Inland Empire Regional Composting Facility (IERCF)

Rancho Cucamonga, CA

In 2004, the Inland Empire Utility Agency (IEUA) entered into a strategic organics management partnership with Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (LACSD) and created the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority (IERCA).  Together, these two agencies have developed a state-of-the-art compost manufacturing facility within a retrofit 410,000 square foot former furniture warehouse in an industrial park in Rancho Cucamonga, California.  The intent of the partnership was to manufacture exceptional quality compost that is good for soil, good for plants, good for the environment and will protect public health.  This in-vessel, 150,000 ton per year, co-composting facility processes a blend of green waste, dairy manure and biosolids.

High on the list of priorities for both partnering utilities was the requirement that the facility be totally nuisance-free.  The compost technology selected was the aerated static pile process with all air emissions treated by biofiltration prior to release to the atmosphere.  It was the stated goal by the IEUA that the facility will contribute to the improvement of the area’s air quality by fostering the reduction of emissions from dairies (the area has nearly 400,000 dairy cows in an agricultural preserve within this largely urban area) and composting operations by: generating revenues from greenhouse gas credit sales which will advance the Agency’s role in the community as a recycler of organics; and protecting the Chino Groundwater Basin from infiltration of salts and nitrogen compounds generated at these dairies.

During the design of the compost facility, the partners became clearly aware of the risk involved in siting such a facility within an existing industrial park.  Due to the sensitivity and concern of the community to odor issues, the oft-repeated slogan became a mantra: “if it stinks we’re dead!” At risk was the partners’ $70M investment.

Following on the heels of the LACSD’s extensive evaluation and testing of a myriad of biofilter technologies, the agencies made it clear to all design engineers working on the project that only the BacTee BioAer® aeration floor would be used to distribute air to the organic media (wood chips & compost) biofilter.  At 800,000 cfm (1,360,000 m3/hr), this was to be one of the largest biofiltration odor control systems in the U.S.  - if not the world - and odor control was to be given the highest priority due to the risk.  It is clearly understood by practitioners in the art of biofiltration, and became apparent to LACSD researchers, that optimum biofilter performance depends greatly on uniformity of air distribution.  The BacTee BioAer® floor having slotted aeration openings within 3 inches (7.6 cm) of each other clearly excels.  Additionally, the low head loss through the BioAer® floor results in the net savings of several hundred horsepower in electrical power.  Together with the fact that large wheel-loaders could be used to rapidly remove and place the biofilter media, the BacTee BioAer® was clearly the most effective aeration floor system for this high profile project. 

To fast-track the project and to insure that their selected biofilter configuration was installed in this project, a decision was made by the partnership to have IEUA pre-purchase the BacTee BioAer® aeration floor components in a separate negotiation followed by competitively bidding all other components of the compost system and biofilter, construction and startup of the completed facility.

Biofilter at Inland Empire Regional Composting Facility Prior to Media Placement

Biofilter at Inland Empire Regional Composting Facility After Media Placement

Active Biofilter at Inland Empire Regional Composting Facility
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