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Indianapolis, IN, USA (HQ)

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Iowa Organic Recycling Center Sweeps State ACEC Awards

MUSCATINE, IA — The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Iowa awards Stanley Consultants the Grand Prize in the water and wastewater category and the overall 2020 competition’s Grand Conceptor award for the design of the Muscatine organic waste recycling project. The ACEC competition is based on such elements as innovation, new applications of technology, enhanced public awareness, and future value to the engineering profession.

The Muscatine Organic Recycling Center (MORC), which opened in May 2020, has put Muscatine on the map as an emerging regional hub for organic waste recycling. According to Jon Koch, Director of the City of Muscatine’s Water and Resource Recovery Facility, businesses up to 200 miles away have expressed interest in hauling organic waste to Muscatine for recycling.

The MORC is one of just three municipally owned facilities of its kind in the U.S. and the only one in the Midwest. What makes it unique is its ability to separate food waste from packaging. The facility enables cost effective processing of packaged foods previously sent to the landfill due to prohibitively high labor costs to depackage the food.

A depackaging machine uses spinning paddles to break open the packages and separate the packaging from the organic waste. The packaging is then either recycled or disposed of and the organic waste is pumped into a large treatment tank where it is blended and fed into the same anerobic digesters that operate to clean the city’s municipal wastewater.

Bacteria in the digesters break down the organic matter and generate biogas that is mostly methane, the primary component of natural gas. The process also produces biosolids, a nutrient rich fertilizer that is applied to farm ground to naturally replenish nitrogen and phosphorus to the soil.

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Stanley Consultants has been the prime consultant and engineer for the project for over six years. During this time the firm has provided a variety of design concepts as the project evolved, as well as preliminary and final design and permitting.

Over the years the firm has provided a variety of studies and analyses, including:

  • Co-digestion feasibility study
  • Local high strength waste producer research
  • Assessment of types and quantities of waste that might be received
  • Receiving system concepts
  • Projection of potential biogas production levels
  • Feasibility of compressed gas storage
  • Costs analyses and construction cost estimates
  • Review of renewable fuels credit programs
  • Direct pipeline injection costs
  • Concepts for receiving and processing facilities

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