Anaerobic digesters, or biodigesters, are systems that break down manure in oxygen-free conditions. Biogas, a mixture of methane, carbon dioxide, and other gases, is a natural product of anaerobic digestion, and can be captured for use in energy generation. Biogas recovery systems on digesters can reduce energy costs, odor, and the environmental impact of dairy operations.
The benefits of anaerobic digesters are multifold. First, digesters provide a waste management system for dairy operations, which help reduce odor and protect water quality. Second, when biogas is flared or used for energy production, it destroys methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Finally, if designed properly, digesters can provide a significant cost savings and revenue stream, through gas and electricity sales, charging tipping fees for waste disposal from other operations, and by generating bedding for dairy operations.