By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
When Hermitage Municipal Authority’s expansion of its water control pollution plant is complete, the authority will have two marketable products to sell: electricity and treated sludge that can be used as fertilizer and fill.
Board member Eric Graven quizzed officials Wednesday on what they are doing to maximize the plant’s potential. While he was not satisfied with the answers, officials told him they are hamstrung until the plant is completed later this year and they can see how it will work.
The plant will have an anaerobic digestion system that will cook sludge and food waste to create a biogas to be burned to generate electricity, and a high-quality sludge that can be handled.
George Kraynak has agreed to buy bags of sludge for his plant nursery and garden center in the city, although officials have not signed a contract with him, officials said.
Ian Garfoli, authority project construction representative, said he has approached other plant nurseries and they either have a supplier of a similar material, or were not interested.
“It’s a tough sell,” Garfoli said of nurseries, as many consider the treated sludge a waste product, and he has no sample of the material to show them.
In terms of finding food waste to put into the digester, officials said they are working on it. Dean Dairy has agreed to bring waste from its plant in South Pymatuning Township, Garfoli said. If that works out, the dairy could truck in waste from three other plants, said authority consulting engineer Joseph P. Pacchioni.
Officials also have talked with Joy Cone Co. but have not worked out any details.
Greg Ceremuga, facility manager for Joy Cone, is on the authority board and agreed to meet with Pacchioni and Garfoli to discuss logistics.
Garfoli added that haulers that handle food waste have called asking to take that waste to the plant.
Graven said he wants to make sure the plant is getting enough material to fully create electricity and the beneficial sludge.
“I’m not getting that,” he said of officials’ answers.
Authority Manager Tom Darby said officials can’t do more until the plant is working and they experiment with waste material mixes to understand how to get the best output.
Pacchioni said his initial focus will be maximizing electricity generation.