Pearl Valley Cheese goes green with GEM Energy power system fueled by recycled dairy waste water

Pearl Valley Cheese Co., based in Fresno, Ohio, is going green with an energy-saving power system that runs on cheese manufacturing waste water. Designed and installed by GEM Energy, of Walbridge, Ohio, the system promises to save Pearl Valley Cheese more than $40,000 per year in electricity costs.

Pearl Valley Cheese Co., an 80-year-old family-owned business in Fresno, Ohio, is going green with an energy-saving power system that runs on cheese manufacturing waste water and promises to save the company more than $40,000 per year in electricity costs.


The advanced system, custom-designed and installed by GEM Energy of Walbridge, OH, is powered by a C65 Capstone MicroTurbine, which is capable of producing 65 kW of electricity. The system will run on methane gas from recycled cheese manufacturing waste water.

Before digester gas can be used as fuel, moisture must be removed. The existing system at Pearl Valley used a low-pressure moisture removal system. GEM Energy designed a high-pressure moisture removal system to make the gas work with the Capstone MicroTurbine.

By recycling waste to generate electricity, Pearl Valley Cheese is reducing its use of coal-generated electricity, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

These were important steps in meeting Pearl Valley's sustainability goals because methane's greenhouse gas impact on the atmosphere is 21 times greater than carbon dioxide, and burning methane in a flare completely wastes its energy value.

Pearl Valley has been using the digester gas to fuel the steam boiler for process heat, but based on falling natural gas prices and rising electric prices, the company ultimately decided on a technology that could generate electricity with the renewable fuel.

Pearl Valley's owners chose a Capstone MicroTurbine, with its ultra-low emissions, low maintenance cost, quiet operation and ability to handle gas with a high sulfur content as the best fit for their facility.

The system allows Pearl Valley to operate on multiple energy sources, including electricity, natural gas and biogas – which reduces the impact of sharp increases in cost for any single energy source.

"This project demonstrates Pearl Valley's commitment to the health and safety of the community," says Chuck Ellis, president of Pearl Valley Cheese.

Pearl Valley Cheese manufactures 25,000 pounds of cheese per day and distributes natural cheeses throughout the eastern United States. The company's 40,000-square-foot operation houses a retail store, administrative offices, cold storage warehousing and manufacturing facilities.

GEM Energy is a subsidiary of GEM Inc., a specialty contractor, based in Walbridge, OH. GEM Energy provides comprehensive energy services for commercial, institutional, industrial and mission-critical facilities.

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