Vermont Technical College will soon get some of its heat and power from local farms, thanks to a new high-tech energy system.
Construction is underway on the Randolph Center campus. The renewable energy project is called an anaerobic digester. The $4 million-plus project is being financed by bonds and a federal grant. Students will study how the digester works. It will turn farm waste into heat and energy.
"Some of the inputs coming into the digesting process will come from multiple farms. That is one of the unique parts of this project; it is a community digester, so from the farm sources we are working with four or five farms in Randolph Center to contribute to the digesting process," said Philip Conroy, the president of VTC.
"They will put cow manure, you can put everything you want which is organic waste except wood, you know," said Francois Guay, the project manager.
"Eventually we would like to bring in food scraps; we don't have that permit yet. That all goes into the digester under anaerobic conditions. It produces a biogas, methane carbon dioxide, and we capture the methane, we feed if through a generator system," said Mary O'Leary, a professor at VTC.
That material is converted to heat and power. The electricity will go to the power grid and the energy will heat a number of buildings on the VTC campus in Randolph Center. What's left over could be used as fertilizer or bedding for cows. It's hoped the project will be completed by early winter.