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Saint-Hyacinthe to be powered by yoghurt

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

When people referred to yoghurt culture one town in Southern Quebec took that quite literally, and thus made the decision to power its own community, or culture if you will, from expired yoghurt.

The town of Saint-Hyacinthe has signed an agreement with Yoplait Liberté to transform waste yogurt into natural gas that has the ability to heat local utilities and vehicles. Over the course of a year, Brigitte Massé, the city’s Communications Director, has said, that a total of 6500 tonnes of yogurt will be transformed into 375 000 m3 of natural gas at a municipal biomethanation facility. “The production will allow us to heat our two largest arenas and aquatics centre in Saint-Hyacinthe for a year with natural gas,” Massé told the Star on 20 January 2016.

The waste product will come from a local Yoplait Liberté factory and will include expired yogurt or unsellable organic residue derived from the yogurt-making process.

While wildy innovative, this is not the first of Saint-Hyacinthe’s bright ideas. The award winning agricultural town of 55 000 residents has already recuperated 25 000 tpy of organic material for composting since 2007 leading Saint-Hyacinthe to introduce biomethanation at a local facility in 2010.

As reported by The Star, the facility is said to have initially cost CAN$48 million to build, and was financed by the town with contributions from the federal and Quebec governments. The city plans to sell any surplus to Gaz Métro, a natural gas distribution company.

As reported by Munchies, the waste yoghurt would be delivered to the processing plant, all organic material separated from the inorganic plastic containers and then heated in cisterns for 26 days. The resulting natural gas produced then goes on to be used for heat and power.

”Saint-Hyacinthe is a agrobusiness hub,” says Massé. “There are a lot of nearby food companies and it costs them a lot less money to send the food to our processing plant than it does to send it to the landfill. It’s more economically viable for businesses but it’s also better for the environment.”

As a result of their innovative approach, Saint-Hyacinthe won a Sustainable Communities Award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for its biomethanation project on 20 January 2016.

Masse continued, “Not only are we polluting less, but we’re spending CAN$500 000/y less on municipal vehicles and heating, and also making money by selling what’s left to gas companies.” The municipality expects to produce some 13 million m3 of natural gas per year”. “We transformed a problem into a solution that is profitable. The citizens are very, very proud of this initiative.”

Edited from various sources by Francesca Brindle

Sources: The Star, Munchies, CBC News, Pix11

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