees voted against rezoning the site from agriculture to industrial. Many residents also spoke out against the project’s location – the intersection of State Route 219 and U.S. 127. Butler Township Zoning Commission members and local dairy farmers toured the Wooster facility early this year at the invitation of quasar.