Anaerobic Digester Operator Training

Feb. 25-27, 2020

Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center (ADREC)
4090 College Rd.
Lansing, MI 48910

Biogas production from organic waste can be used to enhance environmental conditions and generate renewable energy. A unique mix of biological and mechanical expertise is required by operators to start, maintain the operation of and troubleshoot problems with anaerobic digesters. The purpose of this training is to provide guidance to anaerobic digester operators that will enable them to safely maximize biogas production and system life.

Join us for this three day training, Feb. 25-27, 2020, designed for operators of anaerobic digesters. The workshop will focus on development of intermediate to advanced operation skills that can be applied to agricultural, industrial and municipal systems. We expect a diverse audience including operators, system supervisors, owners, developers, and investors. Participants will be exposed to a mix of classroom lectures, laboratory analysis and site visits to local systems.

The course will be held at the Michigan State University Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center with instruction provided by industry and academic experts. 

Topics to be covered:

  • Interpreting data and making operational changes
  • Managing feedstock variability
  • Operations through seasonal change
  • Biogas utilization (RIN’s, renewable natural gas, electricity, addressing production fluctuations, and other related topics)
  • Environmental benefits (GHG emissions reduction, nutrient trading markets, and other related topics)
  • Digestate management
  • System Safety

Registration Fee:

Registration is $1,200 per person and includes continental breakfast, lunch and some snacks.


February 25 - Day 1

Introduction to Anaerobic Digestion

  • Basic science/biology
  • Terminology
  • Overview of Plug Flow, Complete Mix, Fixed Film and Two-stage AD systems

(This initial session is optional, and is suggested for individuals with minimal experience with anaerobic digestion systems.)

Key Biochemical Parameters to Monitor

  • Discuss need to monitor on a regular basis
  • ID the most important biochemical parameters
  • Discuss trends to watch

Biogas analysis 

  • Real time data inputs for biogas
  • Lab tools to analyze biogas
  • Analysis of Data: What to look for, trends, optimization.
  • Examples of datasets for students to review

Laboratory Instruments and procedures

  • Overview of laboratory analysis data and sources
  • Test procedures and methods
  • Anaerobic digester calculations 

Class Activity #1 – Interpretation of Lab Data

  • Work in groups to interpret data (good performance? Under-performance?)
  • This section gives students a first-look at the most important variables to track, and how those variables will impact the performance of the AD (biogas production and stability).

February 26 - Day 2

Operational Planning and Maintenance (incl. Case Studies)

  • Daily planning
  • Preventative maintenance & Maintenance programs
  • Asset management
  • 3rd party operations
  • Customer Interface

Managing change at the Digester and Troubleshooting Common Operational Problems

  • Feedstock sourcing & variability  
  • Tools to monitor biochemical status in the digester
  • Operations through seasonal changes  
  • Case studies/industry examples - biological/chemical

Safety for anaerobic digestion  

  • Standards & Practices  
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Emergency planning 
  • Case studies (emphasize agricultural issues)

February 27 - Day 3

Biogas utilization technologies + O&M

  • CAPEX & OPEX for various technologies
    • Engine Maintenance (Mx) … what to expect …
    • CHP (on-site) and RNG options (grid/vehicles)
    • Transition from flare to other beneficial uses                                                           

Heating and Mixing in Anaerobic Digester

  • Operational Problems 
  • Equipment 
  • Basis for Design

Revenue and Environmental Benefits

  • Understanding Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs)  
  • Greenhouse gas reductions (brief discussion on GHG)
  • Testing and documentation to monetize environmental attributes

Digestate management & market potential

  • Nutrient concentration technologies
  • Utilization of digestate, incl Nutrient marketing & value generation  
  • Digestate off-take   
  • Side stream nutrient recovery  
  • Products (pellets, composite materials, fertilizer products, compost, etc.)

Class Activity #2: Using Data to understand cause/effect for AD performance.

  • Students complete worksheets using lab data to identify trends


Discounted lodging is available at the Best Western - Okemos. Standard rooms are $85 per night, plus applicable taxes and fees. Discounted rooms are available until January 25, 2020 or until the room block is full, whichever occurs first.

Cancellation Policy:

Refunds will be made in full for cancellations made before Feb. 15, 2020. No funds will be given for cancellations on or after Feb. 15, 2020, or for no-shows.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For more infromation, contact Dana Kirk at 517-432-6530 or