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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Today's stream is sponsored by Maxie's

Burping bacteria heat the Menomonee Valley

Click to enlarge
  • The digester "membrane" cleans and filters water
  • Charlie Opferman explains the plant on a tour
  • Diagram illustrates the complex digestion process
  • Tanks contain bacteria that feed on organic waste

A new facility in the Menomonee Valley is turning food waste into energy.

In accordance with their commitment to environmental stewardship, the Forest County Potawatomi Community opened the $20 million dollar Renewable Generation Digester in October. It is expected to produce about 2.0 megawatts of electricity.

Instead of dumping unwanted slurry, such as whey, down the drain, local food and beverage processors send their organic waste to the digester. There it is eaten by bacteria. The bacteria, in turn, burp methane gas.

While methane can be harmful to the environment, the facility alleviates that problem by captures the gas and converting it into energy. It is not only used to heat water at the Potawatomi Casino and Hotel, but it is also collected and sold to WE Energies.