Once commissioned, the Lacombe Biorefinery will be producing biogas to provide enough fuel for a 1.4MW power generation unit.  This renewable energy source, comprising mostly methane (natural gas), will be produced using large anaerobic digester vessels.  The biogas is produced by micro-organisms breaking down organic matter in an oxygen-free environment.  Biogas can be produced from materials such as agricultural waste, plant material, manure, food waste or other organic matter.  Once most of the organic material is used up by micro-organisms for biogas production, the remaining liquid - called digestate - can be used as a nutrient-rich soil amendment. 

Not only can biogas be used in an engine to produce electricity and heat (cogeneration), but also it can be burned as a fuel in a boiler or furnace, or can be cleaned up to have almost pure methane, which can be pumped into the natural gas pipeline system. 

An important benefit of anaerobic digestion systems is the deliberate diversion of organic wastes from landfills, where organic wastes also produce biogas.  Landfill gas, as it is called, is rarely captured for productive use and usually seeps into the atmosphere as a potent greenhouse gas, more than 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. 

The Lacombe Biorefinery is expected to produce enough biogas to generate approximately 10,700 megawatt hours of electricity per year and some of the heat needed for the biorefinery’s operations.  By diverting some organic materials away from landfills and using biogas produced at the facility, the Lacombe Biorefinery is expected to reduce emissions of biogas in an amount equivalent to over 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.  That would be roughly the same as removing 10,000 cars from the roads per year, a significant positive outcome for the environment.