Anaerobic digestion is a microbiological process that converts biodegradable organic material into biogas, consisting primarily of methane and carbon dioxide. Anaerobic digestion technologies have been integrated into wastewater treatment facilities nationwide for many decades to increase the economic viability of the treatment process by converting a waste stream into two valuable products: biogas and fertilizer. Thus, anaerobic digestion offers potential economic and environmental benefits of organic waste diversion and renewable energy generation. The use of biogas has many applications, including cogeneration, direct combustion, upgrading for conversion to feed a fuel cell, and compression for injection into the natural gas grid or for vehicular use. The potential benefits of waste diversion and renewable energy generation are now being realized by major organic waste generators in New York State, in particular the food manufacturing and dairy industries, thus warranting an analysis of the energy generation potential for these waste products. Anaerobic codigestion of dairy manure and food-based feedstocks reflects a cradle-to- cradle approach to organic waste management. Given both of their abundance throughout New York State, waste-to-energy processes represent promising waste management strategies. The objective of this thesis was to evaluate the current technical and economic feasibility of anaerobically codigesting existing dairy manure and food manufacturing waste feedstocks in New York State to produce high quality biogas for renewable energy generation. The first element to determining the technical feasibility of anaerobic codigestion potential in New York State was to first understand the feedstock availability. A comprehensive survey of existing organic waste streams was conducted. The key objective was to identify the volume and composition of dairy manure and liquid-phase food manufacturing waste streams available in New York State to make codigestion of multiple feedstocks in centralized anaerobic codigestion facilities an economically attractive alternative to traditional waste disposal pathways (e.g. landfill and wastewater treatment facilities). A technical and environmental assessment of processing food manufacturing wastes and dairy manure for production of electricity via cogeneration, while dependent on biogas quantity and quality as well as the proximity of the waste generators to the centralized codigestion facility, suggests that a real possibility exists for integrating dairy operations with food manufacturing facilities, dependent on the values of the parameters indicated in this thesis. The results of the environmental analysis show that considerable electricity generation and greenhouse gas emissions reductions are possible, depending primarily on feedstock availability and proximity to the centralized anaerobic digester. The initial results are encouraging and future work is warranted for analyzing the site-specific technical and economic viability of codigesting dairy manure and food manufacturing wastes to produce high quality biogas for renewable energy generation in New York State.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sewage--Purification--Anaerobic treatment--New York (State); Biogas--New York (State); Animal waste--Environmental aspects; Food industry and trade--Waste disposal--New York (State)

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Sustainable Systems (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Sustainability (GIS)


Trabold, Thomas

Advisor/Committee Member

Stiebitz, Paul

Advisor/Committee Member

Nasr, Nabil


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in December 2013. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TD756.45 .R36 2013


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