New Commercial Compost Facility: ECS and PDSWM Develop Aerated Composting System in Minnesota

Blog ECS Staff 12/14/2021

The State of Minnesota is increasing its diversion efforts and recognizes that composting organics offers a viable, sustainable and long-term solution.  In response Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management (PDSWM) selected ECS technology to provide a bio-Covered Aerated Static Pile (CASP) composting system to process organics at their Glacial Ridge Composting Facility.  The Glacial Ridge facility serves as a regional organics tipping floor and transfer station.  With this expansion, PDSWM adds a new forced aeration compost process to manage current and future growth of their organic recycling.

Construction of the Pope/Douglas composting system at night
Glacial Ridge Facility in construction – courtesy of PDSWM

PDSWM offered several challenges for the ECS design/project team to tackle.  These included a feedstock forecast with initial low collection volumes followed by large forecasted growth, and very cold winter weather composting conditions. 

To address the anticipated low starting volumes and help reduce the facility’s initial cost ECS proposed a CASP design that facilitates:

Aerial view of Pope/Douglas composting facility in construction
Preparing to pour concrete – courtesy of PDSWM
Aerial view of Pope/Douglas composting facility in construction
Glacial Ridge Site Overview – courtesy of PDSWM

Composting: Aeration Strategy

The initial aeration design features positive-only aeration system.  The system and ductwork design accommodates a future reversing-aeration and biofiltration expansion. This strategy aims to optimize appropriate system technology based on current projected need. 

For example, there is no doubt that the anticipated food waste and source separated organic feedstocks are challenging and require a high degree of odor control.  However, based on the low initial volumes as the project starts, a positive aeration system is sufficient to maintain favorable process conditions and manage process odors.  (Note: For the Phase 1 positive system ECS is including additional retention time to allow for slightly slower composting with single direction aeration during harsh winter conditions.) 

Then, as the incoming volume of feedstocks increase, PDSWM can add a negative fan to the existing aeration system to enable reversing aeration. Reversing aeration captures a large fraction of the process air directing it to a biofilter for additional odor and VOC reduction; and helps facilitate cold weather composting.

Using this design approach PDSWM will be able to choose the optimal time to add the additional features and avoid over-investing in infrastructure now to accommodate a future demand.

Commercial Composting Design: Facility Throughput

For efficient sizing, the ECS system design allows for adding low cost upgrades to meet forecasted growth.  For example, in Phase 1 ECS supplies the below grade infrastructure for future growth as part of the single concrete pour. The Phase 1 compost system includes 4 initial zones, fed by an aeration fan sized for the 8 zones of Phase 2. This approach helps minimize the life cycle system cost by keeping initial costs low and avoiding expensive major infrastructure costs by efficiently using the Phase 1 construction mobilization.

We look forward to sharing more on this project as it moves from construction to start up.

To learn more, check out the Glacial Ridge Website.

Glacial Ridge compost facility logo